Coach Pete Carroll attempted on Tuesday to quash any notion that the Seattle Seahawks are considering cutting safety Jamal Adams after the team’s recent acquisition of Julian Love.
Carroll, speaking at the NFL’s annual meetings in Phoenix, stressed that the signing of the versatile Love doesn’t impact Adams or fellow safety Quandre Diggs, other than allowing Seattle to play with all three at once.
It remains unclear if Adams, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn quad tendon, will be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 season.
“We’ve sent our guys out to see him about 10 days ago and he’s coming in in the next couple weeks, too, so we’re keeping track,” Carroll said. “It sounds like he’s doing great. He’s pushing it and he’s going to try to bust whatever projections that would keep him from … being ready for the start of the season. He’s looking to get that done. We’re counting on it, hoping it.
“I know there’s some conversation that what we did with Julian, does that have some impact on Jamal or Quandre — it doesn’t. We have a clear thought of what we’re going to do with our guys and how we want to play them and we feel very fortunate to have all our guys.”
That plan includes packages that employ three safeties on the field together, with Adams playing closer to the line of scrimmage in a pseudo-linebacker role. The Seahawks intended to do that in 2022, believing it could reignite Adams after his down season in 2021, but he was lost for the year in the first half of their opener. On the play he was injured, Adams blitzed from a linebacker alignment with two safeties lined up behind him.
“We’ve been on this for a while,” Carroll said.
The speculation that the Seahawks could move on from Adams was tied to his hefty contract, his dip in production and availability over the past two seasons and all the money Seattle now has tied up in its safeties.
After he was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the New York Jets in 2020, Adams set the single-season sack record for a defensive back with 9.5 that year while making his third straight Pro Bowl. That led to a four-year, $70 million extension the following offseason. But he hasn’t been the same since.
Adams didn’t register a sack in 2021 before his season ended in December when he again tore his left shoulder labrum, the same injury he suffered and played through the year before. After missing only two games over his first three seasons with the Jets, Adams has missed 25 of a possible 50 games in three seasons with Seattle.
Adams has three years and $45 million remaining on his contract. That includes an $11 million base salary in 2023, of which $2.56 million is fully guaranteed. Cutting Adams this offseason could free up as much as $8.44 million in 2023 cap space, but it would come with $23.89 million in dead money. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that would be the seventh-highest amount of dead money in NFL history and the second highest for a non-quarterback.
Diggs, a Pro Bowler in each of the past two seasons, is due to make $25 million over the final two years of his deal. The Seahawks also tendered Ryan Neal — one of their defensive MVPs from 2022 while filling in for Adams — as a restricted free agent. Neal received the low tender worth $2.627 million, which all but secures his rights for this season for at least that much money.
Love signed a two-year, $12 million deal in the first week of free agency with Seattle, which includes $5.98 million guaranteed comprised of a $4.82 million signing bonus and a $1.16 million base salary for 2023, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. Love’s $5 million base salary for 2024 isn’t guaranteed.
The 25-year old Love had a breakout season for the Giants in his first full season as a starter. He recorded 124 tackles, two interceptions, five passes defensed and six tackles for loss while also serving as a team captain and defensive signal-caller.
The Seahawks did their homework on Love before free agency but didn’t believe he’d be within their contract range.
“He’s a super instinctive player,” general manager John Schneider said of Love on Seattle Sports 710-AM. “Great eyes, great vision. Highly, highly productive guy at Notre Dame and with the Giants.”
The Seahawks like the versatility Love has shown by playing both safety spots as well as nickelback. Carroll also noted how Love played more than 1,000 snaps on defense last season and more than 200 on special teams.
“That’s an unusual mix,” Carroll said. “That is just one aspect of what Julian brings. He’s a really versatile football player. He called their defense. Had the green dot. Was a captain. It was a very rare opportunity to get a guy like that, so we jumped at it.”
Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked if Love could play nickelback, a role filled last season by rookie Coby Bryant.
“Yes, he can do a lot of things,” Carroll said. “He was a very dynamic player in their system. He did everything from the back, was a really good deep-end player, but he fits into the running game and pressuring and all of those things. He’s got all of those things. He’s a really complete football player. Also the smarts that he brings and the leadership that he brings, he’s going to be a really good addition.”
ESPN reporter Lindsey Thiry contributed to this story.