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Seahawks have tough decisions to make at cornerback

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks recently worked out veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but suddenly that group looks quite crowded. The Seahawks could still sign Rodgers-Cromartie, indicating that they still feel uneasy about the starting outside corner position opposite of Shaquill Griffin, but they seem to have a number of options that they’re running through at the moment.

Based on recent history, Pete Carroll is likely to keep five cornerbacks. Griffin and Justin Coleman aren’t going anywhere. Who gets the other three spots?

Byron Maxwell had seemed close to a lock, but he suffered a hip injury that caused him to miss some practice time and opened the door for Dontae Johnson and Tre Flowers to get reps with the 1s.

Johnson had missed much of the first couple of weeks of training camp with a foot injury, but during his four-year career with the San Francisco 49ers he had only missed a single game. That included making 16 starts last season, although PFF didn’t have Johnson ranked in the top 100 for yards per coverage snap allowed in 2017. Has working with some of the best secondary coaches in the league made Johnson a more viable starting option for the Seattle defense?

Or are the Seahawks working through Maxwell, Johnson, and Flowers at starting cornerback because they’re having a hard time finding a guy they’re really comfortable with?

It seems reasonable that Carroll will end up choosing one veteran between Maxwell and Johnson, if not a late offseason nab of DRC. Maxwell does have the most experience of anyone in the group of working with Carroll, but Johnson spent all last season with former Carroll disciple Robert Saleh so it’s not like he’s completely unaware of what Seattle is going for with their corners. Johnson is also four years younger and a little bit cheaper.

Let’s say the Seahawks keep Griffin, Coleman, and Johnson. There are now two spots available.

At this point it would be much more shocking for Seattle to cut Flowers than it would be to see them part ways with Maxwell. Fifth round picks who are also converting positions don’t tend to always make a good first impression (Mike Tyson was a sixth rounder, same ballpark) but Flowers has drawn praise for his work — both in practice and in his first preseason game — and there’s no chance he passes through waivers if he doesn’t make the cut. In fact, Flowers could still win a starting job in Week 1 which may actually eliminate the need for Johnson or Maxwell. And that would give them a lot of flexibility to keep getting younger for 2018.

Why would they need that? In order to hold onto Akeem King, perhaps.

If the Seahawks keep Griffin, Coleman, Flowers, and Johnson, then they’d only have one of those five spots remaining. Do they keep King or do they keep Neiko Thorpe, the only cornerback from 2016 who is still in Seattle? Thorpe has not provided much as a cornerback but he is considered to be one of the most valuable members of special teams for the Seahawks. That also makes him the second-highest paid CB on the team (after Coleman) and Seattle would save $1.85 million if they released Thorpe.

It’s not a major concern, but if the Seahawks are looking at the roster and seeing some new guys who could help fill that void on special teams should Thorpe not make it to Week 1, then surely savings become a consideration. That and the fact that many people don’t want to lose King.

A seventh round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, King has spent almost all of the last three years on a practice squad. He spent all of last season on Seattle’s practice squad, which does give him considerable experience working on Carroll’s techniques and in this system. He has drew a lot of praise in training camp and in the Seahawks preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. King has not been mentioned in the competition to start at cornerback, but he seems like a viable option to step in as necessary if he won the job to be the cornerbackup.

So then which five cornerbacks do you keep:

Griffin, Coleman, Johnson, Flowers, King?

Griffin, Coleman, Maxwell, Thorpe, Flowers?

Griffin, Coleman, Flowers, Thorpe, King?

The Seahawks are also looking at Trovon Reed, Elijah Battle, and Jeremy Boykins but any of them would be quite surprising at this point, including Reed who has missed a lot of time with injury. For now, it looks like Griffin, Coleman, and Flowers are in. The other guys are likely fighting for one veteran job and one job as a backup/special teamer.

Who do you choose?

Poll

Assuming 2 spots for 4 players, who do you keep?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Johnson, Thorpe
    (130 votes)
  • 18%
    Johnson, King
    (337 votes)
  • 11%
    Thorpe, King
    (208 votes)
  • 28%
    Maxwell, Thorpe
    (534 votes)
  • 35%
    Maxwell, King
    (661 votes)
1870 votes total Vote Now