O’Neil: Seahawks have uncertainty with a player ‘holding in,’ but it’s not Quandre Diggs
Quandre Diggs wants a new deal from the Seahawks, too.
This is understandable. It was also expected, which should be made clear to anyone who was taken by surprise by Diggs sitting out practice first on Tuesday and then on Wednesday. Yes, another so-called “hold-in,” the third so far in Seattle this month, but if you’re surprised, don’t be. Seattle certainly wasn’t. Diggs’ contract was always going to be next in line after Jamal Adams’ deal got done, and while it’s not a good sign that he was sitting out practice this week, it’s not ominous. At least not yet.
The actual uncertainty is left tackle Duane Brown. He hasn’t been practicing, either, and while he was gone last week attending to a family matter, he was back on Wednesday and still watching the workout. Unlike Adams and now Diggs, the Seahawks haven’t provided any indication that they are either engaged in negotiations on a new contract or planning to do so. Coach Pete Carroll declined to discuss the situation when asked specifically about a new contract for Brown, though several days later he did acknowledge Brown was “making a statement about what he thinks needs to happen.” That was more than two weeks ago, though, and it doesn’t appear either side is any closer to a resolution.
Brown’s case for a new contract is pretty straightforward. Yes, he will be 36 this year, but he has only missed four regular-season games in his 3 1/2 seasons with Seattle. He has played through an ankle injury and a biceps injury, and two years ago he came back to appear in the playoffs less than three weeks after having undergone knee surgery. He’s tough, and as the left tackle he plays a position of specific importance for a team whose pass protection is certain to be scrutinized more than ever given Russell Wilson’s offseason comments about the frequency of sacks.
So what’s the hold-up? Well, he is turning 36. And this offseason, there was some question about whether Brown planned to continue playing this season. Yes, that description is a bit vague, and it’s because I don’t know how specific Brown or his representatives were about the possibility of retirement. I do know that within Seattle’s football operations, it was understood that there was at least a possibility he wouldn’t be back in 2021.
So while it’s great for Seattle that Brown is at training camp and giving every indication that he’s ready to play not just this year but beyond, it appears the Seahawks are more inclined to take the situation year by year at this point. And with a deal that calls for him to make $11 million in 2021, that’s about average for a left tackle.
So what happens next? That probably depends upon Brown. Is he willing to miss regular-season games? He was in 2017 when he sat out the first seven games of Houston’s season, helping precipitate his trade to Seattle. That was a different situation, though, because while Brown did want a new contract from the Texans, his unhappiness with the franchise was about more than just football. Owner Bob McNair had said and done things that Brown found specifically objectionable. Still, Brown showed the willingness to miss paychecks to force his employer’s hand, and if he was considering retirement in the offseason, he may not have the same financial pull to play that a younger player would.
For his part, Carroll said he wasn’t worried about Brown’s availability for Week 1. Then again, he probably wouldn’t tell reporters even if he was deathly afraid.
So while everyone should expect Diggs to sign a new deal sooner rather than later, Brown’s situation remains much more uncertain. Seattle wants to have him but doesn’t seem inclined to offer a new deal, while Brown wants to play but so far he hasn’t shown that he’s planning to without one. There’s only about two weeks until we find out if either side is going to blink.