Quandre Diggs looking like a trade-deadline steal for the Seahawks

LOS ANGELES -- Losing to the Los Angeles Rams in lopsided fashion raised a few questions the Seattle Seahawks would prefer to not have to answer as they head into the regular season's closing stretch.

Why has their pass rush been so hit-and-(mostly)-miss this season? What's up with the recent dip in production from Russell Wilson and the passing game? How much will they miss the one-two punch they had just found in their run game now that Rashaad Penny is injured?

Here's one they won't mind asking: how did general manager John Schneider find a 26-year-old playmaker like Quandre Diggs for nothing more than a fifth-round pick?

That trade (which also netted Seattle a 2021 seventh-rounder) was already looking like a steal for Seattle before Diggs picked off two passes Sunday night and returned one 55 yards for a touchdown.

"Incredibly timed play," Pete Carroll said of Diggs' pick-six, which he followed up by coming down with a deep ball on the Rams' next possession. "I mean, what it should show you, because it shows me that he'd been there before. He had a chance to make a big play and he just made it look like it was as easy as could be. And it's not the first time he's done that.

"So he's a really good ballplayer. We've been telling you about his savvy, his instincts and how natural a player he is. I thought that was obvious there. And also, the other pick was a really good one, too. He went and helped outside of his area to go make a play by reading the quarterback and did a great job to come up with that ball too."

On his pick-six, Diggs was covering a crossing route when Shaquem Griffin pressured Jared Goff into a overthrow.

"The coaches just put me in a great spot to make a play," Diggs said. "That's all it is. When the play comes to you, you've just got to make it. That's what I did. Nothing more, nothing less. We didn't win, so that stuff really doesn't matter."

As an isolated play in a forgettable defeat, it doesn't. What matters is the trend of playmaking since Diggs was inserted into Seattle's starting lineup at free safety alongside Bradley McDougald.

Diggs missed what would have been his first two games with the Seahawks due to a hamstring injury that was worse than the team realized when it acquired him from the Detroit Lions a week before the trade deadline. In his four starts since, Diggs has three interceptions, a forced and recovered fumble plus a handful of big hits that, as Carroll sees it, have had a noticeable effect on opposing receivers -- like the one he put on Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. last Monday night.

According to linebacker Bobby Wagner, Seattle's defense has more coverage options with Diggs manning the back end.

"Definitely, because we're allowed to play a little bit more coverages because of his range and how far he can go," Wagner said. "So we can play a little bit more Cover 3, play a little bit more Cover 2 and things of that nature because he has a range and he's not afraid to come down and hit. So between him and B-Mac, it's a good duo back there."

It's one of several duos the Seahawks tried this season at a position group that has been in flux since the Earl Thomas-Kam Chancellor days came to an end. Tedric Thompson (now on injured reserve), rookie second-round pick Marquise Blair and Lano Hill have also started games at safety this year.

Thompson and Hill each have a year left on their rookie contracts. McDougald is also under contract for one more season but at a high enough cap number ($5.43 million) to make you wonder if the Seahawks might move on early now that they've traded for Diggs and drafted Blair as high as they did.

Diggs, signed through 2021, has no more guaranteed money left after this season on the contract the Seahawks inherited from Detroit. But he sure looks like a keeper.

"He's just been amazing," Wagner said. "The plays that he had, the pick-six and another pick, the way he plays downhill in the run game, his intelligence, how smart he is, he's a great guy in the locker room. He's just been a huge pickup for us and we're happy to have him on our team."