Tough decisions are best kind to have

The Seattle Seahawks arguably had the NFL's best secondary even without Walter Thurmond factoring as a healthy contributor.

Thurmond's strong performances through training camp and his work with the first-team defense Monday make an outstanding secondary even better. But what might a possible Thurmond ascension mean for incumbent starter Brandon Browner?

Thurmond, at his healthy best, could be the better corner. Browner's uncommon size (6-foot-4 and 220 pounds) makes him valuable as well, particularly when the Seahawks face physical receivers such as the San Francisco 49ers' Anquan Boldin. Browner has even covered 49ers tight end Vernon Davis at times.

Thurmond also has the ability to defend the slot, where Antoine Winfield is currently the first option. Meanwhile, young corners Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon, Byron Maxwell, Ron Parker and Will Blackmon are fighting for positioning on the roster. Not all will earn spots.

I see a couple of key considerations for Seattle at this position:

  • Maintain long-term options: Starting corner Richard Sherman is signed through 2014. He's on track for a massive payday, but the Seahawks have other considerations in their secondary, including re-signing Earl Thomas. They have already paid strong safety Kam Chancellor. They gave Browner a raise without extending his deal past 2013. What if the Seahawks can't realistically re-sign Sherman? They're going to want other young options at a lower price. Thurmond could be one of them.

  • Maximize short-term value: Seattle won't have room on its roster to keep all its promising young corners. Players further down the depth chart are fighting for roster spots. Perhaps one of them could have trade value near the mandatory reduction to 53-man rosters. Former Seahawks executive John Idzik is the New York Jets' general manager. Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach. Might they have interest?

Thurmond's injury problems at the University of Oregon allowed the Seahawks to select him in only the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Subsequent injuries have sidelined him for 24 of 32 games over the past two seasons. At this point, it's a big bonus if Thurmond stays healthy through a full season. So far, though, he's looking good.

Thurmond was a starter in 2011. An injury cleared the way for Sherman to replace him. Sherman became one of the NFL's most productive corners. Browner became a starter as well, giving Seattle two big, rangy and physical corners. The combination worked so well that other teams have sought taller corners.

Injuries figure to make some roster decisions more straightforward as the Aug. 31 reduction to 53-man limits approaches. That hasn't happened for the Seahawks at corner, and if Thurmond stays healthy, the team is going to have difficult decisions -- exactly the kind teams like.