The Mariners Are Cursed With Julio Rodriguez: Mediocre Superstar

You know what I’m sick of? Hearing about how “Julio is going to be fine.” I’m sick of people wondering about what he’s feeling. I’m sick of excuses like “he’s finding other ways to help the team.”

And I’m REAL fucking sick and tired of Julio having 2 fucking homers and slugging .306 on May fucking 25th of a God damn fucking Major League Baseball season.

Nice guy? I don’t give a shit! Good father? Fuck you, go home and play with your kids!

We’re not paying Julio over $200 million guaranteed to be a slap-hitting singles hitter batting 6th in the order who has the 9th-most strikeouts in baseball! Of course the Mariners would be cursed with this kind of “superstar”.

Do you know why the “he’ll be fine” argument doesn’t hold any water with me? Because it doesn’t make a fucking difference to me when he’s sucking dick for two straight months! One month of stud-level play per season isn’t part of the deal! And I don’t give a shit how much pressure this is for a young player. If you can’t handle the pressure, then don’t sign up to be this team’s franchise player! Go fucking pick blueberries on a farm in Montana if you don’t want the pressure. As far as Major League cities go, I would say Seattle is a pretty fucking forgiving one. Imagine what Yankees fans or Red Sox fans would be saying if they got this from Aaron Judge or whoever the fuck Boston has. They’d be FUCKING OUTRAGED! But, in Seattle, we’re worried about Julio’s fucking well-being.

Fuck that! Do better you piece of shit! Figure it the fuck out and let’s start winning some fucking baseball games! God fucking damn.

The Mariners Made A Somewhat Interesting, Minor Trade

It’s a trade so minor, not even Lookout Landing bothered to do a write-up on it (yet).

The Mariners acquired reliever Mike Baumann and minor league catcher Michael Perez from the Orioles, for minor league catcher Blake Hunt.

It kinda feels like that stupid Tik Tok thing, where I’m walking down the sidewalk and talking into my phone … “We’re Mariners fans! Of course we’re going to nit-pick to death even the most minuscule details of every trade!”

“We’re Mariners fans! Of course we believe guys only turn into good baseball players once they’ve left the organization!”

“We’re Mariners fans! Of course we can’t wait for the sweet release of death!”

By the way, I don’t actually have Tik Tok, but I do watch a stupid amount of Instagram Reels. Yet, even I know it’s a Tik Tok thing, because no one in their right mind talks about watching Instagram Reels. But, I digress.

I kinda want to like this deal, but I’ve got my foot caught in some netting that I just can’t pull myself free from. I understand the need to bolster our bullpen. In that sense, the addition of Mike Baumann feels like it at least has potential. Is he remarkably better than Cody Bolton, who was optioned to Tacoma? I dunno, we’ll see. I would say probably, but who knows? He’s been pretty darn good the last two seasons, and he’s only 28. But, if he’s so great, why did Baltimore DFA him recently (leading to this trade, because we wouldn’t be in line to claim him off waivers, given our overall record)? Especially when bullpen is their biggest weakness as a team?

The first thing I look at when it comes to pitchers is their ERA, because I’m a 43 year old man and I’m dumb. The second thing I look at is their strikeouts per 9. I feel like that’s one of the better dummy stats for relievers; shows you what kind of stuff they have and how good of an out-pitch they’ve got.

His ERA numbers are good; under 4 in 2023 and 2024. He had 8.5 SO/9 in 2023, and 7.9 this year (in a much smaller sample size). It’s good. Ideally, you want 9 or more (averaging a strikeout-plus per inning), but that’s fine. I will, of course, have to reserve judgment until I can see him actually pitch in a Mariners uniform, but it seems like this should be a value-add to the team.

What I don’t totally get are these shenanigans with the catcher position. Specifically the backup catcher spot.

We all know Cal Raleigh is great. But, the dude could use a break every once in a while! And the team could use someone who isn’t a total fucking waste of space. If you’re going to back up Cal Raleigh and you’re going to be a black hole in the lineup, the least you can do is be a whiz defensively! But, Seby Zavala is neither a remotely decent hitter, nor a remotely competent backstop. That kid from The Sandlot would be a better alternative!

