In John Schneider’s 10 years as the Seattle Seahawks’ general manager, he’s spelled out his big-picture approach to roster-building with an oft-repeated phrase. When Schneider says he wants to be a “consistent championship-caliber football team,” it’s his way of saying he’s always going to place as much importance on the long-term outlook of the franchise as the here and now. It’s a philosophy that doesn’t exactly lend itself to going all-in to win now.
The Seahawks might not be going all-in all-in with their trade for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, but they’re placing a massive bet, perhaps their biggest under Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Just look at the draft capital they’re giving up: first-round picks in each of the next two years plus a 2021 third-rounder. Seattle is also sending veteran safety Bradley McDougald to the New York Jets and will recoup a 2022 fourth-rounder.
That type of haul leaves no doubt that the Seahawks view Adams as a long-term part of their defense as opposed to a short-term rental. That means giving him a lucrative extension at some point, another part of the cost-benefit analysis.
The benefit? The Seahawks are adding an All-Pro to a suspect defense that is in need of blue-chip talent. At 24, Adams is young enough to be a franchise cornerstone for most of the next decade. He’s made two Pro Bowls in three seasons while ranking in the top five among defensive backs in snaps, tackles, sacks and forced fumbles since entering the league as the No. 6 pick in 2017.
For most teams, safety — especially one who plays in the box — might not be important enough to justify two first-round picks. But the Seahawks saw the type of impact Kam Chancellor had in Carroll’s scheme during their Legion of Boom days. In Adams, they have what they’ve been missing since Chancellor last played in 2017 — a physical presence and a leader who sets the tone on and off the field.
One talent evaluator from another team called Adams the “perfect fit” for Seattle’s defense.
The Seahawks had one of their worst seasons under Carroll on that side of the ball in 2019, continuing the decline from their LOB heyday. Significant improvement in 2020 hardly seemed certain with a still-questionable pass rush and no word on whether cornerback Quinton Dunbar, their top offseason acquisition, will be available due to his legal situation.
The Seahawks have made their share of bold trades under Schneider and Carroll: Percy Harvin in 2013, Jimmy Graham in 2015, Sheldon Richardson in 2017 and Jadeveon Clowney in 2019. But none of those deals meant parting with as big of a haul as the two first-rounders (and then some) they’re giving up for Adams.
That’s significant for any team, especially one that needs all the cost-controlled talent it can find to field a competitive roster around the top-shelf contracts of quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner. And remember, Adams is in line for an extension of his own that should be at or near the top of the market. A source told ESPN’s Rich Cimini that he’s looking to become the league’s highest-paid safety, which would mean a deal averaging north of the $14.6 million Eddie Jackson is making from the Chicago Bears.
But giving up two first-rounders for Adams is more palatable when you consider that a perennial playoff team like the Seahawks is continually picking late in the first round, making it exceedingly unlikely that they’ll find a top-10 talent like Adams at their usual slot. Their three most recent first-round picks prior to this year were L.J. Collier (2019), Rashaad Penny (2018) and Germain Ifedi (2016), none of whom have been home-run selections.
The difficulty in evaluating upcoming draft classes with the potential for a lost or abbreviated college season amid the coronavirus pandemic was another factor in Seattle’s thinking, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
The Seahawks paid a huge price for Adams, one that will make life harder down the road. In the meantime, they’ve added legitimacy to their defense and their Super Bowl chances.