After spending his first four NFL seasons with the Seahawks, Shaquill Griffin hopes to continue his career in the Pacific Northwest. But as free agency rapidly approaches, the fifth-year cornerback is excited about exploring other opportunities.
During an interview with Good Morning Football on NFL Network on Wednesday, Griffin made it clear returning to Seattle would be his top choice but the market would ultimately determine where he plays in 2021 and beyond.
“I would love to be back in Seattle, but I know there’s a business aspect behind it,” Griffin said. “But that organization knows I love it over there — the fans and coaches know how much I love Seattle. But at the end of the day, I know it’s strictly business.
Selected in the third round out of Central Florida in the 2017 NFL Draft, Griffin broke into the starting lineup for the Seahawks early in his rookie season. After Richard Sherman was released prior to the 2018 season, he took over in his place at left cornerback, starting 42 games over the past three seasons.
After struggling in his first full season as a starter, Griffin enjoyed a breakout 2019 season with 65 tackles and 13 passes defensed, tied for the second-most in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. Originally named a Pro Bowl alternate, he replaced Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore on the roster and played in the all star game for the first time back in Orlando, Florida.
Last season, Griffin got off to a slow start, allowing five touchdowns in coverage during Seattle's first six games and surrendering 151 yards in a Week 3 win over Dallas. But after returning from a hamstring injury that cost him four games, he finished the season on a strong note, allowing 20 receiving yards or less five times in the final seven regular season games and just one total touchdown in the second half.
Now, entering the prime of his career, Griffin is eager to test the free agency waters and see how the rest of the league values him.
Set to be one of the most sought after cornerbacks on the free agent market, the cap-strapped Seahawks may have a tough time competing with offers from other teams for Griffin's services. Spotrac projects he will earn $11 million per year on a new deal, which would make him one of the 15 highest-paid players at his position.
Currently, Seattle has an estimated $1.561 million in effective cap space, which isn't even enough money to provide a restricted free agent tender for a player.
However, the Seahawks have been more than willing to spend money on "homegrown" players in the secondary in the past. Given Griffin's youth, athleticism, and upside, re-signing him may be prioritized by the front office over other potential roster moves with limited financial flexibility. It all boils down to what other teams will offer him amid a league-wide cap crunch.
Adding another interesting wrinkle to this situation, Shaquill's twin brother Shaquem Griffin will be a restricted free agent and Seattle will have to decide what it wants to do with his contract situation as well.
With only two weeks until the legal tampering period begins, after enjoying his first four years with the franchise, Griffin remains hopeful the Seahawks will step up to the plate and make a competitive long-term offer. If that doesn't happen, he's confident another team will make the investment in him and his agency will take care of him during this process.
“I'm excited to see what's best for me and my family," Griffin smiled. "Started an early career with Seattle, came straight in and they gave me a chance to play early. I’m only 25 years old, I feel like my best ball is ahead of me. I’m exited for what’s next.”