On July 25, the New York Jets completed, potentially, one of the most consequential trades in the franchise’s six-decade history, shipping safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks. Rather than acquiesce to Adams’ lucrative salary ambitions, general manager Joe Douglas nabbed two first-round picks, a 2020 third-round pick, and a starting safety (Bradley McDougald) for the 24-year-old All-Pro.
Losing Adams hurts, but Douglas was applauded for his massive return haul. If all goes well for New York (which would be a first), the trade could end up spearheading the development of the roster they build around third-year quarterback Sam Darnold. Plus, considering the value on both sides of the deal, the Seahawks swap could go down as one of the best trades in Jets lore.
Until we see how it plays out, though, here are the five best trades in the history of Gang Green.
5. Jets Trade Keyshawn Johnson (2000)
This is another case of a top draft pick wanting out of New York before the end of their rookie deal, which is…not what you want as a franchise in the nation’s biggest market.
But, like the Adams deal, the Jets deserve credit for netting a huge return package for a disgruntled player with one foot out the door who was airing his grievances publicly. After two unhappy but productive seasons in 1998 and 1999 (1,100-plus receiving yards, 80-plus catches, eight touchdowns in both), the 1996 No. 1 overall pick out of USC was shipped to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first-round picks in the 2000 draft.
The Jets used those picks to grab defensive end Shaun Ellis (No. 12 overall) and tight end Anthony Becht (No. 27 overall). Becht had five solid seasons in the Meadowlands as a durable, blocking specialist, while Ellis held down on the Jets defensively for 11 seasons. Ellis started at least 13 games each season (usually 15 or 16), including a 12.5-sack, Pro Bowl campaign in 2003.
4. Jets Acquire Marvin Jones (1993)
During the 1993 draft, the Arizona Cardinals traded the No. 4 overall pick and running back Johnny Johnson to move up one spot in the draft and take prized halfback Garrison Hearst at three. The Jets used their new pick on Marvin Jones, who would become a staple in the middle for a decade. Jones played his entire career with Gang Green, recording 1,200 tackles and making the Pro Bowl in 2000.
Johnson was only in New York for two seasons, but he led the Jets in rushing in 1993 and was second in the AFC in yards from scrimmage (1,462).
3. Jets Acquire Darrelle Revis (2007)
At the ’07 draft, then-GM Mike Tannenbaum traded his first-, second-, and fifth-round picks for the Carolina Panthers’ first-round pick (No. 14), which he used to take the cornerback out of the University of Pittsburgh.
Revis would become the league’s preeminent cover man and—during his prime—one of the best players in Jets history. His ability to lock down an entire side of the field enabled head coach Rex Ryan to unleash his hyper-aggressive, blitz-heavy defense. Revis was the team’s best player for their back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and 2010.
2. Jets Acquire Curtis Martin (1997)
I’m cheating here, because this was not technically a trade with the New England Patriots. However, for all intents and purposes, both sides had to be on board with the transaction. After the 1997 season, Martin—a 25-year-old restricted free agent coming off three stellar seasons— agreed to a six-year, $36 million contract to play for Bill Parcells in New York. However, because of the unique “poison pill” structure of the deal and complex CBA stipulations, it was agreed upon that New England would receive New York’s first- and third-round picks in the 1998 draft should they choose not to match the offer sheet for Martin. They chose the picks.
Martin was easily worth the picks. He missed just one game in his first seven seasons in the Meadowlands and made three Pro Bowls. In 2004, he led the NFL with 1,697 yards during his age-31 season. Martin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
1. Jets Acquire Joe Namath (1964)
Ahead of the 1964 draft, the Jets traded quarterback Jerry Rhome and a draft selection to the Houston Oilers for a first-round pick, which ended up being the No. 1 pick. On Nov. 28, both the NFL and AFL drafts were held, and Namath—fresh off an Orange Bowl appearance with the Alabama Crimson Tide—was taken 12th overall by the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and first overall by the AFL’s Jets.
Namath ultimately agreed to play for New York, and the rest is history. Namath became the first player to throw for 4,000 yards in a season (1967), led the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory (1969) and remains one of the most iconic figures in the Big Apple.