On a day millions of dollars flew around the NFL on free-agency day like rain drops -- a reported $53 million paid by the Chargers for Russell Okung(!)-- DeShawn Shead got left out in the cold in Seattle.
The NFL’s official transactions for Thursday, the deadline day for teams to tender offers to their restricted free agents, showed the only one the Seahawks tendered was starting right tackle Garry Gilliam.
That means Seattle’s other restricted free agents are all now unrestricted free agents, free to sign with any team: Shead, their starting cornerback in 2016, plus reserve linebacker Brock Coyle, special-teams safety Steven Terrell and 2016 injured-reserve cornerback Mohammed Seisay.
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Shead tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee Jan. 14 making a cut outside on the Georgia Dome turf late in Seattle’s loss at Atlanta in the divisional playoffs. He is just beginning a recovery that will likely keep him out until deep into the 2017 season, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said last week.
“He’s just had really bad luck,” Schneider said.
Schneider and the Seahawks setting him free Thursday is the cold business of the NFL. But it may not be the end of his time in Seattle.
His marketability in free agency would never be lower than it is right now. He is 28 years old less than two months removed from knee reconstruction.
Because of that, there is a decent chance Shead re-signs with the Seahawks -- even if it is as an unrestricted free agent, for at or not a ton more than his veteran minimum of $775,000 in 2017. Few teams, if any, are likely to offer Shead much more than that while not knowing when he’ll be able to play again on a reconstructed knee.
So instead of using on Shead the lowest, original-round tender offer of $1,797,000 that would provide the Seahawks the right of first refusal for five days after any offer -- the deal Gilliam got Thursday -- Seattle is playing free-agent market odds. Those seem to be in its favor to keeping Shead, and at a fraction of what the Seahawks’ tender cost would be to retain him.
For Shead, the Seahawks may be his most attractive option, even after not being tendered by them. Besides the money he may or may not get elsewhere while recuperating, the Seahawks are the only NFL he’s known. He knows their defensive system, in multiple positions, and they know him. That’s especially true of defensive coordinator Kris Richard, his former position coach. Shead can continue his recovery and knee rehabilitation with the trainers and doctors that started it, in the training room that lately has been his second home. He got married in Seattle last year to Jessica Martinez, whom he met here. They got married at the city’s fancy Four Seasons hotel, where the bride had always dreamed of being wed.
Both coach Pete Carroll and Schneider have said they want to retain Shead. He has gone from an undrafted former decathlete from Portland State just trying to make the Seahawks as a special-teams helper doing everything coaches have asked of him while on the team’s practice squad in 2012 to a free safety and strong safety to first-time, full-time starter opposite Richard Sherman last season.
“DeShawn is a great kid. He’s got really strong faith. You’d want him to be your son, you know what I mean?” Schneider said last week in Indianapolis. “His mindset is like, ‘Hey, I’m going.’
“I say he’s probably not going to be there right away; that’s just me. He’s probably got a different mindset. He’s crushing his rehab right now."
The Seahawks signed 30-year-old cornerback Perrish Cox early this offseason to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract for minimal money as insurance behind Shead’s injury. And Seattle isn’t done adding cornerbacks. Those are a higher priority for the team in April’s draft, too.