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John Clayton: With depth at CB not what it used to be, Seahawks could welcome back familiar faces

The Seahawks built tremendous depth at cornerback in 2013, but are now looking thin at the position. (AP)

The Seahawks’ reported addition of cornerback Perrish Cox shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Cornerback, which had been a deep position for this team under Pete Carroll, is suddenly thin. DeShawn Shead suffered an ACL injury and is probably out until at least six weeks into the regular season. That leaves Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane as the only experienced starters and DeAndre Elliott and Neiko Thorpe as the only other options.

Cox isn’t expected to be a savior, but he is 30 and has 36 starts in the past three seasons. He was good enough to land a three-year, $15 million contract with Tennessee in 2015, too. The Titans released him late in the season, though, which is why he was available.

His signing does signal two things. First, the Seahawks have to rebuild the cornerback position. Second, there is always an open door for corners who have been in the defense before, and Cox played two games for the Seahawks during their Super Bowl run in 2013.

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Last year, the Seahawks brought back Brandon Browner and also signed safety Jeron Johnson during the season.  Carroll doesn’t hold it against players if they leave for bigger contracts, and the Seahawks realize that they can’t keep everyone.

What is amazing, though, is to see the depth at corner now compared to their wealth of talent in 2013. On that roster, the Seahawks had seven corners who ended up landing contracts worth at least $3 million a year, and six who received at least $5 million.

Sherman is among the highest-paid corners in the NFL at $14 million a year. Lane makes $6.75 million a year. Byron Maxwell signed with Philadelphia for $10.5 million a year and is now in Miami. Browner got $5 million a year from New England. Ron Parker was a corner in Seattle and is now a $5 million-a-year safety in Kansas City. Cox got a $5 million deal in Tennessee. Walter Thurmond got a $3 million contract with the Giants and eventually retired.

That’s $49.25 million of talent at the cornerback position. Imagine the surprise on the face of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield when he saw the depth after signing with the team before the 2013 season.

Carroll was still trying to figure out what he had at cornerback back then. For insurance, he signed Winfield to a one-year, $2 million contract to see if he could fit in. Winfield was 36 and had played 15 years. Carroll brought him in to see if he could help with the slot. The veteran got to camp, spotted the talent and probably conceded to himself he wouldn’t make the team.

Browner was 29 at the time. Sherman, Lane, Maxwell, Thurmond and Parker were 26 or younger. Cox came along later in the season when Winfield was gone. Many of the corners had the long, angular bodies that work well in man coverage and Cover Three. It’s pretty clear they all had talent because everyone got paid.

That’s why the Cox signing shouldn’t be a surprise. Those departing corners are just getting into their thirties and still have time left in the game. Because Carroll creates a great environment for players at the position and players in general, it’s easy for them to come back to Seattle.

Maxwell’s name interests me. You wonder, if the Dolphins think he’s overpriced for their defense and release him, he might find his way back to Seattle, too.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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