New York Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams didn't want to comment on the specifics of Jamal Adams' contract dispute with the team, but he threw his support to the All-Pro safety and sounded cautiously optimistic about his return.
"You never, ever mess with a guy's contract, but I've got his back on those types of things," Williams told reporters Thursday. "He has to get all that stuff settled, so now, boom! Get back into our setting and now we're ready to roll. He knows that."
Adams, unhappy with his contract, formally requested a trade last week, ESPN reported. Since then, he has expressed on social media that his days with the Jets are over. For now, the Jets have no intention of trading him, sources said.
Williams became the first team official to comment on the Adams situation.
"I think the world of him," he said. "I've had a chance to coach a lot of really good players, some already in the Hall of Fame, many others who are going to go in the Hall of Fame. He's going to have a legitimate chance, staying healthy, to be one of those guys that we're all talking about."
Williams said he had a "levelheaded" response to the news of Adams' trade request.
"I want him to feel good about everything that's going on," he said. "He knows when he gets inside the door and inside the white lines, there's a chemistry that's outstanding. I've been through this before with other players. You can't get too emotional. I can't. I've got to stay levelheaded with that and just know that I can't wait to get a chance to coach him again."
Adams, 24, is signed through the 2021 season. After that, the Jets can use the franchise tag. Publicly, general manager Joe Douglas has stated a desire to make Adams "a Jet for life," but he hasn't given a timetable on a potential extension. That has angered Adams, sources said.
"He has to handle his contract," Williams said. "He'll do all that kind of stuff. He's doing those things. We always have to have the next man up philosophy. I'm hoping everything goes well. I love coaching him and I've got his back."
Secondary coach Dennard Wilson, who has coached Adams since he came into the league as a first-round pick in 2017, said he won't be worried about Adams' mindset if he plays for the Jets.
"He will be unfazed," Wilson said. "I'm not worried about him coming back and having distractions."
Williams offered glowing praise of Adams' versatility, describing how he can impact a game from various positions -- safety, linebacker and blitzer. He also noted his competitiveness, mentioning a play from last season's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Adams ran 70 yards to chase down Leonard Fournette, preventing a touchdown.
"One of the best plays I've ever seen," Williams said. "It'll stay with me the rest of my life."