Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: How secure will CB position be in 2021?

Apr 6, 2021, 8:47 AM | Updated: 8:53 am
Seahawks Quinton Dunbar...
Quinton Dunbar had one interception in six games for the Seahawks in 2020. (Getty)

Just when you thought the NFL offseason would quiet down as the league prepares for the draft, a major trade and an under-the-radar signing have changed the landscape for the Seahawks.

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Here’s what you need to know:

The story: Quinton Dunbar signs with Detroit Lions

The question: How secure will the CB position be in 2021?

The Seahawks’ cornerback room lost another free agent, though this one will take significantly less of a toll than Shaquill Griffin. Defensive back Quinton Dunbar has signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, per his agency. The signing followed a visit with the team Monday.

The 28-year-old Dunbar was acquired by Seattle via trade with the Washington Football Team last offseason. Then considered the highlight of the Seahawks’ free agency additions, unexpected legal troubles sidelined much of Dunbar’s offseason. His appearance in just six games and eventual IR stint concluded a season that fell well short of expectations for the veteran defensive back, who had a stellar 2019 campaign with Washington.

His departure doesn’t leave a hole close to the one left by Griffin, now with Jacksonville, but Dunbar signing with the Lions does leave Seattle with one less option at what’s become its thinnest position group on defense. And as underwhelming as some fans felt Dunbar’s stint in Seattle was, he earned one of Pro Football Focus’ best coverage grades the year prior and has a much higher ceiling than his 2020 performance would indicate (that season, by the way, including a nagging knee injury that hampered him throughout a dismal loss to the Buffalo Bills).

Upside or not, Dunbar is out of Seattle, which leaves the Seahawks with just a few experienced veterans. Leading the pack is 2018 draft pick Tre Flowers, 2019 draft pick Ugo Amadi (who will be competing at nickel), and a pair of former 49ers, D.J. Reed and Ahkello Witherspoon. Reed was claimed off of waivers last season and strung together impressive performances in 2020, while Witherspoon was signed in free agency last month.

A few older veterans remain available in free agency – including former Seahawk Richard Sherman – but don’t be surprised to see the Seahawks add to this group in the draft later this month.

The story: The Jets send QB Sam Darnold to the Panthers in a trade

The question: So, Russell Wilson to the Jets is off the table… right?

One of the biggest stories of the NFL offseason – Russell Wilson’s apparent frustration in Seattle – was always going to rear its head throughout the spring and summer, so it’s no surprise that it would pop back up when the Jets made news with a big trade Monday.

New York sent quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a 2021 sixth-rounder and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. Prior to the trade, the Jets had been linked to the Seahawks as a potential landing spot for Wilson. They, along with Miami, are among the teams with the most draft capital and questions at quarterback.

The problem? Russell Wilson has a trade clause in his contract, and the four teams his agent Mark Rodgers listed – Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Dallas – are seemingly the only places for which he’d waive the clause. You can’t fault critics for pointing to Darnold’s USC roots and the Jets’ No. 2 overall pick and wondering whether Seattle would bite, but in the end Wilson’s decision may have already been made.

For now, though, Seahawks fans can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that any possibility of the Jets sending Darnold (and picks) to the Hawks in exchange for a franchise quarterback is off the table.

Of course, that’s not where the impact on the Seahawks stops. The move has obvious implications for the 2021 draft, and for San Francisco’s No. 3 overall pick. The Jets selecting a quarterback at No. 2 is now an inevitability, rather than just a strong likelihood, meaning any chance of BYU’s Zach Wilson falling to the 49ers feels right around zero. The question now is whether the Seahawks will be seeing Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones in the NFC West for years to come.

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Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: How secure will CB position be in 2021?