The Seahawks enter the heart of the offseason with a simple equation in the secondary — two starting cornerbacks who are free agents and two starting safeties who are entering the final year of their contracts.
Any, none or some could be taken care of with new contracts before the 2021 season begins in September.
As we conclude our review of Seahawks’ position groups as we approach the start of the free agent signing period Wednesday, here’s a look at the defensive backs.
Players under contract
S Jamal Adams: It’s worth remembering that Adams is not a free agent. Adams, acquired in a blockbuster trade last July, has one year left on his contract due to pay him $9.86 million in 2021, all of which is on this year’s salary cap. But, because the Seahawks usually try to re-sign key players before they enter the final year of their contracts, it is expected the same will occur with Adams. But if things follow the usual timeline, that likely won’t happen until after the Seahawks get through the heart of 2021 free agency unless they decide to to lessen the 2021 cap hit now.
S Quandre Diggs: Diggs is entering the final season of his contract, due to make $5.95 million in 2021 with a $6.1 million cap hit. It may not have the same urgency as Adams’ contract, but the Seahawks could consider extending Diggs and lessening that number for 2021.
CB D.J. Reed: The Seahawks claimed Reed off waivers from the 49ers in August, and he was the steal of the season. He could be a needed bargain this year, under contract for $920,000. The Seahawks may consider him a likely starter at right cornerback after he played the second half of the season once Quinton Dunbar was sidelined for good. That would allow them to spend some money elsewhere.
CB/S Marquise Blair: Blair, entering the third season of his four-year rookie deal, looms as a wild card. After showing promise at safety as a rookie he won the nickel cornerback job last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the second game. How the Seahawks view him undoubtedly plays a factor in how they handle the offseason.
CB/S Ugo Amadi: Amadi, in the third season of his four-year rookie deal, spent most of last season as the Seahawks’ starting nickel and figures to make the roster again this year in that role.
CB Tre Flowers: Flowers is not exactly the people’s choice at corner. But the Seahawks still remember his first two years when he appeared to be at least a longtime contributor. Flowers comes with a $2.2 million cap hit this year, all but $74,681 of which can be saved if he is released. Because of that Flowers is not a lock to make the roster, but he also is an affordable option as a third corner.
Also under contract are cornerbacks Gavin Heslop and former UW standout Jordan Miller, who were on the practice squad at the end of last season and signed futures deals in January.
Impending unrestricted free agents
CB Shaquill Griffin: Griffin was not given the franchise tag this week, as was expected, and enters free agency. Pro Football Focus rates Griffin as the fifth-best free-agent cornerback and 37th among all free agents, estimating he will sign a three-year deal worth $28.5 million. That could put Griffin out of the Seahawks’ price range, especially if they view Reed and Quinton Dunbar as potential starters.
CB Quinton Dunbar: Speaking of Dunbar, he also is a free agent. But after a year in which he dealt with a knee injury and didn’t play up to his 2019 level, the market may not be as heated for him. PFF estimates two years for $12 million. If that’s accurate, the Seahawks could have the trio of Dunbar, Reed and Flowers as their corners for less than the protected price of Griffin, with Blair and Amadi around as the nickels.
CB Neiko Thorpe: Thorpe has been with the Seahawks since 2016 and a special-teams captain the past two years. But he has played just 10 games the past two seasons, and his time with the Seahawks may be at an end, with them possibly preferring younger, healthier options.
S Lano Hill: Seahawks coaches have always thought more highly of Hill than have fans, and they might be inclined to bring him back for more one shot on a one-year deal.
S Damarious Randall: A former first-round draft pick — No. 30 overall in 2015 — Randall played in 10 games for the Seahawks last year on special teams and in nickel and dime roles and could be brought back on a one-year deal in a similar role.
CB/safety Ryan Neal and cornerbacks Linden Stephens and Jayson Stanley are exclusive rights free agents and can be retained if the Seahawks offer a tender by Wednesday.
Possible free-agent targets
CB Richard Sherman: If the Seahawks can bring back Marshawn Lynch, you probably should not rule out anyone else. Still, assuming Sherman might be able to command a significant salary — PFF estimates two years at a total of $28 million — the Seahawks might not get involved.
CB Justin Coleman: A starter as Seattle’s nickel in 2017 and 2018, Coleman was officially released Friday after two years with the Detroit Lions. Coleman is just 27 and might be a much less expensive option than someone like Sherman. Coleman could fit back into his slot position allowing Blair to again focus on safety — though with Seattle’s safety situations with Adams and Diggs, consigning Blair to a likely backup spot for another year might not be what Seattle would want to do.
CB Desmond Trufant: The former Husky and Wilson High standout isn’t yet officially a free agent. But ESPN has reported he will be released by the Lions when the new league year begins and could be an intriguing option. But Trufant, who will be 31 in September, has played just 15 games the past two years due to injuries.
S Malik Hooker: With Diggs and Adams as starters and Blair around to go back to safety if needed, the Seahawks may not need to look hard at the free agent safety market. But Hooker, a first-round pick in 2017 by the Colts in 2017, could be intriguing. He has played just 35 games in four years due to injuries. But he is only 24, and some view him as a prototype single-high safety. He’ll be worth a flyer to someone.
The big question is what happens with Griffin and Dunbar. The guess here remains that Griffin will be too pricey and that Dunbar is likelier to return. And the guess remains that the Seahawks get something done with Adams, but maybe not until the summer.