RENTON, WA - After choosing not to practice last week, Pete Carroll indicated Quandre Diggs was making a statement in regard to his contract situation. But the star safety doesn't necessarily agree with his coach's verbiage and it appears there may be more than meets the eye with his current situation.
Speaking with reporters after not practicing again on Tuesday, Diggs addressed his delayed decision to sit out after participating in the first three weeks of training camp, reaffirming he's "blessed to be a Seahawk" and wants to remain with the organization long-term. But before he can do that, certain business must be addressed.
"I wouldn't necessarily call it a statement," Diggs remarked. "I would just say I had a couple things I had to get cleared up for myself business-wise, just like the team business-wise - they have stuff they have to do - and it was just something I had to do to protect myself just as the team protects themselves. I got a family to feed also, so for me, I had to make the best decision for me."
Diggs said he didn't report to training camp on time in late July with the goal of missing practices. For the first three weeks, he manned his usual center field spot for Seattle's defense at free safety, choosing not to follow the lead of safety Jamal Adams and tackle Duane Brown as bystanders on the sideline awaiting new deals.
But all of that changed last week when Diggs didn't participate in Seattle's practice on Monday. At the time, Carroll told reporters the seventh-year veteran needed a rest day. After missing the next three practices, his explanation changed substantially on Friday when he admitted Diggs' lack of participation wasn't injury related. At the time, it was speculated that his hold in was similar to Brown's pursuing an extension.
When asked why he waited until late in camp to express his displeasure with his contract rather than at the beginning as Adams and Brown did, Diggs responded, "That's how it played out. Things are changing every day and the situation happened to change last week. From then on, I had to do what was best for me. I didn't expect it to be a big deal like this."
While Diggs wasn't asked specifically about Adams' extension, a record-breaking four-year, $70 million pact, or a lucrative extension for Vikings safety Harrison Smith worth $16 million per year, those two deals may have been a reason for changing his stance. Currently, he ranks 20th among safeties for annual salary and after earning his first Pro Bowl nod last year, he understandably wants to be compensated accordingly.
But according to Adam Jude of the Seattle Times, Diggs' choice to sit out practice isn't being done to force Seattle's hands seeking an extension. Instead, he's working on finalizing an insurance policy to protect himself against injury entering the final year of his current contract. Once that is taken care of, the safety plans to return to practice and be ready for the season opener against the Colts.
"As soon as this little business thing [is] done — signed, sealed, delivered — I’ll be back at practice," Diggs said.
Since arriving in Seattle in a midseason trade with Detroit during the 2019 season, Diggs has been one of the most productive safeties in the game. Despite being limited to just five games by an ankle injury after the trade, he still intercepted three passes and proved to be a game-changer filling the void left behind by Earl Thomas' departure in free agency.
Last season, playing alongside Adams to form one of the NFL's premier safety tandems, Diggs turned in a career year. He led the team with five interceptions, finished fourth with 62 tackles, and generated a new personal best 10 passes defensed, playing a key role in the Seahawks defensive resurgence in the second half of the season on the way to a 12-4 record and an NFC West title.
During the past two seasons, only four other safeties have picked off at least eight passes and Diggs accomplished the feat in six fewer games than any other player in that exclusive club.
Considering how much money Diggs could be in line for as a free agent next spring based on his production, age, and what Adams and Smith were extended for, getting an insurance policy to protect himself as an asset is a no-brainer. According to the safety himself, once he was able to meet with Carroll one-on-one to explain what was going on, the coach fully supported his decision.
With Carroll and the organization backing him up, once this "issue is cleared up," Diggs looked to ease the minds of 12s everywhere, saying he'll be ready to go for Week 1, his mind is fully focused on preparing for the Colts, and he's excited rejoin his teammates as the Seahawks aim to defend their division crown.
"We cleared the air, we figured out what we need to figure out and we went from there. Trust me, Pete backed me... He knew what I needed to do and he was all for it. He's a player's coach, so at the end of the day, he understood that I had to go get that situation handled."