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What will the Seahawks do at safety?

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Minnesota Vikings v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

No team in the NFL paid its safeties more than the Seattle Seahawks did in 2018. Out of that investment, they got zero games from Kam Chancellor and less than four from an unhappy Earl Thomas. The outlook for 2019 is that neither will be playing in Seattle and instead the only safety they could feel comfortable with starting is Bradley McDougald. I suppose in some regard McDougald’s versatility to play either safety position opens up a world of possibilities in who will be starting next to him, but most likely it’s the free safety position that needs filling.

Who will do that?

With the announcement that Thomas will be free to test free agency and that there hasn’t been any communication between the two sides, it seems even closer to a guarantee that Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s second ever Seahawks draft pick will soon be gone for good. I’ve held out hope that Seattle could find a way to make it work because the defense is just so much better with him than without him, and while anything is possible, this now seems far out of reach.

Tedric Thompson started 10 games in his place and the results were not very promising. Thompson could potentially still be a starter in the league but the stark contrast between him and Thomas emphasizes that Carroll needs something more from his safety in order to run the elite defenses that he used to have.

Delano Hill appeared in 13 games and started two, and maybe even surpassed Thompson in fan curiosity by the end of the season. But still, two seasons after drafting Shaquill Griffin, Thompson, and Hill in the same area in the middle of the 2017 NFL draft — the highest Schneider had ever taken a cornerback, and the highest drafted safeties since Thomas — they have combined for four interceptions, three by Griffin. And it’s not entirely for lack of opportunity: Griffin is a two-year starter and the Seahawks desperately needed someone to step up at safety in each of the last two years. In 2017, that was McDougald and he made it seem even more clear that Carroll knows what he’s doing in the secondary. But in 2018, neither Hill or Thompson made a notable dent in the positive.

That could still change, of course. Thompson recently turned 24 and Hill recently turned 23. Kam and Earl are both superior talents, but each took time before they were consistently reliable starters. Either way, there’s no chance that the Seahawks will part ways with Hill or Thompson any sooner than they have to, which would be final cuts before the 2019 season so they have plenty of more time to evaluate until then.

It just seems like they can’t enter camp or the preseason with only those two to evaluate.

The lesser known players currently on the roster at safety who will try to be the surprise of next season are Shalom Luani, Justin Currie, T.J. Mutcherson, Marwin Evans, and sometimes Akeem King.

That’s not gonna be enough.

The high profile safeties on the market other than Thomas are Landon Collins and Adrian Amos. There’s also Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Lamarcus Joyner. I can’t say that I’d comfortably name anyone else on the market as a safe signing to start at safety, and I don’t even know that I feel that way about Clinton-Dix or Joyner. It’s more like Thomas, Collins, and Amos and then hope you don’t give a lot of guaranteed money to anyone else you could get. Clayton Geathers, Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccaro, Mike Mitchell, Jimmie Ward, the recently released Glover Quinn.

A lot of people lamented the not drafting of Derwin James last year despite him going off the board before Seattle was originally slated to pick, and this draft does not have very many safeties projected to go early. It’s possible that the Seahawks could trade down into the second round and still have the best safety in the draft still on the board when they pick. Perhaps five or less are gone before day three. And no matter what Seattle does at safety in the draft, not much will be expected from them as rookies who contribute in 2019. James did with the LA Chargers, but that’s rare. Kam didn’t. Earl played a lot and was one of the best parts of a really bad defense, but he wasn’t great.

I just don’t believe they’ll go into camp with just McDougald, Hill, Thompson, a rookie draft pick, and a handful of hopefuls. Who knows, maybe the Seahawks do want to pay a safety next season, and they just don’t want it to be for someone who will be in his thirties. Maybe they would make a play for a big name through free agency or trade. Or maybe they’ll sign a veteran like Quin and wait a year for the long-term repair or to see if Thompson or Hill take that next step.

Like many other positions right now, something needs to happen.

Sidenote: Jacob Martin has almost the exact same size and measurables as Kam Chancellor.

Poll

Which safety on the team has the highest potential?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Tedric Thompson
    (334 votes)
  • 45%
    Delano Hill
    (424 votes)
  • 18%
    Other (Luani, King, etc)
    (170 votes)
928 votes total Vote Now