Seahawks Death Week: How Close Are We To A Turnaround?

Yesterday, we talked about all the pending cuts and free agents who might walk. Now, let’s see what needs to be done to right the ship.

It would be the peak of unsatisfying insanity if the Seahawks chalked up 2021 to an injured Russell Wilson fluke and tried to run back the exact same roster (more or less; it’ll never be 100% retention), in hopes of returning to our 2020 level of success. As we saw – in 2020 – that level of success was still underwhelming, in spite of the division title. Knowing how much money the Seahawks have in salary cap room heading into 2022, it’s conceivable that we could keep all the guys under contract now, while using that money to bring back Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Gerald Everett, Rashaad Penny, Ethan Pocic, and Will Dissly. But, what’s that going to get us? The ceiling is 2020, the floor is 2021 (or worse, if Wilson leaves and we’re stuck with a replacement-level quarterback).

But that is, technically, one option. Run it back for a third year in a row, and see if we can luck our way in one-score games into another divisional title. That option has the possibility of a turnaround from 2021, though that seems unlikely to me. Both that it happens at all, and that it leads to improvement. Stagnancy begets stagnancy.

As you’ll recall, the Seahawks punted the 2021 NFL Draft, making only three selections, by far the fewest in the Pete Carroll/John Schnedier Era, and easily the fewest in franchise history. This had everything to do with trading away so many of those draft picks for veteran players. We’re in a similar boat in 2022 – most aggravatingly missing our 10th overall pick in the first round – but we do have six picks on the books so far. Our first pick is the 10th overall in the second round, which SHOULD net us a player who can contribute right away, but we’ll see (regardless, he probably won’t be a high impact player as a rookie, if ever).

The point is, in spite of our poor 2021 performance, I wouldn’t expect a ton of help to come from the 2022 draft. Figure it’ll be more depth pieces to throw onto the pile we already have.

I suppose trades are a possibility, but if we’re not talking about trading Russell Wilson, I don’t see where we have anything anyone else would want. So help me if we continue trading future first round picks, banking on being good again next season.

There simply has to be a hugely impactful free agent or two that comes in, if we want to turn this thing around.

Priority #1 – Left Tackle

I won’t take Duane Brown or Stone Forsythe for an answer. We squeezed all we could out of Brown this late into his career, but it would be damn near criminal to keep bringing him back on one-year contracts without a viable backup plan in place. But, we also can’t count on the 2021 rookie to step in there, when he looked pretty bad in the limited duty he got this past season (and was already a pretty low-rated draft pick). There has to be someone on the free agent market that we can bring in on a long-term deal. I don’t know who it is, but I know he’s out there. Find him.

Priority #2 – Draft A Middle Linebacker

Get the top guy available at Pick 42, bingo bango bongo. Ideally, he’s someone fast and smart that you can pair with Jordyn Brooks and let them both go off for the next however many years (similarly to how K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were once the two young studs in the middle). If the rookie needs some time, then by all means, go with Cody Barton for a few games until the rookie gets his feet wet. But, this needs to be the move 100%, with Bobby Wagner’s salary going elsewhere.

Priority #3 – Pass Rush

Either sign one guy at near top of the market prices, or sign two guys for mid-level money, but either way we need to stop dumpster diving this critical part of the team. Then, we can base our cuts around the guys we bring in (Benson Mayowa can probably go, hopefully we can find someone younger and better to also replace Carlos Dunlap, since he’s incapable of giving us a full season’s worth of production).

Priority #4 – Secondary

IF the Seahawks cut Wagner and bring in a rookie middle linebacker to take over, then I think I’m comfortable using that money to extend Quandre Diggs. There might also be some semblance of a discount at play given his leg injury, though I kind of doubt it. The more you read about Diggs, the more it seems like he’s truly indispensable to this team with his play and leadership. I would also throw money at both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones; let’s run the entire secondary back! I liked Tre Brown as much as the next guy, but we don’t know how he’s going to recover from his injury. 2022 might be a lost year for him. It would be nice to have Reed on a long-term deal and Jones on a shorter-term deal to carry us over.

Priority #5 – Draft A Running Back

I would make this the third round pick (ideally) or one of the fourth rounders. There will still be quality running backs at that level. This will be our Chris Carson replacement. I’m going into this year assuming we’ll find a way to bring Rashaad Penny back (because his final five games of 2021 were too enticing to just let walk for nothing), but it would be idiotic to expect him to all of a sudden be an every-down, every-game running back. I want a rookie with a higher ceiling than either Homer or Dallas. He doesn’t necessarily have to be the best blocker in college, nor does he have to be a return man of some sort. He just needs to have incredible running back skills, vision, ability to hit the hole and make cuts, break tackles, all of it. Let him develop into a pass catcher or a blocker when he gets into the NFL. Ideally, Penny will continue to be amazing and we won’t need the rookie. But, if and when Penny gets injured, throw the rookie in there, because hopefully by that point he’s had a chance to learn and grow from the bench.

Priority #6 – Draft A Tight End

Make this one of the fourth rounders. I’m assuming the Seahawks make a play on bringing back Will Dissly for a few more years, and making Colby Parkinson more of an offensive priority. He was starting to see more action towards the end of the season, especially down around the red zone; I think his role will only continue to grow given his size. With Dissly back, we can afford to go grab another offensive weapon in the fourth round, to make this room entirely young and homegrown.

Priority #7 – Extend D.K. Metcalf

The Seahawks are at a crossroads here. If Wilson forces his way out, then I think the Seahawks would be dumb to not trade Metcalf when his value is at its highest (he still has one year left on his rookie deal; after that, he’ll be too costly to be valuable). But, if Wilson stays, then I think we have to extend Metcalf now, both to keep him happy and to keep his next contract relatively cost-contained. We don’t want to play the Franchise Tag game with him.

