Quandre Diggs received a nice early Christmas present, getting his first Pro Bowl spot. The next natural question: Is it the first of many to come in Seattle or will he be a short-timer here? Because his price to stay just went up.
The selection surprised a number of fans, because Diggs seemingly has not made a lot of impact plays this season. But the fact is he leads Seattle with four interceptions, which is tied for fourth in the NFL and tied for tops among NFC safeties with Minnesota’s Harrison Smith. Diggs is also tied with Smith with nine pass breakups, second among NFC safeties.
Clearly NFL people thought he deserved the Pro Bowl selection over the longtime Vikings star, and those who watch the All-22 film, which shows Diggs’ work on the back end of the secondary, tend to agree (although Pro Football Focus picked New Orleans’ Marcus Williams over Diggs).
It’s Diggs’ first Pro Bowl honor in his six seasons – and it raises the natural question, as NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt and Diggs’ teammate Damon Harrison generically referenced, about what Diggs is worth in dollars and cap sense.
The five top-paid safeties make over $14 million a year (Minnesota’s Smith averages $10 million). Diggs averages $6.2 million on the deal the Seahawks inherited after getting him from Detroit; he has one more year, at $5.5 million.
We previously have touched on the question of whether the Hawks would be willing to pay both Diggs and Jamal Adams. They once gave Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor top-of-the-market deals. Would they do it again?
Adams obviously is a priority 2021 extension who will break the record for a safety – over $15 million APY. The Hawks seem unlikely to pay both in that range, but would they value Diggs at $10 million to $12 million? And would he take it? If no deal comes, would he hold out?
Or, as we have suggested, would John Schneider consider trading Diggs in 2021 while he has Pro Bowl value? Schneider has just four picks in the next draft (2, 4, 5, 7), and getting a third and maybe a fifth for Diggs would be good value (especially since he cost only a fifth coming from Detroit, which also sent Seattle a seventh).
Schneider needs to make some kind of move with Diggs – either extend him or trade him. Otherwise, he risks a holdout and Diggs will become a free agent in 2022 – the only possible return being a 2023 comp pick.
If Schneider moves him, Seattle has a few options to replace him. Marquise Blair will return from injury in 2021, Ryan Neal is under club control and D.J. Reed could play free safety if the Hawks find a corner or two (Shaquill Griffin might be too spendy and Quinton Dunbar is headed for offseason knee surgery and seems doubtful to return, unless on a prove-it deal).
The Seahawks need to look at a few other extensions and re-signings as well – and they still do not know the 2021 salary cap situation, which could be pretty tight if it drops $20 million.
Other extension candidates include Carlos Dunlap (a possible shorty to lower his cap hit), Brandon Shell, Tyler Lockett and Michael Dickson. Seattle also needs to re-sign Ethan Pocic, Poona Ford, K.J. Wright and maybe Chris Carson (if he takes a prove-it deal for $5 million or so).
The Hawks probably could do all of those deals (depending on where the players’ salaries land) and extend Diggs, even for $12 million a year. But is he worth that to them? Or would a trade be a better move?
The Hawks also could shed salary if they found a taker for Jarran Reed’s $8.5 million. Maybe they could pull a third-rounder for him. They could bring back Harrison to start with Ford and maybe draft another tackle.
Until the salary cap is sorted out, Schneider and Matt Thomas (Seattle’s cap guy and negotiator) need to have a lot of contingency plans. And Diggs’ Pro Bowl selection gives them one more big thing to consider: Pay him or trade him?