John Schneider told us at the NFL Combine that he wanted to see improvement from the secondary in 2020. On Monday, the Seahawks reportedly made a trade with the Washington Redskins in order to bolster that group, acquiring corner Quinton Dunbar in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
The deal is a fantastic low-cost move that could pay huge dividends for Seattle. Let’s cover the price first. A fifth-rounder is a steal for a player who had the second-best Pro Football Focus grade of any corner in 2019 (87.6) and four interceptions. He’s 6-foot-2, just 27 years old and should still be ascending after transitioning from wide receiver to corner upon entering the NFL in 2015.
But there’s a reason why Seattle nabbed him for so little. Dunbar reportedly requested a trade out of Washington, and the Redskins couldn’t risk keeping a disgruntled player around in Ron Rivera’s first year as head coach. Building culture is always a top priority for new head coaches. Beyond that, Dunbar is in the final year of his current contract (he’ll make about $4.5 million in 2020 with Washington having to eat $1 million of that) and is reportedly seeking big money. Lastly, he’s got a noted injury history having landed on IR in both 2018 (shin) and 2019 (hamstring) while playing just 18 combined games over those two years.
Seattle surely isn’t worried about any character issues that stem from the trade request as the team has ultimate faith in Pete Carroll’s program. The contract situation means he could end up being a one-year rent a player. However, Seattle may have found a foundational piece in its secondary should Dunbar stay healthy and perform to his capabilities.
And that leads to where he fits. I wrote just hours before the deal went down that Seattle was in need of a corner to compete with Tre Flowers. However, I didn’t expect them to acquire a player of Dunbar’s caliber. Based on what has been put on tape by both players, Dunbar is a superior player to Flowers and should be able to win a position battle that will be decided in training camp.
Putting a player on notice can be a really good thing, especially when it’s a young player with upside. The Seahawks still believe in Flowers, but they need him to make major improvements in 2020. Now he’ll have to if he has any hope of seeing the field in what will be his third NFL season. Flowers should approach this news with the belief that he’s on the outside of the starting lineup looking in. We will find out in a hurry whether or not Flowers made the most of his offseason and is up to the task.
I’m genuinely intrigued to see how he responds because I'm seemingly in the minority of people who think Flowers can be a serviceable corner. The guy has the build, athleticism and mindset to do the job. I can tell you that Flowers was glued to his iPad going through film in the locker room during almost every single media availability last season. His approach isn’t an issue. He just needs to find consistency.
And that leads to another scenario to ponder. Let’s say Flowers shows up to camp looking like a transformed player. Now all of a sudden the Seahawks have several quality pieces in their secondary to deploy how they see fit.
Dunbar has experience inside and could potentially play nickel for Seattle this season. That means this trade also puts Ugo Amadi on notice.
In addition, Shaquill Griffin has discussed wanting to shadow an opponent’s best receiver. Now you have the option to let him do so because Dunbar could bounce outside if Griffin trails his man into the slot. Seattle should have the ability for its coaching staff to get creative with personnel.
The final takeaway from this trade is that, at least in my opinion, it’s now less likely that the Seahawks will use a first- or second-round pick on a corner. Those valuable selections would be better spent in the trenches.