RENTON, Wash. -- Jamal Adams co-led the Seattle Seahawks with 11 tackles in their upset loss to the New York Giants last week. He had another sack to give him a team-high 7.5 in only eight games, putting him on the doorstep of NFL history. No defensive back has had more than eight sacks in a season since they became an official statistic in 1982, a record Adams can break Sunday against his former team, the New York Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
So much for the idea that he might get "bored" in Seattle's defense.
Former Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, fired Monday, memorably wondered aloud about that possibility this summer after the blockbuster trade that sent the All-Pro strong safety to the Seahawks.
Adams has enjoyed blitzing his way towards the NFL record books in Seattle and playing for a head coach in Pete Carroll whom he says he loves. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are more than happy with the early returns on the boldest move they've made under Carroll and general manager John Schneider -- even though Adams missed four games with a groin injury and is still looking for his first interception of the season.
"Shoot, ecstatic," Carroll said. "Ecstatic about it. He's been everything we could hope for at this point and he's going to keep getting better. He played a really good game [Sunday] and he didn't get to pressure quite as much -- they didn't throw the ball as much -- but he had another sack and he's a fantastic player. I'm thrilled about the trade."
Only four other times since 2009 has a team given up multiple first-round picks for a player like the Seahawks did for Adams. They gave New York their first-rounders in each of the next two drafts plus a 2021 third, threw in safety Bradley McDougald and got a 2022 fourth back along with Adams.
Schneider has made plenty of aggressive trades since he and Carroll arrived in 2010, but nothing like this. It was the equivalent of a golfer trying to drive a reachable par 4 off the tee, figuring that the reward of a birdie or an eagle outweighs the risk of a big miss and that laying up doesn't mean an automatic par.
For the Seahawks, laying up would have meant continuing to pick late in the first round or early in the second, which they've often done with disappointing results. In their view, picking in that that part of the draft is challenging because of the dropoff in available talent. Seeing early picks like Malik McDowell, Rashaad Penny and L.J. Collier suffer injuries in successive years was another reminder that sure things are hard to come by.
Their justification for the massive price they paid to get Adams was that based on where they usually pick, the only other way they could realistically draft a player of his talent would be to give up a similar haul of picks to trade into the top 10. And that player wouldn't be a proven star like Adams.
He wasn't known as a ballhawk in New York and hasn't been one in Seattle, with no picks and only one pass defended. But Adams has made more of an impact as a pass-rusher than any defensive back this season while blitzing more than any of the great safeties Carroll previously had in Seattle. Adams' 7.5 sacks are tied for 11th among all players and 4.5 more than any other NFL defensive back. His 25 pressures are 12 more than any other DB, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
He has eight tackles for loss in as many games, tied with Keanu Neal (who's played 11 games) for most among DBs.
Adams has been playing through a shoulder injury since Week 10, one game after he returned from his groin injury. The Seahawks went 3-1 without him.
"I know what I bring to the table," Adams said. "I know I don't have any picks as they say, that's the little [knock] or whatever. I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about making plays for the team and doing everything possible to help the team win. That's what I'm about."
Adams has lined up in the box on 36% of his snaps, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That percentage ranks 18th among defensive backs.
"We're asking him to do quite a few things that allow him to express his ability as we always try to figure out how to do that," Carroll said. "He has so many talents that there's a lot of stuff. You can see where we place him. He's in coverage, he's in zone, he's in man-to-man, he's in stuff over-the-top, he's pressured, he's up in the running game. He has a role to play in all of that.
"I'm fortunate that I've [coached] a lot of safeties that have a lot of really unique talents over the years and been able to do a lot of stuff. ... You've seen big guys and small guys and hammers and quickness and speed. It's been that way for years. What we can do with Jamal is everything we've ever done with everybody."
Adams' versatility will add a tricky layer to contract negotiations this offseason, assuming he'll ask to be paid as more than just a safety. The potential for the NFL's salary cap to drop significantly is another.
The Seahawks didn't want to give Adams what could be a record deal without seeing the financial landscape first. They also wanted to see how he meshed with teammates and coaches before paying him, having been burned before on the big contract they gave Percy Harvin upon trading for him in 2013.
The Seahawks were drawn not only to Adams' All-Pro talent but also his strong personality, something they had gotten away from after messy divorces from Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Adams had one of his own from the Jets, which included his public criticism of coach Adam Gase.
His relationship with his new coach has gotten off to a strong start. Adams has even gone out of his way to dispel the notion that he was yelling at Carroll during one sideline exchange.
"I love him to death," Adams said in Week 12. "He teaches me a lot. He wants me to be free a little bit more and I'm trying to get used to that, just trusting my instincts at times because again, I'm still learning everything. So again, I'm happy where I am right now. Obviously, I'm not happy about having these injuries but sometimes things happen. It's part of the game. He's had my back this whole time. This organization's had my back this whole time. And like I tweeted out the other day, I won't fail."
One more reason why the Seahawks were comfortable giving up what they did for Adams was their uncertainty with the 2021 draft. They didn't know what the college season would look like due to the coronavirus pandemic or how accessible prospects would be during the pre-draft process, potentially leaving the organization with less background and less confidence in its evaluations.
As one Seahawks source put it, that left Schneider with the thought that "if there's ever a year to go for it" with a blockbuster trade, this was it.
So they went for it. Now everyone waits to see where their big drive lands.