If Cowboys want Jets' Jamal Adams, they need to pick up the phone

Charles RobinsonNFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

Jamal Adams may want to be a Dallas Cowboy, but it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual — particularly at the cost it would incur for a trade to happen.

League sources familiar with the Cowboys, Adams and his team, the New York Jets, framed the contract gridlock surrounding the star safety on Friday, painting the picture of a frustrating stalemate that could ultimately be resolved through a hefty trade offer.

As of Friday, Dallas hadn’t picked up the phone to inquire about Adams, who is seeking an extension that would make him the highest paid safety in the NFL. Such a price tag could complicate a trade pursuit by the Cowboys, who essentially have two financial avenues available if Adams were acquired: Either asking him to play through 2020 on his current rookie deal; or getting an extension done with quarterback Dak Prescott that would create salary-cap space needed for an Adams extension.

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It’s not clear whether Adams would agree to continue playing on his rookie deal for a trade suitor, although that could be part of the conversation if a cap-strapped team inquires. It could ultimately be a situation similar to the arrangement between the Los Angeles Rams and Jalen Ramsey last season, which saw both sides agree to table extension talks until after the completion of his fourth season.

If Adams signs an extension, it’s expected to be priced in the range of $15 million to $17 million per season, placing him comfortably at the top of the league’s safety market.

Jamal Adams is entering Year 4 of his rookie deal with the Jets. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Jamal Adams is entering Year 4 of his rookie deal with the Jets. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Why are Jets reluctant on extension for Jamal Adams now?

What is clear is that the Jets are not interested in setting a sizable precedent by extending Adams after his third NFL season. As it stands, only Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has signed a contract extension from the first round of the 2017 NFL draft class. That has been a significant headwind as Adams has sought an extension from the Jets, along with the reality that a multitude of defensive superstars from recent draft classes played through their fourth seasons before getting an extension, including Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack, who were both named to multiple All-Pro teams and each won Defensive Player of the Year honors before receiving new deals. Adams was named to his first All-Pro team in 2019.

Whether Dallas would make an earlier leap on Adams remains a question. And it’s one that can’t be considered without the clearance of a daunting trade hurdle. As NFL Network’s Michael Irvin reported, the price tag for Adams is indeed a first- and a third-round draft pick.

The price could be steeper for Dallas, which has been relayed to the Jets as Adams’ preferred franchise in a trade scenario. It’s worth noting that the Cowboys made a mess of trade talks surrounding Adams at the deadline last season, leaking information to the media that ultimately ended up scuttling any shot at a deal. Jets ownership hasn’t forgotten that experience, having walked away from it feeling burned.

That’s something that could linger in any future talks and result in Dallas having a more expensive price tag, especially if Adams is willing to play in Dallas on his rookie deal, which he clearly doesn’t want to do for the Jets.

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