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.

The Seahawks Kicked Off The Pre-Season With A Pointless Loss To The Raiders

What do you learn when you play a game sans all of your stars against a team sans all of their stars? I reckon you learn that everything about the pre-season is meaningless and anyone who tries to attach importance to these games is deluding themselves. Game reps in fake games that don’t count are pretty much useless and all of the actual preparation for the regular season takes place in training camp and daily practices.

With all of that being said: here are a bunch of words about last Saturday’s pre-season game in Las Vegas.

First of all, boy was I happy to have DVR’d it and waited to watch it until Sunday afternoon! It was pretty clear that the refs were in pre-season form as well, taking FOR-E-VER on a few calls that would have certainly enraged me had I not been able to fast-forward through all the nonsense.

Second of all, to the people who always badmouthed Brock Huard’s color commentary, you can all go get fucked. I know you have no power over hiring and firing, and there were most likely other reasons why he’s no longer doing pre-season games with Curt Menefee (who is also awesome), but now you see how bad these broadcasts can be. Dave Wyman is a nice guy, probably, but MAN does he stink in the booth! He had very little insight to bring to the game, and he was breaking his back trying to find ways to praise all things Seahawks. I know the team controls the tone of the pre-season broadcasts, and it’s obviously one long infomercial to get people to buy tickets and generally buy-in to the Seahawks’ doings this season, but there’s a way to be friendly towards the home team while at the same time acknowledging when certain guys fuck up. I’m going to need to be VERY drunk to be able to enjoy Wyman’s blatherings next weekend.

Anyway, I took some notes on various players I saw who stood out. Some were good, some were not.

I managed to avoid any Twitter recaps of the game, so I’m largely in the dark about the number of snaps guys got. It did appear that Stone Forsythe – the rookie left tackle selected in this year’s sixth round – played the whole game (or, at least, most of it). This was due to Duane Brown’s hold out (though, of course, he never would’ve seen action in this game anyway), and all the injuries to the tackles behind him in the depth chart (notably Cedric Ogbuehi). Frankly, I was happy to see Forsythe get as much playing time as he got! Of course, there were lots of plays where he stood out negatively – especially in the early going – but I’d be curious to know what the team thought of his performance overall. I got the sense that he started to settle down a little bit. I mean, let’s face it, with this game being handed to the three backup quarterbacks, it’s not like there was much hope for us to move the ball all that well anyway.

That being said, BOY did the offense look like a bummer! A 20-7 defeat will be like that, I suppose. 3 drives and 3 punts in the first half. A touchdown drive to start the second half, followed by a missed field goal, two more punts, and an end-of-game drive that did nothing.

I’ll say this about Stone Forsythe before moving on: I hope he learned a lot and improves dramatically by next week, but I also hope that someone better than him returns from injury to help us out. Especially if Russell Wilson ends up getting ANY playing time whatsoever in this pre-season. Is it possible to hold Wilson out entirely? You know what? Why don’t we just do that. Wilson does NOT need the pre-season to get ready for the regular season; he can be just as effective getting his reps in practice, when he’s got the red jersey on and there is little-to-no chance of him getting injured by an opposing defenseman.

I’ll also say this: I have no interest whatsoever in Geno Smith being part of this team. Here’s the deal, you can’t be a statue back there. No offensive line is good enough to protect someone like Geno Smith, let alone the line we’ll be running out there, that has the potential for holes galore! Trying to envision the Seahawks coping with a Wilson injury for a few weeks is giving me flashbacks to all of those terrible Seahawks quarterbacks of the early-to-mid 90’s. Does anyone remember how bad we were in 1992? That was an all-time terrible offense, and that’s what we’d be with Geno Smith at the helm.

I’m not saying Alex McGough is a savior, or even a diamond in the rough, but at least there’s some juice! He scrambled 3 times for 25 yards; those are the kinds of plays that MIGHT keep us competitive in games until Wilson returned from a hypothetical injury. Geno Smith, on the other hand, is always going to throw short of the sticks and need everything to go perfectly for him to move the ball with any consistency. I’ll pass. Even for a backup, I don’t think he’s in the top half of all #2’s. And that’s saying something.