Before we brought in Zavala, we traded for Blake Hunt (giving up Tatem “Don’t Call Me Lewis” Levins). Levins is still in A-ball with the Rays, so who knows if he’ll ever amount to anything. But, Hunt at least seemed promising. He was in AAA last year with the Rays, and has been a very pleasant surprise for the Tacoma Rainiers so far this year (slashing .293/.372/.533).

You’re telling me, right now, Blake Hunt isn’t an improvement over Seby Zavala? The same Seby Zavala who went into today’s game slashing .188/.212/.344? Frankly, it’s asinine that Zavala is here in the first place, and for what? Because he’s 5 years older than Hunt?

Now, Hunt goes to Baltimore, where he should be a significant improvement over the guy we got for him, Michael Perez. Perez who, at this point, is hardly even a AAA player. He looks as washed up as it gets, which isn’t the worst thing in the world as long as he stays in Tacoma. But, it looks like the Mariners found the one guy in professional baseball who’s more useless than Zavala.

I would take Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham over either of these guys. Hell, I would take Kevin Costner TODAY over them!

I wish I could find information on how much team control the M’s will have over Baumann. From what I could glean, he’s a pre-arbitration player, so that gives us a few years of team control. This only really works out if we can turn him into a leverage arm. With Brash gone, and Santos the biggest of question marks, we’re in desperate need of another leverage arm.

It does NOT work if Baumann is another Austin Voth or Cody Bolton-type. He needs to be better. He needs to slot most of the rest of the arms (not named Munoz or Stanek) down a rung. At that point, I think I’ll find a way to move beyond this backup catcher conundrum.

The Mariners Are About To Have A Terrible Road Trip

This 10-game road trip was always going to be a bear to get through. The Orioles and Yankees are two of the best teams in all of baseball, and the Nationals are no slouch. They have the kind of hitting that can cut through our elite pitching, and they just need live bodies to be able to keep our hitters at bay. But, they don’t just have live bodies, they also have very good pitching in their own right.

That’s kind of the thing I don’t think gets talked about enough with the Mariners. Yes, we have great pitching, and yes, over the long haul that’s going to keep us right in line with contention. But, other teams have great pitching too! They might not have 6 viable starters like we’ve got, but they’ve still got good-enough guys. Most – if not all – of these elite teams have at least 1 or 2 tip-top pitchers, maybe more. Even if they’re not one through five better than us, they’re close enough. And that’s all they need to be to best us in a 3- or 4-game series.

That’s all they’d need in a hypothetical 5- or 7-game playoff series.

Being so extremely one-dimensional can only take you so far. You need to be a complete team if you want to hang with the big boys. Otherwise, you just play teams tough, and maybe lose an 18-inning, 1-0 game.

Anyway, the Mariners lost 2 of 3 to Baltimore over the weekend. On Friday, Bryce Miller had a real stinker, giving up 5 runs in the first. He settled down enough to keep it at 5 runs through 5.1 innings, but then the D-squad bullpen guys gave up four more to lose it 9-2. Dylan Moore had a solo homer.

On Saturday, we had another Luis Castillo Quality Start (6 innings, 2 runs), which was good enough for a no decision, as he left the game down 2-0. We used our good relievers to try to keep it close and give our offense a chance, and thankfully they finally managed to show up and do their fucking jobs. 2 runs in the 7th (highlighed by a Ty France double) and 2 runs in the 8th (with Cal Raleigh and Dylan Moore RBI doubles) gave us a 4-2 lead. Andres Munoz gave up a harmless solo homer, but netted his 8th save of the season.

That brought us to Sunday, where we lost 6-3. George Kirby gave up 5 runs in 6 innings, they had their ace on the hill, and we finished 2 for 9 with RISP. That’s the difference between the Orioles and the Mariners. I feel like they can shut us down whenever they want, but our pitchers are going to continually struggle against their top tier hitting.

Now, we go to New York to face the Yankees, where I fully expect us to lose a minimum of 3 games; maybe all 4. This is the part of the season where things start going from bad to worse. If I were a betting man, I’d be betting the Taylor Family Farm on the Yankees, and raking in the winnings.

What Do We Do With Another Seahawks Schedule?

Every year, I get a little less excited about the NFL and their Schedule Release Day. I will say that I think a significant part of that has to do with the Seahawks themselves. We’re staring down the barrel of another 9-ish win season. I don’t care how you shuffle the deck, a middling finish is what we’re in for. So, let’s look at it, so we can talk about it.

