Following the 2019 season, fans of the Seattle Seahawks wanted the team to focus on three key areas during the offseason, including addressing the pass rush, fixing the offensive line and working to improve the secondary. All three groups flashed at times, but also struggled at times, and underperformance by all three contributed to the team’s season coming to a halt against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Hawks appear to have taken to addressing the issues of the offensive line in part through a mass signing of free agent linemen, with the idea being to have open competitions in camp and let whoever comes out on top start. On the pass rush front, it appears as though the team may wait out the Jadeveon Clowney situation, but between the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of Matthew Judon of the Baltimore Ravens and Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars, that could take months to play out. With that said, Seattle took a big step to address the secondary on Monday by acquiring cornerback Quinton Dunbar from the Washington Redskins.
2020 is set to be the final season of Dunbar’s current contract, and in exchange for Dunbar Seattle sent a fifth round pick to Washington. Of course, this is not even the first time the Seahawks have traded a fifth round pick for a starting caliber defensive back in the last six months.
It was just last October that the Hawks sent pick 5.172 to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Quandre Diggs. That pick was Seattle’s native fifth round pick, meaning that the pick the Seahawks agreed to send to Washington for Dunbar had to come from somewhere. Digging through transactions logs yields exactly where that pick came from. Specifically, the fifth round pick Seattle had available to exchange for Dunbar was pick 5.162. That selection in the upcoming draft at 5.162 was a native pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers that the Seahawks acquired for sending Nick Vannett packing last fall.
So, long story short, the Seahawks took Nick Vannett, who had only played 972 offensive snaps during his three plus years in Seattle and sent him to Pittsburgh for a draft pick. Then, after sitting on that draft pick for more than six months, turned around and sent it to Washington for a cornerback who has played 1,917 snaps in his career and who PFF had as the second highest graded cornerback in the NFL in 2019.
That PFF grade certainly does not mean that Dunbar was the second best corner in the league, nor does it do anything to allay the injury concerns surrounding Dunbar. However, what his addition does do is create flexibility and depth for the Hawks going forward. While no one wants to imagine one of the starting corners going down, it’s not as if Seattle hasn’t found itself in a situation where a starting cornerback like DeShawn Shead, Marcus Trufant or Jeremy Lane missed time due to injury. In fact, Richard Sherman’s run of dominance at the left cornerback spot only started due to injuries to those in front of him in 2011.
So, while fans are certainly hopeful that Dunbar can come in and provide high level secondary play, the fact that Dunbar provides some level of insurance regarding health in the defensive backfield is likely the biggest impact of this trade.