Speculation began on Adams’ prospects of landing a massive payday following his trade to the Seattle Seahawks in July for a package that included two first-round picks.
But what about a new contract?
Here’s a closer look at the situation:
Where do things stand now?
The Seahawks and Adams agreed he would play out the 2020 season on his current deal, multiple sources have told ESPN. They’ll wait until next year to move forward with a possible extension, but there’s been no promise to Adams that he’ll get one. Seattle wouldn’t have made the trade if Adams insisted on getting a new deal right away.
So he’ll make $3.59 million this season, which is the fourth year of his rookie deal. He’s scheduled to make $9.86 million in 2021 on his fifth-year option.
“The plan is to retire here,” Adams said. “That is my plan. But obviously those things handle themselves. All you have to do is just go on the field and perform, do the right things on and off the field and those things will take care of itself. I’m very excited to be here. I know the rest of the guys is excited to have me and the coaching staff and everybody else. So again, we’ll worry about that when the time comes.”
Why wouldn’t the Seahawks do a deal now?
They don’t have to, for starters. Having Adams under contract for two more seasons means there is less urgency to extend him now than there would be if he were only a year away from free agency.
And while the massive haul of picks they gave up to get Adams indicates they want him around for the long term, they don’t want to extend him right now for a few reasons. One is uncertainty over both the NFL’s financial landscape and their own beyond 2020. Teams don’t know how much the salary cap — which is at $198.2 million for 2020 — will drop in upcoming seasons due to revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic. All that’s known currently is it won’t drop below $175 million in 2021.
The Seahawks have roughly $160 million in 2021 cap commitments (including $9.86 million for Adams’ fifth-year option), according to ESPN’s Roster Management System. That puts them in a better position than some teams but would still leave them without much space assuming anything near a $175 million cap.
And Adams isn’t Seattle’s only starter in line for a significant payday. Cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar become free agents after this season, as will running back Chris Carson. The Seahawks have to choose whom they pay wisely as they build around massive extensions they gave last year to quarterback Russell Wilson ($35 million per season) and linebacker Bobby Wagner ($18 million APY), especially with the expected drop in future salary caps. They’ll use this season to help inform those decisions.
Why else do they want to wait?
Because they want to get to know Adams before committing a ton of money to him. Percy Harvin is a cautionary tale here. The Seahawks gave Harvin a $67 million extension that included $25.5 million in guarantees when they traded for him in 2013. They thought they could manage his volatile personality, but the situation became so untenable they dealt him for next to nothing early in his second season.
The Seahawks aren’t worried about Adams throwing haymakers at teammates like Harvin did. The point is, there’s no way of knowing how a newcomer will mesh with the rest of their locker room and adapt to their culture without seeing it first.
Even before things turned ugly with Harvin, the Seahawks’ decision to give him a big contract when he hadn’t played a down for the team created resentment in their locker room, particularly among some of their homegrown wide receivers who had yet to get paid. The Seahawks are sensitive to that dynamic and are wary of the same thing happening with players like Carson and Griffin.
So what kind of deal could Adams be looking at?
The $14.75 million average of Baker’s four-year, $59 million extension provides a good starting point. Under normal circumstances, the NFL’s ever-rising salary cap means inflation, if nothing else, would push projections for Adams closer to $15 million per year. That aspect of negotiations could get complicated with a decreasing cap.
Then again, Adams could position himself to top Baker’s deal by improving his résumé with a strong season. The biggest hole on it is that he has two interceptions since entering the league in 2017. But that’s two more than Baker has in as many seasons. Both players have two Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro selection, though Baker earned both as a special-teamer in 2017.
The Seahawks prefer four-year extensions for core players finishing their rookie deals. So a safe projection for an Adams extension is something right above Baker’s.
What if they can’t get a deal done?
Adams will be 25 next offseason with at least two Pro Bowls and a first-team All-Pro nod on his résumé. He’ll be under contract for one more season at a manageable salary. All of that means he could still have strong trade value.
So the worst-case scenario of not getting a deal done with Adams next year would be mitigated somewhat by the potential to get something significant in return in a trade. If Adams just went for two first-round picks, a third-rounder and a starting safety in Bradley McDougald (minus the 2022 fourth-rounder the Jets gave up), getting at least one of those firsts back — maybe a better one than Seattle gave up — hardly seems out of the question.