Atari Bigby's signing in Seattle gives the Seahawks experienced, hard-nosed depth at strong safety with one giant "if" to consider.
BigbyBigby has missed 24 games to injury over the past three seasons. He has value only if he can get and stay healthy.
The former Green Bay Packers starter tuns 30 next month, making him considerably younger than unsigned 2010 starter Lawyer Milloy. Milloy, 37, has missed only six games since 1996. He has played all 16 games in a season 13 times.
Why not just bring back Milloy, one of the toughest players of his generation?
There's a tradeoff in re-signing such a durable, competitive player amid a youth movement. Milloy returned to the Seahawks last season only after coach Pete Carroll promised to restore him as the starter. Milloy had not been happy as a backup in 2009. Any leadership he might have provided would have been muted from the bench in 2011.
Kam Chancellor is going to start at strong safety for the Seahawks this season. He's having a strong training camp. The team envisions pairing him with free safety Earl Thomas for years to come. Seattle considered bringing back veteran safety/cornerback Jordan Babineaux for veteran depth, but the Tennessee Titans signed him.
Back to Bigby. Ankle, groin and hamstring injuries limited him to four games with Green Bay last season. NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert put it this way in a November item entitled, "Another setback for Atari Bigby":
The Packers had envisioned Bigby as a long-term starter but he has slowly slid off their radar because of injuries and contract disputes. They opened the season with rookie Morgan Burnett as their starter, and Charlie Peprah took over after Burnett suffered a season-ending knee injury. We're a long way from next season, but you would have to consider Peprah and Burnett to be in much higher standing from an organizational perspective.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers when Bigby started 11 games for the team in 2009. Bigby comes to Seattle without the lucrative deal he once coveted, and with much to prove.