Update: Seahawks defensive back Quinton Dunbar, who was acquired in a trade from Washington in March and expected to compete for the team’s starting right cornerback job, is facing four counts of armed robbery with a semi-automatic firearm in connection with an incident early Thursday morning in Florida with an arrest warrant issued Thursday afternoon. Here’s the full story.
Quinton Dunbar says he can play any cornerback spot for the Seattle Seahawks.
But once Dunbar steps on the field for the first time in a Seahawks uniform, this spring or summer or fall, he’ll do so at right cornerback.
“I’m probably just going to start out on that right side,’’ Dunbar said Thursday morning when he talked to Seahawks beat writers in a Zoom call as the team continues its third week of its virtual offseason program.
Dunbar says once he masters that “the sky is the limit.’’
Dunbar’s confirmation he’ll start out on the right side, sets up one of the most intriguing questions of 2020 for the defense: What happens with Tre Flowers, who has been the starter there the last two seasons?
Will Flowers compete with Dunbar for the right-side job, or will the Seahawks use him in other roles in the secondary? Could they use Flowers in some nickel situations, maybe shifting Dunbar inside and using Flowers outside, especially against bigger receiving corps?
Coach Pete Carroll said after the draft that the Seahawks were exploring different ways of attacking the nickel position this year, where Ugo Amadi ended last season as the starter, saying, “There’s some things that we’re working on. I don’t want to tell you all of it right now. But there’s some different things that we’re going to try.’’
What doesn’t seem a question is that the right-corner job is Dunbar’s to lose. With Shaquill Griffin locked in on the left side, the Seahawks are hoping to improve a pass defense that ranked 27th in yards allowed last year (an inconsistent pass rush played a huge role in that, too).
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Dunbar was acquired from Washington in a trade in March for a fifth-round pick (one that the Seahawks got from the Steelers for tight end Nick Vannett).
Some around the league were surprised Dunbar was available for so little after he spent much of last year regarded as a possible Pro Bowl invitee before missing the final three games because of injury.
Dunbar is entering the final season of a contract that will pay him $3.25 million in 2020 and will undoubtedly want a bigger payday in 2021 and beyond (with the Seahawks likely thinking that if they lose him they will at least recoup a compensatory draft pick).
Dunbar also has played just 18 games the past two seasons, ending each year on Injured Reserve — in 2018 with a leg injury and last season with a hamstring.
Dunbar said the injuries aren’t an issue now.
‘”I’m good to go,’’ he said. “I’m 100 percent.’’
Griffin is also entering the last year of his rookie deal, so the Seahawks will either face the challenge of trying to re-sign both or picking one — which is why Flowers can’t be completely written out of the cornerback equation.
Dunbar reportedly wanted to restructure his contract in Washington, and to be released or traded if he didn’t get a new deal. With Washington under a new coach in Ron Rivera and starting over, it declined to redo his deal and decided to trade him.
Dunbar said he’s not worried about his contract now, saying, “I’m happy to be in Seattle’’ and that “I have no worries in Seattle. … I just want to go out there and play ball.’’
Indeed, Dunbar knows earning a starting job with a Seahawks team that has been in the playoffs eight of the past 10 seasons will only enhance his market.
“When I first heard about the trade I was excited,’’ he said. “I mean, better fit. Better coaching, they are a winning culture — obviously been winning for a while. I feel like their defense is who I am. … Growing up watching (Richard) Sherman and (Brandon) Browner and those types of guys. You know, that’s who I tried to model my game after once I made the transition. So it was a perfect fit for me.’’
That “transition” is a reference to Dunbar playing receiver at Florida before he was moved to cornerback during his rookie season in 2015. Dunbar recalled that then-Washington coach Jay Gruden noticed that players couldn’t escape Dunbar when he pressed them playing on the punt team.
The next day he began playing corner and, after starting the season on Washington’s practice squad, was promoted to the active roster in late September.
He became a full-time starter two years ago and was moved all over — right, left and sometimes in the slot.
Last season was his best yet, with Pro Football Focus ranking him only behind Sherman, noting that he allowed just 29 of 52 passes into his coverage area to be completed, breaking up four and picking off four others.
“I’m excited about this guy,’’ Carroll said last month. “He’s a playmaker and we need depth at corner and we need to cover people up and we need to be able to match up really well, continue to do that. … Makes us that much more competitive and hopefully just adds to this coverage that we need to play the kind of ball we want to play.”
Like the rest of the new Seahawks, he’s had to wait longer than expected to get acquainted with his new team and coaches, resigned for now to virtual meetings.
But he’s enjoyed going to work every day, no matter what the circumstances may be.
“You just want to feel wanted at the end of the day,” he said. “(The Seahawks) made it their job to trade for me and that’s good enough for me, and I just hope to repay them the way I carry myself as a person and as a player.”