Denver has seven days to match offer

Updated: March 16, 2005, 9:06 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The Seattle Seahawks hope they have filled their second most important defensive need Wednesday by reaching a five-year, $15 million deal with Broncos cornerback Kelly Herndon that includes a $4.5 million signing bonus.

The reason that they can only hope to fill the need is they have to wait seven days to see if they get the Denver Broncos cornerback. Herndon is a restricted free agent even though he doesn't require any draft compensation from the Seahawks. The Broncos have seven days to match the offer or let him go to the Seahawks.

Herndon played 99 percent of the Broncos' defensive snaps last season even though he was projected to be the No. 3 cornerback behind Champ Bailey and Lenny Walls. According to Stats Inc., Herndon led the league with 23 passes defensed and had only 51 percent of the passes thrown in his direction completed.

Though he would have liked to remain with the Broncos, Herndon was tempted by the Seattle situation because he would clearly have the chance to start.

The Seahawks needed to find a cornerback replacement after Ken Lucas signed a six-year, $37 million deal with Carolina two weeks ago. After considering Andre Dyson of the Titans and a couple of other possibilities such as Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain, the Seahawks focused on Herndon on Monday and Tuesday.

Last week, Broncos restricted tight end Jeb Putzier signed a five-year, $12.5 million with the Jets, but the Broncos matched after seven days. That put a further strain on a tight salary cap.

Herndon was an undrafted rookie for the 49ers in 1999. He has also been with the Giants and Broncos. The Broncos signed him in 2001 and ended up being a starter by 2003.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Herndon went to Toledo.

The Broncos face an interesting decision involving Herndon. They could match the offer on Herndon and remove the first-round tender from starting cornerback Lenny Walls. Or the Broncos can keep Walls and let Herndon go.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer