Who will blink first: Jamal Adams or the New York Jets?
Personally, I don't think Adams will actually leave New York despite formally asking for a trade last week as he attempts to leverage his status as one of the NFL's best safeties into a market-setting extension. The Jets are aware that he is a special do-it-all force who makes their defense significantly better, and they have plenty of time to at least reach a truce with Adams, or potentially hammer out a new deal before the preseason begins. Even if a new deal isn't reached, the 24-year-old Adams is under contract for two more seasons, with the franchise tag looming as an option to keep him around for three.
That said, I could also see a situation in which the relationship between the team and player becomes so toxic, the Jets have to bite the bullet and move Adams. We know about the reported list of teams Adams would like to go to, with Adams himself seeming to confirm interest in the Cowboys. But if we flipped that equation, which teams should consider making an offer for Adams? Who should go after the two-time Pro Bowler?
Before we get to my ranking of the top five potential fits for Adams, let's explore the possible compensation for the Jets in a deal. Trade value can be tough to pin down, as the variability in recent deals shows, but I'll say Adams should fetch a first-round choice and a starter-level player, with perhaps a second-round pick also getting thrown in if the trade partner is pegged to pick outside of the top 10 in 2021.
And now, in order according to best match, here are the top five potential fits for Jamal Adams:
General manager Howie Roseman -- who employed Jets GM Joe Douglas as his vice president of player personnel for three seasons -- isn't afraid to make bold moves, and the Eagles could use safety help. Malcolm Jenkins left in free agency, leaving converted corner Jalen Mills, veteran free agent Will Parks and fourth-round pick K'Von Wallace to attempt to fill his shoes. Adding Adams to a secondary that upgraded at corner via the trade for Darius Slay would take Philadelphia to another level. The only caveat is that salary cap considerations could make this one tough to pull off.
Trading for Adams would go against 18 years of the Cowboys more or less deprioritizing the safety position -- Jerry Jones hasn't selected a safety in the first two rounds of the draft since making Roy Williams the No. 8 overall pick in 2002, nor has he paid record-setting money for any player at the position. Simply put, the Cowboys appear to believe other roster spots are more worthy of investment. However, if that approach changes and the team sees fit to grant Adams his apparent wish to come to Dallas, Adams would answer the prayers of a fan base frustrated by the lack of difference-making play at this spot on the field. That said, it is legitimate to question the ultimate impact of even the best safety relative to, say, quarterbacks, receivers, running backs or pass rushers. As for Adams, I'm sure he would love to head to a Super Bowl contender that also just happens to play in his hometown.
As I wrote above, the Jets should expect at least a first-round pick in return for Adams, which might make this potential deal too rich for a Jaguars team that, on paper, looks ticketed for a top-10 draft choice in 2021. And that's setting aside the fact that Jacksonville is the one team here that does not appear on Adams' reported wish list. But you could argue that Adams would be worth the investment for a group looking to grow, instantly lifting a secondary that will otherwise be relying on rookie C.J. Henderson to shoulder a significant amount of the load. The Jaguars haven't fielded a true impact safety since Rashean Mathis' heyday.
The days of the Legion of Boom are long gone, and the secondary is a shell of what it was back when Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor were roaming the field. Over the past four drafts, the Seahawks have selected six safeties (Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi in 2019, Tre Flowers in 2018 and Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson and Michael Tyson in 2017), but none are projected to start at the position entering 2020 (Thompson and Hill are no longer with the team). Currently, Seattle will be leaning on Quandre Diggs, acquired to prop up a secondary in disarray last season, and the solid but unspectacular Bradley McDougald. Adams would recharge the DBs group, while his blitz skills would also come in handy for a defense desperate for pass-rush help.
The Niners built their defense with a focus on the front seven, so addressing the back end at this point might not be a bad idea, especially considering how the Chiefs exposed the secondary in Super Bowl LIV. Current starting safety Jaquiski Tartt has generated just seven turnovers over the past five years while missing 21 of 80 potential games. He's also set to become a free agent next season, along with defensive backs Richard Sherman, K'Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon. For a team as close to winning it all as San Francisco is, Adams could be the piece that pushes the Niners over the top.