RENTON — Of the 10 names and faces in what is a crowded Seahawks’ cornerback competition, Damarious Randall’s may not necessarily stand out.
But the most important Seahawks’ player — quarterback Russell Wilson — needed no introduction when Randall signed last fall.
Randall is one of just three players who have picked off Wilson twice in a regular-season game (the others are Jacksonville’s A.J. Bouye and Darious Williams of the Rams), doing so in an infamous 2016 Seahawks 38-10 loss at Green Bay when Wilson was intercepted a career-high five times.
“He actually said something to me when I first got in the building last year,’’ Randall said this week with a little smile.
Randall then made a request of Wilson — would he sign the two footballs for him someday?
Randall, in fact, is making it a goal to get the balls from all 14 of his NFL interceptions signed by the quarterbacks who threw them.
Among those he’s gotten to sign are both Mannings — Peyton (who Randall picked off in a 2015 game as a rookie) and Eli (who Randall picked off in a playoff game in 2017).
Randall says the quarterbacks he’s approached to autograph footballs have usually been good-natured about it.
“For the most part, yeah,’’ he said. “At the end of the day it’s a game, and everybody loves to compete and they love to play. And the crazy part about it is a lot of the quarterbacks never forget the interceptions that they throw. So that’s pretty cool.’’
And while Randall may not be top of mind when it comes to discussing Seattle’s cornerback competition — the presumptive starters are D.J. Reed on the right side and Ahkello Witherspoon on the left — his 14 picks are the most of any corner on Seattle’s roster.
Ten came during his three years as a starting cornerback with Green Bay, which drafted him 30th overall in the first round in 2015 out of Arizona State.
Randall played safety at ASU, but the Packers needed corners and moved him there.
The conversion seemed to work out well enough initially as Randall started 18 games at corner his first two years. But his Green Bay career began to go off track in 2017 when he was beaten for a touchdown in a game against the Bears in September, benched, and then seen arguing with a coach and eventually sent to the locker room.
That got patched up, and Randall eventually reclaimed his starting position — he had interceptions in each of his next three games after the incident against the Bears.
But that offseason he was traded to Cleveland for quarterback DeShone Kizer and returned to the safety position he played at ASU. Randall started two seasons at safety for Cleveland but was not re-signed before the 2020 season, instead landing in Oakland.
Randall said he labored through a groin injury in camp with the Raiders which led to his release before the season.
And suddenly, the former first-round pick was left to ponder his football future at 28 years old.
“I just sat out a couple of weeks and just kind of coped with myself,’’ he said. “And then Seattle called because they had a couple of injuries.’’
Specifically, the Seahawks needed depth in the back end after the loss of Jamal Adams and Lano Hill, signing Randall last Sept. 30.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said at the time the Seahawks viewed safety as Randall’s best position and intended to play him there. Adams returned after a few weeks and Randall ended up playing just 35 snaps last year, most in a specialty dime package.
But in practice, Randall often dabbled at corner.
And as Randall says “I think they seen some things that they liked.’’
Indeed, when the season ended and exit interviews were held, the Seahawks told Randall they wanted him back, but this time to play cornerback.
Randall doesn’t fit the usual Seattle “big cornerback’’ mold, standing just 5-11 and weighing 196 pounds and with an arm length of 30.25 inches, far off Seattle’s long-preferred 32 inches.
But the success of the 5-9 Reed as an outside cornerback last year appears to have reopened Seattle’s eyes that corners of all sizes can succeed in their system.
When Seattle re-signed Randall in March, the Seahawks announced he was being moved to corner, ultimately becoming one of 10 listed corners on the roster which doesn’t not including nickel corners Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi, each listed as safeties.
Through the first week of camp, Randall has usually worked with the second team at left cornerback behind Witherspoon, the two competing to take over for the departed Shaquill Griffin. But on Thursday, Randall spent the day with the starters as part of Carroll’s vow this year to try to create as much competition as possible at contested positions.
“He’s a beautiful athlete,’’ Carroll said this week of Randall. “He’s really fast (clocked at 4.46 in the 40 at the Combine in 2015) and he’s really light on his feet. He’s got real good ball sense. I went back and watched his Packer days and checked him out there when he started up. He had a really good first go-round, and then not quite as effective in the years after. Then he kind of got knocked around to safety and all that. He came in as a safety. He’s got really good talent. Foot speed, quickness and the ball skills are excellent. He’s had some picks in his years. We told him early in the offseason that we wanted to give him a shot at doing this, work at it and get your mind right. He jumped at the opportunity, and was excited about it.’’
Randall says he’s dropped some weight to make the move from safety to corner. And while he says he’d play whatever the team asks, he said he thinks his skillset is a perfect fit for Seattle.
“In this scheme I really like corner better,’’ he said. “Because they let you see the ball. See ball, get ball. That’s the one big thing we preach here is take the ball away.’’
Randall’s hoping he masters it well enough to hand around so he can take a few balls away this season — and find time to bring a couple in that he still needs Wilson to sign.