The Seahawks have their fall-back plan returning to the defensive secondary.
The team announced Tuesday what became known last week: a one-year contract for veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell to return in 2018.
The deal is believed to be worth about $1.5-$2 million with Maxwell, 30, having the opportunity to earn up to $3 million with incentive and performance bonuses.
That's the Seahawks' investment on security. After waiving Sherman to save $11 million this year in March, they know Maxwell can start at cornerback on Sherman's former left side, if need be. He started at right cornerback in 2013 and '14, including in two Super Bowls as an original member of Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary. When Richard Sherman tore his Achilles tendon in November, the Seahawks called Maxwell back on a prorated, veteran-minimum deal for the final seven games of last season. He started six of them at left cornerback.
Maxwell is the stop-gap solution opposite second-year starter Shaquill Griffin on the right side while the Seahawks see what they have in Tre Flowers. The team is converting the rookie fifth-round pick they drafted last weekend from a 6-foot-3 safety in college at Oklahoma State into what they plan on being a longer-term cornerback. That process begins Friday through Sunday during Seattle's rookie minicamp.
Maxwell is eight years older than Flowers. Though he turned 30 this offseason, Maxwell is fresh. He’s only played in 22 of a possible 32 games over the last three NFL seasons.
“It’s right in these years that I should be getting the best out of my body,” he said.
Miami had traded for Maxwell from Philadelphia before the 2016 season. But the Dolphins kept him for only 15 starts over 1 1/2 seasons, including two at the start of last season. The Dolphins paid him $17 million for his time there, including the $8.5 million guaranteed for last season they ate when they cut him in late October.
The Eagles signed Maxwell a month after he played in that Super Bowl for Seattle against New England in February 2015, to a six-year contract that could have been worth $63 million. It was his big windfall after having made a name and winning a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks.
He only saw $13.5 million of that deal paid by Philadelphia. The Eagles let him go even more quickly than the Dolphins did, after just one season.
So, yes, it has never been as great for Maxwell--on the field, that is--than it was for him with the Seahawks.
“That’s in the past, man,” Maxwell said in November. “I focus on being here, in Seattle.”
Coach Pete Carroll said upon Maxwell's return last season he looked all grown up, like a son who comes home after a few years away. Indeed, the team's sixth-round pick in 2011—one round after Seattle took Sherman that year—the team raised in its own system is a seven-year veteran now. He's older. His beard is bushier. His resolve is presumably more tested, judging by the money and the criticism and the two teams discarding him as a failure in the last three years.
And now, after the Seahawks let his contract expire at the end of last season, he's back for a third go-round at cornerback for a team that needs him. Again.