After a long and public contract squabble with the Jets, All-Pro safety Jamal Adams has formally requested a trade, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. Adam Schefter later reported that Adams preferred destinations are as follows: Ravens, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs, Eagles, 49ers and Seahawks.
The Patriots aren’t listed. However, the list is entirely comprised of playoff contenders. It appears Adams has a desire to play for a winning organization, which the Patriots can potentially provide him if Jarrett Stidham adequately replaces Tom Brady. Even if the offense takes a slight step back, New England’s secondary is already arguably the best in the league. Add Jamal Adams, and you’re talking about one of the best groups of defensive backs in NFL history. It would be hard for a team that loaded on defense, with a defensive mastermind in Bill Belichick at head coach, to lose many games. Nevertheless, there are a few problems that make Adams heading to New England feel unlikely.
The first (and easiest) problem to address is the Patriots current cap situation. New England currently has roughly $651k in cap space according to Pats Cap on Twitter. Cutting Rex Burkhead and Jermaine Eluemunor would give the Patriots about $4.4 million in cap space which would be enough to absorb Jamal Adams’ $3.6 million cap hit in 2020 and another player for $750k to abide by the top 51 list cap rule. Cutting Eluemunor is easy, and while Rex Burkhead has been solid in his time with the Patriots, the depth and youth added at the running back position in recent years has rendered him obsolete.
The next problem in trading for Adams is the Patriots currently don’t need a safety. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty both have freshly signed contracts and New England just drafted safety Kyle Dugger in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Not to mention the Patriots also signed Adrian Phillips this offseason. So why would they have any interest in Jamal Adams?
Well, the Patriots are projected to have over $100 million in cap space next offseason. An extension for Adams would kick in at the same time. While the Patriots have plenty of depth at safety, they don’t have anyone as good as Jamal Adams. Obtaining a superstar talent like Adams will be a priority for New England over the next few years while Jarrett Stidham is on his rookie contract. Additionally, McCourty and Chung are both on the brink of turning 33 years old. Both could be headed for retirement in the near future and Adams would be an excellent heir apparent for either (moreso Chung).
The Patriots also have often opted to play their top three safeties together over the last few years. With Harmon gone, Adams, McCourty and Chung could potentially all co-exist under the right circumstances. That would mean limited playing time for Kyle Dugger, but that’s usually the case for rookies in New England. Chase Winovich played less than 30% of the Patriots defensive snaps last season and defensive back JoeJuan Williams played less than 8%. This should prove to be the case for Dugger as well, especially considering he’s coming from Division II and will likely need some significant practice time to get used to NFL competition.
Dominant safeties have been a staple on the Patriots for many years. From Lawyer Milloy to Rodney Harrison to Devin McCourty. Adams would be added to a long list of special players at the position under Bill Belichick and it should be no surprise to anyone if the legendary coach is intrigued by the idea of prying a defensive star away from his division rival in New York, a team that he’s supposedly long held a disdain for.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Patriots would be negotiating with the Jets. It’d be hard to imagine New York would willingly trade a superstar defensive back to the Patriots just as there’s a glimmer of hope for other AFC East teams to win the division for the first time in over a decade, but it’s not impossible. The lines of communication between the Patriots and Jets were reopened last year when Bill Belichick traded Demaryius Thomas to the Jets for a 6th round pick. It was the first trade between the two teams since Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000. The Jets would also get the satisfaction of trading Adams to a team that wasn’t on his list of preferred destinations and keeping him away from the Cowboys, the team it appears he’s been angling to go to. If New England makes the best offer, the Jets might actually have a reason to take it. Who knows? Adams might not even re-sign with the Patriots. If the Jets believe that to be the case, it gives them all the more reason to execute the trade. Notice how Adams included almost every other division winner on his list of preferred landing spots? Perhaps he deliberately left the Patriots off the list for the sole purpose of leaving open the possibility that the Jets might actually consider trading him there.
It may ultimately just be a pipe dream, but don’t rule out Jamal Adams donning the Patriots’ colors next season.
Photo: (Bill Kostroun – AP Photo)