FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The NFL trade deadline Tuesday was like a “Seinfeld” episode for the New York Jets: Nothing happened, but it was wildly entertaining.
After a day that produced no trades but plenty of speculation, hurt feelings and damage control, the Jets find themselves in a mess. They couldn’t even get a fire sale right, and now they have to deal with short- and long-term repercussions.
For now, you wonder about the Jets’ locker room, already in a fragile state after a 1-6 start. It can be a sticky situation when players return to the room after being dangled in trade talks. Will they be committed to the program, knowing the program managers (coach Adam Gase and general manager Joe Douglas) were listening to offers for them? Loyalty is supposed to be a two-way street. When it turns into a one-way boulevard, it can turn off players.
Gase, who hasn’t exactly galvanized the team, might have a problem on his hands with Jamal Adams, who is an outspoken and influential player in the locker room. Adams is so disgusted with the losing culture that he expressed his frustration behind closed doors last Sunday in Jacksonville, venting to teammates, a source said.
The star safety says he wants to stay in New York, but he acts like he wants to be elsewhere. Adams, who probably thought he was getting traded to his hometown Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, fired off a post-deadline tweet in which he stated his desire to remain with the Jets, adding he expressed that sentiment last week to Gase and Douglas.
OK, fine. But, wait … another tweet.
In his next missive, Adams said Douglas “went behind my back” and shopped him around the league. Adams said he received that intel from his agent. It’s possible his agent got it wrong. (Douglas insisted he didn’t “shop” Adams, but he acknowledged he listened to offers.) Instead of calling Douglas to clarify the situation before going public with his frustration, Adams took to social media, stirring the pot. Poor form for a captain.
Adams wants out — in my opinion — and will press the issue in the offseason. This is headed for an ugly divorce, a la Darrelle Revis, 2013. Adams’ neighbors on the (trading) block, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Robby Anderson, both sent positive, glad-to-be-staying messages via Twitter after the deadline had passed. They received calls from Douglas, who explained the circumstances. As of 5:30 p.m. ET, Douglas had not called Adams, but said he was planning to do so.
The pressure is on Gase to keep the locker room together, which won’t be easy. We’ll find out soon enough if the players have his back because the winless Miami Dolphins are up next, and it would be a stinging indictment if the Jets can’t beat the tanking-for-Tua team in South Florida. As CEO Christopher Johnson would say, we’ll see if the Jets actually show up.
Between now and then, Gase will be in kiss-and-make-up mode.
As for the long term, deadline day told us the Gase-Douglas regime isn’t married to any of the team’s most valuable assets — well, except for Sam Darnold, whom Douglas called a franchise quarterback. Get ready for a wild offseason as Douglas, who inherited a deeply flawed roster in June, will rebuild with seven draft picks and $60 million in salary-cap room.
Douglas can get at least a first-round pick for Adams (the Cowboys reportedly offered their No. 1), and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he listens to offers (wink, wink) for Bell, whose talent is going to waste behind a porous offensive line. Anderson will be a free agent, but he probably will be allowed to walk. In other words, it will be another rebuilding phase.
This rebuilding should have started in March, but Johnson’s indecision on former GM Mike Maccagnan set the organization back a year. He entrusted Maccagnan to run free agency and the draft, waiting until after the draft to fire him. Give a desperate GM $100 million in cap room and … well, you saw what happened.
Maccagnan bought expensive toys in Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley, signaling a win-now movement. (By the way, Mosley has yet to play a complete game.) A prescient GM would have traded defensive lineman Leonard Williams during the draft, but that issue didn’t get resolved until Monday. By then, his value had slipped. Douglas did well to get a 2020 third-round pick and 2021 conditional fifth-rounder.
Clearly, Maccagnan miscalculated because the Jets aren’t close to winning now. So the endless cycle of rebuilding will continue, as Douglas attempts to collect draft capital for what figures to be a massive overhaul. He said he “absolutely” wants to keep Adams, whom he praised effusively. The reality is, Douglas sees Adams as their No. 1 asset, which can be parlayed into draft picks.
“I would say that every team goes through a certain amount of rebuilding in every offseason,” he said. “I’m not going to classify this as a rebuild, teardown, however you want to say that. I think we’re going to be looking to upgrade multiple positions through the draft, through free agency, through every avenue I’ve described.”
Where have we heard that before?