  • Week 1 – Denver
  • Week 2 – @ New England
  • Week 3 – Miami
  • Week 4 – @ Detroit (MNF)
  • Week 5 – N.Y. Giants
  • Week 6 – San Francisco (TNF)
  • Week 7 – @ Atlanta
  • Week 8 – Buffalo
  • Week 9 – L.A. Rams
  • Week 10 – BYE
  • Week 11 – @ San Francisco
  • Week 12 – Arizona
  • Week 13 – @ N.Y. Jets
  • Week 14 – @ Arizona
  • Week 15 – Green Bay (SNF)
  • Week 16 – Minnesota
  • Week 17 – @ Chicago (TNF)
  • Week 18 – @ L.A. Rams

As a fan of football, I think this has the potential to be a fun slate of games. The AFC East is predominantly in the zeitgeist, the NFC North is one of the up-and-coming divisions, the NFC West is obviously a killer, and the Falcons are like the story of the offseason! The only real duds in this mix are the Broncos and Giants (easily the two boringest teams of their respective divisions).

And, if you play the game-by-game … game, we have the potential for a lot of interesting opponents. Again, there are minimal duds as opponents. Not a lot of easy wins. Denver, New England, and the Giants all in the first five games is kinda cool; that should get us out to a pretty hot start (especially if we can steal one from Miami or Detroit).

There’s no real Murderer’s Row stretch, unless you look at those three opponents around our BYE week, but the Bills and Rams are at home, back to back, and the Niners will be after a week off, which is something. That being said, our 8-game stretch after the BYE week has us on the road 5 times, including 4 in the last 6 weeks.

But, we got some favors with this schedule too. We have that 3-week stretch at home (including the BYE), and we also have a home game immediately preceeding our first Thursday Night game (also at home, against the 49ers). That’s a pretty sick advantage, against an important opponent.

Is anyone else weirded out that we have TWO Thursday games? I also don’t love that our only Sunday Night game is so late in the season; that’s prime Flexing territory!

Anyway, let’s go through it real quick and make a prediction.

I’ve got the Seahawks starting 4-1, with the aforementioned wins against Denver, New England, and the Giants. I’ll also take us against the Lions, while dropping that home game to Miami.

From there, I see a 1-3 stretch, with losses to the 49ers, Bills, and Rams (all at home), while barely eking one out down in Atlanta. That puts us at 5-4 heading into the BYE week.

I’ve got us going 2-2 in the next four games, with losses to the 49ers (on the road) and Cardinals (at home), followed by wins at the Jets and Cardinals to bring us back to 7-6.

Then, it’s another 2-2 stretch, with wins at home over the Packers and Vikings, and losses on the road to the Bears and Rams. 9-8, as it was meant to be.

The Mariners Won An Important Series Against The Royals

The Mariners needed to come home and go 4-2 or better. And that’s just what they did, go 4-2, winning both series against the A’s and Royals. Now, they get Thursday off, before a 10-game road trip in 10 days, followed by another 7 games in 7 days at home. 17 in a row. Why Major League Baseball does this is asinine, but nobody put me in charge of scheduling.

George Kirby got us off to a great start on Monday, going 7 shutout innings, giving up only 3 hits, while striking out 6. There was another stutter by Ryne Stanek, which necessitated an Andres Munoz 4-out save, but we got the job done, winning 6-2.

Ty France had 2 hits, including a late homer to give us some insurance runs. Cal Raleigh also had two hits and an RBI. And, don’t look now, but Luke Raley has been fucking RAKING; he went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI, 2 runs, and a homer. At this point, he’s easily the hottest hitter on the team, and you absolutely can’t keep him out of the lineup.

Tuesday’s game was a bitter pill to swallow, in spite of yet another Luke Raley homer staking us to a 1-0 lead. For a while, it looked like that might be good enough, as Logan Gilbert was on one. But, sadly, with two outs in the 7th, he gave up a 3-run home run to earn the loss.

Julio had a couple hits, and Mitch Haniger finally broke out with a 3 for 3 day with a homer, but a 4-2 defeat was all she wrote.

