RENTON, Wash. — Pete Carroll didn’t think he could acquire a safety of Quandre Diggs‘ caliber to reinforce the suddenly thin back end of the Seattle Seahawks‘ secondary. Diggs never thought he’d be traded only a year after signing an extension with the Detroit Lions and less than two months after being named a team captain.
He was every bit as stunned as his former Lions teammates to find out he’d been dealt to the Seahawks along with a 2021 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2020 fifth-rounder.
“I was blindsided by it, honestly,” Diggs said Wednesday.
He was taking a nap with his 3-month-old daughter on his off day Tuesday when he got a call from his agent telling him the news.
“It was surprising,” he said. “Super excited, blessed for the opportunity. At the end of the day, God has a plan for me, and this is his plan. It was crazy, spending the day with my daughter and my girlfriend and you get news like that. Of course it’s major for the family. But it’s work. It’s part of it. I’m here now. I’m excited. I’m going to miss my guys in Detroit, but I’ve got new relationships that I’ve got to build here.”
Diggs joins a secondary dealing with injuries to starting strong safety Bradley McDougald and backup Lano Hill. McDougald didn’t practice Wednesday due to the back spasms that kept him out of the Seahawks’ loss to Baltimore last week and have him iffy for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. Hill is expected to miss at least another week with an elbow injury.
Carroll said those injuries were the motivation for acquiring Diggs, and not Tedric Thompson’s up-and-down play — though on Monday, Carroll was as critical as he ever gets when asked about Thompson allowing a 50-yard completion against the Ravens in his latest coverage miscue. Thompson started at free safety against the Ravens while Marquise Blair started at strong safety and impressed Carroll enough that the coach said the rookie second-round pick will play more going forward.
As for Diggs, Carroll said he’ll play both free and strong safety — which are somewhat interchangeable in Seattle’s defense — and noted that Diggs can also play nickelback.
“He’s an explosive player,” Carroll said. “I’ve watched him for years be the kind of guy that throws his body around as well as you can do it. He’s a real hitter and a playmaker. He’s played a lot of situations. He’s played nickel, he’s played a lot of coverage on key tight ends and key matchups. They’ve used him in a number of different ways so we have a big variety of background. I just think he’s been a unique player, and he’s one of those guys that I’ve seen for a long time and I’ve liked for a long time and really feel lucky to get him.”
Asked if he was surprised Diggs was available, Carroll said: “Very much so. I didn’t think that could be possible.”
According to Diggs’ recounting of his conversations with Lions coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, he didn’t get much of an explanation as to why they traded him.
“They said they just wanted to send me to Seattle,” Diggs said. “The whole team-captain aspect, that’s tough. I worked my tail off for those guys in that locker room. I changed the way I went about business around there. It’s tough, like I said, to leave those guys. I’ll miss those guys, but I guess that’s just how things go.”
Quarterback Matthew Stafford was among the Lions players who spoke highly of Diggs and lamented losing him.
“Tough decisions in this league are made every day,” Stafford said. “It’s a tough one. Obviously, he was a really good teammate of mine, a good buddy of mine, great player for us. Those decisions happen, and I talked to him yesterday and it’s good to talk to him and see where he was at. But it’s tough. He’s a guy in our locker room that a lot of guys really enjoyed to be around. You guys were around him and you know, he was a good guy to be around. Just wish him nothing but the best of luck and hopefully a ton of success in Seattle.”
Diggs already has a few friends on his new team. He played with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, tight end Luke Willson and fullback Nick Bellore in Detroit. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett calls Diggs his best friend. Diggs said Lockett was the first person he called to share the news he was heading to Seattle and that “it makes it a lot easier” to have familiar faces in his new locker room.
In addition to being thin at safety with injuries, the Seahawks were young at that position outside of McDougald, who turns 29 next month. Thompson and Hill are both third-year players. Blair and fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi are rookies.
The 26-year-old Diggs, who’s in his fifth season, described a similar situation in Detroit’s secondary and said it led him to step into a leadership role following Glover Quin’s retirement over the summer.
“I just became a better version of myself, just tried to be the best example I could be around that team,” Diggs said. “My first four years in the league, I had a guy that I called my OG in Glover Quinn. That was his room, he ran the room, and I just followed in line. That’s what it was. This year, I had to take a step to be the leader of that room, me and [cornerback Darius Slay]. That’s a step that I’m comfortable taking. But it’s like, you go in, you step into that role, it’s different. So you’ve got to better yourself for that. Gotta kinda be that guy for those younger guys because we were a young secondary, especially safety room. We were very young.
“I think that’s what I mean by bettering myself. But you see how things worked out. So, obviously, it’s not enough.”
ESPN Detroit Lions reporter Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.