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Seahawks spending least amount in NFL on cornerbacks

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For obvious reasons, the Seattle Seahawks were spending the most money in the NFL at the safety position in 2018, though Earl Thomas only played in four games and Kam Chancellor missed all of his final NFL season. As expected, the Seahawks saw a dip in that spending in 2019 thanks to Earl leaving to sign with the Baltimore Ravens and Kam taking his final vacation — though his $10 million in dead money and Bradley McDougald’s $4.7 million cap hit still puts Seattle in 16th place for safety spending.

However, what is most surprising is that a year after releasing Richard Sherman and months after deciding to not re-sign Justin Coleman, the Seahawks aren’t just being frugal at cornerback, they’re downright treating it like the new offensive line; Seattle’s $5.7 million spent on all corners at this time ranks 32nd overall and is about $3.3 million less than what 31st-ranked Kansas City is spending on their cornerbacks.

That $5.7 million includes $1 million to Neiko Thorpe (still a potential casualty before the season begins), $870,000 to Shaquill Griffin, $656,000 to Ugo Amadi, and $644,000 to Tre Flowers. That could put Seattle’s starting three corners at a total 2019 salary of $2.17 million.

$2.17 million is exactly what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are paying cornerback Ryan Smith, a fourth year pro in the final year of his rookie deal. There are 71 cornerbacks set to make more than $2.17 million next season. There are five individual corners set to make at least 7x that amount. Coleman will make $2.8 million in his first season with the Detroit Lions. The New Orleans Saints, who had 12 picks last year, same as Seattle, is set to pay Patrick Robinson $5.3m, Marshon Lattimore $4.1m, Eli Apple $2.5m, PJ Williams $2.2m, and Ken Crawley $2m.

That’s $16.1 million on five corners and while certainly a player like Lattimore is gifted and you could argue this group is better, is it that much better? Apple and Williams are making more than those three players, Robinson is making the same as every corner on the Seahawks roster, and Crawley is not far behind those other guys in terms of salary.

Also, is Seattle’s cornerback group a concern? Sure!

We don’t have much in the way of security that any corner on the Seahawks current 90-man roster will be very good. Griffin gave us some positive signs as a rookie and then maybe a few concerns in year two, Flowers also flashed good things in year one and so who knows what we can really expect moving forward? Ugo has never played in the NFL before and the rest — Akeem King, Kalan Reed, Jamar Taylor, Jeremy Boykins, some undrafted free agents — haven’t given us a ton of reason for optimism yet, while Thorpe is just not suited to play cornerback based on what we’ve seen so far.

With this much cap space and this many unknowns at corner, it is certainly possible that the team will be looking for options in August and September once preseason gets going and cap casualties start becoming aware that’s what they are. Seattle traded for Coleman two years ago and it helped set them up for cheap success at the position in 2017 and 2018.

The less they spend on corner also means the more they have to spend at other positions, including potential extensions for Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed, as well as dipping into the trade market if need be at receiver, tight end, or defensive end. Or ... cornerback and safety.

We’ve seen Pete Carroll and John Schneider go cheap on offensive line for years and then deciding to put a few bucks into Duane Brown. We’ve seen them go all-in at secondary and now we’re seeing the inverse of that. Money spent doesn’t always necessarily = success however and oftentimes, it doesn’t work out nearly the way you expect it to. This just means that for now the Seahawks don’t have a cornerback of note and outside of Sherman, this really doesn’t go against their typical philosophy at corner given that they didn’t re-sign Byron Maxwell, Brandon Browner, or Walter Thurmond.

Pete believes he can make the most out of a cheap cornerback, 2019 may be the biggest test of that belief yet.