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NFL Draft

Should Seahawks Extend Shaquill Griffin?

  • The Draft Network
  • July 19, 2020
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The Seattle Seahawks are facing a big question of trust. After all, that’s what contract extensions are: trusting a player’s performance to date and trusting they can keep it up after the ink dries. Does the organization, particularly this organization that has had an identity crisis in its once-dominant secondary, trust the young cornerback Shaquill Griffin enough to extend his contract before he becomes a free agent in 2021? 

If the Seahawks answer that question with a “no,” then there’s more to be concerned about than head coach Pete Carroll’s questionable play calling. For a team that remains, almost to a fault, stuck in the past, keeping Griffin should be a no-brainer. 

Seattle’s defense ascended the team to the highest NFL peak; it won its first Super Bowl with the Legion of Boom. If the Seahawks insist on doing what has worked on offense—despite not having the right personnel to execute that—why wouldn’t they do what worked, with what works, on defense.

Seattle has made plenty of offseason moves—one of the most notable was bringing in veteran tight end Greg Olsen on a one-year deal—and still has about $14 million left in cap space, according to Over the Cap. Griffin’s rookie deal, a four-year, $3.25 million dollar contract, expires after this season, and he wouldn’t be the first Seahawk to get an early extension. Last offseason, Seattle agreed to terms with quarterback Russell Wilson before he entered his contract year and wide receiver Tyler Lockett got an early extension the previous year. Griffin is no Wilson, but just as Lockett has carved out his role on offense, Griffin is doing the same in a unit desperate to return to its stardom.

General manager John Schneider wouldn’t comment on whether or not the team was working out a deal with Griffin when asked in April and no new reports have surfaced regarding Griffin. However, the Seahawks are reportedly interested in New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who has requested a trade and named Seattle as one of his preferred destinations. What does this mean for Griffin? If the Seahawks do acquire Adams, he would take up just north of $7 million in cap space. Some think that would deter Seattle from investing in Griffin but that’s not necessarily the case. If the Seahawks have a chance at landing Adams, they should take it, but they need to also invest in Griffin.  

His career hasn’t been entirely consistent, sure, but what Griffin did last season was reminiscent of his rookie year and likely what we’ll continue to see in the future. In 2019, he led the team with 14 passes defended through the regular season and playoffs on the way to his first Pro Bowl selection. It was similar to his first year when he finished with 17 total pass breakups. The biggest things going against Griffin was the dip in production his sophomore season and his lack of interceptions.

Maybe it was growing pains or maybe he was trying to play too much in the mold of his predecessors. He barely missed a snap in 2018 and was on the field 95% of the time, but his numbers weren’t like the other seasons. Griffin snagged two interceptions, the most he’s had in one season, but beyond that, he had just eight passes defended and allowed a passer rating of 104.8. He admitted he couldn’t “have average years” and Carroll chalked it up to Griffin “trying too hard.”

When Griffin let go of the need to fill the gargantuan hole now San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman and the other L.O.B. members left, he progressed much better. Everything improved from the completion percentage he allowed—57.1% in 2019 compared to 66.3% in 2018—to passer rating (97.3) and he even allowed one fewer touchdown (4). Griffin can still improve on creating turnovers, but he provides a consistent presence that has a lot of upside and has earned a multi-year extension. The Seahawks are already bringing in, and interested in other, reinforcements to change the direction of the defense; investing in Griffin would only help an upward trend.

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