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Quinton Dunbar trade raises questions about Tre Flowers’ future on the Seahawks defense

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

John Schneider wasn’t happy with the Seattle Seahawks secondary last season, and thus far he’s responded this offseason by waiving safety Tedric Thompson and trading for cornerback Quinton Dunbar.

Dunbar plays predominantly on the outside (with some nickel snaps), so the odds of him being brought over to compete for that nickel position are slim. Shaquill Griffin has firmly established himself as the team’s #1 cornerback, so by process of elimination that means there are questions to be asked about Tre Flowers.

Flowers’ second season was either mediocre or really good, depending on what site you’re using. Pro Football Focus and their ever-controversial grading system gave Flowers a 53.9, a dropoff from his rookie year. Take a gander at the Pro Football Reference and you’ll see a QB rating in the 70s, just one touchdown allowed to three interceptions, and an improvement in completion percentage against and average depth of target.

In the playoffs, Flowers was very bad. He committed two terrible and obvious pass interference penalties against the Philadelphia Eagles, and was torched by Aaron Rodgers in the season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers. I’d argue that the Packers game was his worst since his rookie debut in 2018, when he was thrust into the starting lineup unexpectedly and was just learning how to play cornerback.

At 6’3” and with not much in the way of agility, lateral quickness, or quick feet, Flowers as a slot corner seems like a recipe for disaster. One of the pass interference penalties against the Eagles occurred while in the slot against Greg Ward. I suspect that Ugo Amadi (and whomever else is signed/drafted) will be occupying that spot when next season rolls around.

I doubt Flowers is going to be a cut candidate (and he shouldn’t be), so outside of trading him away and looking at rookies in this year’s draft, options for Flowers if he loses his starting job don’t seem plentiful. However, Corbin Smith over at SeahawkMaven brought up this great point.

Considering his former safety background at Oklahoma State, Flowers could be deployed as a slot defender in “big” nickel packages to cover tight ends. In recent years, cornerback Akeem King fulfilled that role with great success and at 6-foot-3, Flowers has the build and length to also excel at such a task.

Flowers’ frame may be total doom against speedy slot receivers, but as an extra DB who can cover bigger targets, he may take that “Akeem King” role that we saw deployed famously against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also keep in mind that schematic changes may finally come to the Seahawks defense. Shaquill Griffin has expressed interest in roaming with the opposition’s #1 receiver, something Seattle has historically avoided under Pete Carroll. It’s not crazy to think about having Griffin, Amadi, Flowers, and Dunbar all out there at once in a 3-1-7 formation. Anyone remember the introduction of the Bandit?

Of course, in the interest of “Always Compete,” Flowers hasn’t already lost his starting job. What seems obvious is that the Dunbar trade is pointed at competition for the CB2 spot. I believe there is a place for Flowers on the Seahawks defense, but as to what his role will be in his third season is very much up in the air.