Priority #8 – Bring In A Rookie Kicker

I’m not saying draft one, but definitely bring in a college guy – maybe one of those studs from the Alabama/Georgia game – as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jason Myers. Myers is on the final year of his deal in 2022. I don’t know if cutting him is the answer; he was so good in 2020, I’m more inclined to think his struggles in 2021 were just random kicker variance. But, you also shouldn’t take any chances that I’m correct on this issue. Bring in someone to compete; we’ll get to see how Myers handles that kind of adversity. Either the rookie struggles and we keep Myers anyway (the likeliest scenario, unless we’re really up against it with the salary cap and need to save $4 million), or the rookie is good but Myers is better (and we find a way to keep the rookie on the practice squad until a time comes when we can no longer trust Myers), or the rookie out-performs Myers and it’s win-win when we cut Myers before the regular season starts.

Priority #9 – Center

I don’t know if this is done through the draft or free agency, or by converting one of the guards we’ve got on our roster now, but I think this needs to happen. Maybe, if it’s a rookie, we sign Pocic to a one-year deal and let the rookie learn. Or, maybe we go with a veteran and stop fucking around for once. But, I’d like some real beef at center, to help us keep our quarterback upright.

Priority #10 – Bring Back Al Woods

I’ll be honest, I loved everything the defensive tackle room did this year, but especially Al Woods being a huge presence in the middle. That dude deserves some stability; give him a 2-year deal and let’s fucking go!

Seahawks Death Week: Who Might Be Leaving In 2022?

Around this time of year, I like to peruse Spotrac to see what the salary cap looks like for the next season. Take the accuracy with a grain of salt, of course; football wonks tend to prefer other sources for their salary cap info. Kill me, I like Spotrac.

Heading into 2022, they say we have around $53 million to play around with, minus money to be held onto for additional dead cap, practice squad, IR replacements, etc. I don’t want to get in the weeds here; $53 million sounds pretty good to me for a team that could also save over $16 million by cutting Bobby Wagner, and another $11 million if Russell Wilson forces a trade.

Those are, obviously, the two biggest questions heading into this offseason. Much has been made of Wilson and his will he/won’t he demand a trade; sadly, we’re going to be talking about this all damn year. And, if he happens to stay, then we’re going to be talking about him all damn year NEXT year when it comes to another contract extension. Ye gods. But, Bobby is much more interesting to me. I don’t think there’s any question that he’s lost a step compared to his peak. He makes fewer real impact plays, but he’s as smart and steady as they come, and the unquestioned leader on this defense (if not the entire team). It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that he’s drastically overpaid. You could find a replacement in the draft, or on the scrap heap, and get at least 80% of his production for pennies on the Wagner Dollar. That’s almost certainly money that could be better used elsewhere on the defense.

For the life of me, I can’t see this organization cutting him cold turkey, not with Pete and John in the spots they’re in. Assuming they stay, I think Bobby stays. Now, it’s more likely the team comes to him and works out another extension at a lower overall value – knowing that he’s not going to get anything NEAR what he’s making now on the open market – in hopes that he’ll retire a Seahawk, but that puts the ball in his court: will he take a reasonable cut in salary (and still probably be overpaid to some degree) or will he walk and try to find more money elsewhere?

I’ll be very VERY disappointed if he’s still a $20+ million cap hit in 2022, let’s put it that way.

Moving on, there are some big Seahawks names who were on the final year of their deals in 2021! The biggest being Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs. I’m pretty happy to see us get out from under Duane Brown at this point. I suppose it’s possible he re-signs after testing the market and finding it lacking, but at some point we have to think about his replacement. Maybe there’s a better free agent ready to hit the market we could bring in on a long-term deal! Considering we have no first round draft pick, that seems to be our best hope for 2022 and beyond. As for Diggs, I’ve talked about him a lot this year: he’s one of the best free safeties in football and he’s going to want to be paid as such (even with his current injury; he should make a full recovery no problem). Considering we have Adams at one of the highest numbers for a safety as well, to bring him back would mean pouring a crazy amount of money into the safety position. Seems like bad team-building.

More offensive players who could be moving on include Ethan Pocic, Gerald Everett, Brandon Shell, and Rashaad Penny. All of them are fine, but I don’t think any of them would be missed. There should be better center options available, who won’t be injured all the time like Pocic. Everett was good this year, but is he worth $6+ million? I dunno. I think we’ve already found our replacement for Shell in Jake Curhan, so no big loss there. And, as mentioned before, I’d be okay with Penny returning on an incentive-laden deal, but we also need to bring in running backs who will stay reasonably healthy!

On the defensive side, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones were both quality cornerbacks for us. Certainly leaps and bounds better than Tre Flowers, even if they’re not bona fide superstars. Without them, the only cornerbacks of note on the roster in 2022 are Ugo Amadi (a nickel guy) and Tre Brown (who suffered a serious, season-ending injury as a rookie this year). Reed is the priority over Jones, but I wouldn’t mind having both of them return (that, again, becomes more difficult if you’re paying Diggs and Adams top-of-the-market safety money).

Along the D-Line, we’re looking at losing Rasheem Green and Al Woods. There’s also the question of keeping guys like Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and L.J. Collier (who will all be free agents after the 2022 season, but could all be cut for salary cap relief beforehand). You even have to worry about Poona Ford (also a free agent after 2022), since his cap hit is so high; remember the team tried to re-work Jarran Reed’s deal before cutting him when he refused. The only linemen who feel even remotely safe for 2022 are Darrell Taylor (technically a linebacker/defensive end hybrid), Alton Robinson, and Bryan Mone (a restricted free agent who almost certainly will be retained). I can’t envision a scenario where the Seahawks totally and completely clean house, so I have to believe some of the guys on the final years of their deal in 2022 will stick around, at least to compete in Training Camp. I also believe they’d love to bring back Woods on another 1-2 year deal, since he was such a force in 2021. Green is a big question mark, but he’s still pretty young and you’d like to believe he could be had at a reasonable cost. It might be nice to give him another year or two and see if he can put it all together; at the very least, it should be a low-risk gamble.

Some miscellaneous pending free agents include Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, and Geno Smith. I don’t know if any of them will be missed, though I have to believe Dissly will be something of a priority, considering he does so much blocking for us (and therefore, between that and his injury history, should be a relatively cheap re-sign).

The only other significant player I see still under contract for 2022 that could possibly be cut is Chris Carson. Given the fact that he needed season-ending neck surgery this year, it seems unlikely that he’ll ever play meaningful football again. I know they talked about it possibly not being career-ending, but let’s be real: he’s one bad hit away from it all being over. I don’t see any responsible way we can bring him back, especially if we opt to re-sign Penny as well. One of those two guys has to go, and in their place, we need to draft a running back of the future. Someone who’s tougher than DeeJay Dallas, but faster and more explosive than Travis Homer (neither of whom – without significant physique changes – are considered to be every-down backs). At this point, even though we don’t save a ton of money cutting Carson, I’d still choose Penny over him (although, the smartest move might be to let both of them go and just hand the keys over to an up-and-coming rookie).

What we’re looking at, of course, is a lot of holes on this roster to fill, with potentially even more on the horizon than we anticipated (not counting the possible loss of Carroll or Schneider). So, tomorrow, let’s look at those holes, and how close we are to a potential turnaround.

What Happened To The Seahawks’ Pass Rush?!

I’m going to be getting into a lot of this next week, when we do our official week-long post-mortem of the 2021 Seahawks’ season, so you might be reading some of these sentiments again very soon. But, what the hell?!

In 2020, the Seahawks had 46 sacks, which was good for 7th in the NFL. In 2021, through the same number of games, we have 29 sacks, which is good for 28th in the NFL. Now, granted, our 2020 sack leader – Jamal Adams, with 9.5 – had a grand total of 0 sacks in 2021. But, even if you tacked those onto our 29, that still puts us 7.5 sacks short. What gives?

What’s truly baffling, to me at least, is that we pretty much ran back with the same group of guys. We lost K.J. Wright (who accounted for all of 2 sacks in a hybrid linebacker role), but we replaced him with Jordyn Brooks (who has 1 sack, but has otherwise filled in remarkably well in the weak-side linebacker role that Wright manned for so many seasons). We also lost Jarran Reed (he had 6.5 sacks in 2020), but we filled in with Al Woods, who has been a monster in the middle (in spite of only 1.5 sacks this year). Plus, we got to add Darrell Taylor and his 6 sacks, so this all feels like a wash.

Once again, we’re in an unenviable position of having Rasheem Green be our team sack leader. He currently has 6.5 sacks, sharing the lead with Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap, I have to say, gets a lot of the blame from me here. He had 5 sacks in 8 games last year, and only 1.5 more in twice the number of games. Also, all but his half-sack came in the month of December (in three games, no less), meaning he’s been a non-entity for the vast majority of the season, when it mattered most. You can blame usage all you want; there were games where he played in only a handful of snaps. But, if he were truly playing to his abilities, he would’ve forced the team’s hand. Circumstances, and his poor play, dictated his usage early in the season. Even though we brought him back on a relatively team-friendly deal, it still turned out to be a bust considering expectations.

Also, what happened to Benson Mayowa? Well, for one thing, he switched his number from one in the 90’s (which is far more appropriate for a defensive end like him) to the number 10, which looks asinine on him. I blame that 100% for his decline from 6 sacks in 2020 to 1 sack in 2021. Otherwise, how does someone get so bad for no good reason? Holy hell. He’s on another team-friendly deal, costing us significantly less money than Dunlap, and somehow he’s even a bigger bust!

Those are the biggies. Adams, Reed, Mayowa, and Dunlap were our top four sack guys and accounted for 27 of our 46 sacks in 2020. This season, our top guys are Green, Dunlap, and Taylor, who have a combined 19 sacks; the next people on the list are Woods and Mone, tied for 1.5 sacks apiece. Last year, we had 10 guys with two or more sacks; this year it’s just the three through the same number of games.

Alton Robinson is another guy we had higher expectations for; he had 4 sacks as a rookie and only 1 this year. Kerry Hyder was our big free agent acquisition; he had 8.5 sacks with the 49ers last year; he has 0.5 this year. L.J. Collier had 3 sacks last year, and has hardly even played this year. Robert Nkemdiche was an under-the-radar free agent signing who has miraculously stayed on the team all year, but to very little impact.

It’s a horrid mix of high-profile whiffs, a bad scheme, poor drafting, and even worse development. I don’t know who’s in charge of coaching up the D-Line, but he has been a miserable failure (I see the name “Clint Hurtt” on the team’s website, but that means nothing to me; who is that? Some guy, I guess. It might as well be me out there coaching the team’s defensive linemen!).

We all knew relying on a defensive back to get the most sacks on our roster was just asking for trouble, but there was a lot of reason for optimism (aside from Jamal Adams) heading into 2021 that we could parlay a strong finish to the 2020 season into at least as good, if not better things for our pass rush. But, we’ve taken a significant step back, to the point where there’s really only one player worth a damn in our pass rush (Darrell Taylor) and everyone else is depth/fill-in at best.

I don’t even know what the Seahawks can do here. Do you re-sign Rasheem Green and hope he continues to get incrementally better? He has 13.5 sacks in the four years since we drafted him. Do you keep Dunlap, Mayowa, and Hyder even though it would be cheaper to cut them now and try to fill in with hopefully more productive guys on the scrap heap? Is Alton Robinson ever going to explode, or is he just the second coming of Rasheem Green? Do we even bother giving L.J. Collier another shot? What can we expect from Jamal Adams as he enters the teeth of his big-money contract going forward?

What a wasteland. The thing is, the linebackers have been solid (as usual) and the secondary has been much better. But, we’re poised to lose Quandre Diggs (unless we want to have the highest-paid safety tandem in football) and I don’t even know who’s sticking around among our cornerbacks. There’s a shot at a quality defense here; they’ve proven to be effective at limiting points at least. But, they’re never going to be an elite unit without a pass rush.

I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure the organization does either. I’m sure they’ll try to do something, but the question is: will it work? I guess we’ll see.

The Seahawks’ Offense Looked Great As They Trounced The Colts

It’s only one game, so I’ll do my best to not overreact, but that was an impressive Seahawks victory against a pretty good all-around team in Indianapolis. I know everyone likes to crap all over Carson Wentz – and he makes it easy to do sometimes – but he wasn’t the reason why the Seahawks beat the Colts 28-16. Now, granted, he didn’t go out and put his team on his shoulders either; my point is, there’s a great supporting cast around him – on both sides of the ball – plus a coaching staff that’s probably underrated.

And yet, the Seahawks made that win look pretty easy. That was an 11-win team from a season ago, with a stadium full of crazed fans, and the Seahawks had their way with the Colts!

There’s a lot to be impressed with, but I have to start with the offense. That was clearly my biggest worry heading into the season, and while it’s only one game, that’s far and away better than I ever would’ve expected, especially this early in the year. Not only did Russell Wilson rack up 254 yards passing and 4 TDs, not only did the running game generate 140 yards on the ground (with a 5.2 yards per carry average), but we got started right off the bat marching down the field and putting up points. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game, and on three of their four first half drives in total.

With the defense doing just enough, that amounted to a 21-10 halftime lead. As opposed to the other way around – which is usually what we get with your average Seahawks game – there was no need to frantically scramble to catch up in the second half. There was no need for the defense to be perfect to allow us to crawl back into the game. We got to be the aggressors on defense in the second half, while slowing things down on offense and running to bleed the clock.

It wasn’t a super-successful effort in the second half. Both teams traded punts and fumbles into the middle of the fourth quarter, but even with some struggles, it always felt like the Seahawks could move the all at will if they really needed to. Which is what they did in zipping down the field to take a 28-10 lead with just under 7 minutes left in the game. The Colts got a garbage-time TD, but that was it.

Wilson, as I noted above, was amazingly efficient (18/23 passing, 11 yards per attempt), hitting receivers on all three levels of the defense. Apparently, the Colts are notorious for suppressing the deep ball, but we still managed a 30 yarder to D.K. and a 69-yard touchdown to Lockett. Both of those receivers were great; Lockett had 4 for 100 and 2 TDs, Metcalf had 4 for 60 with 1 TD. Gerald Everett also got into the action with 2 catches for 20 yards and a TD.

Chris Carson was magnificent, running the ball 16 times for 91 yards; none of the other running backs on the team really did much (Penny ended up leaving with an injury). Carson also caught 3 balls for 26 yards, which is always good to see. The offense in general was humming, particularly at the most important points of the game: right off the bat, and to close it out. You love to see it.

The defense was everything you’ve come to expect from the best version of this era of Seahawks D. The Colts’ running game was held to a 3.8 yards per carry average (helped by 4 Wentz scrambles for 23 yards). Wentz himself was held to a 6.6 yards per attempt average. We were all over him in this one, getting 3 sacks, and pressuring him a lot more on top of that.

Rasheem Green carried over his torrid pre-season; THIS is the guy every Seahawks fan dreamed about when he was originally drafted in 2018. He had 4 tackles (1 tackle for loss), 1 sack, 2 passes defended, and 2 QB hits. Benson Mayowa and Darrell Taylor each chipped in with 2 tackles, a sack, and 2 QB hits. And Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles with 13 and 11 respectively.

I didn’t notice a lot from the secondary, either good or bad, which is probably as good as we can hope for right now. We weren’t torched, obviously, but I also don’t see any passes defended in the stat sheet (nor any picks, for that matter). Of course, the Colts are pretty depleted in their wide receiver room, so this was a nice, soft landing for our cornerbacks as we try to figure out the best combination of starters going forward.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how this game went! It’s always nice to feel comfortable and not have to panic for three straight hours. The Seahawks usually take years off of our lives; in this one I think they finally put some years back on.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Defensive Line

Well, I waited as long as I could possibly wait before getting to the defensive line. I even rearranged my whole posting schedule for the last month to give the team time to make any more moves they were going to make to the D-Line before the regular season started (this post was supposed to happen almost two weeks ago!). I guess we’re keeping Geno Atkins on ice until we get past the first game?

I mean, it makes sense. The defensive line has largely been set since earlier this offseason, when we waived Jarran Reed and re-signed Carlos Dunlap. It’s actually one of the great strengths of this team, at least on paper! Meanwhile, the Seahawks continue to tinker with the cornerback spot until – who is Bless Austin, you ask? I have no idea – we’re all left wondering what the hell is going on. Oh well, better luck for my posting schedule next year!

I’m a big fan of what the Seahawks have going at defensive line. I was really happy with the group in the second half of last year, and that starts with Carlos Dunlap. Oh sure, he’s going into his 12th season, but he’s just a solid, steady dude who gets regular pressure on the quarterback and is able to convert enough of that pressure into sacks.

Dunlap leads a pretty impressive DE group that gets production all the way down to the last man. Benson Mayowa returns; he has 13 sacks over the last two years. As a part-time pass-rush specialist, he’s nails.

Alton Robinson and Darrell Taylor are sort of hybrid DEs and SAM linebackers who we’re all excited about. I’m loathe to expect too much of a jump from year one to year two (especially with someone like Taylor, who didn’t even play last year), but we saw Robinson’s baseline last year and 4.0 sacks as a rookie is nothing to sneeze at. If he runs it back, fine. If he does slightly better, great!

The newcomer is Kerry Hyder, who has racked up two seasons of 8+ sacks in his 5-year career. I don’t know his full story, but by all accounts he’s a hard worker and is someone who will fit into our scheme really well.