On the flipside, the defense was predictably soft in the early going. Nathan Peterman got pretty much all the playing time for the Raiders at quarterback, and he looked pretty great (save one interception)! That’s all you need to know about how mediocre the Seahawks were. He would’ve looked even better, but the Raiders built a 13-0 halftime lead and mostly ran out the clock in the second half, knowing they didn’t need to do much to win it.

If you could’ve bet on the Raiders scoring a TD on the first drive of the pre-season, that would’ve been easy money; I seem to remember our defense being similarly soft in LAST year’s pre-season. And, of course, by that I mean 2019’s pre-season, because there wasn’t any pre-season in 2020 thanks to COVID. Let’s go to the tape! Damn, I was close, but it was actually a field goal. Still, they marched right down the field – inside of our 10-yard line – so I’ll take it.

Starting the season off softly is a Seahawks defensive specialty. Bend, don’t break, but also sometimes break; I think Ken Norton has that written on a wall somewhere in his office.

Of course, a lot of starters were sitting out. No Jamal Adams (for obvious reasons), no Bobby Wagner (who was seen wearing a face mask on the sidelines; it’s sadly predictable if he’s one of the reasons why we won’t be 100% vaccinated this season), no Carlos Dunlap, no Poona Ford (I think). I’m sure there are some others I’m missing. Anyway, that having been said, there’s really no excuse for Peterman to be so dominant. He should suck against even our fourth stringers! That’s how inept he is.

We saw Tre Flowers give up another long pass completion. Wyman tried to praise him for not drawing a penalty – we’re really going to give kudos for THAT now? Is that how low the bar is for this Everyone Gets A Trophy generation? – but he never looked back for the ball! You can’t be a starting cornerback in this league and be afraid to turn your head back to the quarterback! Nevertheless, I don’t recall him giving up any other big deep balls, so I don’t know how Flowers was overall. He could’ve held his own except for that one play, but given his track record, all we’re going to focus on IS that one play. It’s his fourth year in the league, if he hasn’t figured it out by now, he never will. I’m okay with hanging onto him for the rest of his rookie contract, but beyond that it’s time to let him go and find someone to take his place for 2022 and beyond.

Another guy heading into his fourth year is Rasheem Green, but boy did he look okay! Everyone’s down on him, for obvious reasons. He was a third round draft pick in 2018, and even though he was young, the potential was always there for him to fill out his body and turn into someone special. That has decidely NOT come to pass. 7 career sacks in 36 career games. He’s got Just A Guy written all over him. But, in this game, he looked as close to being a “force” as you could get, collapsing the pocket, harassing the quarterback, etc. I’m almost positive he’ll be on the team this year regardless, so it would be nice if he could chip in with some impact plays every once in a while.

Jordyn Brooks got a lot of run as the de-facto leader of the defense (again, with all the starters sitting out), and he looked active! I don’t know if he was super effective, but he was running around and appeared to be making plays, so that’s a fun sign. I thought all the linebackers looked pretty good! People talk shit about BBK like it’s going out of style, but he had that great goalline play to stuff the quarterback sneak (and almost ripped the ball from his arms in the process). And Cody Barton and Darrell Taylor both looked solid as well. Overall, I’m exceedingly pleased with the linebacker depth on this team, and see no need for the Seahawks to re-sign K.J. Wright, especially at the salary cap number he’s demanding.

I’ll also shout out Alton Robinson, who looks like the good version of what we hoped Rasheem Green would’ve been. In only his second season, it seems like Robinson will not only be a major factor in the defensive end rotation, but he’ll maybe even fight to be one of the top guys! I don’t know who plays what spot, or if he’s blocked by Dunlap or something, but the more the merrier, that’s what I say!

I thought the goalline and redzone defense in general looked pretty solid. That’s a good sign for when the starters all start playing again. This defense is never going to be what it was in 2012-2014, but compared to the latter-day Seahawks defenses, the 2021 incarnation might be one of the best! I hope we get to see it at its full potential, with our stars healthy and actively playing under contracts that are fair to both them and the team.

