Have The Seahawks Done Enough At Cornerback?

The Seahawks seem pretty well set at safety. Quandre Diggs is back in the fold, Jamal Adams isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; the two of them comprise the highest-paid safety tandem in the NFL. Then, there’s Marquise Blair and Ryan Neal backing them up. That seems like a very solid group, maybe even the best group of safeties in the entire NFL.

Or, you could say it’s the most injury-prone safety group in the NFL. Either way, there isn’t a ton of coverage going on, especially with Adams being deployed as a sack specialist. What about, you know, the guys who try to prevent opposing wide receivers from gashing us up and down the field? What about the cornerback spot?

Coming into this offseason, we really only had Ugo Amadi and Tre Brown locked in as sure bets to make the 2022 roster. Amadi is a hybrid safety/nickel corner, and Brown was a rookie coming off of season-ending injury. That’s not really … good.

With the start of free agency, some things are becoming clearer. Our best corner, D.J. Reed, won’t be back. Our next-best corner, Sydney Jones, is back. Conceivably, if Brown returns fully healthy, the duo of him and Jones feels strong-ish. But, there’s also a lot you could easily question about going with those two.

As insurance, the Seahawks signed Artie Burns, who played with the Bears under new defensive guru Sean Desai. We also, just today, brought back Justin Coleman, who was great with us in 2017-2018. He went away to make the bulk of his money, but now he’s reasonably-priced again and can help us solidify our nickel corner spot.

It’s tough to say, this early in the offseason, whether or not Burns or Coleman have legitimate shots at making the team, or are just here as camp fodder. Burns appears to be earning $2 million, so that feels significant, but it’s unclear if he’s also a nickel or if he plays outside. That makes a big difference. If the Seahawks are just stockpiling nickel corners, then it would make sense that we look to the draft once again. But, maybe we’re sold on Brown, and he’s healing as he should. Then, it’s fair to wonder if the Seahawks are more or less done, with a secondary that looks like this:

  • Sidney Jones (CB)
  • Quandre Diggs (FS)
  • Jamal Adams (SS)
  • Tre Brown (CB)
  • Ugo Amadi (FS/CB)
  • Marquise Blair (SS)
  • Ryan Neal (SS)
  • Artie Burns (CB)
  • Justin Coleman (CB)

Is that enough? It’s clear what we’ve done at the safety position means we’ve opted to go cheap on corner, but there also appears to be real value guys in that group. Lots of underrated talent earning less than they probably should. It leads me to believe that the Seahawks are opting to use their draft picks in the first two rounds at other areas of need. Probably offensive tackle and defensive end. Maybe (but I hope not) quarterback.

It’s hard to get too excited about this team, knowing the black hole we have at the most important position. Really, does it MATTER if the Seahawks are good in the secondary, if they’ve got Drew Lock or Geno Smith or even Baker Mayfield behind the center? It’s not like we’re going to have the world’s best defense; this isn’t going to be the Trent Dilfer Ravens or anything. You have these conversations when you’ve already got the franchise quarterback, not when you just traded him away. Making marginal improvements with a non-elite secondary only matters if you’ve got the QB to carry the rest of the load.

But, until we know what the Seahawks plan to do at QB, we can’t just sit here and bemoan that one spot. There are other things to talk about! Like the return of Justin Coleman. Do you think he still has it? I’m legitimately curious! He was never better than when he was with Seattle. Now he’s back!

Just as we’re shifting away from the style of defense we played here in his heyday. Ha.

The Seahawks Signed & Lost Some Guys

There’s only one downside to my going to Reno at this time every year for the first weekend of March Madness, and it’s pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. But, this is always the time of year where major NFL deals go down, as well as interesting MLB Spring Training news happening. It’s certainly not a dead zone when it comes to being a sports blogger!

So, while I would love to give these guys the individual posts they deserve, I’m going to have to settle for running through a bunch of names here, and hope that maybe the Seahawks can hold off on doing anything else noteworthy until after I get back.

Quandre Diggs: 3 years, $40 million

Love it! Clearly, he was the best safety on our team last year, and was easily the best player in our secondary. You could argue he was the best player on our entire defense, and was one of the best free safeties in the NFL. It’s a short-term deal – which likely means we’re still getting his very best seasons – and it’s not a prohibitive amount of money.