Then, there are the low men on the totem pole, Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. Granted, both have been varying degrees of disappointing, but even they bring SOMETHING to the table. I know we all expected more out of Green, who left college early; we kept hearing about how he needed to grow into his body or whatever. Well, it’s been three years and he has a total of 7.0 sacks to show for it. Heading into the last year of his rookie deal, it’s really a make-or-break season for him. He did play pretty exceptionally during the pre-season; I honestly don’t remember him ever showing out like that before. So, maybe things are starting to click; or maybe he’s finally grown into that body. I guess we’ll see.

It was interesting to hear how many people on Twitter were speculating about the Seahawks possibly trading away or cutting L.J. Collier during and after the final roster cut-downs. I mean, I can see why they said those things; he didn’t have a particularly great pre-season. You never hear stories about him in practice or training camp. His rookie year was largely a bust and his 2020 season was improved, but no one’s writing home to mom about 3.0 sacks. I don’t have a lot of positive things to say, other than he’s another guy to throw onto the pile. He did show flashes of making an impact at times last year, and ideally I think that’s all you need. Collier isn’t a starter for this team. He’s in the rotation. He can slide inside to play defensive tackle (as well as Green and Hyder, for that matter), and ultimately I think the team likes him. I also think his value is so low that you’d essentially be throwing him away for nothing. He was a first round pick and he’s probably currently worth a 6th round pick in return. For an able body you can plug and play, that’s not a trade I’m looking to make, especially when there’s at least SOME upside, if you squint your eyes and focus real hard.

My favorite guys on the team are always the defensive tackles, and I think the Seahawks have some good ones!

Poona Ford is our anchor here, with Jarran Reed being waived and signing with the Chiefs. That’s a scary proposition for some Seahawks fans, considering Reed has a semi-proven track record of making an impact in the pass-rush game from the interior; Poona has 2.5 career sacks across three season. But, the Seahawks gave him a raise this offseason for a reason: I think they see great things ahead for this erstwhile undrafted free agent. I do too! He’s got remarkable quickness that I think will translate to running into some more sacks and tackles for loss now that he’s the main guy in the middle.

Al Woods is just a huge plug in the middle of that line. He’s another aging veteran, going into his 11th season, but it doesn’t look like he’s lost anything. As long as he’s healthy, he should provide the run-stuffing we need, at a great value, I might add.

Finally, Bryan Mone rounds out the trio. He’s another undrafted free agent who is providing a lot of value and depth in the middle. He’s heading into his third year and is just an all-around pro already.

So, I can see why Geno Atkins is a target for this team, I just don’t know who you cut to pick him up. All of these guys will contribute, and at Geno’s age it’s fair to wonder what he has left in the tank.

As I’ve noted before, there’s a lot of excitement from the fanbase surrounding the pass rush on this team. This does appear to be as deep as we were in 2013. But, I think you have to take that with the caveat that there isn’t quite the top-tier talent in this group that there was in our Super Bowl-winning year. No one is holding a candle to Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril in their heydays.

I guess I’m happy with this unit, but I’m also a little anxious too. There’s a lot riding on these guys, especially with how poor the cornerback group looks. When you look at the defense as a whole, we’re counting on a lot of production from a lot of unproven guys. So, at least in the early going, it would be nice to see a big impact from the likes of Dunlap, Mayowa, Hyder, and the other studs on this defense.

I’m giving the defensive line a solid B+, with an opportunity to get into the A range if they manage to generate sacks into the 40’s this year. I’m less worried about the run defense, but obviously that needs to be a point of focus, because if teams are in a lot of 3rd & Shorts, they’re definitely going to convert a high percentage of them thanks to this weak secondary.

How Badly Do The Seahawks Need Jamal Adams?

I’m just going to get this out of the way up top: I want the Seahawks to give Jamal Adams an extension. I want them to make him the highest paid safety in the league, and I want him here and happy at least for the duration of THIS new deal (maybe not on a third contract, though). But, while these things tend to sort themselves out with no real trouble, there are occasions where the team and the player are too far apart in their values, and too stubborn to make that move towards the middle. That’s when you see things blow up, with players holding out, with teams making hasty trades to try to recoup some of their lost capital, with both sides doing their best to save face in the aftermath.

I don’t THINK things will blow up with the Seahawks and Jamal Adams, but I’d be a fool to totally bury my head in the sand and believe everything is going to be hunky dory.

We have to be ready to live in a world where Jamal Adams has played his last down in a Seahawks uniform. So, let’s look at what we have here, and ask ourselves: is what we have (on defense) enough?

The Seahawks have made a lot of improvements, without a lot of deficits, to make the pass rush better than it has been in the last couple years. And remember, the pass rush wasn’t too bad in the back-half of 2020! We brought back Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa on team-friendly deals. We obviously retained Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier. We get to witness Alton Robinson hopefully take a leap from his first year to his second. We get to HOPEFULLY see why it was so important for the Seahawks to trade up to draft Darrell Taylor last year. Our big free agent splash was to sign Kerry Hyder, who looked really good for the 49ers a year ago. And, the possible cherry on top – assuming there are no further legal issues – is Aldon Smith, who is looking to continue to resuscitate his once-amazing career.

Along the interior, we lost Jarran Reed, which is a blow, no doubt about it. But, we still have Poona Ford and Bryan Mone. We brought back Al Woods to be a big plug in the run game. We have a bunch of really young guys to develop behind them. And, we’re taking a flyer on Robert Nkemdiche, who has been a HUGE bust thus far in his NFL career, but was nevertheless a first round pick in 2016 for a reason. If anyone is going to get the most out of this guy, I would venture to say it’s the Seahawks. He’s gotta want it, of course – and I think that’s the biggest hurdle of all – but if he’s interested, he’s got all the tools to be really special.

So, is that enough? Boy, there is A LOT to like, especially among the defensive ends. It’s not the highest-profile pass rushing unit in the league, but I really do believe they can be effective.

