I don’t use punctuation in my titles often, so you KNOW this is important!
With David Hawthorne signing a long-term deal with the Saints, the Seahawks are – as they say in the business – fucked at linebacker. K.J. Wright is the only returning starter, and he was a rookie last year. In fact, all of the linebackers on our roster right now (save special teams standout Heath Farwell) are coming off of rookie seasons.
Of the rookies, Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan (both USC alums) figure to at least get looks at replacing what we’ve lost this offseason. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to move K.J. Wright to the middle linebacker slot (if memory serves, didn’t he play a game in the middle last season when The Heater was out with injury?).
The most obvious next step for the Seahawks will be through the draft. Preferably in the middle or late rounds (or, shit, from the ranks of the undrafted). I think it’s been widely proven of late that teams can get away with linebackers outside the first three rounds of the draft. Even though Linebacker is a need right now, I don’t want to see this team go and blow its #12 overall draft spot on some guy who won’t be much better than a guy in the 5th round. I just don’t see this as the type of defense that really needs to over-value the linebacker position.
The other way to go is via Free Agency. I have a strong feeling the Seahawks will sign at least one veteran type and then bulk up on depth with rookies. The obvious choice is Leroy Hill; I still say we should bring him back on a 1-year deal. It’s not like he’s going to do any better elsewhere. And, as I’ve argued already, he’s an inexpensive alternative who should still be productive in the short term.
If we wanted to look elsewhere, why not someone like Jonathan Goff? He’s very young, having only played in three seasons for the Giants before missing all of last year with an ACL tear. Granted, you don’t like anyone coming off of an injury like that, but if the price was right, he could be a diamond in the rough.
People seem to want to tie us to E.J. Henderson, but I’m just not buying it. As a veteran, it probably wouldn’t take him long to learn the system. But, really, having watched Pete Carroll and John Schneider thus far, what makes you think they’re going to go out of their way to sign a guy who’s been in the league for a decade? You can also throw guys like Aaron Maybin and London Fletcher into this mix. If the Seahawks wouldn’t re-sign Lawyer Milloy – given his productivity in the 2010 season, not to mention his leadership ability – they’re sure as shit not going after some of these aging scraps.
An interesting name, who’s not terribly old, is Brandon Johnson. He’s played for the Bengals for the last four seasons, and while his numbers aren’t all that impressive, he’s supposed to be stout against the run – something this team preaches in spades. If the Seahawks do opt for signing a veteran and getting the rest of their linebacking crop through rookies (and if Leroy Hill just HAS to go), then Brandon Johnson might be the safest bet.