While most of the offseason commentary about the Seattle Seahawks have been swirling around what will happen on the offensive side of the ball, there are real questions that need to be answered about the defense. First and foremost, what will be they do about their important free agents. They already made the call on Carlos Dunlap, as the midseason trade acquisition was let go in favor of cap space. What hasn’t been answered yet is what they will do about Shaquill Griffin?
The Seahawks aren’t exactly flush with homegrown Pro Bowlers during this era. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright are holdovers; Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs were acquired through trade. The only defensive player that has achieved all-league status that Seattle has drafted in the last five years has been Griffin in 2019. Last year was up-and-down for him; he brings precious aspects as a number one corner. He’s tall, long, and speedy and while his mental makeup isn’t quite as ferocious as the man he used to understudy (Richard Sherman), Griffin, in a lot of ways, is an ideal Pete Carroll cornerback.
Still, he has flaws. Even though his interception numbers and yards-per-target improved this season, he gave up an unsavory 62.1% completion percentage, more yards than in his previous season, on top of allowing six touchdowns in coverage. Seattle’s absence of a pass rush in the first eight games of the season definitely contributed to his downturn of form, while he was also dealing with multiple injuries that kept him out of four games this season. Pro Football Focus graded him 49th out of 121 qualifying cornerbacks but using the same metrics; they had him ranked 10th the year before. He’s not perfect, but when things are built correctly around him, he is a player that can flourish.
Seattle has a tough decision to make here. He’s good, maybe even very good, but he’s not one of the league’s best. Given his age (25) and intangibles, he’s going to want a contract that pays him near the top of his position. Byron Jones and Xavian Howard of the Dolphins recently signed deals for 4-years at around $15-$17 million annually. I can imagine his agent asking for around those marks.
While Griffin is easily Seattle’s best player set to hit the open market, a deal in that range would take up just about all the cap space they have. As they are only left with four picks after the Jamal Adams trade, free agency is the easiest way to improve this roster. With Russell Wilson’s recent demands, Seattle will have a tough choice to re-sign a rising defensive starter or go after further offensive line help. What they decide may greatly impact how long their star quarterback remains on their roster.