But, let’s try to be objective here. Essentially, it’s the same group as last year, only we traded Reed for Hyder. That concerns me, because finding interior pass rushing is so much harder. How good will Hyder be rushing on the inside, in this system? I guess we’ll find out. I’m also at a point with Taylor where I’ll believe it when I see it; he’s still a rookie in my eyes, since he has yet to play a down in the NFL. And, you HAVE to worry about depth, especially if/when the important guys get injured. Green and Collier are okay complementary pieces, but how diminishing will those returns be if they have to play on an every-down basis?

Most importantly of all, if we agree this is pretty much the same group as last year, you have to concede that the 2020 Seahawks also had Jamal Adams, his blitzing, and his 9.5 sacks out of the secondary. How effective will that group be in this hypothetical scenario where we DON’T have Adams?

That’s something I really don’t want to think about.

The wild card in all of this is what the Seahawks might get in return, if they were forced to trade Adams. Let’s say, for instance, we deal him for another team’s disgruntled holdout? What if we were to get Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots?

There’s a lot of risk there, obviously. Adams will be 26, Gilmore will be 31. But, given Adams’ style of play, I’d say the injury risk is probably a wash; the risk with Gilmore is more in the realm of old age slowing him down. Gilmore MIGHT be savvy enough to use his veteran wiles and sustain through the guaranteed money years of his next deal, just as Adams MIGHT not blow out a vertebra in his neck in the next 2-3 years.

In the short term, though, this could be an interesting move. Instead of valuing pass rush above all else, we’ll take our existing pass rush and combine it with vastly improved coverage in our secondary. Instead of D.J. Reed and whoever, it’ll be Gilmore and Reed and some really solid depth behind them. Improved coverage, in its own way, can aide in generating pass rush, by giving our guys enough time to beat the opposing team’s blocking.

Of course, the obvious dream scenario is to extend Adams AND trade for Gilmore. But, I don’t know if we live in that kind of world where I get to have whatever the fuck I want. Odds are, Gilmore is a pipe dream, and it’s better to set our focus on Adams.

In the end, the Seahawks don’t need Adams quite as much as they did heading into the 2020 season (mostly thanks to last year’s in-season trade for Dunlap). But, if we have our sights on winning another Super Bowl, I think Adams is vitally important.

Championship teams need superstars, period. Jamal Adams is a superstar. We’ve already seen that he can be wildly effective in this system, so now it’s time to pay the man and get to work.

The Seahawks Are Signing Aldon Smith

Someone on Twitter reported that the Seahawks are signing Aldon Smith to a 1-year deal, and I just couldn’t wait! This is terribly exciting news!

Obviously, there are two ways you have to write about Aldon Smith: the man and the football player. The man is … kind of a lot, and predominantly negative. Admittedly, I’m not super informed on all that he’s been involved with, but Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence are more than enough. For (some of? all of?) these things, he was suspended by the NFL from 2016-2019. He was reinstated, so he must have gone through extensive work on himself to make it back (it’s hard to return from an indefinite suspension like that; most people can’t hack it), but, you know, it feels wrong to be excited. I don’t know what he did or didn’t do to the woman he allegedly did whatever to, but it couldn’t have been good. At some point, you have to know better the first time when it comes to violence; if you’re not capable of that kind of rudimentary awareness, do you even deserve a second chance?

That’s not for me to decide, thankfully. He’s back in the NFL, he’s up for grabs in free agency, and the Seahawks have apparently gone and grabbed him. What am I going to do, not root for the Seahawks? That’s fine for other people to take a stand on, but if you dig deep on pretty much everyone and everything, you’re going to find darkness that people might say you should take a stand on. The safe bet is to sit alone in a room twiddling my thumbs for all of eternity. Failing that, I’m going to separate the man from the art, as they say. I’m going to continue to watch football and root for the Seahawks, so cram your opinions up your ass about everything else. I’m not a monk; sue me.

GREAT NEWS, EVERYONE! Aldon Smith is joining the Seahawks’ pass rush!

Smith played for the Cowboys last year (a fairly mediocre defense, as far as I can remember), and appeared in every game. I seem to recall him having a better season than he did (only 5.0 sacks), but I imagine my opinion is skewed because 3.0 of those came against the Seahawks in Week 3. He was a starter, and apparently started to wear down as the season went along, but that’s okay! Because I don’t think he’ll be a starter for the Seahawks if things break they way they’re supposed to.

Carlos Dunlap and Kerry Hyder figure to be our starters at either end. Smith, presumably, would be the next man up at one of those end spots, with Benson Mayowa also providing tremendous value on pass rushing downs. That’s FOUR quality pass rushers! Not counting what we might get from holdovers like L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Alton Robinson, Darrell Taylor, and Bobby Wagner and the rest of the linebacking unit. I mean, it’s not a ton of sacks from those guys, but if everyone contributes anywhere from 2-5 in the season – on top of what our big dog defensive ends rack up – that’s a force to be reckoned with!

Oh, and let us not forget Jamal Adams blitzing from the secondary and his 9.5 sacks last season. He still figures to be the highest paid safety in the game, and therefore a significant part of what we do from a pass rush perspective.

What an embarrassment of riches! This is, no joke, a championship-level pass rushing unit. To be fair, don’t look behind the curtain over there at what we’re doing with the cornerback spots … it’s fine, it’ll be fine, but LOOK OVER HERE! Sacks on sacks on sacks!!!

I feel so great about what the Seahawks have done this offseason, and it’s still not done! All it really cost us was Jarran Reed, Shaquill Griffin, and maybe K.J. Wright (how Wright is still not signed by anyone yet is appalling to me). With what we had for cap space, it’s truly remarkable.

The Seahawks Are Losing A Jarran Reed, But Gaining A Carlos Dunlap

Spring is the time for new beginnings. Nowhere* is that more clear than in sports.

