Kam Chancellor's football future is up in the air because of a career-threatening neck injury. Richard Sherman is coming off a ruptured Achilles and approaching his 30th birthday. He's got one year left on his contract as does Earl Thomas, who sure seems to be skeptical about getting an extension.
Three of the most iconic players in Seattle Seahawks history and the remaining charter members of the Legion of Boom are all facing futures with the team that are uncertain to varying degrees.
That helps explain why ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gives Seattle's secondary a reinforcement in his first mock draft of 2018. Kiper has the Seahawks taking Florida State safety Derwin James with their first-round pick, No. 18 overall.
Of course, that assumes the Seahawks will make that selection at No. 18, no sure thing by any means (more on that later).
If they do, James carries plenty of appeal both from a need and style standpoint.
His credentials are impressive, as you'd expect from a first-round prospect. James was an All-ACC selection as a redshirt sophomore in 2017 after finishing second on the team with 84 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, to go along with 11 passes defended and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
That followed a 2016 season in which he missed all but two games because of a knee injury.
Kiper writes that James looked like a top-five pick as a freshman starter in 2015. He calls him "a typical Seattle safety" and rates James as the 11th best overall prospect on his Big Board.
If the Seahawks were to view James as a potential Chancellor replacement, as Kiper suggests, one question would be whether he has the size to be used in a similar way. FSU lists James at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, though heights and weights provided by schools can't always be trusted.
His highlight videos show him making just as many big hits against running backs as pass breakups in the secondary.
The Seahawks like to play Cover 3 on early downs. That typically calls for Thomas to roam the deep middle third of the field as a single-high safety while Chancellor (6-3, 225) plays up near the line of scrimmage as an eighth defender in the box, putting him in position to help out against the run.
Pete Carroll said at season's end that Chancellor as well as defensive end Cliff Avril "are going to have a hard time playing football again" after suffering neck injuries in 2017. Carroll later backed off that comment a bit, but at the very least, Chancellor's football future is up in the air.
With Sherman and Thomas only signed through 2018, Seahawks general manager John Schneider may be inclined to double back to the secondary in April's draft after taking four defensive backs last year. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin was the only one who saw meaningful playing time on defense this past season, making it tough to evaluate the viability of strong safety Delano Hill (third round), free safety Tedric Thompson (fourth) and cornerback Mike Tyson (sixth) as potential contributors. Bradley McDougald, who played well while making two starts for Thomas and seven more for Chancellor, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.
The secondary is far from Seattle's only need. The offensive line is by no means a finished product despite all the draft picks and (to a lesser extent) money the Seahawks have spent to build it up. Avril may never play again and Michael Bennett could be a salary-cap casualty, potentially leaving Seattle without two of its best pass-rushers. Tight end Jimmy Graham and his backup, Luke Willson, will both be free agents. The Seahawks would be wise to add another running back even though Chris Carson and Mike Davis give them two promising options.
There are plenty of holes and not a ton of draft capital to fill them. That's the rub here.
The Seahawks don't have picks in the second or third rounds, having given them up in trades for Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown. They could recoup an extra seventh based on the conditions of another trade they made (for tackle Isaiah Battle), but they aren't projected to receive any compensatory picks. That means they could enter the draft with just one pick in the first three rounds and as few as seven in all.
That will make it awfully tempting for Schneider to flip the 18th pick for more selections. His history suggests it's likely. In his eight drafts with the Seahawks, he's either traded back in the first round or out of it entirely four times. That doesn't include the two times he's dealt away his first-rounder before the draft, which he did for Percy Harvin in 2013 and Graham in 2015.
But then again, you never know when it comes to the Seahawks and the draft.
It's worth a reminder that it's still very early in the pre-draft process. Kiper's pick for the Seahawks could and probably will change once team needs and player evaluations are reset following the scouting combine, pro days and free agency.
Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had the Seahawks taking LSU running back Derrius Guice in his first mock draft. Kiper's doesn't have Guice going in the first round.