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.

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.

The Seahawks Had An Unexciting Draft This Year

It’s interesting to go through the years – dating back to 2010, because I’m less into the idea of going back to the wild west days and trying to decipher a through-line – and see where things went right and where they went wrong. Obviously, the 2010-2012 drafts were epic and life-changing. But, there’s a real argument to be made that every single draft since then has been a failure.

Just scroll through this. Let’s leave 2022-2024 out of it, because there’s just not enough information to make a sound judgment in such a short period of time. But, 2013-2021? I think Seahawks fans with rose-colored glasses will say there have been peaks and valleys in our draft classes in this span. 2013 was pretty miserable and I don’t think anyone can really defend it at this point. But, if you want to think positively, you can say they’ve consistently found role players, contributors, and even starters.

In 2014, they got an offensive line starter in Justin Britt; in 2015, there was Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett. In 2016, there’s Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed; in 2017, there’s Ethan Pocic and Shaquill Griffin. In 2018, you’re looking at Michael Dickson and Will Dissly; in 2019 there’s D.K. Metcalf. You could say 2020 was the start of a rebound by this organization, with guys like Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and Damien Lewis rounding things out; but, also, almost this entire class is on other teams, and the three picks in 2021 produced absolutely no one.

Not a lot of second contracts in Seattle among this bunch. Lockett, Metcalf, and Dickson are the three greatest Seahawks draft picks since 2013. Everyone else were just role players, or able bodies who ate up an offensive line spot. But, no one has really flashed. No one has stood out. It’s all been pretty middling talent, which has led to middling results for this team.

I’m willing to believe in the 2022 and 2023 classes, because I think there’s a lot of meat on the bone. Charles Cross can still be great. Boye Mafe really took a big step in year two. Kenneth Walker is a fuckin’ stud. Abe Lucas, when healthy, can be a beast. Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen can be ball hawks in the right scheme. Devon Witherspoon clearly has All Pro type talent. Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be amazing if he’s unleashed in the right offense. Derick Hall has the body type to do great things, Zach Charbonnet flashed true elite greatness as a rookie, Anthony Bradford could be a mauler at guard, Cam Young and Mike Morris could be big bodies in a solid D-Line rotation, and Olu Oluwatimi figures to be in a battle for this year’s starting center job as a fifth round pick in his second season. That’s a lot of potential greatness just waiting to be unleashed by the right coaching staff.

But, then again, we’ve already seen the writing on the wall that many of these guys could be busts. Should it really take a left tackle in Charles Cross 3+ years to develop into a star? Shouldn’t that guy enter the league ready to take it by storm? You’ve got two second-round running backs in there, a devalued position that’s frequently getting itself injured. Speaking of injuries, Lucas appears to have a chronic knee issue, and it can only be a matter of time before Witherspoon – with the way he attacks players with reckless abandon – plays himself out of the league a la Jamal Adams. If Kam Chancellor had to retire early due to medicals, what makes you think some tiny dude like Witherspoon is going to last very long into a second contract? JSN sure looked pedestrian for his rookie season as the #1 receiver drafted; Mafe and Hall could both be one-trick ponies unable to set an edge or play at all against the run. There’s whispers about Woolen’s toughness and ability to stay healthy; I could go on and on picking these draft classes apart.

The thing is, I really want to believe in John Schneider. I want to believe it was Pete Carroll putting his foot down and leading to the worst personnel decisions of the last decade. But, I dunno. The last three draft classes – including this one that took place over the weekend – have had decidedly different feels compared to the ones that came before. It’s really felt like a Best Player Available festival, which is a strategy I hold near and dear to my heart. But, if we proceed to spend the next 3-5 years finishing at or around .500, without any real charge towards Super Bowl contention, then I think it will be pretty obvious that this front office doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing any more than any other front office, and 2010-2012 will be seen as flukes more than anything else.

***

That’s a lot of preamble – and a negative one at that – to get to what I actually thought was a pretty smart draft by the Seahawks. If there’s ever going to be a draft that seriously turns things around for this franchise, it’s going to be one that features a lot of bulk along the line of scrimmage, and absolutely nothing with any of the skill positions.