We managed to win 4-2 on Wednesday. Bryan Woo went 5.1 innings, giving up only 1 run (though leaving with a bit of a jam on his hands in the 6th). Gabe Speier got him out of it, though, and the bullpen was pretty great from there. Except for Austin Voth, who could only manage one out in the 8th, necessitating another multi-inning save from Munoz. This time of the 5-out variety. He did it! But, clearly, the loss of Brash and Santos is going to take its toll sooner or later.

We had another two hits from Raley, another homer from France, and we even saw the return of Dominic Canzone (who hit a double and scored a run). Even better, barring a setback tonight in Tacoma, J.P. Crawford should be back in the lineup on Friday.

We’re really separating the men from the boys on this road trip. The Orioles and Yankees are phenomenal, and the Nationals are hovering around .500. If we can get out of this with a 5-5 record or better, I think that’s huge. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see our pitching start to show some cracks in the armor. With the offense still waiting around for summer to get going.

The M’s Bounced Back Against The A’s

Kind of a weird weekend series for the Mariners. I don’t think ANY of the three games went as we might expect.

Friday night saw the return of Bryan Woo. As it happened, 2024 Woo looked a lot like 2023 Woo. A lot of fastballs, a lot of strikes, pretty reasonable pitch count; on the downside, he ended up getting tight in the fifth inning and had to be pulled (4.1 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 K’s). It won’t equate to another IL stint (just yet), but it is pretty concerning. Even more concerning is that this isn’t the first time he’s had this feeling on his way back to full strength.

On the good side, his arm tightened up because he had to rest so long between the fourth and fifth innings, because the Mariners were scoring so many runs. I think it’s a fair trade; give me 8 runs, I’ll suffer a starter not being able to go five full innings. Dylan Moore kicked some fuckin’ ass in this one, going 3 for 4 with a homer and 5 RBI. Ty France bounced back with two hits (including a 2-RBI double), and Luke Raley also chipped in with an RBI double and 2 runs scored.

It was nice to get the win, and not have to use anyone of import out in the bullpen, on what could’ve otherwise been an ugly night. Instead, that ugliness ended up taking place on Saturday, as we lost by an identical 8-1 score.

We were limited to 3 hits and 0 walks, which is how you waste a perfectly good Bryce Miller Quality Start (6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts). But, the bullpen did us no favors, with Stanek giving up a run, Speier giving up 2 runs, and Bazardo (back from AAA) giving up 3 runs.

The Mariners’ offense bounced right back, though, scoring 8 more on Sunday to win 8-4. Julio had two hits with a homer, Garver also had two hits with a homer, even the backup catcher got in on the action with his first homer of the season. Pair that with a Luis Castillo Quality Start (6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts) and some competent bullpen work, and you get out of the weekend with a series win.

In other news, I called it with Matt Brash. He had surgery recently and is out for the year. What I wasn’t expecting was Gregory Santos not being back until maybe July. That’s rough. That makes me think this team probably needs to acquire another bullpen arm or two.

In some good news, J.P. Crawford is getting ready to go out on a rehab assignment. And I think I heard something about Dom Canzone swinging a bat down in extended spring training. So, you know, that’s something.

The Mariners Finally Did Lose Another Series

We lost 3-1 over in Minnesota. Could be a big one, in the grand scheme of things, if we’re both in contention for the same wild card spot. We’ll see.

This series was really lost in game one, when we couldn’t muster more than a single run in a 3-1 defeat. Our offense had all of 3 hits and 2 walks, with 14 strikeouts; ’nuff said.

The offense only came to play once this series, in game two, in a 10-6 victory. And even that was kickstarted late, with a pinch hit, 7th inning grand slam by Cal Raleigh to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead. The Twins managed to tie it up over the subsequent two innings, but we rallied for 4 more in the top of the 9th to shut it down.

That ended up being Emerson Hancock’s last start for the Mariners for a while; he went 4 innings and gave up 4 runs. Here’s the rundown on his initial stint with the team in 2024:

  • 7 games, 3-3 record, 5.24 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 34.1 IP, 23 K, 11 BB

He had 3 Quality Starts in that span, but also 3 starts where he failed to reach 5 innings. There’s a need for him to continue working on his secondary pitches, and also a need for him to be a little sounder with the strike zone. You also can’t help but notice the stark contrast between him and the other four starters, especially when it comes to strikeouts. That’s going to be challenging for him as he’s leading the team in runners on the basepaths.

