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Seahawks face major decisions on secondary this offseason

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Jamal Adams is a member of the Seattle Seahawks through 2025.

Some of you already have opinions, but that’s not the opinion part of this piece.

Tre Brown is under contract through 2024, and should return as a lock for a starting cornerback spot next season, assuming standard recovery.

After that though, half of the Seattle secondary is up for some shiny new contracts this winter, and a replacement of that magnitude would not be ideal for the franchise if they don’t find a way to bring some of these guys back.

At the end of this season, Quandre Diggs, D.J. Reed, and Ryan Neal become free agents. Ugo Amadi has one more year and we’ll discuss him in a minute (believe me, we’ll discuss him).

Decisions on four guys, and two of those will have hot markets next year. Seattle did the right thing by not extending Duane Brown, a necessarily evil thing in extending Adams, and a very bad thing in not extending Diggs.

Quandre Diggs is going to make bank. He made the Pro Bowl, then led the team in interceptions again. John Schneider refused last year to give Shaquill Griffin the 3-year, $44.5 million contract the Jacksonville Jaguars gave him. Diggs is the most important guy hitting free agency to keep, bar none, and the only question is if the Seahawks will be heroes, or afraid of too many zeroes.

D.J. Reed will hit free agency having started for two straight years and not yet made $1 million in a season. He’s an interesting one as he’s the team’s most experienced corner, though he’s proven definitively to be far better at the right side. That will play into upcoming negotiations, if teams view him exclusively as a CB2 because of his positioning.

John Gilbert believes Reed will be gone; I think he’s a high priority to keep. They’ve only drafted one successful corner since Richard Sherman and the free agent hit rate around here has been atrocious.

Ryan Neal is also going to enter exclusive rights free agency as a sub-million dollar player. He’s a great story from practice squad to Jamal Adams replacement, to a really good plug-and-play defensive back in his own right. He had the team’s only sack one game, against Trevor Lawrence. This sort of comes down to a Marquise Blair or Ryan Neal depth question, and if a team pegs Neal as a starter and doubles or triples his salary next year, he could easily walk.

Ugo Amadi has been the team’s primary nickel corner since they drafted him. He’s the only other player still under contract next season. However, Amadi is the DB I’m most interested in moving on from this offseason. He’s had some shining moments, and really a pretty good 2020, but he has some limitations and this year has been a disaster. His yards per completion allowed, passer rating allowed, and missed tackles are all career highs.

He leads the team in penalties committed.

Furthermore, he’s qualified for the Level One Performance Escalator which will increase his salary in 2022 to $2.43 million. No thanks, and on Amadi I’d advocate an outright cut if I was convinced they actually wanted to compete next year.

Throw in Bobby Wagner as a bonus consideration. This is not the place to have the conversation, which is the simple reality that he aged noticeably this season and is due a ton of money. If Seattle does something different at linebacker, then up to five of the back seven could find themselves elsewhere next season.

This could happen, but it should not happen, and hopefully the culture is not so damaged after just one bad year that the entire backfield prioritizes moving on.

Because one thing is for certain - this team has been horribly slow in defensive adjustments of almost any kind lately. Whether it’s a new guy in free agency, figuring out how to use Adams, making the same coverage errors in consecutive games months, or the most infuriating and slow-developing cornerback “competition” of this franchise’s existence, they’re not speedy learners.

“Blow it up” has been an easy mantra this year, but I have no interest in this staff (if it indeed is this staff) trying to get four new members of the secondary up to speed and doing...defensive things.

I’d advocate for keeping Diggs and Reed, along with Rasheem Green as the defensive re-sign priorities this offseason. Let the market decide on Ryan Neal, move on from Ugo Amadi, while not drafting another cornerback. John Reid and Sidney Jones are both 25 years old.

Unfortunately, that means keeping the two players who will get multiple offers, and passing on the two that are easier to keep. That’s frequently the opposite of what John Schneider has done, and then two months later bringing in a guy we’d all forgotten was a free agent. But with this group, continuity does seem to be important, and that’s who I’d like to see come back next year.