What have we been complaining about for years? Even during the Super Bowl years, what were we after? Elite defensive tackles who can rush the passer and be a force in the middle against the run. From 2013-2019, we drafted 12 guys who were either DT’s or plus-sized DE’s who we wanted to slide inside on passing downs; those were all some of our greatest busts. Malik McDowell, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Naz Jones, Jesse Williams, Demarcus Christmas; the list goes on and on. Jarran Reed was the only guy worth a damn in that bunch, and even he wasn’t worth it – in the minds of this front office – to spend on that second contract he received. Defensive tackle has been a fucking wasteland for this franchise, and if it wasn’t for Michael Bennett sliding inside during the glory years, we’d be talking about spanning multiple decades of futility.

So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about Byron Murphy. I’m also justifiably reserved in my excitement, because while it’s great to say we got the best all-around defensive lineman in this class, you also can’t deny that we got him with the 16th pick. The NFL deemed 15 other guys better than him. I know a lot of those teams had more pressing needs – mostly on the offensive side of the ball, what with the first 14 picks going that way – but if there was a true juggernaut, no-doubter of a defensive behemoth ready to plug-and-play as a future All Pro and maybe even Hall of Famer, there’s no way that player would’ve fallen to 16. You think Will Anderson – had he left for the NFL this year – would’ve been there for us? Or Aidan Hutchinson, or Chase Young, or Nick Bosa, or Quinnen Williams? I don’t think so.

I think the odds are a lot better that Byron Murphy was the best of a very weak defensive line class, than he’s a future game-wrecker in the mold of Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins. He’ll probably be good, but I’m not holding my breath waiting around for him to be great. As long as he’s not a fucking turd like just about every other defensive tackle we’ve drafted in the last decade, I’ll be happy.

One of the big problems with this draft is how it laid out for the Seahawks. This was a top-heavy draft, with an extremely thin bunch of players in Day 3. If ever there was a draft to select your next punter, kicker, or even long-snapper, this was the one. And, unfortunately for us – when all was said and done – only two of our eight picks were in the first three rounds, where the odds were best we’d actually find useful players. Even though we traded down once – at the top of the fourth round, to get an extra sixth, I think – we didn’t have any sort of capital to make the kinds of moves necessary to give us back the second rounder we lost in the Leonard Williams deal. Had we traded out of 16, we likely would’ve missed out on the last remaining true impact players. Would that have been worth a pick in the mid-20’s and mid-50’s? Probably not.

So, instead, we stuck at 16, took the best player available, and had a LOOOOOONG wait until pick 81 in the third round.

Where we took Christian Haynes, a quality guard who figures to start right away, and might even convert to center, to give us more beef at that spot than we’ve had since Max Unger. I don’t know how good a lineman is from UConn, but draftniks seem to like him, so that’s good enough for me.

I hear the inside linebacker we got from UTEP in the fourth round, Tyrice Knight, is more of a project than a guy we can plug and play. I’m assuming we missed out on the linebacker we actually wanted, and settled for this guy because that was a particular need (one of the few instances where we probably went away from our BPA strategy). I don’t expect Knight to be much of anything.

I also don’t expect much out of our other fourth rounder, A.J. Barner, tight end out of Michigan, but for very different reasons. I actually like the pick, because it sounds like he’s one of the better blocking tight ends in this class, and that was certainly a position of need. If we can get tougher at that position, I’m all for it, because it’s almost like drafting another lineman. He’s probably NOT the stone-hands catcher we’re all imagining, but he’s also not going to drastically improve this offense with his receiving. But, if he opens up holes in the running game, and gives our quarterback a little extra time to make a throw, he’s exactly the kind of tight end I want on my roster.

With our last four picks, we took two cornerbacks from Auburn, and two more offensive line projects. It certainly seems strange to invest so heavily in cornerback depth, when there’s no realistic way we can keep all these guys on our roster (Witherspoon, Woolen, Brown, Jackson, the two rookies, Artie Burns, Coby Bryant (unless we’re still turning him into a safety)), but maybe we’re looking to wheel and deal during training camp. Or, maybe some hard cuts are a-comin’. Either way, until further notice, guys like Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James are just camp fodder, and probably practice squad-bound, unless they really stand out as special teamers.

