First, let me start by saying that Jamal Adams is a phenomenal player, and whatever team he ends up joining he will make the better on defense the moment he walks through the door. But let’s look at the Browns and why it isn’t a good move for them.
1) Trade Pick Value
The talk of the going trade price for Jamal Adams is a first and a third-round draft pick. That is a lot of value to give up in any deal. The Browns have many different spots they need to fill on the roster next year and lots of players on one-year deals, so if you are giving up two picks how are you replacing them guys?
If we look at the five key expensive positions teams tend to take in the 1st round. The team lacks a starting pass rusher next year opposite Myles Garrett. While we love Baker we still aren’t sure if he is the long term answer so keep as much draft capital and don’t end up like the Bears going all-in on a rookie you can’t walk away from in the draft. The team has only two starting level wide receivers contracted next year, one might easily be moved on due to growing cap costs. We are hoping to be good at tackle and cornerback from what we can see so far but they are young players who might not develop plus injury concerns. That means any of the top five draft positions might need picks on days one and two next year, so let’s keep as flexible as possible with our draft capital.
2) Trade Contract Value
It isn’t just the players that you give up with those two draft picks, it is also important to remember the contracts those rookie players are on. Having more players in your starting line and rotation who are on rookie deals means the more money you can spend in either free agency or extending your own players.
So it isn’t just those two draft picks you have to give up for Jamal Adams, it is also another one or two starters/rotational contributors because you will have to replace those draft picks with free agents instead.
The Browns have a roster loaded with players on cheap rookie deals which means they can pay for expensive additions such as Beckham Jr., Vernon, Landry, Conklin, Richardson, Tretter, Hooper to name a few. If you don’t keep adding more cheap rookie contracts then you can’t sustain all of these expensive players from other teams. Plus the moment you pay your rookie quarterback, you start having to make dramatic decisions.
3) Cost of Extension
If you trade for Jamal Adams you need to give him an extension straight away. The danger of not doing it immediately is that you are over the barrel and he can demand anything he wants, look at what Tunsil managed out of the Texans. No front office is going to give up a first or more and then allow that player to become a free agent soon after.
Once you pay Adams the largest contract a safety has ever got in the NFL, you then have to decide who won’t be getting that money. Do you take it away from Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, or another player? Everything in the NFL is an opportunity cost. If you pay Adams then who aren’t you paying instead.
4) Star Power On Defense Is Overrated
We already know that coverage is more important than pass rush, so this does work in Jamal Adams’ favor. Eric’s research showed that the priority is to spread the resources across the defense.
We need to build on the recent additions of Ward, Greedy, and Delpit in our secondary. You can never have enough good defensive backs so don’t focus on trying to find a silver bullet, make sure that quality and quantity keeps getting added.
5) Lots of Safeties in Free Agency
If we look at the free agency market over the last two years we see safety is a position that it is easy to add talent without paying any draft cost. I am hoping to do a deep dive into the last five years and look at the players that are there for all positions but that will come at a later date.
2020: Reshad Jones, Devin McCourty, Jimmie Ward, Tony Jefferson, Malcolm Jenkins, Eric Reid, Eric Murray, Vonn Bell, Tre Boston, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Karl Joseph, and more.
2019: Landon Collins, Adrian Amos, Earl Thomas, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Lamarcus Joyner, Lamarcus Joyner, Eric Weddle, Morgan Burnett, Tre Boston, and more.
So just because we don’t spend big on safety now, don’t think that means we ignore the room moving forward. If we feel we need to make a solid addition next offseason there are sure to be plenty of names to go after on the market.
You don’t want to ever double pay for an NFL player, by giving up a haul of draft picks as well as a big contract extension you are potentially adding one player but losing around four starters/rotational contributors in the process. While you could argue a top quarterback might be worth it, no other position in the NFL comes close.
A move for Adams in a way reminds me of where the Bears were when they added Mack. Yes, he is a fun player to watch but he doesn’t really move the needle when it comes to winning.
There are some parts of the idea that I do like. I would much rather have draft capital and salary cap invested in coverage over pass-rush. The advantage of a defensive back is that they will generally play 100% of snaps, where someone on the defensive line is looking around 66%. Plus the Browns want to move to a nickel/dime base which will mean more safeties.
Those small benefits don’t outweigh the wider picture. I wish Jamal Adams the best on getting a massive payday, I hope the Jets get as much trade value for him as possible but I hope the Browns have nothing to do with this deal.
I hope you enjoyed the piece, if you have any questions feel free to ask me on Twitter at @JackDuffin, my DM’s are always open.