It’ll be nice to have Bryan Woo back; he’s rocking a 0.00 ERA across three starts with Tacoma; in 11.1 innings he has a whopping 17 strikeouts. Part of me kinda hoped he would have one more start to really ramp up his arm, but with the way Hancock’s been going his last two outings, this might be the perfect time. Add in the fact that he gets a relatively soft landing with Oakland coming to town (certainly a better team than they were last year, but by no means world beaters), I think this will be all right.

Anyway, getting back, the Mariners lost game three 6-3, with George Kirby giving up 4 hits, 3 of them homers. And, of course, the offense couldn’t save him, going 1/7 with RISP.

The Thursday matinee was a nightmare we’d all love to forget, though it WAS nice of them to make the game so non-competitive so early, so we could all get some much-needed work done. 11-1, with Logan Gilbert having one of the worst starts in his career (8 runs in 4 innings).

That’s a 3-4 road trip. Not the end of the world, but obviously not ideal. Texas has reclaimed first place in the A.L. West by 1.5 games; and, yes, I am going to keep track of this all year (unless we fall so far out of it that it stops making sense), so get used to it.

The problem is the offense. It stinks. No one but Cal is hitting for power. People are losing patience in Ty France. Polanco is being dropped in the order. Garver is struggling like we all expected he would. Rojas is still the best player on the team (and that really says it all, doesn’t it?). I will say that Luke Raley appears to be coming around, and we might be entering a phase where he and France enter into a time-share at first base (with France being limited to only facing lefties).

We have an interesting homestand on our hands. Oakland for three, then KC for three. Both teams are doing much better than anyone expected. By the same token, it would be nice to knock them both down a peg, because shit starts getting real on our next road trip: 10 games in 10 days at the Orioles, Yankees, and Nationals. Then, no days off as we fly from D.C. back home to face the Astros and Angels for seven more. Yep, 17 games without an off-day; buckle up!

Everyone’s Lost Their Minds Over The Falcons Taking Michael Penix

It speaks volumes that there could be so many interesting storylines to come out of the NFL Draft, but all anyone wanted to talk about in the immediate aftermath of the first round was Michael Penix out of the University of Washington, going 8th overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

What started as “GASP! Penix went in the top 10!” soon devolved into “LOL the Falcons sure are dumb!”

I’ll give it this much: the pick is provocative. The Falcons did, after all, just sign Kirk Cousins to a 4-year, $180 million contract with $100 million of that guaranteed. There’s a Broncos/Russell Wilson-level amount of dead cap in the first two years, followed by a Seahawks/Russell Wilson-level amount of dead cap in the third year, before it gets easier to swallow after that. But, with the NFL in the throes of its Dead Cap Era – with teams being more and more willing to honk off a gigantic amount of cap space towards getting rid of players they no longer want – clearly this is not seen as a significant issue any longer, and we probably shouldn’t use it as an argument for or against anything anymore.

When something big like this happens for some other team’s fanbase, I try to put myself in their shoes and see how they’d feel. Granted, I don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of the Falcons’ franchise. I don’t know what their needs are. They have elite players at wide receiver, tight end, and running back; they have the aforementioned Cousins, the prize of this offseason’s free agent quarterback class. Could they have used, say, the third-best offensive tackle? Could they have used their pick of the best defensive players (all still available at 8)? Could they have traded down for a bounty of picks (after no one ahead of them did so) and really bolstered the rest of their roster? I don’t have the answers for you; any of those options seem like a preferable scenario, if the team truly believed in Kirk Cousins, and was in Win Now mode.

This feels like the Falcons had immediate Buyer’s Remorse with Cousins. He’s on the wrong side of 35, he’s coming off of a devastating injury, and even at his best, it’s not like he was ever considered among the elites. He’s a Very Good NFL Quarterback; you have to really hope there’s some Matthew Stafford in him, to get the kind of production you want. There’s no “value” with Cousins, because he’s leveraged his talents towards costing the absolute most money he could possibly cost; it’s only worth it if he brings you a championship. And, so far for 12 years, he’s failed to do so.