As for the O-Line projects, we got a widebody from Utah named Sataoa Laumea, and some no-name guy from Findlay who goes by Michael Jerrell. Laumea, by all accounts, is the more interesting of the two, as he could conceivably have a shot at contending for a starting spot. Jerrell might as well already be on the practice squad, but I’m not going to hold that against him.

We took three offensive linemen in this draft, that’s not lost on me. I think that’s a huge development for this team. Not that they’ve neglected the O-Line, necessarily. They’re always taking bites at the apple. But, they’ve also failed so miserably for so long, while getting by with middling production from guys on rookie deals. It’s nice to see they haven’t given up. There’s a way to build this unit up from the draft; other teams do it all the time. You need your foundational guys like Charles Cross to pan out, but you also need your mid-rounders like Lucas and Haynes and Bradford and Laumea to develop in a hurry and take the world by storm. I want to be the team that’s the envy of fans across the league. I want them to look at the Seahawks and think, “How do they keep finding these diamonds in the rough later in the draft?!” It’s nice to do it at cornerback and wide receiver, but when you can do it on the O-Line, you’ve really got something.

Half of this draft went to the line of scrimmage; when you throw in a primarily blocking tight end, and an inside linebacker who’s going to have to attack that LOS on the regular, that’s 3/4 of your draft going to the most important non-quarterback spots on the team. If we’re ever going to turn this thing around, it’s either going to be by finding another transcendent quarterback, or by killing it everywhere else. Since we’re bound and determined to ignore QB in the draft every fucking year, then we’ve gotta start putting in work on Plan B. Devoting the bulk of your draft to the LOS, while signing Leonard Williams to a long-term extension, and bringing back George Fant to be offensive tackle depth, is a great start to that process.

Now, let’s check back in three years and see if this class – and any of the others that came before it – are worth a damn.

The Seahawks Should Draft Football Players This Week

The run-up to the NFL Draft (starting this Thursday, while I’ll be on a flight to Minnesota for a wedding, meaning I will miss 100% of the draft this weekend) can be pretty interesting and fun. It’s the time of the year where your team can make considerable strides; of course, it’s also the time of year when your main rivals can ALSO make considerable strides.

My level of interest, however, is directly proportional to how high the Seahawks are picking in the first round (and, of course, it’s exponentially higher the more times they draft in the first round). When the Seahawks find themselves in the Top 10 or Top 5, I’m VERY interested. When the Seahawks are in the 20’s – because they’ve made yet another fruitless playoff “run” – I couldn’t care less.

At 16? And then with no pick until round 3 (81 overall)? Ehh.

I’m medium interested. Because at the 16th overall pick – with 4 quarterbacks sure to go before us, and maybe upwards of 6, depending on how crazy teams get with it – there is guaranteed to be an impactful player waiting for us.

But, I think I know this team. I think they don’t like only having seven selections in this draft. I think they absolutely abhor not having a second rounder, or having more picks on Friday in general. I could be wrong, of course. John Schneider could be thrilled with someone at 16, take him, and put his phone away until late Friday. But, something tells me he’s planning on trading down, accumulating more Day Two picks, and really making a run at multiple spots.

Then there’s the age old question: who should the Seahawks take? Or, without getting into specific names, what positions should they target?

There’s a lot of chatter about the Seahawks taking a quarterback in this draft, particularly at 16, when Michael Penix might be available, or perhaps Bo Nix, if he’s their cup of tea. I highly doubt that’s happening. While I would be thrilled to see Penix here (and fine with Nix), I just don’t think that’s in their plans at all.

Similarly, if a stud defensive lineman were sitting there – pushed down the board by the high number of QBs, WRs, and OTs going in the top 15 – I would be over the moon for the Seahawks to grab him! But, again, the Seahawks have done a lot in that area to shore it up with veterans, and prior-year draft picks. In spite of the need to have a dominant D-Line, especially in this division, I just don’t think that’s going to be where this group decides to go.

Frankly, after the trade-down, I see the Seahawks going after a guard or a center somewhere in the 20’s. They probably would be smart to draft 2-3 interior offensive linemen in this draft, with the first one being a no-brainer 4-year starter.

