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Seattle Seahawks

Commentary: Seahawks are on clock after rightly parting with Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Will Dissly

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) pushes past Seattle Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs (6) during the second quarter of an NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Arlington.  (Tribune News Service)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Quandre Diggs has made a habit of breaking Seahawks news.

Why would this be any different?

The 31-year-old safety – who announced Bobby Wagner’s return to Seattle last spring, and the restructuring of his own contract last summer – posted two words on social media at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday:

“Forever grateful.”

Likewise, Seahawks fans should be grateful for Diggs’ nearly five-season stint in Seattle, which effectively ended Tuesday. The ball-snatching safety arrived via perhaps the premier trade of the John Schneider era, as Seattle sent a measly fifth-round pick to Detroit in October 2019. In 72 games since, the pride of Angleton, Texas, amassed an impressive 18 interceptions, earned three Pro Bowl nods and established himself as an invaluable leader in the franchise’s post-Legion of Boom secondary.

So it’s undeniable that Diggs’ release – which was reported 6 minutes after his social-media post and made official less than two hours later – is a somber one in Seattle.

It’s also the right move for a franchise attempting to turn a proverbial page.

Same with Jamal Adams and Will Dissly, who were released as well.

Adams’ long-speculated exit will likely engender no such sadness. The mercurial safety was acquired from the New York Jets for a herculean haul that included a pair of first-round draft picks, a third-round pick and established safety Bradley McDougald. This, it appeared, was the going rate for sustainable greatness – a former sixth overall pick with no significant injury history, a 24-year-old pass-rush torpedo entering his prime, a reigning first-team All-Pro and back-to-back Pro Bowler.

To enliven a deteriorating defense, Schneider and then-coach Pete Carroll took a seismic swing … with promising early returns.

Considering everything that happened after, the 2020 season might now seem like a dream – Adams’ 83 tackles and 9.5 sacks (in just 12 games), the most for a defensive back; the celebrating safety lighting a victory cigar in the postgame news conference after the Seahawks secured a division title.

(Granted, he lit the wrong side of said cigar, perhaps foreshadowing the team’s 30-20 wild-card flop against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks later.)

Of course, you know what happened next. There were injuries, a torn labrum in 2021 and a torn quad tendon in 2022, that deprived Adams of 30 games the past three seasons. There were incidents – a pair of sideline tirades toward concussion doctors last fall, and a social-media maelstrom resulting from the safety mocking a reporter’s wife.

There were touchdowns – such as the ones he allowed against San Francisco’s Deebo Samuel and Dallas’ Jake Ferguson in 2023, mounting evidence of chronic coverage incompetence.

There were not sacks.

Indeed, since Adams secured his last sack against Washington on Dec. 20, 2020, 26 Seahawks (and one other Adams) have done the same: Jarran Reed. Alton Robinson. Benson Mayowa. Rasheem Green. Bobby Wagner. Carlos Dunlap. Darrell Taylor. Kerry Hyder. Jordyn Brooks. Uchenna Nwosu. Quinton Jefferson. Bruce Irvin. Boye Mafe. Shelby Harris. Dre’Mont Jones. Leonard Williams. Devon Witherspoon. Myles Adams.

There are eight others, but let’s save print space. You get the point.

Meanwhile, Jamal Adams – who signed a four-year, $72 million deal in 2021 that made him the NFL’s most highly paid safety – has long since ceased to do what he did best.

The production is down. The goodwill is gone.

So, yes: It’s time to go.

Meanwhile, Diggs’ and Dissly’s declining production made them similarly expendable. After nabbing 14 interceptions and earning Pro Bowl nods the previous three seasons, Diggs managed just five passes defended and one pick (while earning a 55.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, 87th among safeties and one spot ahead of Adams) in 2023. At 31, with nine NFL seasons saddled on his back, Diggs’ regression is more likely a precursor than an outlier.

Remember, Kam Chancellor was 31 when a neck injury officially ended his NFL career. Earl Thomas was 29 when he departed Seattle for a short-lived stint with the Baltimore Ravens while recovering from a broken leg.

The circumstances change, but premier Seattle safeties rarely excel into their mid-30s. It’s Schneider’s and new coach Mike Macdonald’s job to side with statistics and precedence over sentimentality.

Likewise, the 27-year-old Dissly was a respected teammate during his six seasons in Seattle (more if you consider the previous four-season stint at the University of Washington).

But did his output – 127 catches, 1,421 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 72 career games, and never more than 34 receptions in a season – square with the three-year, $24 million contract he signed in 2022?

A former fourth-round pick, Dissly’s usage fell from 60% to 39% last season, while he managed just 17 receptions for 172 yards and a single score. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has long been considered a dependable blocker … but at that price, you pay for more.

Speaking of which: The three releases save the Seahawks $34.5 million in cash as well as about $24 million in salary-cap space. They leave the team with $36.2 million in overall cap space and $28.7 million in effective cap space (which accounts for salaries tied to future draft picks), via

Suddenly, these Seahawks have room to spend.

That, and holes to fill.

Seattle must find a starting safety to pair with Julian Love, the versatile 25-year-old who ascended late last season. Maybe it’s Baltimore’s Geno Stone, a free agent who snared seven interceptions (the most of any safety) under Macdonald’s direction as defensive coordinator in 2023. Maybe it’s a rising rookie, though there are zero safeties regarded as proven first-round picks. Maybe it’s (fill in your favorite free-agent safety here).

Seattle must also address an abruptly empty tight-end room, considering Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson can also be free agents.

On Tuesday, Schneider and Macdonald made necessary moves, affording this franchise the flexibility to build. They armed themselves with opportunities to convert cap space into sustainable success.

But will fans be grateful for what happens next?

The Seahawks are on the clock.