As for the offense, with the O-Line kind of a mess, and no competent quarterback play to speak of, it was hard to see much of anything from the skill position guys. The running game never got into a groove, and our top three running backs were all held out. That left DeeJay Dallas, who looked better than expected running the ball. 5 carries for 24 yards isn’t nothing! He also had the play of the game, catching a wide open swing route and taking it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown. I like Dallas! I’m glad he upped his game and I hope to see more of this as the season progresses!

Finally, as you might expect, Michael Dickson was the MVP of the game. 5 punts, a long of 62 yards, with three of them landing inside the opposing 20 yard line. With Jason Myers missing a 50-yard field goal, Dickson was the best thing going on Special Teams.

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 Don’t Seem To Give A Shit About The 2021 NFL Draft

Get ready, in the coming days – if it hasn’t been written about ad nauseam already – to read about how the Seahawks used their first and third round picks to bring in Jamal Adams, and about how their fifth rounder was used to bring in highly-touted offensive guard Gabe Jackson, and how their sixth rounder was used to move back into the 2020 draft to select Stephen Sullivan (who is no longer with the team … oops!), and I guess one of their seventh round picks was used to help bring in Carlos Dunlap (forgetting that he was mostly a money dump for the Bengals who wasn’t going to play much for them anyway).

If you look at all of THAAAAAT, then the 2021 Seahawks draft looks pretty good, right gang?! Anyone who’s anyone would gladly take three high-quality starters out of any draft, and that doesn’t even factor in the potential of the guys the Seahawks, you know, actually draft!

Yawn.

Snort.

Spit.

The Seahawks currently sit with three draft picks as a result: 2nd round (56), 4th round (129), and 7th round (250). It’s a good thing we don’t have any long-term holes we need to fill, right?! Oh, wait.

You can’t talk about a Seahawks draft without mentioning that we’re most likely destined to trade back to acquire more picks. Even in a normal year, that’s always the modus operandi; six picks magically become 11, without any rhyme or reason. Of course, usually we have a low first rounder to dangle to teams in the upper second round (being able to control a player for a fifth year is a pretty nice carrot to offer), and this time we don’t, so we’ll see how it goes.

You also can’t talk about a Seahawks draft without mentioning that they usually select someone you wouldn’t suspect, at least with their first choice. I liked this blog post about how reading Seahawks mock drafts by national experts are a waste of time. It’s so fucking true. I mean, I would argue (and that post astutely points out) that mock drafts are a waste of time period, but this is the Internet; what is it if not a giant time-suck?

What’s great about this year is that I get to skip Thursday night entirely, so I don’t have to pretend I give a shit about a bunch of college players I don’t remember and hardly ever watched. I might tune in to watch the first hour or so, to stay informed on where some of the quarterbacks go. But, my point is, it’s not necessarily appointment viewing, and not necessarily something I have to endure to the bitter end.

That brings us to Friday, where I … can easily skip the first hour or so! The Seahawks don’t pick until close to the END of the second round. So, I can take an afternoon nap, make an involved dinner, finish my newspaper, and still have time to see the Seahawks trade down.

I mean, if the Seahawks don’t care about the NFL Draft, why should I?

What do we need? I have no idea. An offensive lineman, probably. Center? That might not be a bad idea; see if one of the better centers is available? Cornerback depth is probably a good idea. Maybe a strong-side linebacker. Maybe another running back to throw on the pile. Maybe a tight end. I dunno, there are lots of ways the Seahawks could go. They could draft a huge, run-stuffing defensive tackle for all I know!

Someone on the Mitch Unfiltered podcast said that while it’s almost a given that the Seahawks trade down with their second round pick, they shouldn’t trade down too far. I wholeheartedly agree. The lower you go, the less likely you’re going to find an impact guy who can contribute right away. 56, or thereabouts, feels like the limit to me. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care if we didn’t trade down EVER in this draft. And I CERTAINLY don’t want to see them continue to rob from future drafts to select guys in the current draft (especially if they’re only going to waive these players anyway).

This needs to be the year where everyone puts on their Big Boy Recruiting Pants and campaigns like hell for all the undrafted guys that are out there. Since no one attended games, and since there wasn’t a real combine, there are probably a lot of quality players that are going to fall through the cracks. That’s where our front office needs to do what they do best, and find those diamonds in the rough. Take advantage of a weird time in league history and discover undervalued assets.