The downside, of course, is now we’ve wrapped up the most expensive safety duo in the NFL. That’s not an ideal use of limited resources. But, you can afford to do this with Bobby Wagner’s money off the books, so I’m okay with it.

Al Woods: 2 years, $9 million

Love it! He was great last year in the middle of our line. Plus, really, it’s just a one year deal with the option of keeping him around if he continues to play at the level he showed in 2021.

The downside is: he’ll be 35 years old this year. So, that cliff could be coming at any moment.

Sidney Jones: 1 year, $3.6 million (up to $4.4 million with incentives)

Love it! Helluva deal for a guy who was pretty solid for us last year. Considering we had no one under contract to play outside corner (except for Tre Brown, a rookie last year who ended his season on the IR), to get a viable starter for such a low cost is outstanding.

The downside is: it’s only a one year deal. So, if he balls out and becomes a Pro Bowler, he’ll command a huge raise for 2023 and beyond (when you’d think we could’ve locked him up on a reasonable deal for 2-3 years).

Will Dissly: 3 years, $24 million

Ehh, I like it. He’s a blocking tight end who had significant injury issues for the first two years of his career. His role was severely scaled back the past two seasons, so this seems like a bit of an over-pay.

The upside is: he’s Will Fucking Dissly. And, this way, we don’t have to worry about tight end in the draft. With Fant, Dissly, and Parkinson, we look pretty well set. Also, Dissly is a known commodity, who fits well with the system we like to run. There won’t be growing pains, and he’ll be around to help Fant fit in, while continuing to help Parkinson develop.

Jamarco Jones: Signed With Tennessee

I don’t mind it. He’s always had talent. He’s always been a very capable offensive lineman when healthy. He even had the potential to be a reliable every-game starter. The only thing holding him back was his ability to stay healthy. It’s been four consecutive years of being injured, I don’t see that ever changing for him.

Sounds like the Titans got a pretty good deal for him, though. Two years, less than $6 million total, with just over $3 million guaranteed. That’s a nice little flier for someone who does have ability when he’s healthy.

D.J. Reed: Signed With The Jets

This one hurts a bit. 3 years, $33 million doesn’t sound like a whole lot when you know he’s a competent starter who is borderline elite. He doesn’t generate the type of turnovers to be in that top, top tier. But, otherwise, he’s as lockdown as you can get for that price range. I read somewhere that the consensus believed he’d sign for around $8.5 million per year on average, so this would be a considerable jump from those estimates. Maybe that’s what the Seahawks were hoping to sign him at?

It also hurts because I don’t know what this gets us back in a potential compensatory pick. A 4th rounder, maybe? I’m very interested to see what the Seahawks plan to do here. If they’re looking to make a bigger splash, then that guy better be leaps and bounds better. If they’re looking to select someone in the first two rounds of the draft, then I hope he pans out. If they’re trying to go cheap at the position of cornerback – while spending so much on the safety spot – then that’s asking a lot from someone like Tre Brown, whose rookie season was drastically cut short due to injury. I get you can’t pay everyone, but an average of $11 million for a good-to-great starting cornerback seems like something any team should be able to fit in its budget.

The Top 20 Seahawks Of 2021

The theme of this offseason – which I alluded to last Friday, but don’t think I properly answered – is: How Quick Can The Seahawks Get Back To Contending For Championships? Turning things around can be a little nebulous; if by “turning around” you mean getting back to the playoffs, as I’ve said before, we can pretty much run the same team back and hope variance takes care of everything else (on top of a second year with the same coordinator, and a little better injury luck). But, I don’t think very many of us are satisfied with “just making the playoffs”. We’ve been “just making the playoffs” pretty much the entire time Russell Wilson has been in the league! After getting a taste of back-to-back Super Bowls, I think the more hardcore fans are now rabid animals, desperate to get back no matter the cost.

The 2021 Seahawks were a collosal disappointment, no doubt about it. We started the season 3-8, it doesn’t get a whole lot worse than that. We lost to a lot of teams we had no business losing to (the Titans, the Vikings, the Steelers, the Saints, the Football Team, the Bears). Flip half of those games and we’re at 10 wins and in the playoffs. It’s not like we were TERRIBLE though. We finished 7-10 – a record we absolutely deserved – but we’re not in such bad shape that the roster MUST be completely turned over.

