Jamal Adams
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Honesty represents the one possible saving grace for Jamal Adams and the New York Jets leading up to the 2020 NFL season.

Robby Sabo

Imagine a perfect world, your ideal world. No, don’t go right to the Homer Simpson version that has him prancing through the streets of the land of chocolate.

Instead, picture a future date this summer in which Jamal Adams is smiling from ear-to-ear on camera and Gregg Williams is already constructing ways to get the kid to the quarterback seven-plus times in 2020.

That’s the world the New York Jets fan envisions as perfect, and it’ll only happen if Joe Douglas and the organization forks up the cash.

Now come back to reality. Sorry.

How does that work exactly? How does Adams signing on the dotted line look after he crossed a line no NFL player should venture past (even in the face of negotiations)?

For an organization that’s preached “culture,” it doesn’t look too realistic.

It’s why honesty—the very same thing that created this mess—is the only saving grace in this situation.

What’s Adams really thinking? Did the Jets promise to offer the kid an extension in January yet not come through? Do the Jets want to dish that massive contract out to a safety?

All everybody knows right now is pretty damn obvious. Adams continues to send cryptic and straightforward messages out to the world, and making total sense of it is one of the more fruitless ventures in this life.

For example, after mentioning the Dallas Cowboys and saying his goodbyes to Marcus Maye, Adams has shouted out Bill Belichick for signing Cam Newton among other actions. On Tuesday, he generated two Jets-related posts (among other tidbits, of course).

“On top and I’m staying there” doesn’t mean anything Jets-positive, but the fact he’s even willing to post a photo of himself in a Jets uniform is a worthwhile callout. At this point, he’s toying with the fans. That and the idea this might be the most honest athlete in sports is the reason his social media accounts have become must-watch (not a bad business decision in its own right these days).

What strategy has the Adams camp deployed here? Adams is doing everything he can to skip town. He knows where the line is and how not to cross it, yet he did on several occasions already.

His actions don’t exactly promote a healthy expansion of marketability. This is a smart kid. He understands the business and realizes he has little-to-no leverage, which means playing the good solider is his best bet. In spite of his “best safety in the NFL” tagline, value is driven down when a player makes this sort of noise.

At the root, he’s just an honest kid. What he shares in the public eye totals what 100 NFL players might share in a lifetime. Wearing his emotions on any sleeve is part of his daily life, and he’s reached an endpoint.

His father is George Adams, first-round pick of the New York Giants in 1985. George could never quite get on track in the NFL which resulted in disappointment at the bargaining table. George was never able to snag that big contract.

Also remember, Adams has immersed himself in the Black Lives Matter movement since George Floyd’s untimely death. One of his tweets at the beginning of the push explained his willingness to jump up and participate.

“When I was younger, I used to be scared to use my voice because I wanted to be liked by everyone,” Adams tweeted. “Life lessons & sports have changed my outlook on life. I will not hold back on the truth. I will fight & hold everybody accountable until it’s right. BLACK LIVES MATTER!”

Adding this fuel to the always already-charged up Jamal made for a powder keg of an offseason. Jamal is shooting at the hip. Even if a bit of strategy was mixed in there, Adams’ messaging represents an honest man.

It’s probably what fuels Adams’ drive on the field and his recent issues away from it.

Never can the Jets best player hide his emotions after a loss. After a win, it’s good times in the locker room, celebrating while knowing much more needs to be accomplished. After a loss, the Adams vibe is depressing. Very short answers, a lowkey voice and uncertainty in the kid’s eyes on the camera rule the locker room.

Honesty is probably what hurt him last trade deadline.

Even in that situation, the information is scarce. Nobody truly knows if Joe Douglas was shopping Adams or simply fielding questions. Nobody knows what Adams now thinks about what happened last fall. At the time, the kid could not hide his emotions. His honesty ruled the day courtesy of that newsmaking moment when he sent that tweet.

Adams’ honesty in comparing his game against some of the current greats, such as Aaron Donald and Tom Brady, drew the ire of some NFL fans. Yet, he hung in there and finished the 2019 season incredibly strong despite a late injury.

Perhaps honesty in the event of reconciliation would do the trick on Adams’ behalf. The majority of the fanbase turned on him the moment he requested a trade, but the majority of that majority would flip right back if the kid came out in a moment of honesty and explained his actions as “just business” (even if it was not, completely).

How would honesty work for the Jets? Remember, this is a new regime that’s patched up Florham Park, NJ to such a degree that 90 percent of the media leaks are nonexistent today. Douglas has preached wanting the “best culture in sports,” his mission statement as front office boss of the Jets.

Welcoming Adams—a guy who’s reigned terror on the Jets’ public perception for weeks running—back would be a tough sell for Douglas’ mission statement. His actions don’t exactly align with “best culture in sports” territory.

Only honesty will get it done. If the Jets cave and give in to Adams’ demands, only a forthcoming message will save the day. Sure, the invaluable nature of Adams within Gregg Williams’ defense is enough reason alone, but Douglas’ honesty in the situation—when the Jets finally talk publicly—will be the only thing that can save this thing.

Remember, Douglas has maintained the public sentiment that the Jets want Adams around for life. He’s also been steadfast in negotiating with Adams’ camp once the draft process came to its conclusion. And don’t forget about that pesky COVID-19 situation that is hanging over every franchise’s head in regards to the 2021 salary cap. Most of it can be washed away through appropriate messaging. There will be, no doubt, some remnants of the situation to follow, but the hard part (the extension) would be over.

Through this entire mess that was kickstarted by one kid wearing his emotions on his sleeve publicly (right or wong), perhaps it’s that same thing, honesty, that represents this marriage’s saving grace. It’s the one thing the entire fanbase usually rallies behind.


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