DeShawn Shead Returns to Seahawks, Joins Coaching Staff as Defensive Assistant

After playing six seasons as a versatile defensive back for Seattle, Shead has transitioned into coaching and will re-join the organization as a defensive assistant in some capacity for the 2021 season.
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Among three additions to the team's coaching staff for the 2021 season, former NFL cornerback DeShawn Shead will return to the Seahawks as a defensive assistant.

According to Mike Dugar of the Athletic, Seattle is expected to hire Shead along with long-time assistant Carl Smith and his son Tracy Smith. Multiple sources confirmed these moves to the Seahawk Maven.

Shead, 31, originally signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Portland State in 2012 and spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad. The following season, he appeared in five regular season games as a special teams player and saw action in the team's 43-8 Super Bowl victory over the Broncos.

Over the next two seasons, Shead evolved from a reserve safety and core special teams player into a full-time starting cornerback across from Richard Sherman. Replacing Cary Williams midway through the 2015 season, he started 21 games over the next two years, producing 136 tackles, 22 passes defensed, and a pair of interceptions.

Unfortunately, Shead tore his ACL during a loss to the Falcons in the Divisional Round at the tail end of the 2016 season. He would return to play in just two games the following season before signing with the Lions in free agency and playing in 12 games in 2018.

Shead didn't appear in a game over the past two seasons, spending a brief second stint with the Seahawks before being released at the end of training camp prior to the 2019 season. He also signed with the Saints in December 2019, only to be released four days later.

Upon his return to Seattle, while primarily working with defensive backs, Shead may help fill the void left behind when former assistant Tom Donatell left to join the Chargers coaching staff earlier this year. He previously served as the defensive quality control coach for the Seahawks.

The decision to bring back Smith, who other coaches and players refer to as "Tater," is an interesting one given recent comments from quarterback Russell Wilson and his camp about pass protection and scheme-related concerns. The two worked together from 2012 to 2017 when Smith, who has ties to coach Pete Carroll dating back to 1982 at North Carolina State, served as Seattle's quarterback coach.

After one season as assistant head coach, the 72-year old Smith left to join the Texans staff prior to the 2019 season, where he was a quarterbacks coach and offensive consultant over the past two seasons. Though it remains unclear how his role will be defined in his return to the Seahawks, he will likely once again be involved with game management-related tasks as he was during his first stint.

Smith could replace Sanjay Lal, who left to take a receivers coach position with the Jaguars after serving as senior offensive assistant in 2020. He will join a staff with a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron and a new run game coordinator in Andy Dickerson, who were both hired away from the Rams to replace Brian Schottenheimer and Brennan Carroll.

As for his son Tracy, after one season as Houston's special teams coordinator, he is expected to join Seattle's staff as an assistant for Larry Izzo. Izzo took over as interim special teams coordinator last season when Brian Schneider left the team for personal reasons and was elevated to the position full-time earlier this offseason upon Schneider's departure for Jacksonville.

The Seahawks have yet to officially announce these three additions, but a full coaching staff for the 2021 season should be revealed in the near future.