Where the Seahawks stand at cornerback without Richard Sherman

From ESPN - March 12, 2018

Richard Sherman is a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Jeremy Lane has been released and DeShawn Shead is about to join him as a free agent.

The recent and upcoming moves by the Seattle Seahawks involving their cornerbacks invite a closer look at where the team stands at the position.

The upshot is that it's now a major need, though one the Seahawks do not figure to fill by making a big splash in free agency.

That the Seahawks moved on from Lane on the same day they released Sherman was not the least bit surprising. No one expected Lane back with his $6 million salary for 2018, coming off a season in which he lost his starting job twice and was traded away only to return because of a failed physical. His fate seemed sealed long before his January arrest on suspicion of DUI.

And releasing Shead, which is expected to happen Monday, actually is not all that consequential. The Seahawks are doing so because they already had promised Shead he'd be an unrestricted free agent, but that ca not happen unless they release him because his contract is set to toll into 2018. Seattle wants to re-sign him and Shead has expressed a desire to return, but the fact that he's heading into free agency -- and already has a visit lined up with the Detroit Lions -- means anything can happen.

It goes without saying that the decision to move on from Sherman is by far the most impactful of the three. The Seahawks' stretch of historically good defense -- they allowed the fewest points in the league every season from 2012 to 2015 -- probably would not have happened without Sherman locking down one side of the field as capably as he did. Sherman played the position as well as anyone in the NFL during his six and a half seasons as a starter for Seattle, a stretch in which he made four Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro three times.

His absence leaves the Seahawks without a true No. 1 cornerback even if 2017 rookie Shaquill Griffin has the potential to become one at some point.

Griffin is one of four cornerbacks the Seahawks have under contract and the only one among them who has seen extended playing time in their defense. In fact, only one of Seattle's top five cornerbacks from last season is currently signed for 2018, though nickelback Justin Coleman is under club control as a restricted free agent.

Under contract

Shaquill Griffin. The third-round pick and twin brother of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin had a strong rookie season. He beat out Lane for the starting job opposite Sherman and drew rave reviews from coaches and teammates for the poise he showed while being thrown into the fire right away. Griffin looks like he will be Seattle's starting right cornerback for years to come.

Neiko Thorpe. He has mainly been a special teams player -- and a pretty good one -- during his two seasons with the team. Signed early in the 2016 season after his release from the Oakland Raiders, the 28-year-old Thorpe has played cornerback only in spot duty for the Seahawks and does not seem like a player Seattle would prefer to have starting. He's signed through 2018.

DeAndre Elliott. An undrafted free agent in 2016, Elliott played on special teams that season and showed plenty of promise as a developmental prospect. In fact, he probably would have made a push for playing time as a third cornerback last year had he not suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the final preseason game. He should factor into the team's plans to some degree next season, which will be the final year of his rookie deal.


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