Adam Gase is moving on and mostly taking the high road.
The trade of Jamal Adams was still a hot topic Tuesday as New York Jets players begin filtering into the team’s facility for the start of training camp, and the coach had a few positive words about his former star safety.
“For me personally, he’s an incredible talent that I feel lucky enough to (have been) around for that year,” Gase said during a conference call.
The feeling, however, apparently wasn’t mutual.
In a story published last Friday in the New York Daily News, Adams was highly critical of both Gase and general manager Joe Douglas. Among those criticisms, Adams said he wasn’t sure Gase is “the right leader for this organization to reach the Promised Land.”
A day later, Douglas completed a trade that had been in the works for several weeks, dealing Adams and a 2022 fourth-round pick to Seattle for a 2021 first-rounder, a 2022 first-rounder, a 2021 third-rounder and safety Bradley McDougald.
“Every situation is different with every player and, for us, we always look at it as we want guys who want to be here,” Gase said in his strongest comment on the situation. “And obviously, he didn’t want to be here anymore.
“So the decision was made to move on.”
Adams’ relationship with the Jets had become contentious over the last several months, beginning last October when Douglas fielded calls from teams inquiring about the star safety’s availability. Adams, who outplayed his rookie deal, wanted a contract extension during the offseason and felt misled by Douglas — who insisted Monday he never promised an offer to Adams or his agents.
Adams requested a trade last month, but told the Daily News he planned to report to camp with his Jets teammates if he remained in New York. Douglas avoided any potential tension by trading away the team’s best all-around player.
“We want nothing but the best for him, you know?” Gase said. “Hopefully he has great success in Seattle. He’s with a great coaching staff. I’ve known a lot of those guys there and he’ll fit in great in that scheme and that organization. I really think, though, the whole situation ends up being a win-win for both sides.
“And, for us, now it’s we’re moving forward.”
But first, Gase specifically addressed one of Adams’ criticisms in the Daily News interview during which the safety said the coach doesn’t speak to the team as a group at halftime if they’re playing poorly and losing.
“We had two times in the second half of the season that we were down,” Gase said. “One was the Cincinnati game, and I addressed the team at halftime. One was the Baltimore game, and I addressed the team at halftime. One game he was in the training room against Cincinnati, the other one he wasn’t playing. It’s hard for me to answer a question like that when I know the correct answer.”
Douglas defended Gase as being the right coach to lead the team right now, based on how he kept the Jets together during their 1-7 start and helped them rebound to a 7-9 finish. Quarterback Sam Darnold echoed Douglas’ praise without hesitation.
“He’s the right leader for this team, for sure,” Darnold said on a video call. “For me personally, he’s helped me grow a ton as a quarterback in learning this offense. I just think throughout the weeks leading up to games, he does everything he possibly can to put us in position to win on Sundays. That’s my experience with Coach Gase.
“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with him so far.”
Despite losing a player the caliber of Adams, Gase heads into training camp optimistic about his overall roster. Douglas added lots of depth in the offseason, particularly on the offensive line.
“It’s all about the locker room,” Gase said. “That’s where it’s going to start and end, and making sure that when that group is tight, then that’s going to give us our best chance to win games. And I really like how this group has worked so far.
“It’ll be exciting to see these guys get on the field and come together and we’ll see what we can do.”