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The Seahawks will soon have major decisions to make in the secondary

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Much of this offseason has been focused on the Seattle Seahawks’ need for an improved pass rush, and understandably so. Are the signings of Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin, plus the drafting of Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson acceptable solutions? I’m a bit skeptical there, but let’s be patient considering Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen are still on the market.

What’s also an important matter for the Seahawks front office is the future of the team’s secondary. Other than the 2020 UDFAs, Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair are the only DBs on the roster who’s under contract beyond 2021.

Shaquill Griffin’s contract is up after this season. Ditto Bradley McDougald, Quinton Dunbar, and Lano Hill. Tre Flowers and Quandre Diggs’ respective deals end after 2021. Griffin is the consensus best secondary player on the team, yet if an extension does happen it won’t be until the next offseason.

John Schneider had no issues with new contracts for the core members of the Legion of Boom when they were on their rookie deals. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas both got their big pay bumps in 2014, while Kam Chancellor got his in 2013. Seattle’s salary cap situation is far different now than it was then, and... well, with no disrespect intended to the current set of players, they are objectively and unsurprisingly not as good as the LOB.

Griffin, Amadi, Hill, Flowers, and Blair are all Seattle draft picks and obviously on rookie contracts. McDougald was a free agent from Tampa Bay, Dunbar was traded from Washington just recently and is on his rookie contract, and Diggs was traded by the Detroit Lions during the 2019 season after Matt Patricia accepted the challenge to make his bad football team even worse.

One potential surprise move Seattle could pull is to cut Bradley McDougald to free up cap space now — not literally now, but before the regular season starts. The Seahawks would save just over $4 million, although they’d have $1.3 million dead money. This assumes that the coaching staff deems Marquise Blair ready to take over as a starter, which would be incredibly quick given they seemed totally hesitant to even let him on the field as a rookie The other problem with cutting McDougald is your safety depth would be reduced to Diggs, Blair, possibly Amadi, and Hill plus some UDFAs. No bueno.

Pre-arrest, the Dunbar trade really put Flowers’ starting job as the CB2 in jeopardy. At worst he’d be fighting for a roster spot, while at best he’d be an extra DB in special nickel and/or dime packages. Even more telling is that this is the only notable secondary-related acquisition the Seahawks have made in an offseason in which John Schneider openly voiced his displeasure with their collective performance.

Shaquill Griffin is the most important name here because he’s the team’s #1 corner and coming off his best season as a pro. The only thing he lacked was an interception, which the refs took away from him thanks to a holding penalty on Jamar Taylor in the first meeting with the San Francisco 49ers. Griffin had to grow up quickly once Richard Sherman suffered that Achilles rupture in 2017, and he took his lumps in 2018 as a result. His 2019 was one of the few bright spots on the worst defense that Seattle has ever had in the Russell Wilson era.

It really is a pivotal 2020 for Shaquill to earn that contract extension, which I hope the Seahawks give him.

Seattle may have Griffin/Flowers/Diggs/McDougald/Blair/Amadi/Dunbar (?) through this season, but we could be looking at a considerably different secondary in the near future... for better or worse.