I don’t have a gameplan or a wishlist for the Seahawks. I suppose what I said above: a center, a cornerback, and maybe a tight end would be appropriate. But, they’re going to take whoever they want to take, and it’s our job to find a way to get on board.

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.

Uhh, I think It’s Time For The Seahawks To Extend Michael Dickson, You Guys

With yesterday’s news of Carlos Dunlap being cut as a cap casualty, I thought I’d hop on Spotrac to see what the Seahawks’ salary cap looks like for 2021. While it has yet to be determined what the actual cap will be in the NFL, Spotrac is going off of a $185 million valuation; it’s interesting how that figure keeps going up based on initial worries of it being around $175 million or so. That’s still a drastic reduction from the $198 million it was in 2020, but not such dire straits that we need to be jumping out of tall buildings or anything.

Anyway, if we assume $185 million is the figure, the Dunlap release leaves the Seahawks with around $25 million in money to spend (minus whatever we need to save for draft picks and IR replacement players). Not the worst shape I’ve ever seen. Indeed, the Seahawks are only sitting on a little over a million dollars in dead money, and exactly one million of that is going to B.J. Finney. Again, not too shabby.

We’ve got a little over $89 million going to our top five players (Wilson, Wagner, Lockett, Reed, Brown), and, of course, there’s Jamal Adams’ extension to factor in (which could be a reduction in his nearly $10 million salary, if we rework everything and are able to spread money out over his signing bonus).

Beyond those guys, we’ve got our dwindling NFL Middle Class. Quandre Diggs is making just over $5.5 million, Brandon Shell accounts for over $5 million, Jason Myers is just over $4 million (he was extended through 2022, and as a guy who didn’t miss a field goal last year, is well worth his salary), and the player with the 10th-highest salary on the Seattle Seahawks is … Michael Dickson?!

Now, I know what you might be asking, because they were the first words that popped into my brain when I saw he’s earning $3,456,540 this year: “Wait, isn’t he still on his rookie contract?” And, yeah! You’d be right! He was drafted in the fifth round in 2018; 2021 is the final year of that deal. You’ll recall that Rashaad Penny was a controversial first round pick in 2018, and he’s set to make less money than our late-round punter. What gives?!

Well, Michael Dickson has an All Pro and a Pro Bowl berth under his belt, and has been among the very best punters in all of football in his young career. Per NFL rules, he has earned a “Proven Performance Bonus” which is one of those things I’m sure I was aware of, but never really gave too much thought to until I noticed that our punter is our 10th-highest paid player in a cash-strapped season (at least, as of March 9th; I’m sure that will change in the weeks and months to come).

If you look at this chart, you will see Michael Dickson is currently the second-highest paid punter in the NFL in 2021. Including Dickson, there are 13 punters earning more than a million dollars. Eight of those players are earning between 2 and 3 million, which I think is a figure one would expect to see next to a highly-rated punter in the NFL. And, certainly, with the way the Seahawks play football (largely conservative), the punter here has more impact than it does in a place like Kansas City, for instance, or other teams who tend to score on a high percentage of drives and otherwise go for it on 4th down over punting on a more regular basis.

I guess my point is, I like Michael Dickson, and I want him to be on the Seahawks for a very long time, but I don’t know if I like the idea of us paying upwards of $3.5 million per season for ANY punter. I know, in the grand scheme of things, we’re talking nickels and dimes here; but the Seahawks had among the fewest leftover salary cap dollars in the entire league last year. Every nickel and dime counts! Especially this year, where we’re in a Win Now mode, and trying to fill numerous holes on this team.

This feels like another case where we can extend him now and net a little savings in the short term with a signing bonus, while maybe controling him at a more reasonable figure for the next four years, when presumably the NFL’s salary cap will shoot back up again thanks to the new TV deal and everything else. I mean, it’s Michael Dickson, he’s young and elite; this should be a no-brainer! Assuming he doesn’t suffer some fluke catastrophic injury, he should be good to go for another decade!

