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Seahawks indeed make a trade ... for the Detroit Lions’ starting safety

The Seahawks have indeed made a trade. But not for a sack man for the pass rush nor a new tight end they could also use right now.

It’s for the Detroit Lions’ starting safety.

And Tedric Thompson’s tough week just got tougher.

Seattle is sending a fifth-round draft choice to Detroit for safety Quandre Diggs and a seventh-round pick in 2021.

The Lions made the trade official Tuesday afternoon.

The Seahawks have starting strong safety Bradley McDougald and primary backup Lano Hill both injured with indefinite returns to playing.

Thompson, the free safety, has allowed big pass plays multiple times this season, been benched for the part of one game—and on Monday was the defender responsible for a misplay coach Pete Carroll called “distasteful...I hate it.”

Diggs, on social media, seemed a tad pleased Tuesday afternoon to be going from the last-place Lions to the 5-2 Seahawks.

Fellow defensive back Darius Slay and Lions teammates were bummin’ to lose Diggs.

The 26-year-old Diggs started at strong safety for the Lions last weekend in their 42-30 home loss to Minnesota. He missed the previous week’s game at Green Bay with a hamstring injury he sustained in Detroit’s home loss to Kansas City in week four, before the Lions’ bye week.

Diggs, 5 feet 9 and 197 pounds, has also played cornerback in his five NFL seasons, all with Detroit. He has started 32 of the Lions’ last 38 games dating to the start of the 2017 season. He can also play free safety and would seem to be a candidate for nickel defensive back, though Seattle has been devaluing that position in favor of far more base 4-3 defense even on passing downs this season. Current nickel back Jamar Taylor played just eight snaps last weekend against Baltimore.

This may be an investment for the Seahawks at safety with Diggs for beyond 2019. He has two years beyond this one and $8.35 million in base salary left on the $18.6 million extension he signed with Detroit in September 2018. The Lions drafted him in the sixth round out of Texas in 2015.

So, two days after they played Earl Thomas for the first time, the Seahawks are adding another former Texas Longhorns safety.

McDougald, 28, has one year remaining beyond this season on his contract. The team could save $4.1 million against its 2020 salary cap by releasing him before June 1 of next year, not that they want to or can afford to. He’s been one of their most versatile and valuable defensive players, effective at both strong and free safety the last few seasons with sure tackling and plays on passes in flight.

His string of 31 consecutive starts for Seattle ended last weekend when back spasms kept him out of the loss to Baltimore. Coach Pete Carroll said Monday the team isn’t sure yet if McDougald will be able to play Sunday at Atlanta.

Hill will not. Carroll said the strong safety’s elbow injury will keep him out a second consecutive week.

Carroll was unusually blunt in his assessment of a 50-yard pass Thompson allowed on opening drive of Seattle’s last game, though he didn’t mention the free safety by name.

“We made a big mistake early. Gave them a freebie down the field,” Carroll said Monday.

“Just distasteful. I hate it, that we gave them that. There’s no way that should ever happen.”

That was during a conversation about rookie safety Marquise Blair’s first NFL start against Baltimore. The rookie second-round draft choice was a strong safety at Utah and Sunday against the Ravens. But before McDougald and Hill got hurt this month, the Seahawks were practicing him at free safety behind Thompson.

Carroll said Monday Blair earned more playing time, signaling a renewed competition at Seattle’s often-interchangeable safety spots this week.

That battle just added a new competitor in Diggs.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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