Following the devastating news All-Pro defender Jamal Adams will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, a once-deep safety group suddenly looks pretty thin for the Seahawks.
When the regular season opened in September, Seattle had Adams and Quandre Diggs, who each made the Pro Bowl last season, penciled in as starters. Behind them, the team had the luxury of having two versatile, talented players in Marquise Blair and Ryan Neal who had started a combined seven games at safety over the previous two seasons.
But with five regular season games left to play, Adams will soon join Blair, who had surgery for a broken knee cap in October, on injured reserve. Without those two on the roster, the Seahawks don't have any other players on the roster with game experience at either safety position. They also currently don't have any safeties on their practice squad after releasing Elijah Benton on Tuesday.
Given the lack of depth and experience at safety, coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday that Seattle is exploring multiple avenues seeking out insurance at the position.
"There's a couple things we're doing internally," Carroll said, declining to offer specifics. "Obviously we've checked the wire and looked about at what other options there are and all that. But immediately, because our guys are in the meeting rooms with us, we've gotta make our adjustments there."
Internally, while the Seahawks don't have any other safeties on the roster, third-year defender Ugo Amadi has spent some time at both safety positions on the practice field for the Seahawks. He also played the position while starring for Oregon collegiately and could be used at either spot in a pinch if called upon.
But such a move would impact Seattle's defense in other ways. Amadi has been the team's primary slot cornerback since Blair went down in a Week 7 loss to the Saints. Moving him to safety would likely force either John Reid, who arrived via trade from the Texans in August, or practice squad defender Gavin Heslop into the nickel role as a replacement.
It's also possible Seattle could turn to Nigel Warrior, who was claimed off waivers from Baltimore, as an option. Recently activated from injured reserve after battling a knee injury, he played in 49 games with 38 starts at Tennessee collegiately while playing safety in the rugged SEC conference. He hasn't played in an NFL regular season game, however.
Ironically, the Seahawks best alternative moving forward may revolve around a familiar face who was jettisoned as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Adams to the Pacific Northwest in the first place. Currently a free agent, Carroll indicated the team has considered the possibility of re-signing Bradley McDougald, who started 39 games for the team from 2017 to 2019.
"He's one of the names we went through," Carroll said. "We talked about it."
McDougald, 31, has bounced around since Seattle included him in the deal for Adams, appearing in seven games for New York last season before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve. He signed with Tennessee in mid-August and appeared in two games before being released on September 21.
Interestingly, one of those two games came against the Seahawks in Week 2 and McDougald allowed former teammate Tyler Lockett to beat him for a 51-yard reception, which helped lead to his dismissal two days later.
Due to his age, dwindling production, and recent injuries, including a chronic knee condition that has bothered him for quite some time, McDougald wouldn't be an answer for the Seahawks to plug in as a starter. However, he has prior starting experience playing both safety spots and knows their defensive scheme inside and out after three seasons with the organization.
Two other former Seahawks safeties - Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill - remain available on the market as free agents as well if the team wants to sign a player who is familiar with the scheme and could get up to speed quickly.
Thompson, a 2017 fourth-round pick out of Colorado, started 16 games for the team before being waived prior to the 2020 season. He appeared in eight games for the Chiefs last season and spent brief stints with Browns, Titans, and Broncos without seeing any game action.
Hill, a 2017 third-round pick from Michigan, played in 42 games with six starts in four seasons with Seattle before being allowed to walk in free agency last March. He signed with Carolina in May and didn't play in a game before being released in August.
As usual, the Seahawks will explore all avenues and turn over every stone looking at potential depth signing options. With only a few days until they hit the road to play the Texans, however, they may be limited in what they can do free agency wise for now and most likely, they may have no choice but to move forward with Amadi and Warrior serving as backups to Diggs and Neal in the short term.