Behind Enemy Lines: Deon Grant

In this Seahawks.NET exclusive, JagNation.com's Charlie Bernstein gives his inside take on Deon Grant's strengths and weaknesses. What's the word on Seattle's new starting free safety from someone who's seen every game he's played over the last three seasons? Find out inside!

On March 8th, the Seahawks agreed to terms with former Jacksonville Jaguar safety Deon Grant on a six-year deal that could be worth as much as $30 million. Grant replaced Ken Hamlin, who had spent his first four pro years in Seattle after being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft, and was signed to a one-year deal by the Dallas Cowboys after the Seahawks made little effort to re-sign the free agent. Grant's signing bonus is believed to be the biggest given to a safety in NFL history.

Selected in the second round of the 2000 draft by the Carolina Panthers, the 6’2”, 210-pound Tennessee graduate was signed by the Jaguars in 2004. He has amassed 406 tackles, 18 interceptions and 48 passes defensed in his career.

The Seahawks need leadership in the secondary – of that, there is no doubt. It was obvious that the team missed the veteran savvy of safety Marquand Manuel in 2006 after Manuel signed with the Green Bay Packers. Grant will be expected to become the quarterback of the defensive backfield and provide more reliable coverage than Hamlin sometimes did.

Charlie Bernstein, the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, Scout.com’s new site dedicated to Jacksonville’s NFL team, has had the insider’s view of Grant’s play over the last three seasons. We asked Charlie to give us the scoop on what we can expect from Seattle’s new starting free safety.

It’s clear that he’s is one of the classiest guys in the entire NFL, and the way he left Jacksonville epitomizes that,” Bernstein said. “Grant had nothing but nice things to say about the entire Jaguars organization and the city, and a player with his values will surely be missed.

“As far as his play is concerned, the defense improved in each of the three seasons Deon spent in Jacksonville. He is considered by many to be an above-average safety, but he's never made a Pro Bowl, and likely won’t anytime soon. Although Grant finds himself in the right spot often, he doesn't have great hands and drops a lot of interceptions. Grant was a very solid safety during his stay in Jacksonville, but he was certainly not a play-maker. He expressed his interest in staying in Jacksonville numerous times during interviews, but the Jaguars placed a value on Deon's services that was obviously much less than the value the Seahawks front office placed on him.

“Grant dropped at least 10 fairly easy, would-be interceptions in 2006, and perhaps if he would have held on to three or four of those, the Jaguars may have retained him. If Grant were to play out his entire contract with Seattle, his $5 million/yr. average would be considered bank robbery for a safety of his caliber in a normal free agent market. Grant is a good player, but nowhere near the caliber of player that should get that kind of money. That being said, this is the free agent market in 2007, where teams are forced to spend their extra cap money on a set of second-tier players, and this particular deal reflects that.”

Will Grant’s experience in lining up the secondary make up for any technical on-field concerns? The Seahawks certainly hope so, but a bit of “caveat emptor” is never a bad thing.

Special thanks to Charlie Bernstein of JagNation.com for his insight.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and a regular contributor to FoxSports.com. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.

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