By Danny O’Neil
Seattle’s offseason conditioning program begins next week, and we’re counting down the five Seahawks who have the most to gain this season in everything from playing time to future contract negotiations.
Byron Maxwell will presumably be a full-time starter in 2014, the final year of his rookie contract. (AP)
We started with Bruce Irvin at No. 5. Next:
CB Byron Maxwell
Experience: Entering fourth season
Pedigree: He began last season as the fourth cornerback on the roster who had a history of leg injuries and an uncertain future. He ended the year starting in the Super Bowl, a player with enough future that the free-agent departures of Walter Thurmond and then Brandon Browner were met with a collective shrug.
A sixth-round pick out of Clemson in 2011, Maxwell has strong hands, a physical style and a nose for the ball. Remember the Super Bowl when he punched the ball away from Demaryius Thomas? Well, he has had a penchant for that in previous games and even in practice.
Danny O’Neil’s look at the other Seahawks with the most to gain:
|• LB Bruce Irvin||• RB Christine Michael||• WR Jermaine Kearse||• DE Greg Scruggs|
The Seahawks were excited about Maxwell as far back as his rookie season when he was impressive in training camp. Maybe even more impressive than his fellow rookie that year, a guy named Richard Sherman. Maxwell was susceptible to muscle strains, though, and last season was the first time he played more than nine games in a season.
Predicament: Maxwell was the presumed starter even before Thurmond signed with the Giants, Browner with the Patriots. Now, Maxwell must prove both his durability and the ability to stand up to opponents who are more likely to throw his way given the fact Sherman is on the other side.
The possibilities: Maxwell is in a terrific spot to showcase himself, entering the final year of his rookie contract and playing for a team whose secondary is the biggest strength.
On the flip side, Seattle is now going to be counting on him to be healthy, and after Maxwell played his way up the depth chart a year ago, we’ll see how he handles being a starter now. It’s a great opportunity for Maxwell. It’s also more pressure than he has had before.