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Betting Implications of the Jamal Adams Trade

Safety Jamal Adams finally got his wish. On Saturday afternoon, just one day after essentially calling Jets Head Coach Adam Gase a bum, New York’s AFC team shipped Adams and a 2022 fourth-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for the Seahawks’ first-round picks in 2021 and 2022, a 2021 third-rounder, as well as safety Bradley McDougald. Before getting to what I think this trade means for both teams’ 2020 season and how you should bet on their win totals, let me get out some overall thoughts.

How Did Seattle Do?

This was beyond a bold move from Seattle’ General Manager John Schneider to give up that much for a safety. The last few times we’ve seen teams fork over multiple first-rounders for young, blue-chip talent, they’ve either been an edge rusher (Khalil Mack), a cornerback (Jalen Ramsey), or a left tackle (Laremy Tunsil). Those are arguably the three most important positions on the field after quarterback. Safety is at or near the bottom of that list.

Of course, Adams is a multidimensional player capable of wreaking havoc in both the run and pass game from almost anywhere on the field. He’ll be just 25 in October, and he’s already one of the three best players in the league at his position, if not the best. But between the forgone draft picks and the massive extension that is coming soon for Adams’s bank account, Seattle better win another title in the next two or three years to justify this one.

How Did New York Do?

For the Jets, I don’t know how Joe Douglas pulled this off. With the path he was trending on, Adams was probably two weeks away from choking his defensive coordinator so that he could get traded. He put the writing the wall on himself and the Jets’ leverage was shrinking with each passing day. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but good job New York Jets front office!

This should end up being a smart long-term move for Gang Green, and even for 2020, I can’t imagine it hurts them too much. Adams was far-and-away the Jets’ best player, but he’s not some otherworldly talent that was worth more than two first-round picks, let alone the third-rounder, and a quality replacement in McDougald. Man, if the Jets can figure out how to draft and/or actually retain quality talent, they’ll be in business.

What Does This Mean for Betting on Win Totals?

So, with one team going all-in on the short term and the other thinking big picture, what does this trade mean for both teams’ win totals in 2020, and should it change what action you take? Totals and money lines come courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Seahawks

Total: 9.5 – Over: (+105) | Under: (-125)

2019 Record: (11-5)

I’m not a fan of the Seahawks coughing up a small fortune of draft capital for a safety (if only in name), but that’s from more of a medium- and long-term perspective. For 2020, obviously this will help prop up a post-Legion of Boom Seattle defense that desperately needs to be better at stopping the run and rushing the passer. Adams will help with both of those things (i.e., he’s not bad at football), but he’s not enough on his own to push this from being an eight- or nine-win team to double digits.

Sure, the Seahawks won 11 games in 2019, but when you go a ridiculous 9-2 in games decided by eight points or fewer and post a +7-point differential, that usually corrects itself sooner rather than later. Let me put it a different way: If you could only beat last year’s Bengals by one point, you’re not a Jamal Adams away from winning a Super Bowl.

That said, this kind of move represents something. By yeeting away that many valuable assets, Schneider dropped his balls on the table and said it’s now or never. Adams will get his massive extension and become the highest-paid safety in football, but for now, he’s due to collect under $900 thousand for 2020. By swapping McDougald’s contract for year four of Adams’s rookie deal, Seattle has about $17 million in cap right now.

That amount should be enough to bring back Jadeveon Clowney and hope he returns to his 2017-18 form or pick up a pair of guys like Logan Ryan and Everson Griffen. Whatever the case, Schneider’s not just sitting on that money. We’re probably going to see another splashy move from this organization, and they’ll surely be prowling for post-training camp cuts, too. And I get it: This team wants to win before the franchise QB passes his peak and the head coach decides to collect social security.

Asking for 10+ wins is a lot, and I wouldn’t have wanted action before this trade, but if Seattle really is going to go YOLO with this season, now, with the ML still at +120, might be an opportune time to throw a unit or two on the over. Just don’t do your best John Schneider impersonation and try to go above that.

Jets

Total: 6.5 – Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

2019 Record: (7-9)

Two things to keep in mind when making sense of this trade from the Jets’ side and what it means for 2020. First: This isn’t the start of some fire sale for the Jets. Executives and coaches alike are desperate to make good on quarterback Sam Darnold’s third season, so if they oversee another losing season, a lot of guys’ key cards are going stop working.

Second: Replacing Adams with McDougald probably won’t impact the defense too much, and definitely not enough to cost them a win or two. Adams is unquestionably one of the NFL’s best safeties, and it’s probably not a question if he’s the most versatile. But is that production really irreplaceable?

I don’t think anyone will doubt that Adams is the best pass-rushing safety in the league after he put up 6.5 sacks, but it certainly helps the counting stats to work in the exotic blitz scheme that Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams runs. This is the same scheme that was able to net Roman Harper 7.5 sacks back in 2011, and I don’t remember anyone trading away a whole season’s worth of draft picks for him. Someone else in the back seven will be able to pick up a good portion of the slack, if for no reason other than getting the opportunities.

Having Adams roam in the box and along the defensive line was also a big help in making the Jets’ run defense one of the stingiest in the NFL in 2019. But it’s not like he was the sole reason teams ran for just 1391 yards on 3.3 yards per carry against the Jets last season. Both of those marks were second-best in the league, but it won’t be impossible to win seven games even if the run defense drops from top-three to top-five or 10. Plus, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is returning from injury after missing all but two games last season, and he’ll be a more-than-adequate replacement for Adams as the anchor in the middle of the defense.

As for McDougald, he’s pretty good! Particularly in pass coverage, where he might be even better than Adams. McDougald has nabbed five interceptions over the past two seasons against just two from Adams, and according to Pro Football Reference, the former Kansas defensive back allowed a passer rating of just 58.8 on 57 targets as the nearest defender in coverage, a stingy mark for a non-cornerback. With McDougald playing alongside Marcus Maye, safety will still be one of the Jets’ strong points.

So, the Jets should still have a comparable product without Adams in 2020 as they would have had with him. Trouble is, pinning down this team is tough. On the one hand, they’ve completely overhauled last season’s terrible offensive line, they were absolutely decimated by injuries, and they still managed seven wins. On the other hand, the skill-position group is trash, their point differential suggests they were more like a five- or six-win team last season, and they had one of 2019’s easiest schedules. At the end of the day though, this team’s success will largely depend on whether Darnold takes a big step forward in his progression and makes good on being the third overall pick in 2018. That’s not something I’m willing to wager on in either direction.

I don’t want action on 6.5 wins, but giving up on a player like Adams might scare some money into thinking that the Jets are headed for another trainwreck of a season. So, I’ll keep an eye on this win total and see if it drops down to six games. If I get that extra half-game back, I feel ok going with two or three units on the over and won’t sweat if it ends up as a push.