After that, the Seahawks have a tremendous need to shore up the off-ball linebacker spot. And, of course, I wouldn’t begrudge a good, young safety.

Leaving this draft with a guard, middle linebacker, and safety in the first three picks? That’s an ideal scenario in my books, even if it’s the least exciting three positions you could pick from a hat.

I’m not in the business of paying attention to college players. A ton of names have been bandied about for the Seahawks in recent weeks; I’m sure they’ll all be fantastic players. But, just go get good guys. That’s all I ask. Be better this year, and for many years to come!

The Seattle Sports 5-Year Trends

If you scroll down the right side of my home page (if you are viewing this on a laptop or PC; otherwise it’s at the very bottom of the home page on a mobile device), you’ll see a list of all the Seattle-based teams I follow, and their most recent five seasons’ worth of records. I started doing that a LONG time ago, intending to refer to that information every so often, to take a global view of the Seattle sports landscape. Which teams are on the rise? Which teams are sinking like a stone? And which teams are helplessly treading water?

It’s funny, when I devised of this concept – and then absolutely failed to follow through, until today – I thought five years in sports terms was an adequate amount of time to figure out where a team is going. But, in reality, it’s both an eternity, and no time at all. Sports teams can turn around their fortunes so fast, you might get whiplash with all the wildly disparate outcomes. One year, you might be on top of the world, then you might be among the worst teams in the game, then you’re able to snap right back into being relevant again, coming from out of nowhere.

I would put the Husky football team in this category. Through 2019, you could argue this was a team on the rise. Then, we had the COVID season, followed by a total bottoming out in 2021, with a housecleaning to follow. From there, they snapped right back into being one of the best teams in college football in 2022, only to make it to the National Championship Game in 2023. We have since been confronted with a different sort of housecleaning, unfortunately, and now this looks like a team that’s going to fall. How could it not? We reached a height we haven’t seen since the early 90’s, and we didn’t replace all that we lost with comparable talent; it’s only natural to see a drop-off.

You can also look at the Kraken and even though we don’t have five seasons’ worth of data, we have almost three. They started off bad, then they made the playoffs in year two, only to hover around .500 in year three. Young players haven’t developed into the superstars we hoped for, and everyone on the roster feels like role players. There’s probably going to be a new head coach to come, and we’ll see where we go from here.

On the flipside, you can look at the Husky basketball team and see a team that’s largely been around .500. Five straight years of stagnation, and counting. Part of that has to do with the coaching staff – which has been replaced this offseason – and part of that is the nature of college basketball nowadays. Unless you’re recruiting the best of the best high school players – who can step in and compete right away – you’re not able to develop younger guys like you used to. You just have to hope you’re poaching enough quality in the transfer portal to find the special mixture that will gel immediately.

The NFL is arguably the most volatile sport of the bunch, with teams going from worst to first all the time! And yet, the Seahawks appear to be on a steady decline. Or, at the very least, a decline followed by a flatline. They were 12-game winners (including playoffs) in 2019 and 2020. Then, we had Russell Wilson’s injury-plagued and inconsistent final year here, followed by two years of Geno Smith and some apathetic .500 ball. I can conceive of a future where this is a team on the rise again, but I think we’re going to have to endure another 9-ish win season in the interim.

The only team you could make an argument that’s a team “on the rise” is the Mariners. But, that entirely hinges on what happens in 2024. It’s a franchise with a clear plan, who underwent an obvious rebuild, and who managed to cobble together a pretty good-looking young core. 2019 was terrible. The COVID-shortened 2020 season was better than expected. The 2021 season was better still. In 2022, we finally broke the playoff drought. And, 2023 could conceivably be excused for missing the playoffs, because teams don’t always follow one straight trajectory from year to year. If we make it back to the playoffs in 2024, I think 2023 can be forgiven. At that point, some of the younger prospects still developing in the minors might be ready to take the next step. The Mariners still feel like they’re a few pieces away, and if we have to get them internally, so be it.

So, the last 5 years have been kind of a mixed bag. That’s Seattle sports for ya. Never too high, rarely too low, with lots of unexpected gut punches in between (that only become expected the longer you root for these teams).

