The possibility of the Seahawks releasing Jeremy Lane this offseason, already pretty remote given the team’s situation at cornerback, seems entirely out of the question now that his $4 million base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed.
Lane is among several Seahawks whose base salaries for next season became fully guaranteed on Saturday by virtue of of them still being on the team’s roster on the sixth day of the NFL’s waiver period, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry in a column on CBSSports.com. The others are quarterback Russell Wilson ($12.6 million base salary for 2017), cornerback Richard Sherman ($11.43 million), wide receiver Doug Baldwin ($7.75 million) and linebacker Bobby Wagner ($4 million).
Such contract stipulations are catalysts for teams to make decisions on players they may release. The Seahawks certainly weren’t going to release any of the other four players. Lane seemed safe as well even after what some observers – including 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard – considered a so-so 2016 season.
Lane signed a four-year, $23 million contract last offseason but was beat out by DeShawn Shead for the No. 2 cornerback job opposite Sherman. Lane played over 71 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps as the team’s third cornerback, recording no interceptions and three passes defensed. (By comparison, that number was a little over 85 percent for Shead, and he missed a game whereas Lane did not.)
In his end-of-season press conference, coach Pete Carroll noted how much Lane played while giving what by his standards was a fairly tepid assessment of Lane’s performance, saying: “Jeremy, he played a lot of football this year. He was in the middle of a lot. I thought he battled. I would always want him to tackle better; I thought he missed some chances in his tackling, but he competed his tail off. He was in a lot of hotspots throughout the year.”
While Lane probably didn’t have the impact in 2016 that the Seahawks were hoping for when they gave him a new contract last offseason, it would have been hard to imagine them moving on this offseason for a few reasons. Maybe the biggest one is that Shead will be coming off a serious knee injury that could keep him out through the start of next season, which means parting with Lane would further weaken what is already a position of need. And it wouldn’t have saved Seattle much money against the salary cap anyways.
The Seahawks’ situation at cornerback will be an interesting storyline this offseason. They haven’t had much success with free-agent cornerbacks from other teams, which suggests they’ll continue to instead draft and develop talent. That situation will still include Lane.