Jamal Adams, Joe Douglas
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New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas is now officially thrust into a no-win situation regarding Jamal Adams.

Robby Sabo

What’s to think about? Sports teams should always do everything possible to re-sign superstars. Right?

As it relates to Jamal Adams and his New York Jets employee status, the previous sentiment was a no-brainer just several months ago. Lines like “it would be dumb to trade Jamal Adams” flooded Twitter thanks to smart fans who always know best.

Mulligan?

The mere fact Adams is now putting the pressure on after the 2020 NFL draft is a killer. And while his official request of a trade on Thursday hurts, it creates a sticky situation for Joe Douglas who needs to play this one right in order to set the correct tone for his tenure.

There’s just one little problem: there is no home run answer.

If Douglas trades Adams, it’s Darrelle Revis all over again. The new, hope-filled Jets GM would have traded away the organization’s best talent since No. 24, and yet again, the fury that would appear from every media angle about the team once again trading its best player is easy to assume.

If Douglas were to quickly turn around and sign Adams, the number of individuals who’d then raise an eyebrow towards Douglas would be overwhelming. How could a man who’s preached culture so often over the last year allow himself to be bullied into an extension by a guy whose public actions are the antithesis of what Douglas wants?

“Our goal is to create the best culture in sports,” Douglas proclaimed. “It’s a self-sustaining entity where professionalism, leadership is transferred from one generation of players to the next. Every great team has that culture, and that’s what we’re going to try to create here.”

This time last year, not one person would have argued Adams’s place within that idea of the right culture. Today, it’s a debate that continues to welcome more anti-Adams Jets fans to the party.

“It’s going to take people with the right level of commitment, character and competence.”

There is, of course, a third option, the most likely option, and that is to see nothing done. The Jets have two more years of control, and the idea that Adams would actually hold out is a far-fetched one. To think this is actually a solvable answer is to think Adams would suddenly fall in line.

If it’s not this, it’ll be something else. Usually, when a player uses the public to showcase his anger in a situation, it’ll happen again. To leave a disgruntled Adams on the team while still preaching “culture” is sale better left for the Wolf of Wall Street (impossible or illegal).

At this point, it’s not simple as, “Let’s sit down face to face like big boys and hash something out.” Actions mean a ton and must align with the program. If not, a boss loses all credibility.

Remember, this isn’t a cozy job. The Jets general manager job is unlike most in the NFL. Not only does this post have to deal with the effort of building a winner, but it also has to deal with a rabid media and a history that never allows the organization a moment to breathe.

Lose in Week 1 after leading by 14 in the fourth quarter? Same old Jets.

Draft the wrong quarterback while the Hall of Famer heads to Miami? Same old Jets.

Trade away your best player? Same old Jets.

Firmly stomping that foot down in a situation like this is commonplace for a Bill Belichick-run program. The success and rings are all that’s needed to back up any gutsy move that rids the franchise of a Hall of Fame talent. At Florham Park, it’s extremely tricky.

But that doesn’t mean Douglas needs to get on his knees and start begging.

The refreshing part of Douglas’s first full offseason in New Jersey was the idea he didn’t beg. Unlike the previous regime that saw extra dollars get handed out like Tic Tacs, Douglas drew a line in the sand per each negotiation. He knew exactly how far to take each situation and wouldn’t relent. It’s a strategy that plays on value and absolute respect.

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Remember, the Jets are still after league-wide respect. To get that finish line, begging and overpaying players can’t be in the cards. Forget the fact that the hard salary cap would eat a far-reaching team alive for a moment; respect is lost when players talk among themselves and the message is sent along that the Jets are chumps—that they can be had per negotiations.

Signing Adams anytime before the start of the 2020 season would force the NFL to lose a ton of respect for Douglas and the Jets at this point. Forget the fact only 15 first-rounders of a possible 191 from 2011 through 2016 have been extended prior to the fourth year on their rookie deals; the idea the Jets would dish out the dollars to a guy who’s already asked for a trade and acted the way he has on social media for weeks is something a general manager may never live down.

Rewarding a guy for his efforts while he keeps negotiations private is a tremendous respect gainer. Doing the same thing after he attempts to bully you into a corner is where the player’s importance surpasses the team’s.

Interestingly, it’s also shocking Adams would take this route. He comes from a football family. He understands the business. There’s no chance in the world his recent actions help him to the money he’s seeking. It instead hurts his chances as league-wide opinions on the man plummet.

Maybe he’s just too emotional. Or maybe he just wants out no matter the consequences. Whatever the case, it’s now Douglas’s move to make—one that doesn’t involve a slam-dunk win from any angle.

In January it was about sheer salary cap ramifications. Now it’s about respect and precedent.

How Joe Douglas handles Jamal Adams will impact the New York Jets for years to come.


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