In that sense, I can understand why the Falcons did what they did. They’re trying to set themselves up for as much success as they can. They’re trying to initiate a succession plan. Cousins isn’t going to be there forever. The odds of him finishing out the life of this contract seemed slim-to-none, even before Penix was picked. What happens if he tears another ACL? What happens if he’s just cooked after two years? If the Falcons didn’t have Penix in their back pocket, they’d be in the same spot so many other teams are in: shit out of luck, scrambling to find their next guy. Or, if you will, the same spot they were in after 2021.

They didn’t have a plan for the post-Matt Ryan years. He slowly went downhill over his last few seasons in Atlanta, then he was gone, and in 2022 and 2023, the Falcons had nothing. They scrambled and took Desmond Ridder in the third round in 2022, who is not an NFL quarterback, and they surrounded him with never-was’s like Marcus Mariota and Taylor Heinicke. Granted, the teams around those quarterbacks weren’t very good either – other than the highly-drafted skill position guys they kept taking with every first round pick – but that was an unsustainable way to run a team. They needed to make a splash on the quarterback position, and they did it in spades in 2024.

If I was a Falcons fan, I’d be happy with the choice to take Penix, because I would know – either way – we’ve got a good chance of having success at the quarterback position. After what’s happened since they blew the Super Bowl, shit, give me ALL the quarterbacks!

In a perfect world, of course, the Falcons never would’ve signed Cousins in the first place. But, that would have required them to be in on Penix from the get-go. Clearly, the front office needed to take this time in the offseason to do their due diligence. Had they not signed Cousins, though, then they could’ve used those hundreds of millions of dollars to sign every other free agent out there. And, even if they were worried about Penix falling to them, that was silly. He was never going higher than 8th. If they were really concerned about that, they would’ve traded up.

The only person who deserves to be upset is Penix. He’s a 24 year old rookie, and now he has to sit behind Cousins for a minimum of two years (unless, of course, Cousins gets hurt). That’ll put him at 26 years old, conservatively, before he’s projected to ascend to the starting job. You can point to Aaron Rodgers’ career arc all you want, but he had to sit three years, and he was still only 25 when he took over for Favre.

What happens if Cousins does really well in the next two years? What happens if he sticks for a third season? Then, you’re talking about a 27 year old Penix taking over, and having one year (plus a 5th year option) to try to prove himself. He’s extremely hamstrung in his ability to maximize his second contract, if Cousins ends up panning out. Plus, his development is sure to be stunted, if he has to sit for 2-3 years.

As a Penix lifer, it’s going to suck to watch him have to sit for so long. I’m not one to promote rooting for injuries, so here’s to Kirk Cousins either getting traded or calling it an early career!

Nothing Is More Important To The Long-Term Greatness Of The Seahawks Than The Offensive Line

I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of where this defense is headed. As I noted before, I think there can be some immediate and impactful developments with the new coaching staff and a few player additions. Am I still worried about the defense? Of course. But, if I had to rank the units I’m most worried about, the defense wouldn’t be at the top.

If you asked the fans, they’d probably be the most confident in the wide receiver room, followed by the running backs. We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money pumping up our skill position guys; they should be fine.

I also think, if you polled the fans, they’d probably have Starting Quarterback as their biggest concern, for good reason. Backup Quarterback? We’re solid. But, the worry here is the fact that we’ve got two very good-to-elite backup quarterbacks, but neither are good-to-elite starters.

As we always talk about, though, there are ways around this problem. You can get by with a Just Okay quarterback, if you’ve got the kind of elite talent everywhere else to make up for it (especially the offensive and defensive lines). Look at the 49ers last year. Granted, they ran into the buzzsaw that is Patrick Mahomes, but the 49ers gave the Chiefs everything they could handle.

If the Seahawks can replicate on defense what the Ravens were able to do under Mike Macdonald, I don’t see any reason to doubt his abilities in whipping that side of the ball into shape. And, with our lack of an elite passer holding us back, that means there’s only one area of concern we have to get right, if we’re ever going to be a serious contender for the Super Bowl in the next five years.

The offensive line is the single most important unit on this team. If we can’t do better than what we’ve done from 2015-2023, we’re never going to go anywhere. BUT, if there’s a way for the Seahawks to build a young, impressive O-Line and keep them together for a few years in a row? Then I would say the sky is the limit for this team.

The offensive line is what makes the team go. In that sense, I’m right there with Jim Harbaugh in his line of thinking. Offensive linemen ARE skill position guys. So, what are we looking at for 2024?

