Monday the Seattle Seahawks met with former Miami Dolphins tackle Branden Albert (as well as 2017 undrafted free agent Andrew Lauderdale out of New Hampshire, who spent offseason periods with the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers), and then the gears of the internet started turning.
As mentioned here, Benjamin Allbright tweeted that Seattle’s workout with Albert was a ploy to leverage a better deal with the Houston Texans in exchange for contract holdout Duane Brown. Since Brown is even better than Albert, this unsubstantiated post prompted a frenzy of interest in a potential Brown deal from the Seahawks community. To be able to afford even a prorated amount Brown’s original $9.4 million cap hit in 2017, Seattle would have to give back—or cut—another prominent player to make the deal work.
Almost immediately, the fan search for this mystery missing link in a hypothetical deal magnetized to cornerback Jeremy Lane. Lane shifted from a homegrown fan favorite whose mere absence tilted Super Bowl XLIX to a club albatross almost as soon as he signed a four-year $23 million extension in 2016. Lane didn’t help by following up the deal with a mediocre and penalty-plagued season, one he admitted on Twitter didn’t meet his own standards, then getting thrown out of the first game of his redemption year. The same fan delirium also proposed getting rid of Jimmy Graham or, even more ridiculously, Michael Bennett.
But Lane also makes sense as a match for Houston for other reasons. For one, John Schneider tried shipping Lane out in September, according to Ian Rapoport shortly before the deadline to cut roster down to 53 players—a period that ultimately saw the Seahawks part ways with Jermaine Kearse’s similarly cumbersome mid-range contract. Lane was valuable as veteran cornerack depth, but Seattle also acquired Justin Coleman from the New England Patriots and with Neiko Thorpe back again healthy versus the Los Angeles Rams the Seahawks didn’t look as thin during week five as they had when Lane went down with a groin injury a week earlier.
About that groin, though: Why would the Texans want an injured cornerback? Well, Houston is suffering its own defensive back shortage, with Kevin Johnson out opposite Johnathan Joseph at least four to six weeks with a MCL sprain (or longer, given Johnson’s poor injury history). Lane’s groin issue is a less serious problem and was supposedly slight enough that he was a possibility to play for Seattle in week five all the way up to Saturday, and is expected to be ready to suit up after the bye or sooner for a potential trade partner. Tuesday, the Texans even cut backup corner Johnathan Banks.
If you want to get even more suspicious of a grand conspiracy you could choose to believe Lane didn’t go Sunday because Schneider already planned on trading him, as many supposed was the case during the preseason. But then Lane added tea leaves to the divination entrails Monday night with an odd series of tweets:
I had to ask my self— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) October 10, 2017
Self— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) October 10, 2017
I’ll remember who rep when they slept on me !— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) October 10, 2017
If I had a chance I would listen to inspirational dialogs between Jeremy Lane and his self whenever I’m feeling confused or unmotivated. We forget how much we internalize the private language in our heads. It’s too easy to speak inside our selves with frustration or despair we may be too embarrassed to vocalize for others, even if we don’t think we mean it. But thoughts do also shape our relationships to reality, and our habits, so it remains important from time to time to sit our self down and remind us what’s up, or our self might get lost.
Soul searching— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) October 10, 2017
Anyway the widespread interpreting of Lane’s tweets combined with Allbright leaking Seattle’s interest in Brown fueled a discussion trending enough that it inspired someone to launch a fake Twitter purporting to be Sirius Radio and occasional ESPN NFL insider Adam Caplan just to capitalize on the rumor. The real Caplan frequently repeats breaking pro football transactions, but as of Tuesday, the fake account had made just the one post ever, follows no one and had no followers:
Bye week Tuesday Twitter found time for more hoaxes too. However the narrative reading into Lane’s messages presumes the trade had already been finalized, with Lane imagined to be taking stock of himself after being let go from the Legion of Boom—the only professional secondary he has ever known.
There’s some reason the news might be embargoed pending physicals on both sides, but by late Tuesday it made no sense a completed trade wouldn’t be publicized. The Seahawks are on a bye but Houston has a Sunday game and practice Wednesday. Beside, Brown’s camp, particularly his agent, should be eager to announce it was able to force a trade and a new arrangement.
