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Bumpus: After Clowney, Seahawks’ priority should be nickel corner

Michael Bumpus wants the Seahawks to address the nickel corner position this offseason. (Getty)

While we wait to see whether defensive end Jadeveon Clowney re-signs with the Seahawks or if he’ll be playing for a different team in 2020, there have been a few moves made by Seattle during the first week of free agency.

If the Seahawks can’t keep Clowney, what’s next for the pass rush?

Seattle brought in three offensive linemen, brought Bruce Irvin back to the Pacific Northwest and also reached a two-year deal with defensive tackle Jarran Reed for up to $23 million.

Michael Bumpus, a former NFL wide receiver, joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Friday and gave his thoughts on the Seahawks’ moves they’ve done this week and what else the team needs to do aside from retaining Clowney.

“Honestly, I love what they’ve done so far,” Bumpus said. “They signed Reed on that line, they got Bruce Irvin who can (rush the passer) and also play linebacker, got a couple guys on the offensive line. They have addressed the two spots where they’re kind of shaky.”

While both the offensive and defensive lines had big holes going into the offseason, there’s a position of need that hasn’t been addressed yet that Bumpus sees as a priority.

“Now it’s the same old story: they need to find a nickel (cornerback),” he said.

In the pass-happy NFL, offenses often line up with three receivers. To combat this, defenses use “nickel” personnel, meaning five defensive backs (three cornerbacks). In 2019, however, the Seahawks stuck with their “base” defense of three linebackers and four defensive backs, and the defense was one of the worst in the league.

When they did go nickel, which wasn’t often, they initially used Jamar Taylor, who was cut during the season, and they briefly used Akeem King.

Late in the year, they turned the role over to rookie Ugo Amadi, who head coach Pete Carroll said probably should have been given that role earlier in the season. Despite praise from the coach, Amadi had some rookie moments, giving up some big, crucial plays in the team’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

But overall, Taylor, King and Amadi didn’t see the field often, and the Seahawks instead would have outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks defend receivers.

“They need get themselves out of those mismatches,” Bumpus said of playing more nickel than base defense in 2020. “They need to stop asking an outside linebacker to cover a slot receiver. Those are the situations that got them in trouble and exploited that defense.”

Bringing someone more proven in to fill that role would be beneficial, and would fill one of the larger holes the team still has.

“They’ve done a great job addressing other parts of this football team,” Bumpus said. “I feel like every other position is pretty solid … The corners, you can bring in someone to push those guys, push (starting outside corner) Tre Flowers, but you need to have that third corner that’s going to come off the bench and lock down a slot receiver and get (you) out of those mismatch situations … If they can do that and stay healthy, I think they can make another run at (a Super Bowl).”

You can listen to Bumpus’ full discussion with Danny and Gallant in Blue 42 at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Michael Bumpus on Twitter.

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