No 'Good Guy' in Jamal Adams-Jets Saga

Steve Lichtenstein
July 25, 2020 - 9:00 am
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After reading Manish Mehta’s article in the Daily News regarding Jets safety Jamal Adams’ discord with management on Friday, I have concluded one thing: There are no good guys in this fight.

Adams, Gang Green’s First-Team All-Pro safety who is eyeing a contract extension with a bonus that kicks in this season, is surely guilty of a lack of maturity. At 24, he knows, or should know, which arrows he should sling in public. Going after head coach Adam Gase the way he did doesn’t really help his situation; it only hurts his teammates.

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Not that Adams was incorrect in his assessment that Gase’s communication skills leave much to be desired, though. Adams isn’t the first player to have such issues – two weeks before coming to New York, Gase was canned by Miami after three seasons combatting with his players and even the owner.

According to Adams, Gase took a different tack in the Jets’ locker room last season by not communicating at all, leaving that to assistants. Adams said he hasn’t talked to Gase since his exit interview on December 30.

It’s one thing to leave the defensive strategy in the hands of coordinator Gregg Williams, it’s quite another to not have even a working relationship with your team’s best player. It’s not how you unite a ballclub for a common cause.

At this stage of Adams’ career, Gase should have been utilizing him as one of the team’s leaders, especially in these trying times with the uncertainty surrounding playing through the coronavirus pandemic. After all, Adams may have been upset that contract talks weren’t moving forward, but he didn’t publicly request a trade until last month.

This is where general manager Joe Douglas comes into play. He knows how sensitive Adams can be – he had another one of his fits after it reports surfaced that Douglas listened (LISTENED!) to trade proposals during last season.

Supposedly, those ill feelings were smoothed over and Adams had a fabulous second half, leading the Jets on a 6-2 run to finish the season at 7-9. While at the Scouting Combine in February, Douglas made his infamous announcement that he wanted Adams to be “a Jet for life.”

Unfortunately, those positive vibes had a short shelf life. When it became clear to Adams that the Jets were just stonewalling, he got mad. Making matters worse, he wasn’t getting straight talk from Douglas. Adams was expecting a negotiation, not a tabling.

To be fair, the Jets are under no obligation to extend Adams at this time. He’s under contract for the next two seasons, after which the team can put its franchise tag on him.

However, as I noted in a prior column, extending essential players is not unheard of either. Adams isn’t Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but then again, he isn’t looking for Mahomes’ money. What he is, though, is a disruptive force, maybe the only one on the Jets’ defense opponents have to game plan against. So how about at least bettering the value (four years, $58 million) signed this offseason by Bears safety Eddie Jackson, a fourth-round pick in the same 2017 Draft class as Adams, who was selected sixth overall in the first round?

Forget what you’ve heard about the pandemic’s impact on NFL finances; the Johnson brothers, the Jets’ owners, have plenty of money to get a new Adams deal done at a fair value, and get it within this season’s and future seasons’ salary caps. I don’t see many (any?) other indispensable All Pros on this roster for whom they’ll have to soon break the bank.

That’s why, as always, the lion’s share of the blame for this dysfunction has its rotten roots at the top. The Johnsons have overseen an “organization” that is poised to miss the playoffs for a tenth consecutive season, and only the Browns and the Bucs have longer droughts.

Christopher, with older brother Woody overseas serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, has no clue how to run a franchise, and who knows what will happen when Woody returns – which could be sooner rather than later after reports, which he has denied, that diplomats heard him make racist and misogynistic comments.

According to Mehta, it was Christopher’s tight budget that forced the 180 in Douglas’ plan to engage Adams this offseason. Maybe Christopher felt he needed to show his brother how he’s been a strong fiscal steward in his absence to retain a prominent role later? No one in the Jets organization commented, but the cheapness is consistent with how this team has operated at times in past seasons when a winning campaign seemed far-fetched at the outset (i.e. 2014, 2017, and 2018).

And make no mistake, with or without Adams, the Jets’ road to the 2020 postseason, assuming there will be one, is beyond arduous. The schedule is tough, there are too many new pieces with too little time to develop chemistry, and, most importantly, they’re not that good.

Still, since I see no way where Douglas will be able to extract compensation that provides equal value for this season (and, I would argue, beyond), trading Adams all but guarantees another failure.

By his outburst on Friday, Adams only lessened the Jets’ leverage further, which, in the end, makes it more likely that the organization holds the line.

Adams did state that he intends to show up at training camp, avoiding $40,000 per day in fines. That was perhaps the only ray of sunshine brimming through the dark clouds that continue to haunt this franchise.  

For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Devils and Jets, follow Steve on Twitter: @SteveLichtenst1

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