* – that’s not even remotely true

There was a flurry of action last night in the 6pm hour, as Jarran Reed tweeted out he’d be gone by today. This was apparently because the Seahawks wanted to do a restructured deal to save money under the salary cap, while Reed wanted a long-term extension. I don’t know how you restructure a guy going into the final year of his deal; like, were they going to keep it the same but convert his guaranteed money into bonus money to split it up over 2021 and a ghost year? That, honestly, sounds kinda fucked.

Jarran Reed has proven himself to be a very good defensive tackle, with valuable pass-rushing skills. He had 10.5 sacks in 2018, had a down year in 2019 due to a 6-game suspension to start the season (that he was never able to recover from, with regards to the training camp/practice reps early on), and bounced back in 2020 with 6.5 sacks, while spending half the season on a defensive line that was one of the worst in the league at rushing the passer.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Reed was looking for a deal in some stratospheric realm that the Seahawks – and anyone else – would be foolish to sign him to. He’s not THAT valuable, not a Top 5 kind of guy. But, you know, he’s good. He’s in a second or third tier.

The problem all along was only signing him to the 2-year deal before 2020. It seemed short-sighted at the time, with very little chance to recoup on value; THAT was the time to extend him 3-4 years, at a more managable figure. But, for whatever reason, there was an impasse, and now here we are.

Then, almost immediately after word came down about Reed, it was announced that Carlos Dunlap would be re-signing! Two years, $16.6 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed! The Seahawks will save about $8 million by shedding Reed (still on the hook for a $5 million dead money figure) and are investing in Carlos Dunlap!

It’s bittersweet, because I really REALLY like Jarran Reed. But, I think the Seahawks have a better chance for success with someone like Carlos Dunlap anchoring one of the defensive end spots. We’re going to get more out of Dunlap – at least in the short-term – than we would have out of Reed, even though he’s obviously a better long-term prospect for sustained success.

Of course, now the Seahawks need to probably snag another DT. Poona Ford obviously signed an extension. Is Bryan Mone the other starter? The team really likes him, so that seems to be the way things are trending, but I imagine there’s a bargain-basement tackle out there for the Seahawks to grab.

Now, the primary pass rushing rotation includes Dunlap, Mayowa, Hyder, Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, and 2nd year rookie Darrell Taylor (not to mention Jamal Adams, of course, blitzing from every which way). Not a bad little unit! I’m MUCH more confident in this group than I was heading into 2020, or even 2019 for that matter.

The Seahawks Made A Lot Of Smallish Deals While I Was On Vacation

All right, let’s run through the list, because I got a lot to do today.

  • Nick Bellore (FB) signed a 2-year, $4.45 million deal that’s probably just a smallish 1-year deal with no guarantees in year two, to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Chris Carson (RB) signed a 2-year, $10.425 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden (only 2021 is guaranteed)
  • Ethan Pocic (C) signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Benson Mayowa (DE) signed a 2-year, $8 million (approx.) deal with two void-years tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Kerry Hyder (DE) signed a 3-year, $16.5 million deal
  • Jordan Simmons (OG) signed a small 1-year deal
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (OT) signed a 1-year deal

Okay, that’s all I know about right now. In addition, David Moore signed a 2-year deal with the Panthers; he was solid, I’m sure we all wish him well. He greatly outperformed his 7th round draft status.

The Seahawks had one of the best Special Teams units in 2020, and Nick Bellore was a major reason why, so it’s great to have him around covering kickoffs and punts. He doesn’t do much as a fullback, and I don’t expect that to change.

Chris Carson, I will admit, is a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t know if this changes the Seahawks’ needs to go out and find a long-term replacement, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That means we essentially have the same running back room as 2020, minus Carlos Hyde (but, hopefully, with a full season of Rashaad Penny). I don’t think anyone was excited about Penny as this team’s lead back, but obviously we all know the risks with Carson and his injury-prone style of play. He’s elite when he’s healthy, and it’s a continual struggle to keep him healthy. The money isn’t terrible though. There’s an out after 2021, or if he stays healthy and kills it, we have him at a reasonable number for 2022.

Ethan Pocic is an okay center. The Seahawks have had a run of okay centers for a while now. My hope is that either we look to solidify this position with one of our few draft picks, or the addition of Gabe Jackson on the left side, with the continued emergence of Damien Lewis on the right side, will mitigate Pocic’s limitations.

Love having Benson Mayowa back! Great deal for a solid player! When he was healthy last year, he really wreaked havoc, and I don’t see him as one of those injury-prone type of guys, so there’s no reason why he couldn’t bounce back to play a full 16-game season. Locked in at two years for such a low number is incredible if he reaches his full potential!

I’ll skip over the real prize of this haul and talk about Jordan Simmons. He was let go, as opposed to being tendered, and is back at a presumably-lower salary figure. He’s a depth piece, and it’s always important to have depth. I thought he played pretty well when he had to fill in for Mike Iupati, so this feels like a no-brainer.

Same thing with Ogbuehi. He struggled at first in filling in for Brandon Shell, but I thought he came on towards the end of the season. I hope to Christ that right tackle isn’t a revolving door again this year, otherwise the Seahawks are going to have to get their asses in gear for 2022. The rest of the defensive lines in the NFC West aren’t getting any WORSE, I can tell you that much!

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about Kerry Hyder.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know this man. They say he was on the 49ers last year and had 8.5 sacks, but that all flew well below my radar. He will be 30 years old this year and some have compared him to a Michael Bennett type (boy do I loathe hearing that comp after years of the Seahawks trying to draft guys to fit that mold).

It doesn’t look like Hyder has done a TON in his career. He had 8.0 sacks with the Lions in 2016, otherwise he has 2.0 sacks combined in his other four years. But, people are saying this is a great signing for the Seahawks, so I’m willing to listen to them. They’re the experts, I’m some jagweed sitting at a laptop, writing on a blog no one reads.

