The Seahawks are keeping one of their top special teams players from 2016, having re-signed cornerback Neiko Thorpe Tuesday.
Thorpe first signed with the Seahawks last September, and quickly established himself as a key special teams player. Thorpe led the team with nine special teams tackles, particularly standing out as a gunner on punt coverage.
Thorpe also saw playing time on defense, serving as Seattle's third cornerback when starter DeShawn Shead missed a game with a hamstring injury, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said on multiple occasions that they like Thorpe's upside at that position in addition to what he brings on special teams.
"Neiko looked good at Oakland, technique-wise," Carroll said during the season. "He had been coached—not quite the same as us—but well enough that we could see that he was a press corner. He could do it. He had good size and all that. He's strong, he's comfortable with it. It's not too big for him to be up on the line of scrimmage, challenging good players and fast guys, big guys, doesn't matter. Very versatile and a really good all-round football player, which has been demonstrated by his special teams work. He's been a fantastic special teams contributor for us. That is kind of the way Shead came along too. It shows you that savvy and instincts and stuff. Good tackler too, so he fits in with our guys. (Richard) Sherman and Shead have always been good tacklers and fit guys on the edge. Neiko is like that too and he demonstrated that right off the bat."
Re-signing Thorpe doesn't just allow the Seahawks to keep a top special teams contributor, it also gives them depth at a position facing some uncertainty heading into 2017. With Shead, who is currently a free agent, recovering from a serious knee injury sustained in Seattle's playoff loss, the Seahawks need depth at cornerback to compete for the starting job at right cornerback if Shead isn't an option when the season begins.
"We have to think like we have to pull from the ranks of the guys and see how they do," Carroll said at the end of the season following Shead's injury. "I thought DeAndre Elliott did a nice job in the bits that he played, Neiko [Thorpe] did some nice stuff for us, too, there were a couple other guys there on the roster that have looked good and looked competitive. We're going to have to do a really nice job of coaching in the case that DeShawn doesn't make it back able to go… If he's not available we're going to really miss him, but we have to go for it with the other guys."
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