Jamal Adams is one heck of a player. No dispute. But how much to pay him? And how to structure the deal? Seattle answered those questions in a way that makes sense for the team and STILL makes Adams the envy of other safeties.
Year 1: 2022
This is the first real year of Adam’s extension, with 2021 being the last year of his rookie contract. According to Spotrac https://www.spotrac.com/, his cap number that year will be $9.1M, a real discount, but not unusual for the first year of a big contract. So Seattle gets a top safety at almost half price in ‘22.
Year 2: 2023
In the second season of Jamal Adam’s contract, the cap number balloons to $18.1M, very nearly the top of the highest-paid safeties ever in the NFL. Only Tyrann Mathieu had a bigger cap number in a single season among safeties. So the Seahawks will be paying top dollar for, they hope, a top performance. The argument can be made that the cap space could be used more effectively by spreading it throughout the entire roster. But, assuming Adams is playing at a high level in ‘23, the Seahawks won’t be hurting at this cap number.
Year 3: 2024
Here’s where the contract gets interesting. In the 3rd season of Adam’s contract, his cap number escalates to a very stout $23.6M, with a dead cap hit of $8.0M. That means if Seattle is unhappy with the performance they’re getting, they can release Adams, take an $8M hit against the cap, but save almost $16M. The flexibility in year 3 is important because the number of high-dollar NFL free agents/trades who underperform is staggering. And that flex becomes even more valuable when considering that Adams actually didn’t play anywhere near as sharply for Seattle in 2020 as he did for the Jets the two seasons prior. On the flip side, if Jamal Adams settles in and plays brilliantly, Seattle in 2024 could carve away $4-$5M of that cap number through restructuring. Such a move would put Adams right back close to the $18M he played for in 2023. Again, not a devastating number if he’s delivering the goods.
Year 4: 2025
There are a boatload of NFL contracts that never get fully played out. Often, by the final year of a deal, injuries or inconsistency make a high-wage earner no longer desirable. Adams would be entering his 8th NFL season and would turn 30 early in that season. He would have a cap hit of $24.6M and a dead number of $4M. If Seattle is ready to part ways at that point, they would save an enormous $20M+ of cap space. What if they did the restructuring thing back in 2024? Brilliant question. Jamal Adams would have a cap hit of roughly $29M with the dead cap being roughly $8.5M. So Seattle would still save the $20M+, but they dead cap hit would have grown to a not-too-brutal $8.5M price level. Still, very good flexibility, all things considered.
As always, there are more details to the contract, but the overarching point is that Seattle will have an excellent athlete for 2 seasons at good prices. Then, they will have flexibility during the final two years of the deal, and in the NFL flexibility is as important as the cap space itself.
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