In two of his three NFL seasons, Adams has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice and has been a standout on a Jets team that has posted a 16-32 record since Adams was drafted as the sixth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
But as salivating as a prospect like Adams is, there’s several drawbacks in attempting to add him, one of which comes in the form of current San Francisco safety Jaquiski Tartt. The former Samford Bulldog came into an important role in the 2019 season, but is Adams enough of an improvement to put Tartt on the bench?
Die-hard Niner with something to say? Join our community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook!
The Case for Adams
When you measure up Adams and Tartt, it’s an easy decision. Tartt has one more interception in his NFL career than Adams, but in 13 more games and two more total seasons, and Adams makes up for it with six forced fumbles since getting into the league.
To put it simply, Adams is possibly the NFL’s most disruptive safety. He has the pace and vision to stick with some of the NFL’s fastest, but his hard-hitting specialty in the box makes him an absolute nightmare to deal with in just about every situation.
Trading for Adams and figuring out a way to lock him up long-term, which is one of the hurdles with signing the former LSU Tiger, isn’t just upgrading in the secondary, it’s ensuring San Francisco has a long-term star and leader lining up at safety, corner, or as moments in New York have shown, even linebacker.
A trade with Adams would have to see Tartt go the other way, which is only sensible. But what makes a trade for Adams so valuable is also what makes it potentially risky.
The Case for Tartt
To successfully land Adams, Tartt, a first-round pick in 2021 and likely other picks would have to go the other way. It’s a tremendous amount of capital for a player who has been as disruptive off the field as on it, with Adams being a vocal critic throughout his time in the Big Apple.
Instead, the 49ers could just pay Tartt’s $4.3 million salary in 2020, the last year of his deal, and let him play for a new contract. It’s not like Tartt has nothing to play for, but 2020 is a big year for the five-year veteran in terms of what he might make in 2021 and onward.
Considering that Adams would want a market-competing or setting contract and the 49ers are already looking at tight cap situations with running back Raheem Mostert and tight end George Kittle, Tartt’s value for his pay may just make more sense.
Credit to 49ers’ Webzone Contributor Jason Aponte, who provided an interesting stat and video on Twitter explaining how much Tartt meant to the team when he was on the field.
Interestingly enough, this represents where Tartt and Adams are relatively equal: coverage. Tartt knows the 49ers system and is a veteran member of the locker room, and in just about every game the safety lines up in, he’s limiting huge plays and could still be better, as seen through the two dropped interceptions in this video.
As in many situations like these, it will come down to how bad the 49ers think they need a top-level strong safety to line up alongside Jimmie Ward. Tartt fit his role well i in 2019, but didn’t play so well that he outshone the players around him. Adams is that type of player, but he’s going to cost accordingly.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.