Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

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Yes, the 49ers Can Afford to Acquire and Pay Jets Safety Jamal Adams

Levin T. Black
Jul 12, 2020 at 5:12 AM


Hey, not sure if you've heard but All-Pro strong safety Jamal Adams of the New York Jets is demanding a trade and the San Francisco 49ers are reportedly interested. Oh, it's been all over Twitter and the sports talk shows for the past few weeks and is literally the only newsworthy topic to discuss until training camp? Ah well, why not look at whether it is even feasible?

The 49ers being interested in acquiring a top player shouldn't be news. This regime is ALWAYS interested and will kick the tires. General manager John Lynch inquired about trading for Tom Brady from the New England Patriots THREE years ago. The team pursued Odell Beckham Jr. and others as well. The 49ers are going to at least make a call to find out the price on any top player who has some chance of being available.

Adams certainly represents a top player ... and an upgrade. Current starter Jaquiski Tartt is a fine player (when healthy). He may make a Pro Bowl one of these years, but he's not on Adams' level. Adams is an All-Pro and one of maybe a dozen defensive players who are true game changers.

Adams is a 24-year old player who could end up in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. A lot can happen to disrupt him from getting his bust but getting a player with that ceiling, as he enters his prime, is a rare opportunity.

Convincing the Jets to trade him AND affording the massive extension he is seeking are the two big roadblocks for the 49ers. Let's address the trade proposal first.

Any trade would have to include Tartt. His value is limited though. He has just one year remaining on his deal. What team would want to trade the best strong safety in the league with two years remaining on his deal for an above average one with just one year left? 1. A team that's forced to by a player threatening to hold out. 2. The New York Jets ...

A trade I think would work for both teams is the aforementioned Tartt plus wide receiver Dante Pettis and a 2021 second-round pick. The pick is the most valuable part for the Jets but the team is also in dire need of wide receivers (projected starters are Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims) and Pettis is the 49ers player most in need of a fresh start.

Maybe the Jets have no interest in Pettis. If that is the case, the draft pick would have to be upgraded to a first rounder. That might be the case even with Pettis if the Jets play hardball and are willing to call Adams' bluff on a holdout.

Whatever it ends up, a trade both teams are content with is out there. The 49ers' ability to afford Adams is the bigger roadblock.

Currently, the 49ers have just over $12 million in cap space for the upcoming season. Most, if not all of that, is expected to be used on a George Kittle extension. Let's say a new Kittle deal has a cap hit of $8 million in year one. That leaves $4 million in cap space.

The 49ers will gain some cap space by trading Tartt but not the full $6.275 million. Tartt has a dead cap hit of $1.5 million if traded so the savings would be only $4.725 million, giving the 49ers a total of $8.725 million left after the Kittle deal.

Including Pettis in the deal has more to do with getting the Jets to trade Adams than increasing cap space for the 49ers. The 49ers would save just $378,132 according to OverTheCap.com. This is due to most of Pettis' cap hit being locked in already and thus becoming a dead cap hit for the 49ers upon trade.

Still, the 49ers would have a little over $9 million in cap space which should be enough with Executive Vice President of Football Operations Paraag Marathe's typical cap manipulations.

An Adams extension is likely to be record-setting in two ways. He will want to set the average annual value (AAV) record for safeties as well as the guaranteed amount. Due to his age and level of play he can command it too.

The Chicago Bears' Eddie Jackson has the highest AAV at $14.6 million and the Washington Soon to be Renamed's Landon Collins got $44.5 million guaranteed.

This puts an Adams extension in the $15-16 million AAV range and close to $50 million for guarantees, assuming a five-year deal. A realistic new deal for Adams would look like five years, $78 million with $48 million guaranteed.

Adams may want to top Collins' $84 million total contract value and thus set every record for a safety. This would require a sixth year, same as the Collins deal. A six-year deal should come in at $95 million overall, $58 million guaranteed.

It's a big contract. Doing this trade and extension, plus a Kittle extension, puts the 49ers in a salary cap bind. There are solutions to that problem in 2021, however (hello Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford).

For a team contending, it could be worth dealing with the bind to improve in 2020 while also locking up a top player for his prime seasons. Then again, the 49ers could win the Super bowl by sticking with Tartt and utilize the draft pick for a cheap replacement in 2021.

Ultimately, it may come down to the Jets' asking price.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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