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Justin Coleman leaves Seahawks for Lions

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The first major Seattle Seahawks free agent to depart the team appears to be slot cornerback Justin Coleman.

Coleman, who’d been a very effective member of Seattle’s secondary after joining the team via trade in 2017, is now on the cusp of getting a major contract from the Detroit Lions that would make him the NFL’s highest paid nickel corner. This is from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

A new report says that Coleman will make $36 million over four years, an average of $9 million per season. It’s another sign that the NFL is changing fast in how it values certain positions, as a nickel corner is now making more than just about every running back in the league. And he’s not even the best nickel corner.

The 25-year-old Coleman had bounced around practice squads — he was even on the 2015 Seahawks practice squad — before spending two seasons with the New England Patriots. He was dealt to Seattle for a seventh-round pick, and became the Seahawks’ starting slot cornerback.

Coleman picked off two passes in 2017, returning them both for touchdowns. In 2018, his only interception came against the Detroit Lions, who were attempting to rally from 28-7 down in the 4th quarter before Coleman shut the door on them. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings, and had a critical forced fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs on a night when Seattle would clinch a wild card spot.

This wasn’t a major surprise that the Seahawks wouldn’t be able to keep him around — I certainly don’t think the front office was ever interested in making him the highest-paid nickel — and likely goes hand in hand with the decision to re-sign Akeem King, who showed flashes of impressive play as the season progressed.

Best of luck to Coleman in Detroit, where he’ll not only be reunited with Matt Patricia, but fellow former Seahawks Darrell Bevell and Luke Willson.