The secondary of the Seattle Seahawks played its first game without Jamal Adams in Week 14 against the Houston Texans, tuning up for the showdown with Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. For the Seahawks to have any realistic shot at the postseason, they must win out, and that will include the secondary needing to slow down Stafford and a Rams offense that recorded 476 yards against Seattle in the first matchup, including 358 yards through the air.
In addition, while the cornerback play has improved for the Hawks as the season has gone on, in the first matchup Seattle had Adams available, so his absence could make a difference when the two teams battle Sunday afternoon. That said, regardless of the outcome of the game against the Rams this weekend, for the second consecutive offseason the Seahawks will have a number of questions to answer in the secondary.
Specifically, the starters in the secondary for Seattle against Houston were:
- RCB D.J. Reed
- FS Quandre Diggs
- SS Ryan Neal and
- LCB Sidney Jones.
Of those four, not a single one of them is under contract for 2022. Neal, of course, is an exclusive rights free agent who in all likelihood will be back with the team on a minimum salary contract, but the other three are all unrestricted free agents who could find the grass, or rather their bank accounts, greener elsewhere.
The most logical place to start seems to be with Diggs, who changed the complexion of the defense overnight when he took over as free safety following a midseason trade in 2019, and who seems likely to make his second straight Pro Bowl. Diggs will turn 29 in January, so he’s certainly not young, but he’s far from old and it’s no stretch to imagine Diggs taking advantage of the Seahawks turning down his August request for an extension to hit free agency this spring and cash in. What is most important to Diggs will certainly be an interesting topic of discussion, as having played for Detroit through the Matt Patricia era it’s not hard to imagine focusing on more than just how large a contract is offered. On the flip side, it wouldn’t be all that big of a surprise to see a free agent free safety sign for at or near the top of the market, which could keep the Hawks chances of retaining Diggs low.
At the same time, both Reed and Jones should now be able to enter free agency after having put together a better tape reel than they have had in the past. For Reed that likely means a chance to sign a significant contract as he prepares to enter his age-26 season, while Jones has had yet another year to continue to recover from a myriad of injuries that have limited him since entering the league as a second round pick in 2017.
Digging right into one of the keys of this discussion is the simple fact that the Seahawks don’t have a long track record of giving secondary players a new contract before hitting free agency if the two sides didn’t get the extension signed before the end of training camp. Specifically, they’ve let Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Shaquill Griffin and Earl Thomas depart as free agents while retaining Jeremy Lane and cutting both Richard Sherman and DeShawn Shead.
Boiling it all down, between now and the start of free agency exactly three months from Wednesday at 4 PM New York Time on March 16, 2022, the Seahawks will need to make several decisions on Diggs, Reed and Jones. All three of those players could be back in Seahawks uniforms in 2022, or they could all be playing for new teams elsewhere. At some point in the coming weeks the Seattle front office will need to determine how much it could be worth to keep those three together for the future.