STACY ROST

Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: Could Seattle reunite with former defenders in free agency?

Mar 12, 2021, 9:16 AM | Updated: 10:23 am
Seahawks CB Justin Coleman...
Former Seahawks CB Justin Coleman is expected to hit free agency next week. (Getty)
(Getty)

We’re less than a week away from the start of NFL free agency, and with a lower-than-expected salary cap, teams across the league have had to make tough roster decisions. Because of that, this week’s NFL headlines focus on players who became surprising cap casualties. Should any of them be drawing interest from the Seahawks?

Clayton: The Seahawks’ priorities and potential targets in free agency

The story: Kansas City Chiefs release starting OTs Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher

The question: Should the Seahawks make a run at either player?

Russell Wilson doesn’t just want to get hit less often – his controversial comment on The Dan Patrick Show one month ago also implied he’d like Seahawks brass to make more specific moves to bolster the offensive line, whether through spending in free agency, trade, or the draft. So, any star linemen who becomes available will capture the immediate attention of Seahawks fans (and, potentially, their quarterback).

Even without the controversy surrounding Wilson, the Seahawks knew they’d have some decisions to make up front. So, are the two newest starting linemen to hit free agency the answer they’ve been waiting for?

Probably not (which isn’t a very exciting answer, I know). Seattle’s primary need is at left guard and center.

As far as tackle goes, Seattle will need to find a replacement for 35-year-old Duane Brown eventually, but for now he remains their best and most consistent offensive linemen. So, cross Fisher off this list. The former No. 1 overall pick is a standout tackle when healthy, but he’ll also be working back from a torn Achilles, and Seattle has more pressing needs.

Meanwhile right tackle Brandon Shell, who was acquired via free agency last year, performed well for the Seahawks and remains on the roster for 2021. While he isn’t the stalwart Brown is, it’s also unlikely he’ll be replaced by Mitchell Schwartz. Like Fisher, the 31-year-old Schwartz will be coming back from injury (Schwartz landed on the injured reserve in November and underwent back surgery in late February).

The story: Bills releasing DT Quinton Jefferson

The question: Will the Seahawks reunite with their former draft pick?

The Bills on Wednesday released Quinton Jefferson, a 27-year-old defensive lineman who signed with Buffalo in free agency last offseason. Jefferson was a fifth-round draft pick by Seattle in 2016, but didn’t become a regular contributor until 2018, when he played as the team’s primary defensive end on the other side of Frank Clark. Jefferson saw a career high 3.5 sacks in 2019.

Could next week bring a reunion? The Seahawks have a big hole to fill on their defensive line following the release of Carlos Dunlap. That hit to the pass rush will be compounded if the team also loses Benson Mayowa, who had six sacks in 2020. The Seahawks need defensive line help and have favored players who know their system and fit their team culture, so signing Jefferson wouldn’t be a shocking move. Whether it’s the right move depends on how much production they think they can get from guys like L.J. Collier, Jarran Reed, Darrell Taylor, and Alton Robinson in 2021.

The story: Lions will reportedly release CB Justin Coleman

The question: Can Coleman give Seattle CB depth if Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar depart in free agency?

Speaking of reunions, another former Seahawk could be hitting free agency soon.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reported Thursday the Lions are planning to release nickel corner Justin Coleman. Coleman became the highest-paid slot corner in the league when he signed a four-year, $36 million contract with Detroit in 2019. Before then Coleman spent two seasons with the Seahawks, and over that time he racked up two touchdowns from three interceptions, another touchdown from a fumble recovery, and 19 combined passes defended.

Should the Seahawks lure Coleman back to Seattle?

This is where things get interesting. Coleman is just 27 years old. While he’s not coming off his best season – due, in part, to time missed with a hamstring injury – there’s no reason to think he can’t be productive.

But Seattle already has an important decision to make at slot corner. Competing there last year were Ugo Amadi and second-round draft pick Marquise Blair, who made the transition to nickel corner from safety. Blair suffered a torn ACL early in the season, which left the role to Amadi. But consider this: since selecting Blair with their second pick of the 2017 draft, the Seahawks have traded for two starting safeties, Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams, the latter of whom cost them two first-round picks. With the draft capital invested in Blair, the Seahawks need to make sure he sees the field. With two starters there now, though, the competition looks to be on again at nickel between Blair and Amadi – leaving little room for a veteran like Coleman.

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