The Seahawks could have a pretty stable look at cornerback in 2018 if Richard Sherman returns from injury and remains on the team.

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For the first time since 2010 the Seahawks had to play this season without Richard Sherman, who missed the last seven games with an Achilles injury.

As the offseason begins, one of the biggest questions hovering over the Seahawks is whether there’s any chance Sherman — who had played in every game since being drafted in 2011 before his injury against Arizona on Nov. 9 — has played his last game with Seattle.

Sherman has just one year remaining on his contract and the Seahawks could save save $11 million by releasing him, a possibility that Michael Silver of seemed to rather casually suggest could happen in a December story.

Or, maybe, the Seahawks revive the trade talks of last year, though his injury and having one less year on his contract would seem to make that unlikely — certainly, Seattle wouldn’t get anywhere near what it might have last spring.

Seahawks' position preview:

Or maybe Sherman returns, eager to show he’s healthy and still one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL as he potentially heads into free agency, with each side deciding to let his future be a matter to settle down the road — a big extension would seem unlikely now given his injury.

If Sherman returns, the Seahawks could have a pretty similar cornerback position group as in 2017. If not, then as is potentially the case all throughout the defense, the end of an era could be at hand more quickly than just about anyone expected.



Richard Sherman

Snaps played: 572, 52.09 percent (via Pro Football Reference).

Key stat: Sherman averaged 17.4 coverage snaps per reception, according to Pro Football Focus, by far the best on the team at the time of his injury — Jeremy Lane was next at 11.3

Contract situation: Signed through 2018.

Shaquill Griffin

Snaps played: 875, 79.69 percent.

Key stat: One interception.

Contract situation: Signed through 2020.

Justin Coleman

Snaps played: 654, 59.56 percent.

Key stat: Had two of the team’s three pick-sixes this season.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.


Byron Maxwell

Snaps played: 473, 43.08 percent.

Key stat: According to Pro Football Focus, allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 70.59 percent of their passes into his coverage last season.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

Jeremy Lane

Snaps played: 346, 31.51 percent.

Key stat: Rated 116th among all cornerbacks this year by Pro Football Focus.

Contract situation: Signed through 2019.

Neiko Thorpe

Snaps played: 22, 2 percent.

Key stat: 320 special teams snaps, most on the team.

Contract situation: Signed through 2018.

DeShawn Shead

Snaps played: 0.

Key stat: Played 45 special teams snaps in the final two games.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

The season was defined by two big stories — Sherman’s injury, which led to the re-signing of Byron Maxwell, a founding member of the Legion of Boom during his first Seattle tenure; and the emergence of Griffin and Coleman, which led to the benching of Lane, who signed a four-year contract worth up to $23 million prior to the 2016 season but who has started just 15 games the past two seasons and may have played his final game for the Seahawks.

Sherman revealed later he was first bothered by the Achilles injury in the fifth game against the Rams, and any assessment of his season has to take that injury into account. But even up until the minute he was injured he appeared to be playing at a pretty similar level to past seasons.

Griffin, a third-round pick in 2017, looks like a mainstay in the Seattle secondary after starting every game as a rookie.

Coleman, acquired for a seventh-round pick from the Patriots the week the season started, became the nickelback when Lane was injured and then surprisingly held onto the job when Lane returned (with Lane traded for a day to Houston before failing a physical and returning to the Seahawks).

Seattle brought back Maxwell, who had been waived by Miami just a few weeks prior, when Sherman was injured and the team also preferred him in the starting lineup rather than Lane as he started the final five games.

It was a largely lost season for Shead, who played only the final two games while still recovering from an ACL injury suffered last January against Atlanta in the playoffs. But he got on the field enough in special teams to show he’s healthy.

One can debate the merits of the NFL’s passer rating. But the Seattle defense allowed its second-lowest rating since the 2013 Super Bowl team in 2017 at 79.1 with its 6.5 yards allowed per reception tied for third-lowest in the NFL.



As noted above, the biggest question is whether anything happens with Sherman. If something does then that will influence every other decision the team has to make at this position.

Conventional wisdom is that the team is likely to release Lane, which would save $11 million over the next two years, more than satisfied to make Coleman the long-term nickel.

Seattle will have to tender Coleman to keep him — or sign him to longer-term contract — but that’s expected to happen.

Maxwell also said he’d like to be back and that wouldn’t seem hard or expensive for the Seahawks to get done.

Shead is also an unrestricted free agent, and having lost a chance to fully explore the market last year due to his injury may be eager to gauge his worth this time around unless the Seahawks make a big proactive move to keep him. That Shead can also play safety would figure to increase his value to the Seahawks given the potential uncertainty there.

Thorpe is on the roster largely due to his special teams prowess.

One name worth remembering is DeAndre Elliott. The second-year player spent the year on Injured Reserve following an ankle injury in the preseason finale against Oakland. He’s under contract for one more year and the team could consider him as its backup nickel heading into the offseason with Lane likely gone.

Mike Tyson, a sixth-round pick in 2017, spent the year being groomed as a potential nickelback, as well.


The failed Cary Williams experience in 2015 left the Seahawks deciding that their best route to filling the cornerback spot was through the draft and or undrafted free agency (or cheap free agents) and grooming young players into their system rather than trying to teach old vets new tricks.

And if Sherman returns and the team re-signs its own players, then there wouldn’t seem to be a lot of need to delve much into the free agent market at cornerback.

There are a few big names available, notably Malcolm Butler of the Patriots and David Amerson, who was released this week by the Raiders where he played for new Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.


Assuming no move is made with Sherman, and that the team retains Coleman and Maxwell, then Seattle probably doesn’t need to draft a cornerback unless something too good to pass up materializes somewhere — or unless the Seahawks decide they need to find someone to groom to replace Sherman.

Some mock drafters are expecting Seattle to do just that, though. Todd McShay of ESPN on Tuesday projected the Seahawks to draft cornerback Mike Hughes of Central Florida, the same school where Griffin played, though Hughes was there only in 2017 so the two did not play together.

But at 5-8, he doesn’t fit the usual Seattle profile for a boundary corner and if the Seahawks retain Coleman they might not need to go that high for a potential nickel.