I have a list of 20 Seahawks from the 2021 team. I’ve split them into three categories: young rising stars, good guys who would find regular work on other teams, and the cream of the crop established superstars. So, let’s go in that order.

Young, Rising Stars

  • Jake Curhan (RT)
  • Tre Brown (CB)

Most every year, you stumble upon at least a guy or two who comes out of nowhere to really make an impact. Tre Brown was the first one this past season. As a 4th round draft pick, I didn’t expect a whole lot – if anything – from Tre Brown, as a rookie, or really throughout his career. The odds are stacked so far against you as a Day 3 draft pick. You could argue the Seahawks have had a lot of success drafting DBs late, but you could also argue we haven’t done so since 2012 (unless you’re a big Ugo Amadi fan; he’s okay, I guess, but I wouldn’t call him a rousing success). Tre Flowers, Tedric Thompson, Michael Tyson, Tye Smith, etc. are all the Day 3 busts we’ve accumulated since the L.O.B. heyday; I think we’ve proven that we’re not capable of just throwing any ol’ draft pick out there and turning them into studs.

So, yes, Tre Brown was a breath of fresh air! He was aggressive, without being reckless. He fit into the system without giving up huge cushions of yardage pre-snap. And, most importantly, he supplanted Tre Flowers once and for all, allowing us to cut him when he finally ran out of chances to make it in this defense. Which made his injury in November that much more demoralizing, because Brown looked like he’d be a 4-year starter with this team right away. Now, he’s gotta recover from knee surgery, and who knows how long it’ll be until he returns to form, if ever? I’m still holding out hope, though not for a 2022 return.

Jake Curhan, on the other hand, looks like he’s here to stay. He was an undrafted rookie in 2021 who slipped in the draft due to medicals. Those medicals don’t project to be as serious as once thought, and it appears he’ll be able to have a long and fruitful NFL career. He was able to slide into the right tackle spot when Brandon Shell went down with injury, and he really impressed! His pass protection isn’t quite there yet, but it’s not as dire from a tackle as it is with a guard; Russ was able to work with it and get away from a lot of the pressure coming from that side. Curhan’s run blocking proved to be top notch though, so at least he does SOMETHING well! That’s more than we could say for the revolving door that’s been the right tackle spot since Breno Giacomini manned the position. Making it through his rookie season injury-free gives me even more hope as we head into 2022, when he’ll project to take a step forward in his development.

Better Than Replacement-Level Players

  • Gerald Everett (TE) *
  • Damien Lewis (G)
  • Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Al Woods (DT) *
  • Carlos Dunlap (DE)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Sidney Jones (CB) *
  • D.J. Reed (CB) *
  • Rasheem Green (DE) *

I didn’t put these in any particular order, but if I’m being honest, D.J. Reed was the one I was most on the fence about; he might be an elite player, I’d just like to see more than 2 interceptions a year out of an elite corner.

These are all guys who aren’t quite studs, but if we cut them (or they’re free agents, which is what the * represents), I would expect all of these guys to find jobs on other teams. Anyone I didn’t list here, or in the upcoming elite category, are guys who may or may not find work elsewhere, but don’t have a ton of value to an NFL team outside of depth.

These guys, however, are productive enough, but I could probably take ’em or leave ’em. They all have flaws. Everett is a weird headcase who cost us too many yards in stupid fucking penalties (not to mention all the drops). Lewis has run into a string of injuries and doesn’t feel quite as irreplaceable as he was as a promising rookie. Robinson just didn’t take that next step in his second year, finishing with a disappointing number of sacks. Poona and Woods are run-stuffing tackles, there’s a ceiling for what those guys are (and it’s in this category). Dunlap has only showed up for half-a-season in each of his two years here. Wagner’s just flat out lost a step and doesn’t make the same number of impact plays as he did as a young buck. Jones and Reed need to generate more turnovers. And Green is taking his sweet-ass time to really bust out as a force in this league.

