The Seahawks next move to replace Richard Sherman is the most logical and expected one.
The 29-year-old Maxwell started 17 games in the 2013 and ‘14 seasons for Seattle plus all six of the team’s playoff games in those seasons. That includes starts in Super Bowl 48 and 49 for the Seahawks.
Sherman is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon he got Thursday in Seattle’s win at Arizona.
Maxwell has been a free agent since Miami released him on Oct. 24. That was after he made two starts this season for the Dolphins. They wanted to shed him so much they ate his $8.5 million guaranteed salary for this season to do it. Miami paid that balance for the rest of this season to Maxwell. That’s on top of the prorated amount left on the veteran minimum salary to which Seattle would be signing him.
Maxwell began his NFL career with Seattle the same season Sherman did, in 2011. The Seahawks drafted him in the sixth round that year, one round after they drafted Sherman.
Maxwell signed a six-year, $63 million contract with Philadelphia months after his final start for the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49 in February 2015. That 2015 season was the only one he played for the Eagles. Philadelphia traded him in March 2016 to the Dolphins. He started 13 games for Miami last season, then fell out of favor with that team, too.
At 6 feet 1, 198 pounds, Maxwell has the size and length the Seahawks like in cornerbacks. And he is more qualified than most free agents available now (yes, I know Darrelle Revis is unsigned), or any time. Maxwell obviously knows coach Pete Carroll’s step-kick technique off the line of scrimmage and coverage system that many Seattle imports (remember Cary Williams?) can’t grasp.
Because of that familiarity Maxwell conceivably could play one week from today in the Seahawks’ next game, at home against Atlanta.
Bringing back Maxwell suggests how far Jeremy Lane appears to have fallen out of favor with the team. Lane was the starting right cornerback to begin this season, the second one of his four-year, $23 million extension that is guaranteeing his $4 million salary this season. Lane got ejected from the opening game at Green Bay. He strained his groin in the Oct. 1 win over Indianapolis, then bruised his thigh against Houston weeks later. The Seahawks traded him to Houston last month for left tackle Duane Brown, but Lane failed his physical with the Texans and returned to the Seahawks roster while Seattle and Houston added draft picks to the deal to make it go through.
Lane has lost his cornerback job to rookie third-round draft choice Shaquill Griffin, and most of his nickel snaps inside on passing downs to Justin Coleman. Lane replaced Sherman for the final 1 1/2 quarters at Arizona last week, but it appears Seattle’s coach don’t want that to be the arrangement for the final seven games of this regular season.
Maxwell could be arriving for depth behind Lane, but the Seahawks already had Neiko Thorpe for that. Odds are they wouldn’t be bringing back Maxwell to have him stand on the sidelines.
Maxwell’s contract agreement suggests DeShawn Shead may not be back anytime soon to even practice, let alone play. The Seahawks’ 2016 starting right cornerback has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list all season following reconstructive knee surgery in January and a clean-up procedure this summer.
Carroll said on his weekly show with Seattle’s KIRO-AM radio on Monday Shead would not be returning to practice this week, and that he has “hit a bit of a plateau” in his comeback. The team has one week from Tuesday to decide whether to return him to practice.
If that answer is yes before or by Nov. 21, Seattle has three weeks to either add him to active roster or put him on injured reserve for the rest of this season. If it is no, the team could put him on injured reserve.