After the Seattle Seahawks included veteran safety Brian Russell as part of their cut down to a 53-man roster, Jordan Babineaux finally got his chance to be a full-time starter after spending his first five seasons in the NFL as a backup cornerback and safety.
Babineaux started all 16 games at free safety last season, setting a career-high with 104 tackles, which ranked second on the team, as did his 75 solo tackles. "Big Play Babs" also had 1.5 quarterback sacks and six pass break-ups, both career-highs, while coming down with a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble.
Last week's snap counts article (subscription required) pointed out that Babineaux was on the field for 1,008 of the Seahawks' 1,024 official defensive plays in 2009.
According to a league source, that playing time has triggered an incentive in Babineaux's contract that will increase his base salary to $2.45 million dollars in 2010, up from the $1.45 million dollars he was originally scheduled to earn next season.
Babineaux's base salary increase has voided the final season of the five-year, $13.1 million dollar extension he signed in 2007. Babineaux is now signed through the 2012 season, with base salaries of $1.55M in 2011, and $1.75M in 2012.
In the current economic climate in the NFL, any increase in base salary increases a player's chances of being released. Despite some inconsistent play in his first year as a starter, Babineaux's versatility and play-making ability should keep him from the chopping block this off-season, even if the Seahawks do use one of their two first-round picks on a safety.
Injuries last season to Josh Wilson and Marcus Trufant, some inconsistent play from Ken Lucas, and the decision to devise schemes to get Lawyer Milloy more involved in the defense, pressed Babineaux into service as a cornerback in Seattle's nickel and dime packages. Babineaux appears more comfortable the closer to the line of scrimmage he is, and with new Seahawks general manager John Schneider preferring bigger cornerbacks, Babineaux (6-0, 206) would be the biggest on the roster.
Notes: Recently signed long-snappers Matt Overton and Pat MacDonald, as well as punter Tom Malone, agreed to or have signed two-year deals at the veteran minimum salaries for 2010 ($320,000) and 2011 ($405,000). There were no signing bonuses.In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.