Elite Seahawks Studs

  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Rashaad Penny (RB) *
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)
  • Darrell Taylor (LB/DE)
  • Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Jamal Adams (S)
  • Quandre Diggs (S) *

Again, no particular order, but Brooks is the one I was most on the fence about. He might just be another guy. But, he led the team in tackles in his second season (his first as a starter), and all the smart football wonks have been praising his play since he started getting in there. There haven’t been a ton of impact plays, but he’s making all the regular ones, and he’s another guy who should continue to improve over the next year or two.

Diggs and Penny both feel like guys who need to be re-signed. It’s tantalizing to envision a scenario where Penny can stay healthy and dominate the league (I’ll be FASCINATED to see where he goes on fantasy football draft boards heading into next year).

Seeing the offensive players on this list, it’s all the more frustrating that we weren’t able to move the football and score as much as we’d like. So many NFL teams would KILL for the type of talent we have at the skill positions. Let’s hope – if things do carry over into 2022 – that it was just an adjustment period to the new offensive coordinator, and we’re now over the hump.

As for the defense, those were some nice players for us (particularly encouraging to see Taylor here, considering this was his first full year, after being injured his entire rookie season), but in order for Taylor to remain on this list, he’s going to have to really turn it up in 2022, and be a kind of Von Miller-like talent off the edge. The Seahawks have been in dire need of that kind of pass rushing monster for years now; if they don’t get it this offseason, then I’d expect more of the same middling finishes for years to come.

We’re not bereft of talent, but obviously you’d like to see more than 8 players in that elite category. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, but that feels like a tall ask to do in one offseason.

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.

The Seahawks Won A Meaningless Blowout Over The Lions

For as bad as the Seahawks have been this season – and make no mistake, 6-10 with one game to go is pretty damn bad – this one felt a little predictable. There was no way the Seahawks were going to lose to the Bears AND the Lions at home in back-to-back weeks. Just as predictable – as it turns out – that there was no way we were going to beat them in back-to-back weeks either.

The Lions are one of the worst teams in the entire league. It turns out there’s a pretty significant difference between the two very worst teams (the Jags and Lions) and everyone else. The Seahawks beat the Jags and Lions by a combined 82-36. So, if you’re looking at our +21 point differential on the season, look no further and go ahead and put that line of thinking out of your mind. That season-long point differential is almost identical to the outcome of our game with the Lions yesterday, which we won 51-29.

That doesn’t mean we were particularly unlucky, or that we deserve to be at or better than a .500 team. That just means we beat the everloving shit out of the two worst teams in football, but we ourselves are still in the bottom ten of all NFL teams for a reason.

I know it’s tempting to look at this game as some sort of turning point. That maybe, if you squint, you could see the offense rebounding (if we managed to keep the band together for one more go-around) next season. But, these are the Lions we’re talking about. They have no talent whatsoever on defense. Their offense didn’t do much of anything at all in the first half, then gave us a bunch of short fields in the second half. We could’ve put up 60+ if we wanted to (or if we were in any way competent at recovering onside kicks).

One interesting thing to talk about is the emergence of Rashaad Penny. I know, I know, but if you could hold off on your dramatic eye rolling for a minute, hear me out. I just want to talk; see, I’m unarmed!

For reasons that are abundantly clear to any Seahawks fan, this is the greatest stretch of success in Rashaad Penny’s 4-year NFL career. He’s long showed flashes in VERY short 1-game bursts (12 for 108 and a TD in 2018 against the Rams; 14 for 129 and a TD in 2019 against the Eagles), but here are his lines over the last four games (in four consecutive injury-free weeks, no less!):

  • 16 for 137 and 2 TDs at Houston
  • 11 for 39 at the Rams
  • 17 for 135 and a TD vs. Chicago
  • 25 for 170 and 2 TDs vs. Detroit

That’s 69 carries for 481 yards, for a 6.97 yards per carry average. That is, of course, a clinically insane level of dominance for a running back, but it at least establishes a ceiling for Mr. Penny. It’s just unfortunate that it’s taken him this long to show what he can do (to be fair, he might’ve shown it sooner, but he was always blocked by Chris Carson even when he was healthy).