I know it’s not the most pressing thing the Seahawks need to do, but sometime over the spring or summer, maybe let’s get this done and take one thing off our plate that we will otherwise have to worry about later.

I Would Like The Seahawks To Re-Sign Carlos Dunlap Please

Carlos Dunlap was set to have over a $14 million cap hit against the Seahawks in 2021, including over $3 million in a roster bonus due at some point this month. As a result of that, the fact that the NFL’s overall salary cap is going down this year, and the fact that the Seahawks didn’t have a ton of extra cap space laying around anyway, Carlos Dunlap was cut today.

It sucks, but it makes sense. This was apparently the agreement all along – after the Seahawks traded for him last year, and talked him into taking a reduced salary in the short term – so he would get a chance to test the free agent waters as a 32 year old. After all, this might be his last chance to really cash in on an open market.

I know it can be tricky when it comes to giving a lot of money to aging veterans in the NFL. I know, in fact, that the Seahawks have had recent landmines they’ve stepped on in the form of Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor (among others), who weren’t even as old as Dunlap is right now! You just never know when someone is going to suffer a career-ending injury (but, you DO know that the likelihood tends to increase with age). That’s why the smart money is NOT extending or signing guys on third or fourth contracts, unless they’re “prove-it” type deals that can be team friendly if they fail to live up to pre-signing hopes. But, in this case, I don’t care: I want the Seahawks to re-sign Carlos Dunlap. Even if it’s a three or four year deal, whatever (mostly because most of the money on those deals are only guaranteed for the first two years anyway).

Sometimes you have to take a chance. The Bucs took a chance at signing a lot of older defensive linemen, and look at what happened this past season! Defensive linemen tend to age a lot better than various other position groups. They’re not relied upon for speed so much as power, and power tends to stay with you the longer you’ve had it. Speed, on the other hand, declines much more rapidly, which is why you don’t see a lot of elderly safeties or linebackers.

Carlos Dunlap was FAR AND AWAY the best pass rushing defensive lineman for the Seahawks last year. There’s an obvious reason why Jamal Adams – a safety – led the team in sacks. Yes, part of that is because he is especially-great. But, while 9.5 sacks is MOST impressive for a person in your secondary, it’s not all that special compared to what linemen are supposed to get. Your best pass rusher SHOULD have double-digit sacks. And, I have no doubt that if Dunlap had been with Seattle for the entire season, he easily would have eclipsed that mark.

While I would have preferred not subjecting ourselves to this kind of risk – of letting Dunlap peddle his wares elsewhere, with a good likelihood of not being able to match other offers – it also does make sense to see where the market for him really is. The Bengals didn’t think very highly of him, and they definitely could have used someone of his talent and experience in their current rebuild! But, they are also notoriously cheap, so it would make sense that they’d cut and run a year or two early.

My educated guess is that Dunlap is looking to play for a winner (because he’s stated as much). My hunch is: most good teams will see what he was still able to accomplish last year and be on board with signing him. I would like to believe that the Seahawks have a leg-up, of sorts, because he knows our system, our coaching staff, and experienced at least a little bit of winning (even though the playoff exit was a bitter pill to swallow). That being said, the Seahawks are still based in and around Seattle, where almost no one in sports wants to spend their time. So, I couldn’t even say with any amount of certainty that the Seahawks – if they did just match another team’s offer – would have the tiebreaking edge. Most likely, we’d have to take that deal and improve upon it somewhat; to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse (in the non-lethal sense, of course).

That sounds grim. That sounds like there’s a less-than 50% chance of him returning. But, there is some good news. Like, for instance, he did have some nagging injuries last year that limited his playing time. A foot injury, if I’m not mistaken, and those are NEVER good. They nag, they linger, and they progressively worsen the more you’re on your feet; football players NEED to be on their feet to be effective. It’s right there in the name! So, that might downgrade his value to the rest of the league. As will, of course, the state of the NFL’s salary cap; the Seahawks aren’t the only ones who need to cut costs to make ends meet. As will the fact that those other cuts are also likely to be quality players too! There are going to be TONS of viable options out there on the free agent market; I wouldn’t say Carlos Dunlap is the best of the best. He might have to wait it out a little bit before finding a deal that’s to his liking. The longer he has to wait, the better our chances are to swoop in and steal him at the last minute.

