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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Jamal Adams wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety. Should the Seahawks pay that much?

Aug. 7, 2021 Updated Sat., Aug. 7, 2021 at 8:34 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams watches during the NFL football team’s training camp Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Renton, Wash.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams watches during the NFL football team’s training camp Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (Associated Press)
By Matt Calkins Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Eight practices in and Jamal Adams remains unsigned.

Eight workouts in the can and the single-season record holder for sacks by a defensive back is not locked up as a Seahawk.

The conditions seem clear – the 25-year-old wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Only question is: Are we sure he’s worth that?

His supporters would answer with an emphatic yes. They would point to the fact that the Seahawks’ defensive turnaround last season coincided with Adams’ return to the field. This was a team that, at one point, was set to allow more passing yards than any team in NFL history. Then Adams returned from injury to disrupt opposing offenses as only he could.

The man had 9.5 sacks as a safety, and he achieved that while missing four games. Through the first half of the season, getting to the quarterback seemed like an impossibility for the Seahawks. Then Adams came along and tormented signal callers without ever lining up with a hand on the ground.

Plus, there was that touchdown-saving tackle on Rams running back Darrell Henderson in December. You can count on one hand – maybe one finger – the number of players in the league capable of making that play.

Denying Adams’ natural talent is like denying oxygen’s role in breathing. He has future Hall of Fame DNA.

But his detractors might ask that you look away from the breathtaking moments for a moment and focus on the routine. They might say that Adams’ play in the ordinary moments isn’t so extraordinary. Take analytics site Pro Football focus, which breaks down a player’s every play and hands out grades in different categories. Last year, PFF ranked Adams as the best pass-rushing safety in the NFL. But of the 94 safeties it studies, PFF ranked Adams as the 78th best on pass defense, 57th on run and 53rd overall. Obviously, Pro Football Focus isn’t run by general managers and directors of scouting, but it isn’t run by anonymous YouTube commenters, either.

Its grades might make one wonder whether Adams’ superior moments distracted from an assortment of mediocrity. It might also make you wonder if it was the acquisition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap – not Adams’ return to the lineup – that was most responsible for the defensive turnaround.

To be fair, Adams played most of the season with two broken fingers. There were some squandered interception opportunities that might have turned out differently had those digits not been fractured. There were also two shoulder injuries and a groin injury – and yet he still set the DB sack record.

There are myriad moving parts when it comes to trying to evaluate Adams’ season, and trying to do so might just be an educated guess.

There’s also the fact that the Seahawks gave up two first-round picks, one third-round pick, and safety Bradley McDougald to acquire Adams from the Jets. Letting him walk would seem like a massive defeat considering Seattle didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs last season.

The fact remains that Adams doesn’t have what he wants – a contract giving him more dough than any other safety in football. And the Seahawks might not have the answer to this question: Does he deserve that?

Wrapping up Adams (not to mention left tackle Duane Brown) seemed like a foregone conclusion before training camp began. The thought was that, while he might not participate the first few days, he would almost certainly ink an extension that would get him on the field before the first preseason game.

Now, as my co-worker Bob Condotta noted, there might be a tinge of doubt as to whether that extension will come to fruition. And that doubt is likely causing more than a tinge of anxiety among the Seahawks’ faithful.

Perhaps all this speculation will look ridiculous in a few days. There was some brief doubt as to whether the Seahawks would sign quarterback Russell Wilson to a longtime extension, which seems absurd at the moment.

But the fact remains that Adams doesn’t yet have what he wants: A contract giving him more dough than any other safety in football. And the Seahawks might not have the answer to this question: Does he deserve that?

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