The fate of Earl Thomas will determine how great of a need the secondary is for the Seahawks in the draft.
The Legion of Boom might soon be the Legion of One. Or maybe even none, at least when it comes to original members.
Of the core that originated what came to symbolize what will forever be one of Seattle’s most famous sporting monikers, only free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor remain on the roster.
But Thomas’ future in Seattle remains in some doubt, even if the comments last week of general manager John Schneider that Thomas’ representatives said he won’t hold out would potentially eliminate one of the bigger reasons for wanting to trade him, while Chancellor is generally considered as unlikely to play again for health reasons.
But Richard Sherman is gone, off to San Francisco, and Bryon Maxwell and Jeremy Lane — each key parts of the LOB’s 2013-14 heyday — are free agents and remain unsigned (with only Maxwell, of those two, expected to have a chance to return).
Most Read Sports Stories
- Seahawks mailbag: Breaking down the UDFA situation, a George Fant update and some (very) quick-hitters
- Analysis: Robinson Cano leaves hole, but Mariners now have cash and options
- Washington lands 7-foot-4 prospect from Richland, Riley Sorn
- Somehow, with several key players missing, Mariners eke out 10-inning win
- Mariners place Dee Gordon on the 10-day disabled list with fractured toe
In other words, no position group on the Seahawks’ roster in 2018 may undergo as big of a change in personnel, history, character and personality as the secondary.
And depending on what happens with Thomas, the makeover may not be done.
Here’s a quick look at Seattle’s secondary as we continue our annual review of each Seahawks position group heading into the draft.
Starters (as projected by the Seattle Times if the season started today): Free safety Earl Thomas, strong safety Bradley McDougald.
Backups: Maurice Alexander, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill, Alex Carter (Chancellor remains on the roster but at the moment hasn’t been cleared to play in 2018).
Key offseason departures: None yet.
Starters (as projected by the Seattle Times if the season started today): Shaquill Griffin, Dontae Johnson, Justin Coleman.
Backups: Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott, Neiko Thorpe, Akeem King.
Key offseason departures: Sherman was released and signed by the 49ers. Lane was released and remains unsigned.
OVERVIEW: The future of Thomas hovers over all at the moment, and what happens during the draft should make it much clearer.
If he stays, then Seattle appears to have at least four fairly sure things for 2018 — Thomas and McDougald at safety and Griffin as one outside corner and Coleman as the nickel. Seattle made an aggressive move tore-sign McDougald to a three-year, $13.5 million contract before he hit free agency, assuring he’ll have a big role going forward. Seattle made a similarly decisive move to keep Coleman, giving him a second-round tender as a restricted free agent (which he ultimately signed).
Johnson, recently signed as a free agent after starting last season with the 49ers, at the moment would appear to have the upper hand for the other starting job simply due to experience. But young players Elliott and Tyson will get long looks and it’s thought Maxwell could still return.
And then there’s what Seattle may add in the the draft.
Seattle selected four defensive backs last year in beginning to prepare for an end of the LOB that happened more quickly than even the Seahawks surely imagined. Griffin has become a key part of the future, but safeties Thompson and Hill played sparingly last season and remain works in progress and Tyson has yet to play at all.
DRAFT NEED (on scale of 1-10): 8.5.
What may or may not happen with Thomas colors everything. Seattle, though, also seems like it could use another young corner.
POTENTIAL DRAFT FITS
Cornerback Josh Jackson, Iowa: The 6-1, 192-pounder has been a popular player for mock drafters to send to Seattle due to his size and 32.75 arm length, well past the 32 inches of every Seahawks draftee during the Carroll/Schneider era. Also showed playmaking ability last year with eight interceptions, which led the nation. On paper, a good fit as an outside corner in Seattle’s defense.
Safety Justin Reid, Stanford: The younger brother of former 49er and current free agent Eric Reid paid a private pre-draft visit to the VMAC, and likely projects as a strong safety. The 6-foot, 207-pounder led the Pac-12 in interceptions last year with five and was 14th in tackles.
Safety Derwin James, Florida State: James is another who has been often mocked to Seattle appearing like a perfect fit as a strong safety heir apparent. The bigger question figures to be if the 6-3, 212-pounder would still be available at 18. Some questioned his relative lack of production last season as he dealt with a knee injury. But NFL teams will likely set that aside and focus on his measurables and performance earlier in his career.
Cornerback Isaiah Oliver, Colorado: Oliver also paid a private visit to the VMAC, and in some ways might be the “most-Seahawky’’ cornerback in the draft. The 6-1, 190-pounder has whopping 33.5-inch arms, the longest of any potential cornerback draftee, and played mostly press-man coverage at Colorado. Not that Seattle doesn’t see a lot of everybody it picks, but it’s undoubtedly well-acquainted with Oliver after drafting teammate Thompson a year ago.