My Favorite Seahawks Move So Far This Offseason

This blog post on Field Gulls popped up late last week at just around the same time I had a similar idea for my own blog. Of course, they posted first, so credit where it’s due for getting the job done ahead of me. But, that’s still not going to stop me from voicing my own take!

As I’ve talked about, it’s been a very Seahawky offseason so far. No real big outside free agent splash signings; we kept our own highest-priority free agent, we shuffled off some money in the form of overpaid cap casualties, and we brought in a bevy of bridge guys on short-term, inexpensive deals to fill out the roster around our core. So, when you look at that list of players on the Field Gulls link, it’s not going to knock you out.

On the whole, I would say I like what the Seahawks have done. I can’t say I’m totally in love with it, but then again, I don’t know what I can really expect. We were in pretty bad shape the last few years, both from a salary cap standpoint, as well as an underperforming veterans standpoint. It really says something when the Seahawks have exactly one player from their 2020 draft class on their roster, and that’s only because Darrell Taylor lost a year of eligibility due to coming into the league with an injury (at this point, based on what we’ve seen from him through three seasons, it would be a longshot to see him getting a proper second contract with the Seahawks).

My point is, it’s not like the Seahawks could afford to spend lavishly in free agency. And, with our stupid 9-8 record – and the fact that we traded away a second round pick for Leonard Williams last year (which was only necessary BECAUSE our salary cap situation was so shitty) – it’s not like we have a solid cache of draft picks to fall back on. So again, what did I really expect? We came into this offseason with one hand tied behind our back, we used what cap casualties we could to loosen that binding, but ultimately there’s only so much money to go around, and a lot of roster spots needed to field a team.

If I’m being honest, the Seahawks move that got me the most excited is the hiring of Mike Macdonald. My second-favorite move is hiring Ryan Grubb. My third-favorite is firing Clint Hurtt. But, that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the exercise.

My favorite player move, then, has to be Leonard Williams. Simply because he’s the best player we signed, period. He’s either the best or second-best player on our defense, and I’d put him probably in the top five most impactful players on the entire team. Dude is a stud, on a team that’s kind of in short supply of them.

But, I dunno, that signing doesn’t feel like it’s in the spirit of the exercise either. Just as similar favorites – cutting Jamal Adams, not overpaying for Bobby Wagner, and not REALLY overpaying for Damien Lewis – are also not in the spirit. In my mind, the question posed in the title of this post has to do with NEW players. What’s my favorite incoming Seahawks move?

If it feels like slim pickin’s, that’s because it is. Two incoming free agents on 2-year deals, everyone else is on a 1-year deal. The most money – SURPRISE – is going to a safety. I want to say Rayshawn Jenkins – or one of the two middle linebackers – is my favorite move, but to be honest, I don’t know those guys from Adam. I’m sure one or more of them will make a great impact, but right now, they’re all J.A.G.’s to me.

I can’t bring myself to put Sam Howell in this category, even though I like him. I do think he has potential. Sure, he’s most likely in the range of Drew Lock to Baker Mayfield, which isn’t tremendous. I mean, before last season’s resurgence with the Bucs, we were talking about Baker being an injury-prone bust for crying out loud! But, with the right development, and a little luck, maybe Howell turns into something more? Maybe he’s a Rich Gannon or a Jeff Garcia type. Someone who’s better than a Game Manager, but obviously well short of a Hall of Famer. Someone who – on the right team – can lead you to a Super Bowl, but is going to need a lot of help to push you over the edge.

My biggest beef with the Sam Howell deal is that we traded for him to be a backup. I mean, maybe that’s what he deserves to be, after leading the league in interceptions and sacks endured; it’s probably not the worst idea in the world to let him sit and learn a little more. But, if the whole point is to bring in a young player on a cap-friendly contract, you’re not exactly extracting any value from that deal by sitting him for one of the two remaining years before he’s a free agent. I think the odds are long that he comes in and blows everyone away in Training Camp. With a new team and a new offensive coordinator, he’s not going to overtake a dependable – if uninspiring – veteran in Geno Smith. The only way Howell plays extensively is if Geno REALLY shits the bed, or succumbs to injury, which, we’ll see.