I’m not saying the Seahawks need to extend him, but I’m also not totally against it either. This is another case where I wouldn’t care if some other team blew him away with an amazing offer. But, if we wanted to give him an incentive-laden deal, it might be worth our while. That assumes, of course, that our objective isn’t to blow the whole thing up and start over.

In other news, it was cool to see D.K. Metcalf finally bust out with 3 TDs. He’ll likely have foot surgery this offseason, and then we’ll see. It seems like these types of big & tall receivers tend to have chronic foot problems for their entire careers. But, as long as they’re capable of totally taking over games like this, they’re worth the consternation (I would still, nevertheless, trade him while the value is still sky-high, especially if Russell Wilson is also going to force his way out).

If this was Russell Wilson’s last home game in a Seahawks uniform, he went out looking very Wilson-esque: 20/29 for 236, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs. What wasn’t Wilson-esque was the fact that he only took 1 sack for -4 yards. I’m not used to that level of efficiency from our O-Line, but you don’t get to play the Lions every week.

If this was Bobby Wagner’s last home game in a Seahawks uniform, he went out with a whimper, getting injured on the first series of the game (the first play?). It was strange, because it looked like he tried to go right back into the game even though he had to sit out at least a play, but then he just went to the locker room and never returned. I can’t help but wonder if there are some injury guarantees attached to the final year of his contract, and the team was using an abunance of caution to make sure he didn’t do significant damage. We’ll know more if he’s in the game next week down in Arizona.

Apparently, this game also featured the first interceptions of the season by the Seahawks’ cornerback room. D.J. Reed had two and Ugo Amadi had one (if we still consider him to be a nickel corner and not a safety). That’s something, I guess.

It was also nice to see Jason Myers get back on the horse in not-so-great weather conditions. I’m of the mind that kickers will fluctuate in their level of effectiveness from year to year, so I’m not necessarily clamoring for the Seahawks to cut him and start over. He could just as easily bounce back and be nails again in 2022.

That’s all I got. One more game to go. Then, we can mercifully focus on literally anything else.

The Rams To Cover Against The Seahawks Seems Like The Easiest Money I’ve Ever Seen

It sure does seem like the Seahawks have been screwed by the NFL postponing our game against the Rams in L.A. thanks to their rampant outbreak of COVID this past week. The extra two days have allowed the Rams to get back some of their best players – like Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller – while it’s led to the Seahawks losing guys like Tyler Lockett, D.J. Reed, and Bryan Mone (although, I get the argument that a couple of these positive tests came down on Sunday, in time to eliminate them from competition for that day; you wonder if there wouldn’t otherwise be some delayed reporting at play if the game indeed took place as originally scheduled).

Of course, the Rams always had Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford available, so it’s probably fair to assume they would’ve roundly defeated the Seahawks anyway. What might’ve been a forfeit for L.A. is now looking like a certain victory, especially considering they have everything to play for (a win would put them in the driver’s seat for the division) while the Seahawks have next-to-nothing to play for.

It’s baffling, then, why the Rams are only favored by 7 points. This is as big of a no-brainer as I’ve ever seen; I would’ve figured the spread would be anywhere from 8-10 points considering the matchup, regardless of what’s been happening with the comings and goings of COVID-tested players the last few days.

Earlier this season, at home, in primetime (when we usually play our best), the Seahawks lost 26-17. Granted, that was the game where Russell Wilson mashed his finger; but that injury happened late enough for the game to already be decided (10 fourth quarter points led by Geno Smith against a prevent defense doesn’t – as Shania Twain once said – impress-ah me much).

Last year, the Seahawks famously went 1-2 against the Rams, losing on the road by a touchdown and at home in the playoffs by 10 points. In 2019, we lost in L.A. by a whopping 16 points. Putting up points has been exceedingly difficult against the Rams in recent seasons, particularly due to the fact that their defensive line owns property in our backfield. Every third down feels impossible, because one or more individuals are right on top of Russell Wilson within a second or two.

It doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about; this dates back for the entirety of the Russell Wilson era in Seattle. Now, focus in on 2021. These 5-8 Seahawks have been pretty atrocious, especially on offense. The O-Line has been a miserable failure, Russell Wilson has yet to adapt to the new scheme, and points have been VERY hard to come by. Who in their right mind would expect this Seahawks team to hang with a 9-4 Rams team playing for the division and a possible top seed in the NFC?

