The era of the Griffin twins — one of the most heartwarming stories in Seattle sports history — appears over.
But they are staying together as both Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin are heading to Jacksonville as free agents, a decision that also marks something of a homecoming. The two grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, about three-and-a-half hours away from Jacksonville.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, as first reported by The Athletic and later confirmed by the NFL Network, has agreed to a three-year deal with the Jaguars worth up to $44.5 million with $29 million guaranteed.
His twin, Shaquem, who was a restricted free agent but will not be tendered by the Seahawks, appears to be joining him with the Jags, tweeting simply “Going home’’ on a quote tweet of his agent, Buddy Baker, who tweeted “Duval,’’ the county in which Jacksonville resides. The NFL Network also said there could be “a potential Griffin family reunion” in Jacksonville.
Shaquem Griffin had alluded to the fact that he was apparently not getting tendered in a separate tweet late Monday night stating “have no choice but to see me I promise you that.’’
Neither player, though, can officially sign a contract with Jacksonville until Wednesday at 1 p.m. Seattle time.
The twins played three years in Seattle after Shaquem joined Shaquill with the team in 2018 as a fifth-round pick. (He had redshirted and was a year behind Shaquill at Central Florida.)
It was a choice that was popular not only for allowing the two to stay together but also allowing Shaquem to achieve what he had once been told was unthinkable — playing in the NFL despite losing his left hand when he was 4 years old due to amniotic band syndrome.
Jacksonville entered the free agency period with more than $65 million in cap space, the most in the NFL, and has been making a big early splash in free agency. in the first year under new coach Urban Meyer.
The Seahawks were reported by the NFL Network to have made “a strong push’’ to keep Shaquill Griffin before he decided on the Jaguars. The key, according to an NFL Network report, was Jacksonville’s ability to up the base value of the contract to $13 million per year with incentives giving Griffin the ability to earn more.
Shaquill Griffin was a third-round pick of the Seahawks in 2017, and after starting at right cornerback, he then moved to the more-pivotal left corner spot in 2018 after Richard Sherman left.
Griffin made the Pro Bowl following the 2019 season and had a career-high three interceptions in 2020, when he also missed four games due to a concussion and a hamstring injury.
Griffin becomes the third former Seahawk to sign with Jacksonville, joining running back Carlos Hyde and receiver Phillip Dorsett, who agreed to deals with the Jags on Monday.
Seattle will now likely set its sights on keeping Quinton Dunbar, who was acquired in a trade last March with Washington and won the starting job at right cornerback before a knee injury derailed his season.
Seattle returns D.J. Reed, who stepped in for Dunbar at right cornerback and could do so again this year. Tre Flowers, who started the 2018 and 2019 seasons at right cornerback, is also under contract for the 2021 season.
ESPN ranks Griffin as the second-best cornerback available in this free-agent class and 21st overall among all free agents.
Griffin became a free agent after the Seahawks did not place a franchise tag last week.
The tag would have paid Griffin $15.06 million for the 2021 season, all of which would have gone on Seattle’s salary cap.
Shaquem Griffin got one start at weakside linebacker for the 2018 season opener. He spent the past two seasons largely working as a pass-rush specialist and on special teams, but saw declining playing time as the 2020 season progressed.
He became eligible to be a free agent this year when Seattle waived him at the cutdown to 53 before the season, which nullified his initial four-year rookie contract. He was later re-signed to the practice squad and then was re-signed to the regular 53-player roster after a good performance against Dallas as a practice squad call-up.
Longtime Seattle special teams coach Brian Schneider is now also with Jacksonville.
Seahawks fans, at least, may not have to wait long to get another glimpse of the Griffin twins — Jacksonville is scheduled to play in Seattle in 2021.