This isn’t a be-all, end-all thing. This isn’t like re-signing Russell Wilson in his prime. But, I think Carlos Dunlap is VERY important to Seattle’s chances in 2021 and 2022. I do NOT believe in the younger guys behind him, at all! So, if we can’t bring Dunlap back, we sure as shit better figure out a way to get someone comparable to his talent level in here. Because this defense needs HELP!

And, quite frankly, it would be nice to not have to have this exact concern heading into each and every fucking season from now until the end of time.

This Will Not Be Bobby Wagner’s Last Season With The Seahawks

Contrary to my theory last October, it looks like Bobby Wagner will be here to stay, at least for a little while longer.

Funny thing about these contracts signed by future Hall of Famers: sometimes they come with roster bonuses you don’t see coming (unless you read the fine print).

Effective February 12, 2021, Bobby Wagner’s contract saw an additional $5 million become guaranteed money, raising his “dead cap” figure from $7.5 million to an untenable $12.5 million. What was – at one time – a possible savings of around $10 million (had we cut him timely), has now morphed into a relatively meaningless potential savings of $4.65 million. It’s not happening.

Not that I REALLY believed it would, but now here we are. While the salary cap probably won’t be in a dreaded $170-$175 million range, it’s probably not going to be significantly higher than $180 million, which is a far cry from the $198.2 million it was in 2020. The Seahawks – as I’ve belabored over and over again – are pretty much right up against that $180 million figure (when you factor in draft picks, practice squad, and Injured Reserve replacements) thanks to a number of high-money veterans currently under contract (including one Bobby Wagner). In order to do all the things we need to do (like extend Jamal Adams, or … you know, field a 53-man roster), the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING.

Instead of cutting Wagner – which again, was ALWAYS a long shot at best – we might be in a spot where we have no choice but to rework his deal (taking his base salary – of $13.15 million – and converting it into a signing bonus spread out over the remaining years of his deal). Without extending him, that means a savings of $6.575 million, which is a start (we could save even more if we tack on another year or two to his current deal, which would make him a Seahawks mainstay until the age of 35 potentially (if it’s a 2-year extension).

Everything I’ve been told about the NFL and its salary cap is: the worst thing you can do is continually kick the can down the road. Because, eventually, shit hits the fan and you’re stuck in Cap Hell for a year or two. It’s how you get these crazy swings from teams like the Dallas Cowboys (who go from 12 wins to 4 wins at the drop of a hat). Now, obviously, the pandemic changes things, as a lot of teams are going to have to kick the can in this fashion – extending their veterans, converting base salary into bonuses – just to make ends meet for the time being. But, now everything I’m reading is telling me that this is suddenly okay? That “creative financing” in the NFL happens all the time, and teams are pretty much free to do whatever they want as long as they cook their books accordingly?

I dunno, seems sketchy. Seems like a great way to run into some REALLY lean years sooner or later. I like a good escape hatch. When things get bad, I like to know I have an easy out, without a lot of repercussions. Getting stuck with aging veterans past their prime, who you can’t cut because they’re guaranteed too much money, isn’t my idea of a great Sunday afternoon in front of the television.

The janky-ass thing about all of this is that it’s not likely to stop with Bobby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not super stoked about seeing Carlos Dunlap walk; not after I watched this defense before and after he arrived this past season! Gotta extend him! And, I don’t know if you heard, but the Seahawks haven’t developed a competent, in-house left tackle since Russell Okung in 2010; so that probably means extending Duane Brown until he’s 40! I mean, I could go on and on, but there are a bunch of guys I’d like to have back on this team in 2021, who are free agents; but, just running back the same dudes doesn’t figure to see much in the way of improvement over a team that lost in the Wild Card round last season! Not when you KNOW this team needs to trim some fat – guys like Chris Carson or K.J. Wright, who play non-premium positions, yet will be asking for premium dollars – and could conceivably be worse at running back and linebacker heading into this season as a result.

I dunno. I don’t know what the Seahawks are going to do. What I DO know is: whatever that ends up being, it’s going to include Bobby Wagner in the middle of that defense.