Seattle's had Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor as the last line of defense since 2011. But there are no guarantees that either returns in 2018.

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The one thing the Seahawks have never really had to worry about since Pete Carroll became coach in 2010 is the last line of defense.

The drafting of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010 gave the team what will likely go down as the best safety tandem of this decade in the NFL.

But in an offseason when significant change appears in the offing, no other position group could look as radically different in 2018 depending on how things unfold.

To briefly recap, Chancellor may never play again due to a neck/stinger injury suffered in the win at Arizona on Nov. 9 while the Seahawks could consider trading Thomas if the two sides can’t come to an agreement on a contract extension before the start of the 2018 season.

Seahawks' position preview:

Even if only Chancellor doesn’t return in 2018, the personality of the Seattle secondary will change forever.

If both are gone?

For now that remains a prospect that’s hard to even imagine.




Earl Thomas

Snaps played: 921, 83.08 percent (via Pro Football Reference).

Key stat: Two interceptions for team-high 97 return yards.

Contract situation: Signed through 2018.


Kam Chancellor

Snaps played: 598, 54.46 percent.

Key stat: 33 tackles in nine games.

Contract situation: Signed through 2020.


Bradley McDougald

Snaps played: 675, 61.48 percent.

Key stat: 45 tackles in nine starts.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.


Delano Hill

Snaps played: 32, 2.91 percent.

Key stat: 280 special teams snaps, second on team.

Contract situation: Signed through 2020.

Tedric Thompson

Snaps played: 8, 0.73 percent.

Key stat: 104 special teams snaps.

Contract situation: Signed through 2020.

Thomas again made the Pro Bowl, the sixth of his eight-year career. While there was some thought he took a few more gambles than in past years (such as the one he admitted to early in the season on the second-to-last play of the win against the Rams in Los Angeles when Cooper Kupp was left wide open with the pass going off his fingertips), there was little to suggest any slippage in his play after having suffered a broken leg the previous season.

Chancellor was still regarded as one of the best run-defending safeties in the NFL until his injury against the Cardinals that at the time was overshadowed by the more obvious injury to cornerback Richard Sherman.

Chancellor’s loss forced the team to turn to McDougald, a former starter with the Bucs who had been signed as a free agent last spring to give the team a veteran backup to avoid the dropoff in performance that occurred when Thomas was injured in 2016.

McDougald proved worth his $1.8-million contract, but nobody could be expected to be the same kind of intimidating force as has been Chancellor.

Rookies Hill and Thompson played little on defense. Each were regulars on special teams in what amounted to a redshirt season for each.

GRADE: B-plus.


Chancellor’s contract situation is complicated. The team owes him $12 million over the next two years if he never plays again, which is why he is unlikely to retire even if he is told his football days are over.

Chancellor’s $6.8 million base salary for 2018 becomes fully guaranteed if he is still on the roster Saturday. But the fact that the deal is guaranteed even if he’s injured seems to assure he will be on the roster, barring the two sides working out a settlement.

Thomas’ contract runs out after the 2018 season and since the Seahawks typically have extended their core players prior to the final year of their contract, the assumption is the two sides will try to work out something this offseason.

Thomas, though, has already cast an ominous tone by threatening to hold out if he is not under contract when the season begins. He’ll likely want at least $14 million a year or so, which would make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. He makes $10 million a year now. The safe bet is probably that something gets done. But the threat of a holdout and the team understanding Thomas appears willing to play hardball could make exploring other options more likely.

The Seahawks might have to pay McDougald twice what they did last year to keep him. But given the uncertainty elsewhere that may be a small price to play for some added security.


Thomas’ situation obviously would color what the team feels it needs to do in the offseason. If Seattle thinks it can re-sign Thomas and also re-signs McDougald to serve as a replacement for Chancellor, then Seattle might not have to do much else, with both Hill (a strong safety) and Thompson (free) remaining in the long-term plans.

Also a free agent is DeShawn Shead who played safety earlier in his career and maybe could be used there again.

But there are some pretty intriguing potential free agents if Seattle had to go that route, notably Eric Reid of the 49ers, Lamarcus Joyner and Cody Davis of the Rams and Morgan Burnett of the Packers.


That Seattle invested heavily in the draft last season with Hill (95th pick) and Thompson (111th) so unless the opinions on them have changed, it wouldn’t seem unlikely the Seahawks would take a safety early this season, if at all (barring Thomas being traded before the draft).

Before last season, the Seahawks had not taken a safety before the sixth round since drafting Thomas and Chancellor in 2010.