No. 4 on our countdown of Seahawks players who can be unrestricted free agents next week is cornerback Jeremy Lane.
Cornerback Jeremy Lane’s situation this offseason will be as interesting to watch as any.
Lane was part of the Seahawks’ strong 2012 draft, taken in the sixth round out of Northwestern (La.) State.
He has been a valuable reserve and one of the Seahawks’ better special-teams players, though he has played in just 13 games the past two seasons due to injury.
We’re counting down the Seahawks’ top free agents with the NFL’s free-agent period set to begin Wednesday:
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No. 4: Cornerback Jeremy Lane
2015 salary: Lane made the four-year veteran minimum of $660,000.
Seahawks role: Lane missed the first 10 games while recovering from a torn knee ligament and broken wrist suffered in the Super Bowl against New England. But once healthy he became a regular part of the cornerback rotation, starting two games and playing as a nickel back. Lane had two interceptions in the regular season.
Free-agent outlook: In a recent interview with Sirius XM Blitz, the 25-year-old Lane said what pretty much every pending free-agent says — he’d love to stay put if the price is right but will have to explore all options.
“Oh yeah, of course, if the situation was right I would love to go back to the Seahawks,’’ he said. “They were the team to give me my first opportunity to showcase my skills in the NFL, and I appreciate them. They would be my number one choice I would go to if they were the right choice for me and my family.’’
Seahawks cornerbacks of late haven’t fared as well after leaving Seattle. Most notable is Byron Maxwell, who struggled after signing a six-year, $63 million contract a year ago with the Eagles. It will be interesting to see if teams will be as enthusiastic about paying big for the latest Seahawks corner to hit the market.
But with two of the top potential free-agent cornerbacks already off the table (Josh Norman and Trumaine Johnson), Lane will be considered one of the top 10 or so available at a position that is highly valued.
Projections for what Lane could be offered range from $3 million to $6 million.
How high the Seahawks would want to go to keep Lane, though, is unclear given they already have one of the NFL’s highest-paid secondaries. They have $30.7 million in 2016 salary devoted to Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor (and the failed Cary Williams experiment will still count for $2.3 million on the cap in 2016).
The Seahawks also are expected to keep DeShawn Shead, who is an exclusive-rights free agent, which means essentially the Seahawks can retain him if they want. Same with Marcus Burley.
How seriously the team pursues Lane might indicate how much confidence it has in some of the other cornerbacks on its roster, notably Tye Smith, Tharold Simon and Mohammed Seisay.
Simon was a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 who has played just six games in three years due to injury, including just one last season due to a toe issue. Smith was a fifth-round pick in 2015 who played just four games a year ago. Seisay was acquired last August from Detroit for a sixth-round pick before suffering a shoulder injury and missing the season.
The Seahawks also have signed a couple of intriguing cornerbacks since the season ended, notably Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a second-round pick of the Saints in 2014.
The Seahawks could find some intriguing cornerbacks in the draft (more than a few mock drafters have thought they might look at Houston’s William Jackson III, who had a good showing at the combine, with its first-round pick).
So they wouldn’t lack options if Lane departs.