If there’s a spot where the Seahawks REALLY don’t seem to have any immediate need, it’s safety.
Re-signing free safety Quandre Diggs to a three-year deal worth up to $40 million not only solidified the back end of the Seahawks secondary, but it also assured that for the next few seasons they will have as much cap space tied up in safeties as any team in the NFL.
Thanks to the cap hits of Diggs ($5.8 million) and strong safety Jamal Adams ($9.1 million), the Seahawks have a combined expenditure at safety this year of $16.63 million (also including the other players at that spot), seventh-most in the NFL.
As the deals for Diggs and Adams increase the next few seasons so does the amount of cap space the Seahawks have devoted to that position — $36.2 million in 2023, $38.7 million in 2024 and $24.6 million in 2025, all by far the most of any team in the NFL as of today.
Consider that at the moment, the only money the Seahawks have devoted to a quarterback beyond the 2022 season is $1.01 million to Jacob Eason in 2023.
It’s worth noting the contracts for Diggs and Adams are backloaded — as is typical with any large deal — and the Seahawks could get out of either after the 2023 season and save significant cap room.
So the Seahawks have their starting safety tandem of Diggs and Adams locked in place for two years, and that after that, anything could happen.
For those two years the Seahawks would seem unlikely to invest heavily in the safety position — unless they (A) simply decide a player is too good to pass up or (B) think with Adams’ unique skill set that having another safety to allow Adams to be used in different roles would be a good idea.
As the draft approaches, let’s look a little deeper at the Seahawks’ outlook at safety.
Players under contract for 2022: FS Quandre Diggs, SS Jamal Adams. Backups Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Ryan Neal.
Key offseason losses: None.
The Seahawks have everyone back who played safety in 2021, though three are coming off season-ending injuries — Adams (labrum), Diggs (leg/ankle) and Blair (knee).
But the team expects all three to be ready for the start of the season.
Also back are Neal, re-signed as an exclusive rights free agent, and Amadi. Nigel Warrior, listed as a cornerback but who played safety in college, is also back.
That Neal, Blair and Amadi all have contracts that expire after the 2022 season (Neal can be a restricted free agent in 2023 and the other two unrestricted) means the Seahawks could well look to add future depth at safety this year.
Blair and Amadi could again compete for the nickel corner job — meaning, the Seahawks could look for backup safety depth — a spot they have shared much of the last two years, when Blair was healthy.
But with the Seahawks having brought back Justin Coleman to play nickel, they could be looking at Blair and Amadi more as depth safeties this year and to fill out specialty roles — and obviously also as hedges in case of further injuries to the starters.
Recent draft history
The Pete Carroll/John Schneider era could hardly have started better when it came to drafting safeties, getting Earl Thomas (first round, 14th overall) and Kam Chancellor (fifth round) in their first draft in 2010.
The acquisition of those two meant the Seahawks could basically forget about the safety position for the next six years. From 2011-16 they drafted only four players listed as safeties, all in the fifth round or later — Mark LeGree (2011), Winston Guy (2012), Eric Pinkins (2014) and Ryan Murphy (2016). Guy and Pinkins played sparingly in one year with the Seahawks and were gone while LeGree and Murphy never played in Seattle.
With the LOB getting older and more expensive, the Seahawks took three safeties in 2017 hoping to find heirs apparent to Chancellor and Thomas — Lano Hill in the third round, Tedric Thompson in the fourth and Mike Tyson in the sixth. Thompson had some brief flashes in starting 16 games over three seasons, and Hill also showed some a few times. But none of the three lasted past the 2020 season.
And the failure of that draft to really yield some obvious safeties of the future helped lead to the Seahawks taking Blair (second round) and Amadi (fourth) in 2019.
Because of injuries, the Seahawks have yet to see the full potential they feel Blair offers, while Amadi has mostly played nickel, and that can certainly be viewed as leading to the decisions to trade for Diggs in 2019 and Adams in 2020 and where they are today.
Draft need (on scale of 1-10): 3.
As noted, on paper, the Seahawks wouldn’t seem to need to invest much of a high pick in a safety.
But there are some intriguing options, and especially if the Seahawks have different ideas on how to use Adams and/or also just want to add a young player to mix behind Diggs/Adams.
Several of the top safety prospects are regarded as players who could play corner (Daxton Hill of Michigan, to name one) or simply have a lot of versatility to be used in different ways (Jalen Pitre of Baylor, whose usage in college sounds similar to how the Seahawks used Adams two years ago).
The Seahawks are reported to have had two safeties in for private visits — Lewis Cine of Georgia and Percy Butler of Louisiana.
Intriguingly, Cine is regarded as a likely second-day pick, indicating the Seahawks have at least some interest in exploring options for some of the top safeties. Butler is regarded as a likely day-three pick.
One other intriguing name is Jaquan Brisker of Penn State, who is the grandson of former Sonic John Brisker and has also drawn comparisons to Adams.
Next up: Cornerback