If Adams, who has already been one of the Seahawks' best players through his first eight games in Seattle, is indeed just now starting to get it, the timing couldn't be better, both for him and his team. For the Seahawks, getting an even better version of Adams late in the season could make a big difference in a tight battle for the NFC West and in a potential playoff run, and for Adams, it means he has a chance to put his best foot forward against his former team when the Seahawks host the Jets on Sunday.
Adams, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2017 draft, spent his first three seasons in New York where he was a two-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro last season, but this offseason he requested a trade, which eventually came just before the start of training camp in the form of a deal that sent him and a 2022 fourth-round pick to Seattle in exchange for first and third-round picks in next year's draft, a first-rounder in 2022, and safety Bradley McDougald. It was a steep price to pay, but a move the Seahawks have loved so far.
"Oh shoot, ecstatic," Carroll said when asked about the trade this week. "Ecstatic about it. He's been everything we could have hoped for at this point, and he's going to keep getting better… He's a fantastic player. I'm thrilled about the trade."
While injuries have limited Adams this year—he missed four games with a groin injury and has been playing through a shoulder injury for several weeks, he has still made a big impact, recording 7.5 sacks, just short of the NFL record for sacks by a defensive back (8.0 by Adrian Wilson in 2005), a team-leading eight tackles for loss, and 58 tackles, which ranks third on the team behind Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright despite the time he has missed.
"He's been great, man," Wagner said. "He's been a great teammate. He's been flying around making plays, he's a playmaker. He's always getting sacks, the energy that he brings to the team is just something that you can't teach. It's really good to have him on the team."
And what has made Adams a great addition isn't just his on-field talents, but also the contagious energy and enthusiasm that has been so obvious from his first day of training camp.
"What Jamal really brought to us was just as energy, his passion for the game, his knowledge," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "You can see how fast his mind processes information, how much he loves to study the game, how much he's passionate about his other teammates that he's around, and how much he really loves the process of it all."
"I'm not here to make it about me."
When the Seahawks host the Jets on Sunday, all eyes will be on Adams as he faces his former team, that much is inevitable no matter how he approaches the game himself.
"For me it's another game, it's the next opponent," Adams said. "This game is very important because it's the next one. Obviously, it is against the Jets, my former team, but I'm not here to make it about me. I'm just going out there to do my job."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he had conversations about this week's game with Adams and right tackle Brandon Shell, who spent his first four seasons with the Jets before signing with Seattle in free agency this year. On those talks, Carroll said, "The first thing is to acknowledge that it is a big deal. And then to realize that you don't want to let that factor into your ability to focus and concentrate and do your job and all that."
Adams knows he can't pretend this game is exactly the same as any other, but as Carroll preached this week, the plan is to acknowledge the magnitude of the situation without letting it take him out of his game.
"Don't get me wrong, I would be lying if I said I'm not excited," he said. "I'm about to play my old team, of course. But it's an even-keel mindset, I'm not trying to make this about me. I'm not trying to hype myself up, I'm not trying to go out there and prove that I can make this play and make that play. I was with them for three years, they've seen me, they've seen what I can do. And I have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys over there. They're going to be talking noise, I'm going to be talking noise. It's going to be a fun battle, man. I know their record might not show it all the time but that's a that's a that's a ballclub that that never stops fighting."
Adams will face his former team also knowing that he can look back at what transpired over the past year with no regrets despite a sometimes messy breakup with the Jets, and he approaches this game knowing he is now in a different place, mentally, than last year when he said he was battling depression.
"I'm at peace, man," he said. "I'm a different guy, I'm really a different guy. I'm still going to talk my noise, but at peace with it, man. I hope that this explains a little bit more of how I felt, but at the end of the day, I did what was best for my family and myself and my career. I took a chance on myself at 24 years old. Many people didn't think that a 24-year-old would get out of his situation, they thought I was crazy. They thought I was a baby they thought everything, but man I stuck to it, I knew who I was as a person, I know my worth. And like I said, I have nothing but respect to the Jets organization. I pray one day that they do figure it out and they do get the ball rolling, because the fans deserve it over there. All of Jets fans deserve a positive season, a chance at the playoffs a chance at the run. They deserve that because they're so passionate and they're so loyal to you know the Jets. So like I said, nothing but respect and love always. I'll always understand where I came from, who drafted me, because that plays a part in the journey, and like I always say, the marathon continues."
"I'm happy to be a Seattle Seahawk… It's a first-class organization."
While Adams knew he wanted out of New York, what he didn't know prior to the trade was where he would end up or what things would be like with his new team. And after four and a half months in Seattle, Adams feels like he's found a home both on the field an within an organization that has embraced him.
"I'm happy to be here, man," Adams said. "I'm happy to be a Seattle Seahawk. I'm happy to be a part of an organization that values me and respects me for who I am on and off the field. And they're giving me a chance to be myself, they always strive and always push me to be myself. And they always support me, whether it's wrong or right—and they'll tell me if I'm wrong—so at the end of the day, man I'm just happy to be here. I'm not really focused on the past. It did go down the way it went down. But I have nothing but love for the Jets organization."