Seahawks Insider Blog

Seahawks acquire long-armed cornerback C.J. Smith in trade with Cleveland

Coach Pete Carroll, left, and general manager John Schneider currently have just four selections in this spring’s seven-round NFL draft. That the Seahawks’ fewest since they took over the team in 2010. Their habit of draft trades down in and even out of the first round in previous years is an imperative in this one.
Coach Pete Carroll, left, and general manager John Schneider currently have just four selections in this spring’s seven-round NFL draft. That the Seahawks’ fewest since they took over the team in 2010. Their habit of draft trades down in and even out of the first round in previous years is an imperative in this one. AP

The Seahawks’ requirement for long-armed cornerbacks--and John Schneider’s relationship with John Dorsey--explain how Seattle just added a cornerback.

The Cleveland Browns announced Monday they traded cornerback C.J. Smith to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-round draft choice in 2020.

That’s basically Dorsey, the Browns’ new general manager from Kansas City and Green Bay, giving Schneider and the Seahawks a player for nothing, a player Cleveland and its new regime may have been releasing otherwise.

Schneider, Seattle’s GM, and Dorsey worked together in Green Bay’s scouting and personnel department beginning in the 1990s.

Smith has played in 13 games the last two NFL seasons after Philadelphia signed him in May 2016 as an undrafted free agent from North Dakota State. He played in 10 games that year for the Eagles, on special teams and at cornerback. He was on Cleveland’s practice squad from last September into December then played in three games for the Browns.

Smith is 5 feet 11, 189 pounds, not the prototypical size for Seahawks cornerbacks. But he has 32-inch arms. That’s the magic size attribute coach Pete Carroll just about requires in his cornerbacks. Smith’s arms are 32 1/8 inches, in fact.

Since Schneider and Carroll arrived to run the Seahawks in January 2010, Seattle has drafted eight players with the intent on having them play cornerback. All eight have had 32-inch arms. That includes Richard Sherman in the fifth round in 2011 and the rookie who started opposite the three-time All-Pro at right cornerback for the Seahawks last season, Shaquill Griffin. It also includes last year’s sixth-round pick, Mike Tyson.

The Seahawks need to replace Sherman two weeks after they waived him to save $11 million in salary-cap space for this year. Byron Maxwell, the veteran who started for Sherman at left cornerback last season after Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon in early November, is an unrestricted free agent. Seattle wants to re-sign Maxwell, but the 30-year old is not the long-term answer there. Now that he is going shopping for new teams he could get a contract offer Seattle may not want or be able to match.

Expect the Seahawks to select another cornerback in next month’s draft. And expect him to have 32-inch arms, too.

Smith’s arrival isn’t the first time Schneider and Dorsey have swapped players.

Just before the 2013 regular season began, when Dorsey was in his first year as Chiefs’ GM after leaving Green Bay and Schneider was in his fourth year as the Seahawks’ GM, Kansas City claimed defensive end Jaye Howard and defensive back Ron Parker off waivers. That was days after Schneider had released them in Seattle.

Last summer Dorsey left the Chiefs. A month later, the Seahawks sent linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis to Kansas City for linebacker and special-teams player D.J. Alexander.

Dorsey became the Browns’ new GM in December.

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