Former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond III had interest from the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as his free agency period began last week, but he ultimately decided to sign a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the New York Giants. Thurmond will play his home games in MetLife Stadium, where the Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII in February.
“I wanted to meet other teams and see what was out there,” Thurmond said in the statement released by the Giants announcing his signing. “Once I came here and met the coaching staff and heard the opportunities they presented to me, I couldn’t resist. It was a testament to the coaching staff. I got along with everybody, coach [Tom] Coughlin, the general manager [Jerry Reese], the DBs coaches – just great people out here.”
Thurmond was selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of Oregon. He showed first-round talent on tape, but a series of injuries limited his prospects, and those injuries continued through his NFL career. He played through pelvic injuries in the 2008 season for the Ducks, and suffered a major knee injury in 2009. He dealt with knee, hamstring and ankle issues in Seattle, playing in 34 of a possible 64 games over four seasons, and starting just eight of those contests. A four-game suspension late in the 2013 season for violations of the NFL's substance-abuse policy also hampered his progress as a pro.
However, it could also be argued that 2013 was Thurmond's best season. He logged his first NFL interception in a total of 12 games and three starts, and he was one of a group of players who stepped up to replace Brandon Browner as Browner first lost trail speed and effectiveness in coverage, and then was suspended indefinitely for his own violations of the league's substance-abuse policies and policies against performance-enhancing substances. Overall, Thurmond allowed 34 catches on 35 targets in 311 total coverage snaps for 252 yards and no touchdowns. He was also by far Seattle's most prominent slot cornerback, racking up 229 snaps and allowing 26 catches on 38 targets for 195 yards.
“Only 19 teams have won a Super Bowl,” Thurmond said. “To be a part of that group is a tremendous honor. The New York Giants have been able to do that four times in their history. When you do it once, you want to keep going back."
“I’m a competitor. I play the game to win championships. The Giants organization has a lot of prestige, a lot of history in that aspect of winning four Super Bowls. We want to bring another one here.”
With a cornerback rotation that also includes Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride, Thurmond is ready to compete for reps, just as he did in Seattle.
“I know they have a need here," he said. "I’m going to bring my work ethic and make the most of the opportunity they’re going to give me."
This is a very smart deal for the Giants. They're protected if Thurmond gets hurt again or runs afoul of the league's policies, which would lead to a larger suspension. If he's healthy and on his game, Thurmond is a fast player who excels in slot coverage and can also play outside. He's less physical and aggressive than the typical Seattle cornerback, and Byron Maxwell
outplayed him down the stretch in the derby to replace Browner. But as a relatively inexpensive hybrid pass defender, Thurmond is a pretty good risk.