So, if I’m being honest, I think my favorite move is bringing back George Fant!

The Seahawks clearly struggled last year on the O-Line. Abe Lucas apparently has a chronic knee issue that’s always going to limit him in one way or another (if it’s not practice reps, then it’ll be games played), and he’s coming off of some sort of clean-up procedure done this offseason. The hope was to get two more years of competent tackle play from Lucas and Charles Cross, but I don’t know if you can count on that. When you factor in needing to replace all three interior linemen spots, it’s pretty demoralizing knowing that one of your tackle spots is also unreliable.

I think we’re all of the mindset that the Seahawks are going to draft guard with their first pick (probably after they trade down a time or two). My guess is, we won’t stop at just one draft pick; there will be multiple interior linemen drafted. That’s a lot of youth up front – especially when you add last year’s picks of Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi – so it’s nice to have someone like George Fant on the roster. Someone who can capably slide into either tackle spot in a pinch, as well as someone who can mentor the younger players. Lord knows we’re not getting either quality from Stone Forsythe!

It’s not the sexiest move the Seahawks have ever made, but George Fant is 100% my favorite incoming player on this team.

But, taking the question a little more abstractly, I think my favorite “move” of all is the fact that the Seahawks are eating all of Jamal Adams’ dead money this year, and the fact that we seem to be cleaning house financially, so as to be in a position next year to really make some headway on this rebuild. It’s not a tank job; I’m sure we’re still well-positioned for another 9-8 season in 2024. But, there’s bound to be plenty of money for next year to go out and have some fun. Maybe we’ll get a party boat!

The Seahawks Signed Linebackers

With lots of big-name potential targets signing elsewhere (Bobby Wagner with the Commanders, Jordyn Brooks with the Dolphins, Patrick Queen with the Steelers), linebacker (particularly “inside” or “off-ball” linebacker) was suddenly a position of tremendous need! Heading into last week, we had three undrafted free agents on our roster at the position, the most experienced one being Special Teamer Jon Rhattigan.

So, YEAH, I’d say it was imperative for the Seahawks to start doing something here.

We’re going to find out how important inside linebackers are in this league, real damn quick. The devalued positions in the NFL are starting to make a bit of a comeback. Safety, of course, was one of our most overpaid positions of recent years. Running back still seems to be hitting a floor – though you’ll see an occasional shockingly-high contract every now and then. But, more and more, we’re seeing linebackers start to earn their keep in a bigger way.

That isn’t to say I think we NEED to be giving big bucks to these guys. I still feel like this is a position where we can save a few pennies.

Tyrel Dodson was the first of two linebackers we signed. He was, apparently, the highest-graded linebacker according to PFF last year. Last year was also the first time he’d ever started (for the Bills), after three years of being a reserve (he was also an undrafted free agent signing originally). He’s apparently great at stopping the run as well as in coverage, which is exactly what the Seahawks needed.

Then, the Seahawks went and signed Jerome Baker away from the Dolphins. 1 year, $7 million (the terms of Dodson’s contract still haven’t been released, but it’s also apparently a 1 year deal). Baker is a 6-year vet (all with Miami) who was drafted in the third round. He was also apparently a cap casualty (and effectively replaced by Jordyn Brooks) which makes me wonder who got the short end of the stick in this swap.

Baker sounds like Just A Guy. He’ll be fine. The hope is, together, both of these guys will be a drastic improvement in pass coverage compared to Wagner and Brooks, at a fraction of the cost. Regardless, they figure to be better than the nobodies we had currently on our roster.

Also regardless: linebacker is going to be a great need for us in this upcoming draft. Perfect timing for this to be a weak linebacker class!

The Seahawks Traded For Sam Howell?!

Huh.

The Seahawks get Sam Howell (2 years left on his rookie deal), a 4th & 6th rounder (102 & 179 respectively); the Commanders get a 3rd & 5th (78 & 152 respectively).

There’s conflicting reports about what kind of value the Washington Football Team received – anywhere from the equivalent of a late 3rd round pick, all the way down to a 7th round pick – but all I see is now the Seahawks have traded away their only second round pick and the higher of their two third round picks. We have all of 7 draft picks this year, 5 of them in the fourth round or later (in a draft, mind you, that is universally panned for its lack of depth on Day 3).

