A $25,000 bonus given by the Seahawks to cornerback DeShawn Shead this week showed the team's faith in his ability and appreciation for his value.
In the NFL world of 2015, $25,000 isn’t necessarily headline-grabbing money.
But to Seattle Seahawks cornerback DeShawn Shead, the team’s gesture this week to add that much to his paycheck for this season meant more than the dollar figure itself.
Shead got a call from his agent Tuesday and told that the Seahawks were going to add a $25,000 bonus to his salary for this season (which was first reported by ESPN) with no other strings attached. Shead is on a one-year deal making $660,000, the minimum he could receive.
“Definitely was just showing appreciation for what I’m doing and everything that’s going on,” Shead said Thursday. “Whether it’s just one dollar or what they gave me, it’s more than I had. So for them to give me what they gave me, it definitely shows trust in me and trust in my ability and that they have high hopes for me.”
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Shead has been one of the most versatile players on the Seattle defense this season with the size (6-2,220) to play safety but the skill to play on the corner. He began the season playing strong safety, helping fill in for Kam Chancellor during his hold out, starting the Green Bay game at that spot. In that game, he served as what the team referred to as its “big nickel,” essentially playing as a cornerback though officially a safety, making a career-high eight tackles.
He moved back to a reserve role after Chancellor’s return, then became essentially the team’s starting nickelback after an injury to Marcus Burley against Detroit.
In all, he has played 283 snaps this season, 57 percent and fifth-most among the team’s defensive backs, while also playing a key role on most of Seattle’s special teams — he has 173 snaps on special teams this year, 77 percent of all available plays.
Burley is now back, though continuing to play with a small cast to protect his thumb. And Jeremy Lane, the starting nickel last season, will also be back soon having returned to practice this week from the PUP list having recovered from a broken wrist/arm and torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl.
But Shead may not be easily displaced from the nickel spot to hear defensive coordinator Kris Richard tell it.
“He’s done really good,” Richard said. “A big powerful guy who’s been able to get in there and get his hands on wide receivers. He’s got really good speed and he understands his positioning. Rarely, he’s out of position. It’s been a real good thing. We end up in any of our zones, any of our mans, it’s a real good thing to have him out there, just multiple in regards to what he can do out there for us.”
Richard said Shead’s size can be a particular advantage inside defending receivers not always used to going up defensive backs his size.
“Just in the fact that he’s able to get his hands on some wide receivers,” Richard said. “Wide receivers who end up in the slot aren’t really used to guys being able to get their hands on them.”
Shead will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will likely have opportunities elsewhere. What he doesn’t have to question, though, is Seattle’s appreciation in his abilities.
Shead initially made the Seahawks’ 53-man roster late in the 2012 season as an undrafted rookie free agent. He didn’t make the final 53-man roster in 2013 and was re-signed to the practice squad. But the Seahawks paid him a couple thousand more per week than the practice squad minimum as an inducement to keep him around (he ended up on the active roster late in the season and played in all three post-season games, including the Super Bowl).
So Tuesday’s move, as Shead says, was “just another way they have shown” faith in him. “It means a lot.”