The Seahawks appear ready to make Jamal Adams the NFL’s highest-paid safety, but they may not be planning to create a new tier for safety contracts.
Adams and the Seahawks have been expected to come to terms on a record-setting safety extension, meaning a deal worth north of Justin Simmons‘ $15.25MM-per-year contract. But Seattle does not want to move Adams beyond Bobby Wagner‘s $18MM-AAV deal, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (video link). This would appear to create a range for Adams’ next contract.
The All-Pro defender frequently plays alongside Wagner in the box, having become a historically productive pass rusher at the safety position, but a deal worth more than Wagner’s would completely reset the safety market and give the Seahawks three players earning at least $18MM annually. Adams also is coming off a so-so coverage season, per Pro Football Focus. The Seahawks want their 25-year-old chess piece to be their third-highest-paid player, behind Russell Wilson and Wagner, but the former Jets standout has hoped to avoid being constrained by the other top contracts at the safety position.
Seattle traded two first-rounders and change for Adams, giving him a Khalil Mack– or Laremy Tunsil-type negotiating position. While Mack’s 2018 Bears extension raised the bar for pass rushers by $1MM annually, from Aaron Donald‘s then-record place, Tunsil’s 2020 Texans accord created a new tier for left tackle pacts. The Seahawks would clearly prefer the Mack route here, though the Rams may have laid the groundwork for a compromise. After dealing two first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey, the Rams made him the NFL’s highest-paid corner — by $2.75MM per year — last September. The Seahawks may be prepared to let Adams’ next contract create similar AAV distance from the current top earners at his position.
Beyond an extension that locks up Adams long-term, the Seahawks have the option of the franchise tag in 2022. Adams, who is set to make $9.86MM on the fifth-year option this season, has sought a long-term deal since becoming extension-eligible in 2020. Contract talks with the Jets led him out of New York, and that trade has left Seattle without a first-round pick until 2023.
Given the leverage this trade provided Adams, it will be interesting to see how this process concludes. The Mack, Tunsil and Ramsey extensions point to Adams becoming the NFL’s highest-paid safety, and he could push that number near $20MM per year.