But, okay whatever. We’ll deal with that later. For now, what do we have in Sam Howell?

We have a guy who was a 5th round pick in 2022. A guy who started all 17 games in 2023. A guy who led the league in pass attempts (612), interceptions (21), and times sacked (65). He completed 63.4% of passes, for 3,946 yards, 21 TDs, and 6.4 yards per attempt. Geno Smith was 7.3 yards per attempt, if we’re into comparing numbers.

According to Brady Henderson, Washington was 14th in pass block win rate, so it’s not like we can even blame a shitty O-Line. I will say, though, that we COULD probably blame the shittiness of the team as a whole, with the defense being particularly atrocious in the second half of the season (when they lost 8 in a row); considering he was always forced into throwing them back into games, it’s not a shocker that he’d be a little mistake prone.

But, even that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water, because if a quarterback is truly great, shouldn’t he lift up an inferior team? Sam Howell might be a lot of things, but “great” isn’t one of them. I think he’s fine. On the low end, he’s probably Drew Lock. On the high end, he’s probably a poor man’s Baker Mayfield. That’s a nice little middle-range where Geno Smith also resides, albeit with different skills and different deficiencies.

Geno can be pretty accurate. Geno is mistake-averse. And, I thought he showed some improvement in 2023 in avoiding sacks and getting the ball out of his hands quickly (by offensive design, naturally), but he too tends to hold onto the ball too long, and takes too many back-breaking sacks on third down. The main difference between Geno and Sam is that Sam can actually scramble. He can better extend those third down plays when it’s an obvious passing situation and opposing defenses are gearing up to take his head off.

The main question will be processing. How quickly can Sam Howell process what’s going on? How quickly can he read the defense and find the right receiver (or check to the right play to take advantage of what the other team is giving him)?

This doesn’t change my conviction that the Seahawks need to draft a quarterback. But, I don’t know how they’re going to do that! If they don’t draft one in the first round, if they don’t trade down to acquire more picks, then what is this going to look like?

What this does do, however, is give credence to possibly eating a bunch of Geno’s salary and trading him to a needy team that wants a middle-of-the-road veteran quarterback. Could we sucker a team like the Raiders or Titans into giving us a draft pick or two? What if we sweeten the deal with a D.K. Metcalf?

On its own, I don’t love this move. Sam Howell doesn’t appear to be an obvious upgrade over Geno Smith, and I’m not even sure he’s an upgrade over Drew Lock!

But, I’m told Howell allegedly has a strong arm. And I kinda like how he’s not just a Checkdown Charlie. But, 21 interceptions and 65 sacks is absolutely unforgivable.

Ultimately, my opinion on this move will hinge on whether or not the Seahawks draft a quarterback this year. And, failing that, it’s going to hinge on how quickly we choose to move on from Geno Smith. If we have no rookie, and if we blow through the entire 2024 season with Geno at the helm, I’m going to be extremely upset when we end up with another 9-win campaign.

Not that I necessarily believe Howell would be able to do any better. But, I think it’s fair to say there’s at least a little uncertainty about his ceiling. We know Geno’s ceiling; we’ve lived it the last two years. I want fresh blood!

The Seahawks Restructured Tyler Lockett

Well, now we know what’s happening: the Seahawks are keeping Lockett around, for at least one more year.

It was announced over the weekend that the Seahawks restructured Tyler Lockett’s contract, reducing it to 2 years and $30 million, with $4 million in incentives. That was really all we knew until recently, when we got the exact breakdown. Lockett will get a base salary of just over $4.6 million. It’s an $8 million signing bonus, but with the funky math and presumably the old dead money we have to tangle with, his cap hit this year is just over $18.5 million. However, next year nothing is guaranteed and there’s only a dead cap charge of $4 million.

I don’t understand any of it.

Anyway, we get to hang onto Lockett, and we get to save a little cash, while potentially allowing him to earn his way to his previously agreed-to contract through incentives. It’s a win for everyone! Especially the team, which not only gets to play with a still very good Lockett, but also gets to save however many millions of dollars.