How Jamal Adams completes Seahawks’ sneaky rebuild of new ‘Legion of Boom’

The Seahawks had an abrupt end to their first “Legion of Boom.” With Saturday’s blockbuster trade for former Jets safety Jamal Adams, they can finally feel great about the potential for a real sequel.

Two offseasons after Seattle’s secondary started to break up, the team can be confident that it has a complete playmaking group again. Adding Adams was the most high-profile move, but it wouldn’t have been prompted unless the three other starting spots at cornerback and free safety were already refilled.

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Adams, at 6-1, 213 pounds, isn’t quite as big as Kam Chancellor (6-3, 225 pounds), but he is the same type of rare strong safety. Adams’ calling card is hard hitting and powerful tackling. Like Chancellor, he can handle the coverage aspects well, too. Early in his career, Adams also has been a terrific pass rusher for the position.

The Seahawks did give up a lot to get Adams — two first-round picks, a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald. But in their minds, they are getting another transcendent multi-dimensional defender, or literally one worth multiple lesser players.

McDougald was an adequate fill-in for Chancellor for the past two seasons, but he was a massive all-around drop-off. Adams greatly upgrades the spot and allows Pete Caroll and Ken Norton Jr. to do a lot more with their entire defense.

Before going supersonic with Adams, the Seahawks quietly chipped away well in trying to replace top corner Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas, too. As a rookie third-round pick in 2017 in Sherman’s final season in Seattle, Shaquill Griffin was groomed well as a complementary corner, to the point that he emerged as a Pro Bowler in 2019.

Griffin returns now as the team’s second-best corner. The Seahawks lucked out when the Washington Football Team wanted to move Quinton Dunbar, not seeing him as a good philosophical fit with new defensive-minded coach Ron Rivera. For a fifth-round pick, the Seahawks landed a big corner (6-2, 202 pounds) with similar physical skills as Sherman (6-3, 195 pounds). 

Dunbar does have an off-field cloud of an upcoming trial in Florida after being charged with armed robbery in May, allegations that he has strongly denied. But regardless of the outcome, all signs point to him being available for the Seahawks for the 2020 season. In only 11 games for Washington last season while dealing with a hamstring injury, Dunbar had four interceptions.

If Dunbar can stay on the field healthy and otherwise, the Seahawks would have a great 1-2 coverage punch with him and Griffin providing the spectacular and steady, respectively. After Tre Flowers struggled badly all the way through the playoffs, they could no longer afford to have him be a liability outside. Now Flowers goes back in the mix for what can be an effective situational nickel back by committee.

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The Seahawks solved Thomas’ absence with a shrewd mid-season trade for former Lions safety Quandre Diggs. Diggs was a little miscast as a strong safety in Detroit’s defense; after coming over to Seattle in 2019, he went back to being very productive, including three interceptions in five games. For that, Diggs, like Griffin, earned Pro Bowl alternate status.

Diggs, like Dunbar, cost the Seahawks only a fifth-rounder. Should Dunbar offer the same kind of return, the Seahawks would end up with two absolute steals. Following up those moves, it made sense that Carroll and general manager John Schneider got more aggressive to get Adams.

The Seahawks always have a Super Bowl window propped up because of Russell Wilson. They do have some questions on the pass rush, but they still have Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright anchoring the second level, now joined by the promise of rookie first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Adams in essence gives them an extra linebacker at all times.

Seattle’s back seven again is a strong backbone, where run stopping, covering and blitzing are all assets. What that support, the Seahawks can get by with a more rotational front-four pass rush, and there’s the possibility that Jadeveon Clowney still returns.

The Seahawks have a great sense of a successful identity. They rediscovered the power running game and deep passing game they needed to keep getting the best from Wilson. Likewise, they were longing for the familiarity and certainty of the “Legion of Boom.”

After Griffin, Diggs and Dunbar, Adams was the exclamation point they needed. With him batting cleaning up in the lineup, the Seahawks should feel a lot better about hitting a championship-level grand slam soon.

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