DeShawn Shead, the versatile defensive back who head coach Pete Carroll has described as “a great Seahawk” and “a great story” will be back with Seattle in 2017, having re-signed with the Seahawks Friday.
Shead, who signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of Portland State in 2012, spent most of his first two seasons on Seattle's practice squad, but steadily progressed to the point that he was Seattle's starting right cornerback last season. Shead first earned playing time as a key special teams player late in the 2013 season and in 2014, then in 2015 he saw significant playing time on defense, first at safety then later as a starting cornerback. He then won the competition for the starting job at right cornerback in training camp last year, starting 15 games while recording 81 tackles, a team-high 14 passes defensed and one of the only two interceptions thrown by New England quarterback Tom Brady in 2016. Shead was also elected by teammates as a special teams captain, along with punter Jon Ryan, for the 2016 season.
"Those are great stories," Carroll said last season of Shead’s rise from undrafted practice squad player to starter. "I love raising guys up in the program. Getting to know them really well and understanding, and if they stay with us, it's because they're the right kind of guys. So you know you have a feeling for the guy because he's made it through the draft picks and the other guys with maybe more acclaim coming in. Those kinds of guys are the guys we're always looking for. So as he got better and improved, you could just see it coming. I didn't know that he would be able to play front-line, first-team cornerback and go out there and play really well four or five years ago—he just proved it to us.
"It's great because he also is a great story for all of our other young players. He talks to them like that. He lets them know, 'I was in your chair, sitting there wondering if I was going to make the team and hoping I can make the practice squad.' He shares those scars with other guys and it makes him just that much more valuable to our team."
Unfortunately for Shead and the Seahawks, he might not be ready for the start of the season, the result of a serious knee injury sustained in Seattle's Divisional Round loss to Atlanta. While general manager John Schneider noted at the NFL scouting combine that a Week 1 return for Shead seemed unlikely, neither he nor Carroll completely ruled out that possibility.
"I would be a little bit more optimistic," Carroll said at the combine. "DeShawn is such an extraordinary healer and competitor, I wouldn't put any limits on him right now, but it wouldn't be unlikely that we might go into the season before he's ready to go. But he's too much of a battler and he can do some marvelous things."
The best photos from team photographer Rod Mar's behind-the-scenes 'Eye on the Hawks' photo blog from the Seattle Seahawks' 2016 NFL season.