Also, Lane has been known to tweet dramatic things in the past. He often addresses his perceived doubters, for example, independent of perceived roster jeopardy:
For my birthday I just want some apologies— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) July 13, 2017
And it turned out this concerning message, from just before the start of Seattle training camp...
Save me— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) July 24, 2017
...only meant he was stuck in a bid in an airport terminal. With Seahawks players free to fly anywhere they want on their week off, Monday’s introspection might have even had the same source in more boarding-area boredom.
Next time Lane might want to sit his self down and remind it again of one of life’s harder lessons:
Stop making a big deal out of the little things !!— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) August 28, 2017
But it’s also important for those of us on the outside to recognize who Jeremy Lane is:
Sometimes I be in my feelings— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) May 14, 2016
And that’s an emotional guy who’s just going to express himself:
Yeap I'm in my feelings so what— jeremy lane (@StayingInMyLane) May 10, 2017
Be you Jeremy. Keep learning. We’ll listen. Love U always.
We would also be keen to remember Allbright, who reported the initial rumor about Seattle inquiring about Brown, is a guy who has previously described his job as less about journalism than about brokering information from agents, or basically doing their bidding behind the scenes: “We’ll get information from one guy that wants to hype up his client, wants to say a couple things,” Allbright told Front Office Sports last year. “You take that information and you move on to the next agent who has a little bit of information, you do that and trade the information. It goes back and forth. Agents can use that information to gauge the market for contracts or where teams are going to go in different directions, things like that.”
Allbright specifically says in that interview that team sources are tighter with information than agents, and so he relies more on agent accounts that he admits are engineered to generate demand for their clients. In other words, whatever Allbright is hearing about Duane Brown might have more to do with Brown’s plans than the Seahawks’ plans. Brown has been stalling to get a deal fully guaranteed through the term of his $9.75 million contract in 2018, and there are other pressing financial and cap barriers to finalizing any potential swap.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a factual report, or that no trade is in the works between Seattle and the Texans, or for Lane with another team. I’m just saying we might not know any better than if Russian bots controlled the NFL rumor economy, which they might. So I advise a dose of cool air to calm the ruckus. The long wait during the bye week before another Seahawks game will only let fans stew and ferment more roster scenarios out of our own soul-searching conversations between our selves and Spotrac. We also tend to believe, because a bye week potentially gives more time to acclimate a new arrival, that these types of moves are more likely or more advantageous during such a break. However, it’s just as useful to consider the behavior of Schneider and the front office during these periods in the past.
Indeed, Seattle hasn’t made such a significant transaction during its bye for the last seven years.
In 2015, that’s the week the Seahawks relegated Ricardo Lockette to injured reserve after Lockette suffered a spinal injury in the previous game, and activated Paul Richardson from the physically unable to perform list. In 2013, the bye week was when Seattle learned about Walter Thurmond’s drug suspension, so DeShawn Shead stepped into the 53-man group once and for all. Shead and Richardson have both been contributors ever since, but neither of those promotions resembles anything like suddenly bringing on a starter from another team—and Richardson’s return that year was bound to happen all along. Otherwise, the only moves the Seahawks have tried during byes from 2012 to 2017 were the sort of practice squad fiddling that happens at all times.
In 2011, Schneider traded linebacker Aaron Curry to the Oakland Raiders for a bundle of draft picks. Because Curry had been a first round pick just two years earlier, that was a newsworthy deal. But Curry had only started two of five games to that point in ’11, and was being supplanted in the snap rotation by emerging K.J. Wright. Either way, Seattle didn’t get any players immediately back for Curry, so it was hardly a move aimed at improving the team that season.
The one time during Schneider’s tenure the Seahawks did trade to acquire a player during the bye week was quite influential and memorable: It was October 5, 2010, when Schneider exchanged a pair of future selections for the Buffalo Bills’ Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, of course, single-handedly won Seattle a playoff game that year, then produced four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and a Super Bowl victory.
If Schneider can strike a similar franchise-altering deal to acquire a left tackle this bye week it will be mighty impressive, but the pattern as the roster has grown more stable over the last six years suggests he could be likelier to hold steady.
Or, you might say, stay in his lane.