NFL News & Analysis

Safety Jamal Adams, Seahawks at a standstill in contract negotiations ahead of 2021 NFL season

Orchard Park, New York, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) reacts to a defensive play against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks and star safety Jamal Adams have engaged in negotiations on a long-term contract extension, but talks have hit a standstill.

Adams, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, reported to training camp and has been “holding in” over the first couple of weeks. He's due to make $9.86 million this season under the fifth-year option. He hasn’t practiced but has been an enthusiastic spectator, according to local reporters.

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Bob Condotta and Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reported that the Seahawks made their final offer last week — a four-year, $70 million extension with $38 million guaranteed. The exact structure of the contract is unknown, and teams sometimes leak such information to budge a player to accept. The report did add that Adams wants $40 million guaranteed and the two sides are at odds on cash flow, with Seattle wanting to spread bonus money over four years and Adams’ agent wanting it to be spread over three.

Adams becoming the Seahawks' highest-paid defensive player is going to be a difficult proposition, as Seattle has made it a point of emphasis to ensure linebacker Bobby Wagner, the team's longtime defensive leader, remains the highest-paid player on the defense in terms of average per year at $18 million.

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons is currently the highest-paid safety in the league after signing a new deal in March. The reported $70 million over four years for Adams ($17.5M average per year or APY) would equate to a raise of just under 15% over Simmons’ $15.25 million APY.

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s $20 million APY was a 16% increase on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White’s $17.25 million APY, which set the high benchmark for cornerbacks just days prior to the start of the 2020 season. Perhaps notable is the fact Adams has the same representation as White — Kevin Conner and Robert Brown of Universal Sports & Entertainment Management — and they’re clearly comfortable negotiating right until kickoff in Week 1 if that’s what it takes to get a deal done.

Ramsey was traded for two first-round picks entering his fifth-year option season, just like Adams is now. Ramsey didn’t sign his record-breaking deal until Sept. 9, so there’s still plenty of time to reach an agreement.

Adams' 9.5 sacks across 12 games in his first season with Seattle set the NFL's single-season record for a defensive back. He also notched 85 tackles, three passes defended and a forced fumble.

The Seahawks gave up a lot to bring Adams to Seattle last offseason, trading two first-round picks, a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald to the Jets in exchange for Adams and a fourth-round selection.

Jamal Adams Career Grades
Season PFF Overall Grade PFF Coverage Grade PFF Run-Defense Grade
2020 62.7 52.5 61.6
2019 87.9 87.5 78.3
2018 89.8 89.6 78.0
2017 68.5 65.5 75.7

The belief around the league is that Adams doesn't want to be classified as a safety in negotiations. Adams has called himself a top “defensive playmaker” or a top “defensive weapon,” and he certainly has a point. Of his 784 defensive snaps in 2020, 94 were on the defensive line, 351 were in the box, 173 were as a slot cornerback, 17 were as a wide corner and 149 were at free safety.

There are a few veteran safeties across the league keeping a close eye on these negotiations in Seattle, none more so than the Kansas City ChiefsTyrann Mathieu. Adams resetting the safety market may also stand to benefit Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith, though age is more of a variable here.

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III is the other safety watching Adams’ situation, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently reported that he does not expect the two sides to come to an agreement anytime soon. Bates, who is scheduled to make $2.433 million in base salary this season, stands to benefit as he heads into the final year of his rookie deal.

Considering Adams’ importance to the defense and how much Seattle gave up to get him, the two sides should be able to find common ground at some point. But it won’t be a surprise if talks end up stretching to the final days of camp.

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