Throughout the offseason, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said they hoped to be able to keep free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell. On Tuesday, the Seahawks made that happen, re-singing the veteran corner who began his career as a Seahawk, then returned midway through last season.
"It's nice to be back here," Maxwell said after signing his contract. "I know all the coaches and everything, so it's good to be back in a familiar setting."
Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft, spent his first four seasons in Seattle, a run that saw him play a big role on a defense that helped lead the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls. Maxwell signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2014 season, then was traded to Miami in 2016. The Dolphins released Maxwell during the 2017 season, which turned out to be fortunate for the Seahawks, who lost Richard Sherman to a season-ending Achilles injury.
Maxwell quickly took over the starting job at left cornerback, starting the final six games. Maxwell recorded 38 tackles, seven passes defensed, one interception and a forced fumble in seven games, helping the secondary maintain a high level of play even without Sherman. Late in the season, Carroll described Maxwell as a "terrific addition" to the team.
"I thought that Byron Maxwell did a great job to finish," Carroll said in his year-end press conference. "It was exactly what we would've hoped would happen, that when we get him back in our system and we turn him back into the style that we play in, that he might recover the same kind of play; I think he did. I thought Maxie got back to playing ball the way we had seen in him the past and the way that, when he went out of here the end of free agency (in 2015),he was highly, highly regarded. So I was really thrilled about that. And it really showed up the last two weeks. When he really was finally at his greatest comfort level and his confidence and all of that, so I thought that was pretty obvious, pretty evident. I'd love to have him back."
Maxwell said he has had success in two different stints with the Seahawks in part because of the style of defense Seattle plays.
"They just let you play," he said. "If you know the game of football, that's what this scheme allows you to do. You know what you're going to do, so you can play like, 'Hey, what do you see at the line, what is his body telling you?' If you watch film and everything, this system allows you to really show your skills."
With Maxwell coming back, the Seahawks have one more quality option to compete for the starting job vacated by Sherman's departure. Shaquill Griffin, who started at right corner as a rookie, is a pretty safe bet to hold down one starting job, and the Seahawks also re-signed nickel corner Justin Coleman, who was a restricted free agent. In addition to those players, the Seahawks added former 49ers starting cornerback Dontae Johnson, and also have 2017 draft pick Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott, Neiko Thorpe and Akeem King, as well as Tre Flowers, a fifth-round pick in this year's draft.