I think we’re all a little concerned that this means the Seahawks aren’t bringing back Carlos Dunlap. I read somewhere that the Seahawks are technically OVER the cap already, and will need to make some moves to get back down under it. But, I also read that the signing of Hyder doesn’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from also going out and getting Dunlap, as they play different defensive end spots. I don’t know if any of this is true, I haven’t done the research; I’m still mostly on vacation-mode.

With it appearing that Bruce Irvin won’t be coming back, and the salary cap what it is, this COULD be it for the major moves. How do we feel about essentially the same D-Line as last year, with Hyder in for Dunlap? Well, that puts Mayowa back in a role where he’s more of an every-down lineman, which he did notably struggle with early in the season. He blossomed when his snap counts went down and he was free to get after the quarterback at a higher rate.

It would be FUCKING AMAZING if we could also get Dunlap back in the fold, but that’s looking mighty grim, all things considered. We also have to extend Jamal Adams, after all. Maybe this is a good sign for Alton Robinson, or Darrell Taylor? We’ll see, I guess.

It’s still early, so obviously there’s a lot to go down between now and the start of the regular season.

Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Keep Around & Holes To Fill

Yesterday, I talked about the guys who need to go; today I’ll get into the guys who should stay!

In that post, you’ll find my thoughts on Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. My thoughts on them haven’t really changed; long story short: I think the Seahawks need to keep them, but will probably have to restructure their contracts by extending them to make the money work.

The good news is, assuming both are back, there really aren’t THAT many glaring holes on this roster. Which is awesome, because in addition to how strapped we are from a salary cap standpoint (as, again, I discussed in yesterday’s post), we also currently have only four draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Second Round
  • Fourth Round
  • Fifth Round
  • Seventh Round

There apparently might be a chance we get another seventh rounder back, but I’m not holding my breath. Obviously, the first and third round picks belong to the Jets from the Jamal Adams trade, so let’s start there.

Jamal Adams currently counts nearly $10 million against our 2021 salary cap. That’s actually good news! He is, of course, going to demand a contract extension that makes him one of the (if not THE) highest paid safeties in the NFL. As a player with his unique skillset (read: 9.5 sacks in 2020; 21.5 sacks in his 4-year career to date), he deserves to be paid as such. He was the best, most impactful player on our defense last season, and we gave up a bundle to acquire him; we NEED him here and happy. Thankfully, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, the first year of a new deal is always relatively cheap. So, if we tear up his 2021 portion, sign him to a 5-year contract and spread his bonus over the life of it (with fully guaranteed years in 2022 and 2023), that should make the money work and still allow us to have room to maneuver. We could also leave his 2021 as is, and just add onto it with an extension, which would have a similar effect (not saving us as much now, but also not making it so onerous in the future). It’ll be interesting to see where we go with him.

Benson Mayowa only counted a little over $3 million against us in 2020; I’d love to see him back at around that same number. When he was healthy – and not tasked to be this team’s every-down defensive end – he was extremely productive! I know we have a number of young guys along our defensive line, but it’s always a rotation of guys, and Mayowa plays a unique role that’s well-suited to him and our scheme.

Carlos Hyde earned a little under $3 million. If we let Carson walk, we’re going to need to pair SOMEONE with Rashaad Penny. Hyde was good-not-great. I would argue we could bring him back for the same or even less money; odds are he’d return in this scenario given the amount of playing time he could be looking at.

Given the news that Bruce Irvin just had to have a second surgery for his knee injury, you’d be shocked to see him on this list! But, he earned less than $5 million in 2020, and obviously he would be on the hook for significantly less money in 2021. I would bring him back on a minimum deal, with his salary tied to games played, and hope he can return by mid-season to give the defense a boost. What harm could it do? If he makes it back to form, that’s a fine addition to our linebacker/pass rush units.

Similarly, I think the Seahawks should re-sign Josh Gordon, hope he somehow gets his shit together (read: stops doing drugs, allegedly), and is allowed by the league to play again. He would also sign for the minimum, with his contract tied to games played, and would be a HUGE boost to our offense if things break right.

Cedric Ogbuehi earned a little over $2 million as a backup right tackle for us. He had a rough go when he first filled in for Brandon Shell, but improved as the weeks went on (including a nice game against the fearsome pass rush of the Washington Football Team). You can’t have enough quality backup linemen on a team (especially if my prediction for a Duane Brown injury comes true); so I’d bring Ogbuehi back on a similar deal.

***

If this more-or-less comes to pass (along with the outgoing guys I outlined yesterday), as I said up top, there aren’t a lot of holes to fill. Mike Iupati was already mostly replaced by Jordan Simmons in 2020, so we could just give Simmons the starting job out of Training Camp in 2021. We have other young linemen to fill in our depth. It’s just a matter of filling the center job (which, if I’m being honest, will probably be Ethan Pocic on a cheap extension).

I do think one of the draft picks will probably have to go to a running back, if the right guy falls to us. I’m not sure if Penny will ever return to form, and I’m not even sure if he’s the guy for our offensive scheme. At some point, he’s a sunk cost and we’ll have to move on; that being said, I don’t think Travis Homer or DeeJay Dallas are the answer either. That’s a BIG hole to fill, especially if we let Hyde walk.

I think we can get by with cheap receivers and tight ends behind the guys I’ve already talked about. And, sure, bring back Geno Smith to be our second string quarterback if you must.

Defensively, we’re pretty strong at all levels. The young linemen should only improve as we head into next season. We have plenty of linebacker depth. And, we still have three decent-to-good cornerbacks and three good-to-great safeties. It’s all depth from there.

So, again, I think running back will be our biggest hole, but I also think that’s the hole easiest to fill. I’m sure – as a team that prefers to draft 8-11 times per year – we’ll look to trade down and accumulate more picks in the later rounds. If we can come away with a running back, a center, a strong-side linebacker, and maybe another offensive tackle project (a Left Tackle Of The Future, if one exists), I’ll be thrilled. We won’t have the money to make any big outside free agent splashes, so hitting on these guys in the draft will be VITAL.