A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
The first pressure point is the NFL draft, which begins Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ABC and ESPN). While a trade seems unlikely, it can't be ruled out. Remember, Jets general manager Joe Douglas entertained offers last fall for Adams at the trading deadline. If a team calls, he won't hang up. Douglas and CEO Christopher Johnson are on record as saying they want to make Adams a Jet for life, but life can change quickly in the NFL.
From all indications, Douglas wants to extend Adams. I can tell you this: His measured approach to NFL free agency was done, in part, with an eye on the future, knowing potential big deals for Adams and quarterback Sam Darnold are looming on the horizon. It's important to note that Douglas at no point has revealed a timetable for an Adams extension, and my distinct impression is the Jets will be content to slow-play this into 2021 unless Adams accepts a team-friendly deal.
That won't sit well with Adams, who said in late January he wants an extension this offseason. The first sign of a staredown occurred Friday, when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Adams is planning to skip the voluntary offseason program, which begins virtually on April 27. Is it a big deal if he misses a daily video conference with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams? Of course not. Internally, the Jets weren't surprised by Adams' decision to skip.
The only surprise was the timing of the leak. If it came from the Adams camp, it created a poor optic for the All-Pro safety. He plays in a city that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, and he won't gain sympathy from the fan base if he plays the "underpaid" card. He is enormously popular, arguably the face of the franchise, but he will squander his collateral if he whines about his contract. The Jets are allowing season-ticket holders to defer payments, a sign of the economic times in the region.
This will become a big deal if the Adams camp tries to force the issue behind the scenes with a "Pay-me-or-trade-me" demand. If that happens, it behooves Douglas to make a decision now on Adams' long-term future. If Douglas believes there is no hope of finding common ground with Adams on an extension, he should shop the All-Pro safety while his value is an all-time high. Why kick the can down the road? Take the draft picks and kick-start the rebuild -- but only if it's an offer he can't refuse. It has to be at least a first- and second-round pick.
Douglas is operating from a position of power, so there's no reason to settle. The Jets control Adams for 2020 ($3.5 million) and 2021 ($9.9 million for his fifth-year option), plus a potential franchise tag in 2022. They would be silly to deal him for anything less than a premium price.
Could Adams stage a training camp holdout, assuming there is a camp? Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a player on his rookie contract is fined $40,000 per day (it can be waived later by the team if it chooses) and he loses an accrued season if he doesn't report on time. The latter penalty is harsh because it prevents Adams from getting closer to free agency. Adams has no leverage because he is under team control. He also plays a non-premium position; it's unusual for a safety to "win" a holdout. Earl Thomas tried it a few years ago with the Seattle Seahawks, and it backfired.
Douglas talks glowingly of Adams, but we've also learned he is a no-nonsense executive when it comes to money. Is he willing to pay, say, $16 million per year for a one-dimensional safety? Yes, he's great in the box, but doesn't make plays on the ball (two career interceptions).
Clearly, Adams has outperformed his rookie contract, which averages $5.6 million per year. If the Jets want to send a strong message to the team and the fan base, they will extend his contract before the season, the way the Carolina Panthers did for running back Christian McCaffrey, who was drafted two spots after Adams in 2017.
In the meantime, Adams needs to relax and the Jets need to do a better job of communicating their intentions to him. It would be a shame if the relationship with their best player since Darrelle Revis is destroyed. My prediction: Prepare for a long soap opera.
2. Draft buzz: The news that Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton had a flagged drug test at the combine could affect the Jets' draft strategy. The sense is they prefer to take a tackle with the No. 11 pick, but there's a decent chance Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. and Georgia's Andrew Thomas could be off the board.
If Becton is available and the Jets have concerns -- Douglas has placed an emphasis on character -- it could prompt the Jets to draft a wide receiver at No. 11. In that case, the player to watch is Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. From what I hear, he might have the edge over the Alabama wideouts, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Lamb is the slowest of the three, but he is a big target (6-foot-2) and is known as a YAC (yards after catch) machine.
3. Trader Joe: The Jets haven't made a draft-day trade in the first round since 2009, when they moved up for quarterback Mark Sanchez. (They jumped up for Sam Darnold in 2018, but that trade was executed a month before the draft.) Don't be surprised if Douglas ends the streak.
Douglas, who came from two trade-happy organizations (Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles), could bring a similar philosophy to the Jets in his first draft as GM. Sources say he is open to dropping a few spots in the first round. He would probably still get a much-needed lineman or wide receiver, along with extra picks. It would be consistent with his entire game plan this offseason, as the focus has been on volume.
"Joe is going to do very well in the middle rounds of this draft," said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout who worked with Douglas in Baltimore and Philadelphia. "That's where the sweet spot is. I would not be shocked if, either at 11 or 48, he traded down to get even more picks in that third- and fourth-round range, because then he can really upgrade the roster with this draft."
4. Did you know? Sanchez holds the record for the largest hand size (10½ inches) of any first-round quarterback measured at the scouting combine since 2006. Should Utah State's Jordan Love get drafted in the first round, it should be noted he also has 10½-inch hands.
5. Did you know, part II? The Jets are the only team that averaged fewer than 5.0 yards per play in each of the past three seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That covers three different offensive playcallers -- John Morton, Jeremy Bates and Adam Gase.
Translation: It's not the coaching. They need better players.
6. Where's the board? Because it's a virtual draft, with team officials working remotely, the Jets won't have a traditional draft board. In past years, they had a board that was protected under lock and key in the war room. This year, it will be an electronic draft board, one that can be accessed on a laptop.
Memo to Douglas and Gase: Write down your passwords and store them in a safe place. Take it from someone who knows the frustration of a forgotten password.
7. A touch of Bill Belichick: The Jets will be drafting with a new grading system, which Douglas learned from the Ravens and installed last summer upon his arrival. Former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome picked up the system from the Cleveland Browns, where he worked under Belichick in the 1990s.
Simply put, it differs from the Jets' previous system in that it places a greater emphasis on scheme fit and preferred positional traits. Under the previous regime, they graded players in a vacuum, so to speak -- an objective evaluation based on overall talent.
"We use numbers and alphabet," Newsome told ESPN. "It allows you to put players in a category. In that category, you have a very good understanding of what that player can do and who he’s being compared to."
Example: If a player receives a grade of 6.9 C, it means first-year starter with a character issue. They use letter notations that cover everything from body type to speed, with a grading scale that maxes out at 8.0. In essence, the Jets are speaking a different language under Douglas.
8. Bold prediction: Players always slip in the draft. The Jets know that better than most (see: Darnold, Adams and Leonard Williams). This year, the Most Likely to Slip is Isaiah Simmons, Clemson's do-everything defender. What if he falls to 11? That would present a fascinating decision.
10. The last word: "Until you get [the offensive line] fixed, until you have the depth there, until you have the right personality on that line, you could throw Henry Ruggs out there or you could throw CeeDee Lamb out there ... they're not going to get the ball away on a regular basis. As rich as this [wide receiver] crop is, I believe it still has to start up front." -- NFL Network analyst and former NFL lineman Brian Baldinger.