Most Intriguing Seahawks: No. 20, CB Jeremy Lane
Each day until the start of training camp, “Brock and Salk” is talking with an NFL analyst and counting down the 25 most intriguing players on the Seahawks’ roster. “Two-a-days” continued with ESPN’s Sean McDonough as the guest and Jeremy Lane as the 20th-most intriguing Seahawk. The segment on Lane is embedded above. My thoughts are below.
• Position: CB
• Height/Weight: 6-0, 190
• Experience: Fifth season
• Acquired: Sixth-round pick, 2012
Overview: When Lane reached the end of his rookie contract at last season’s end, he was arguably the unrestricted free agent that Seattle could least afford to lose. That wasn’t just about Lane, who had developed into a good player since becoming a starter in 2014 – his injury issues notwithstanding – and provides flexibility by playing both outside and in the slot. It was also about the Seahawks’ situation at cornerback and the difficulty they may have had trying to replace him. Seattle had lost Brandon Browner (who re-signed with the team later in the offseason), Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond over the previous two years, weakening what was once a seemingly endless supply of starting-caliber cornerbacks. And Cary Williams’ pronounced struggles last season may have been an indication that the specific style with which Seattle asks its cornerbacks to play doesn’t suit veteran free agents who have to unlearn previous techniques. The Seahawks needed to keep Lane, which is not to say that they did so out of desperation. The free-agent exodus along Seattle’s offensive line in recent seasons has shown that the Seahawks are willing to let good players walk for more money than what the team believes they’re worth, even if their departures weaken a key position. So when the Seahawks gave Lane a four-year extension worth a reported $23 million and $11 million guaranteed, it showed how highly they regard him. It was also a sign that Seattle believes in Lane’s health following the gruesome and catastrophic injuries he sustained in Super Bowl XLIX.
The intrigue: It’s with Lane’s health. As bad as his Super Bowl injury looked – with his left forearm broken cleanly in two pieces and, in his words, sticking “out of the skin” – it was even worse. Lane didn’t know it at the time, but doctors discovered a few weeks later that he had also tore his ACL on the play, requiring reconstructive surgery. He needed another surgery to clean out an infection in his arm, which was keeping it from healing properly. Lane began last season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, missing the first 10 games. And while he nearly returned an interception for a touchdown in his first game back, it was a sign that he still wasn’t completely right physically when his legs gave out before he could reach the end zone. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has talked about players who have had their ACLs surgically repaired typically being much better in their second season back than their first. Will that be the case for Lane? And if he is back to normal now that he’s another year removed from his Super Bowl injuries, can he stay healthy? He hasn’t played a full 16-game season, missing the 10 games last year and nine in 2014 due to groin and glute injuries.
2016 outlook: The money the Seahawks gave Lane means he’ll be one of their top three cornerbacks so long as he doesn’t get hurt or give his job away. How exactly Seattle will use him remains to be seen, but one possibility is this: Lane starts at right cornerback then moves to the slot in nickel situations, with Tharold Simon, DeShawn Shead or someone else replacing him on the outside. Any cornerback playing opposite Richard Sherman will get tested often, so Lane will have plenty of chances to show that he’s back to normal following his injuries and that he’s worth the big deal Seattle gave him.