Assuming health is not an issue, we’re going to roll with our bookend tackles of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Cross, I would say, has been good-not-great. He’s never showing up on PFF lists or talked about like some of the other elite left tackles in the league, and I would say that’s a problem. We took him 9th overall, that guy NEEDS to be talked about in the same breath as the game’s best. This will be his third year in the league, so it’s now or never. Because going forward, he’ll be looking for his second contract. The best of the best get that taken care of before they hit their fourth season. If we have to go into next year not knowing if he’s even worth the fifth year option, I’m going to be extremely upset.

As for Lucas, obviously he missed most of last year with a chronic knee injury. By all accounts, he’ll be ready for training camp, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Based on what the Seahawks did in the draft and free agency, I think they feel the same way.

As veteran insurance, we have George Fant (newly signed to a 2-year deal) and Stone Forsythe (entering into the final season of his rookie contract). Fant is obviously a known quantity, and a very good backup plan for either tackle spot, should the injury bug hit. Forsythe, I think, played better than expected last year. But, he also seemed to be overwhelmed at times, and the team definitely sped up the offense to take some of the strain off of this line. Was that more because of Forsythe’s ineptitude? Or the interior linemen replacements? Or a combination? My guess is that Forsythe will enter training camp as this team’s fourth (and final) tackle, but will need to work his ass off to keep his job, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him cut at the end of the pre-season.

As younger insurance, we have two sixth round draft picks in Sataoa Laumea and Michael Jerrell. We’ve also got a couple of practice squad-ish type guys we signed to battle it out this year, but obviously I’m more interested in the rookies. I don’t think BOTH of the rookies will make the team out of camp, but one certainly might. Laumea obviously has a lot of fans out there among the amateur scouts who did their research on this draft class. Of course, there’s always a chance that he slides inside and competes for guard, which a lot of people think will be his destiny. As for Jerrell, he’s as big of an unknown as it gets. So, given that, maybe we shouldn’t quite discount his chances. After all, he chose to go to a smaller school and stay there, rather than move up in the college ranks. He might actually be great! We don’t know.

With the guards and center spots, it looks like an absolute free-for-all. Laken Tomlinson is the only veteran of the bunch, but he’s here on a cheap one-year deal, and he’s never really been a star in this league. The Jets signed him to some reasonably-big money in 2022, but he obviously didn’t make it to the end of that 3-year deal, so how good could he be?

The obvious starter in the interior is third round draft pick Christian Haynes, but at this point, we don’t know where that’s going to be. I think someone said he was a right guard in college, but that he’s smart and talented enough to play on the left side. Someone on the radio even suggested he might be converted to play center, so who the hell knows? Tomlinson, apparently, is a left guard, but again, he has no guarantees.

There’s also a holdover in Anthony Bradford, who got some play as a rookie last year. Clearly, he didn’t impress enough to win himself a job with that effort, but he’ll obviously be in the mix. I hope, for his sake, that he put in a ton of work this offseason, as there likely won’t be a more important period in his professional life.

An interesting name – aside from some of the other practice squad pick-ups we’ve got as likely camp fodder – is Tremayne Anchrum, who has been with the Rams the last few years. He was by no means a regular for them, but does have some experience, which could at least give him a leg-up as a backup.

Then, that takes us to the center spot, which looks like a two-man race at the moment. We’ve got holdover Olu Oluwatimi (a rookie last year, who also got some playing time taking over for injured guys) and newly signed Nick Harris (a former Husky who has spent most of his professional career on injured reserve with the Browns). I would think this is Olu’s job to lose, but again, the whispers of Haynes sliding over and joining that competition are pretty interesting. I don’t think that happens unless Olu looks bad, or if we’re just so strong at guard, we don’t necessarily NEED Haynes there. Regardless, I see Haynes as a starter for this team for the next 4 years.

Everyone else? Your guess is as good as mine. Ideally Cross will take the next step and be worthy of a big money left tackle contract, that crosses off two spots on the line. Even if Lucas manages to play through his knee all year, I have serious doubts about him sticking around for a second contract. Right tackle is going to need to be addressed (if it hasn’t already with one of these young guys we snagged).

My hope is, with Ryan Grubb’s scheme, and Scott Huff coaching them up, our neverending O-Line woes will finally be part of the past. But, they need to get this figured out in a hurry. Because I don’t want to be sitting here five years from now lamenting the fact that our offensive line is STILL the God damn worst.

