In an attempt to add to their nickel-back spot — which was a revolving door in 2019 and led to keeping three linebackers on the field more than any other team — the Seahawks are getting a visit from veteran free agent cornerback T.J. Carrie.
The news of the interest was reported by NFLSirius Insider Adam Caplan, who said the visit will happen this week. The Browns cut Carrie last month, which means he could sign with a team ahead of the free-agent signing period, which begins next Wednesday.
The 6-foot, 204-pound Carrie started 14 games over the last two seasons for the Browns and was used primarily as a nickel cornerback but also on the outside.
Carrie, who’s regarded as a particularly good run defender, started for the Browns in a loss to the Seahawks in Cleveland on Oct. 13 and had 10 tackles, three for a loss.
The 29-year-old was originally a seventh-round pick of the Raiders out of Ohio University in 2014. Carrie signed a four-year, $31 million deal with the Browns before the 2018 season. His release last month was a cost-cutting move that saved the Browns $6.35 million against the cap.
The Seahawks used Jamar Taylor, Akeem King and rookie Ugo Amadi at the nickel spot last season, but mostly used linebacker Mychel Kendricks, who often stayed on the field at his strongside linebacker even in obvious passing downs.
Amadi, a fifth-round pick last year out of Oregon, ended the season as the primary nickel after Taylor was released, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last month at the NFL combine in Indianapolis the job is “really Ugo’s to lose right now.”
But Carroll also called Amadi “under siege” because he said to expect the Seahawks to continue to add competition for the nickel spot. And even if they don’t add to the spot, they simply need to replenish with King set to be an unrestricted free agent next week.
“We’ll keep looking because nobody really owns the spot yet,” Carroll said. “Ugo did a nice job at that spot near the end of the year. He gave us a certain style of player there — a smaller guy, real quick and very smart, a very good zone player. He had some time working at the spot early on. We kind of did it in the middle of the year, later in the year when we gave him the go ahead. But he did fine. We’ll continue to make that spot competitive with different style of guys to see what they offer us.”
Via stats from Pro Football Reference, Carrie had a down year in pass coverage, allowing a 105.1 passer rating when targeted, allowing completions on 41 of 60 pass attempts for 524 yards and three touchdowns.
That contrasted greatly to the 2018 season when Carrie allowed just a passer rating of 76.3, giving up 52 completions on 93 attempts for 637 yards and one touchdown.
A story from Cleveland.com when Carrie was released called him, “a fan favorite and one of the most active Browns players in the community.”
The Seahawks have roughly $44 million in cap space and has made it clear that reviving a defense that was statistically the worst since Carroll’s first year in 2010 will be a priority.
Carroll said throughout the 2019 season that the team played as much base defense as it did in part because it liked having Kendricks on the field as often as possible, which he felt made the team better against the run (something that had been an issue in 2018) without much of a drop-off against the pass.
But Kendricks battled injuries late in the year, missing games in December against the Rams and Panthers. He suffered an ACL injury in the last game of the regular season against the 49ers which leaves his availability for the start of the 2020 season. Kendricks is also a free agent further clouding his future, as does the fact that he is due to be sentenced later this month on an insider trading charge.
Cody Barton took over for Kendricks when he was injured, and the Seahawks continued to play a majority of base defense. But adding a veteran nickel could change that equation.
Draft picks officially set
The day after the NFL awarded compensatory picks, the league released the official order for the 2020 draft, which is April 23-25 in Las Vegas.
There were no surprises for the Seahawks, who have eight picks. They will pick at 27, 59, 64, 101, 133, 144, 162 and 214. There are 255 total picks this season — there are typically 256, but Arizona gave up a pick when it used one in the supplemental draft last year on Washington State safety Jalen Thompson.