Seahawks Blink Last - Herndon Is The Prize

In an explosive market for defensive backs, Seattle's challenge in the wake of Ken Lucas' defection was to replace his skill for a price their diminishing cap dollars would stand. Today, the Seahawks were able to confirm that Kelly Herndon will be theirs for the next five years.

The Denver Broncos announced today that they will not match the five-year, $15 million offer sheet that restricted free agent cornerback Kelly Herndon signed last week with the Seahawks.

The Broncos will receive no draft compensation from the transaction because Herndon was an undrafted player. The Seahawks made the offer to Herndon after Ken Lucas, their star cornerback, signed with the Carolina Panthers.

Herndon started every game for the Broncos last season, leading the team with 20 passes defensed and racking up 77 tackles, which ranked fifth on the team. He also intercepted two passes. Frequently the target of opposing quarterbacks who did not wish to test shutdown CB Champ Bailey, Herndon responded with his best season.

Signed to Denver's practice squad in 2001, Herndon was promoted to the special teams unit and the occasional spot start in 2002 by then Broncos and current Seahawks defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.

While he may not have Lucas' raw playmaking ability, Herndon will put his own abilities to the test in what may be the NFL's brightest young secondary. Joining fellow CB Marcus Trufant and safeties Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware, Herndon will look to seal the only current point of total stability in Seattle's defense - a defense that has been ravaged by injuries, depth issues and the defections of stars like Lucas and DE Chike Okeafor, who signed with the Cardinals.

Kelly Herndon could be a breakout talent signed to a second-tier contract for his position. With salaries for NFL cornerbacks shooting through the roof like internet stocks in the late 1990's, the risk/reward on the Herndon deal could prove prescient for Seattle.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to e-mail him at Top Stories