Seahawks free agent profiles: Can Seattle retain top DBs Diggs and Reed?

Feb 18, 2022, 9:20 AM

Seahawks CB D.J. Reed, FS Quandre Diggs...

D.J. Reed of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates his interception with Quandre Diggs during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Every weekday at 1 p.m. Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost will put Seahawks free agency under a microscope, taking a look at pending free agents, potential signings from outside the organization, the rules surrounding restricted and exclusive rights free agents, and the Seahawks’ salary cap space. It’s all to get you ready for NFL free agency, which kicks off March 16.

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The first part of the series profiles current Seahawks who are about to hit the market.

Here’s a look at two starting defensive backs:

FS Quandre Diggs

Age: 29
2021 season: 5 interceptions, 7 passes defended, 94 tackles
Last contract: 3-year, $18.6 million (with Detroit) in 2018
Estimated deal: Market value is 3-years, $36 million ($12.1 per year) via Spotrac, though other estimates are between $13-$14.5 million annually.

Diggs has been the Seahawks’ best safety in coverage and the leader in interceptions for the last two years, recording five apiece. He was a bright spot for Seattle during an otherwise disappointing 2021 season, allowing the lower passer rating (56.9) of any Seahawks defender and earning a Pro Bowl nod for his efforts. Diggs will be met with the biggest contract of the year in his first trip to free agency; unfortunately, he’ll also be entering that market just three months removed from surgery to repair a broken leg. (It’s worth noting that Diggs is expected to make a full recovery by the start of training camp in late July).

“He’s an awesome part of our team,” Carroll said in January. “And we’d love to have him with us.”

Diggs has been an integral part of Seattle’s defense – both as a player and as a leader – and bringing him back on a new deal feels like an obvious choice. After all, Seattle will enter 2022 with plenty of question marks at cornerback and a reliable starter in the secondary would bolster confidence. But would Seattle feel comfortable with two of the league’s highest paid safeties while they have needs elsewhere?

What Jake said: “Diggs is a player who not only brings a lot to the field with his play as a cover safety, as a guy who isn’t afraid to run the alley and lay the wood on any ball carrier. But he’s quickly turned himself into a staple leader for this franchise; a guy who’s a heart and soul element to this team, particularly on defense. The moment he arrived here in Seattle immediately (teammates) were crediting him for being that guy who helped settle everything down on the backend. This is a guy who gets his hands on the football, is a ballhawk, and creates turnovers, and they sorely lack that playmaking ability in the secondary and Quandre Diggs provides that.

“He’s still relatively young (at 29) for a free safety, but I think the Seahawks are going to factor that in. And when you look at comps in that same age range, they’re coming in at around three to four years, somewhere in the ballpark of $12 to $14 million. Is Quandre going to be OK with that? Because he’s made it clear he wants to be a Seattle Seahawk, but he (also) wants to get paid… the Seahawks are very tough negotiators, and can Diggs and the team come to an agreement that both sides can feel happy about? That’s the biggest question in all of this.”

CB D.J. Reed

Age: 25
2021 season: 2 interceptions, 10 passes defended
Last contract: a 4-year, $2.7 million rookie deal signed in 2018
Estimated deal: 3 years, $24 million ($8 million per year) per Pro Football Focus

The real knock against Reed has always been his size at 5-foot-9, but he’ll otherwise command plenty of attention from cornerback-needy teams: he’s solid in coverage, has two years of starting experience, and is just 25 years old. Reed has been a pleasant surprise for Seattle ever since being claimed off waivers in 2020. He allowed the lowest opponent passer rating of his career (67.8) in 2021 and played a career high in snaps. With that came an increase in total yards surrendered and yards allowed per target (from 10.6 to 12.1) but don’t read too much into those numbers – he was far from the biggest reason for Seattle’s 31st-ranked pass defense and was the most reliable starter in a shaky cornerback room.

Like Diggs, Reed should also be a priority free agent for Seattle. And also like Diggs, there’s sure to be competing offers. Reed told reporters at seasons’ end that he’d like to stay in Seattle, but “the price has to be right.”

What Jake said: “One of the things he does so well is in man-to-man coverage; you talk about being sticky in coverage? Well, I think D.J. Reed did an excellent job when he was isolated in one-on-one coverage. Being aggressive, not afraid to have a combination of techniques, whether he’s playing off… or playing in bump-and-run coverage… As soon as he became more comfortable (after switching back to the right side during the season) you saw his play elevate. For his size, he is a tough dude. He’s not afraid to come and hit you and be a part of the run game. And that is something that they here in Seattle value tremendously… from a personality standpoint, he matches what the Seahawks want: feisty, tough, competitive, doesn’t back down from anybody, and I really enjoy the way D.J. Reed plays the game…

“If D.J. Reed gets recognized as one of the best corners on the market, you could very easily lose him. But for whatever reason, he’s not being viewed as that guy. I think partly because of his size… and he was an under-the-radar addition to the Seahawks and not a big name. Therefore, I think he’s going to be in a price range that’s affordable for the Seahawks – somewhere in that $9 to $10 million range – and if that’s the case, sign me up for that all day every day. D.J. Reed is that valuable to the team.”

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Seahawks free agent profiles: Can Seattle retain top DBs Diggs and Reed?