What Is This Seahawks Defensive Line Going To Look Like With Byron Murphy?

There’s really two questions built into the one overarching question posed in the title. First of all: what is Byron Murphy’s ceiling, both in year one, and overall? And secondly, what is the ceiling of the 2024 incarnation of the Seahawks’ defensive line?

What we’re hoping for is that Byron Murphy is one of those highly impactful interior defensive linemen that can wreck a game, and otherwise needs ample resources devoted to stopping him. There are a couple of different ways to look at that. Is he Aaron Donald (or, at least, an Aaron Donald Type, who is great from the moment he steps onto the field) or is he Geno Atkins (who didn’t do much his rookie year, before developing into a steady Pro Bowler – and occasional All Pro – when he was healthy, in year two and beyond)? That’s going to make a big difference on the outlook of this season.

I don’t think anyone would complain if Murphy turned into an Atkins type of player in year two, but obviously it would be disappointing to not get much from him as a rookie. Because, if he can fulfill his potential earlier rather than later, there’s a lot of talent around him to really get this thing going.

We’ve got Leonard Williams, who is not at his peak, but is still playing at prime levels (though, obviously, every year going forward has a chance to be worse than the one before it; he is going into his age 30 season, after all). We’ve got Jarran Reed, who really had a fantastic year last year and harkened back to his very best days as a Seahawk. We’ve got Dre’Mont Jones, who is on a big money contract, and is looking to bounce back from a pedestrian showing in 2023; I have no doubt he’s still got the goods, but he just needs to be utilized correctly (which was never going to happen under Clint Hurtt & Co.). We’ve got very good outside pass rushers in Uchenna Nwosu and Boye Mafe (Nwosu had 9.5 sacks in 2022 before being injured last year; Mafe had 9.0 sacks in his second season as a pro, and is looking to take the next step in his development into potential stardom). We’ve got Darrell Taylor heading into a contract season (who has 21.5 sacks across three years, and is certainly capable of being a menace on the outside). And, we’ve got a lot of potentially-promising young talent in Derick Hall, Cam Young, and Mike Morris, who might never amount to anything, but could always surprise us.

Even discounting the unproven guys on this roster, there’s still a TON of talent here, potentially capable of rushing the passer like nothing we’ve ever seen before. And, with the new scheme, and the influx of Murphy, they should be better able to stop the run than they’ve been the last few years.

The thing is, this defensive line could be an All Time Great Unit if Murphy turns out to be elite from the get-go. It should still be really good even if he isn’t there yet, but obviously, it would be a lot cooler if he ends up being worth the pick of being the top DT in this draft class.

Of course, I say that, but how true is it really? If Murphy is Just A Guy, how is this D-Line any different than it was a year ago? Well, I’m putting A LOT of the heavy lifting on Mike Macdonald and this coaching staff and scheme. I think having Leonard Williams all the way through, with a full year of Nwosu, and positioning Dre’Mont Jones more on the outside where he can have a bigger impact in setting the edge, while still being able to rush the passer, will all translate to better production as a whole.

Like I said, though, if it takes Murphy a year to get going, it’s not the end of the world. Does anyone expect these 2024 Seahawks to win the division or make the Super Bowl? If you do, you probably need to adjust your thinking. The 49ers are still the class of the division. The Cowboys and Eagles are still very good. The Lions and Bears and even the Packers are probably in better spots than we are right now. And, for as dysfunctional as the Falcons are as an organization, regardless of who they have at quarterback, they still have a lot of talent on that roster.

But, what I’m excited about more than anything is having Murphy learn from guys like Williams and Reed and Jones. From just a mentor standpoint, I don’t know if it gets a lot better than those guys. He doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be The Man from day one. There are not just veterans, but established and talented veterans ahead of him, who can guide him on how to be a pro, and to be a pro the right way. So, when he eventually does have to slide into being The Man, he’ll be ready that much faster to take over.

Suffice it to say, I’m pretty excited to see what this defense is going to look like. The inside linebackers are a huge question mark, and there isn’t a ton going on at safety. But, with a solid defensive line, and with our talent at cornerback, combined with a proper scheme that should put these guys in better positions to succeed, I don’t think there’s any question the defense can be middle-of-the-pack or better.