7 points feels like a gift. Even assuming some sort of back-door cover, the worst you should expect is a push. But, this feels like a game where the Rams will get a two-score lead early and coast to victory. I expect something in the 33-13 range, with a minimum of 4 sacks on Russell Wilson, and something like a 20% conversion rate on 3rd/4th downs. It’s required a hostile takeover to get back the Taylor Family Farm, but I’m willing to once again put it all on the line in this one. The Rams will have no trouble whatsoever dismantling the Seahawks later today. Get your bets in now; you can thank me later!

Cooper Kupp against a depleted secondary (missing both Reed and Jamal Adams), the Rams’ running game against our depleted defensive line (losing Mone in the interior is huge towards our ability to stop the run), and, of course, Aaron Donald & Co. will continue beating our asses like the red-headed step-children that we are.

When it’s all over, once and for all we can give up the dream on the 2021 season (if you haven’t already done so). Just in time to lose two of our next three games to close out the year in miserable fashion. Yay football.

The Seahawks Were Sloppy, Inept; Lost In Overtime To The Titans

I have a very strong belief that 30 points should be enough to win any game in the NFL. If you lose a game where you score 30 points, that means your defense stinks and gave the game away. It’s a very nearly foolproof theory, but here we have the Seahawks losing to the Titans 33-30, and my first instinct is to blame the offense.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Seahawks’ defense more than helped gift-wrap this game to the Titans; they were as undisciplined as I’ve ever seen them. They gave up 182 yards to Derrick Henry and 347 yards to Ryan Tannehill. Julio Jones had 128 yards receiving and A.J. Brown would’ve had something similar if he wasn’t on my fantasy team and therefore dropping 2 out of every 3 passes thrown his way. They couldn’t cover anyone, they took bad angles, they over-pursued in their pass rush – leaving wide-open cut-back lanes for Henry, as well as large chunks of YAC to him in the screen game. Oh, and they had about a billion stupid penalties to keep Titans’ drives alive, many of them converting third down incompletions into first downs. Late hits to the quarterback, taunting, late hits out of bounds. Just the stupidest fucking infractions that – make no mistake – the Seahawks were 100% guilty of. These are the rules the NFL has decided to put in place. All the players know these are the rules. You can bring your gripes to the NFL’s front office, but the refs on the field did their jobs in enforcing some of these idiotic rules. Some 90 year old white owner doesn’t like it when players yell at each other and show any semblance of emotion, so now we’re stuck in this world (until they finally come to realize no one enjoys the No Fun League and de-emphasize them again).

Anyway, yeah, the Seahawks’ defense could’ve drastically helped themselves by not being fucking knuckleheads. But, I’m sorry, this game is on the offense.

How do you run up a 24-9 halftime lead and lose 33-30? It’s no coincidence that the Titans’ offense exploded for everything in the second half; the Seahawks’ defense was fucking exhausted from being on the field the entire time! Time of Possession is usually a meaningless stat, but the Titans had the ball for 42:33 compared to our 22:42. You’ll take that sort of discrepancy in the first half, when the Seahawks were connecting on big plays and scoring fast touchdowns. But, the second half saw the Seahawks punt the ball on 4 out of 6 possessions (the other two were a quick-strike 68-yard TD pass to Freddie Swain, who got behind the defense somehow on 3rd & 12; and the last possession of the half, that ended because we ran out of time). The Seahawks had one drive in the second half and overtime that went almost 5 minutes (before a punt); every other possession lasted anywhere from 29 seconds to 1:54.

And, in that span, the Titans got stronger on both sides of the ball. Derrick Henry was like tackling a real life rhinoceros. He was never going to be denied when he had the ball in his hands. It’s almost insane that the Titans played for the tie at the end, because there’s no way in hell we could’ve stopped him on a 2-point conversion to win it. That’s why I’m not mad at Jason Myers for missing that extra point in the second half. This outcome was inevitable.

I don’t know, exactly, what the deal was with the offense, either. Clearly, we couldn’t run the ball. That’s a problem. I don’t think it was for want of trying, Carson had 13 carries. But, he only generated 31 yards; so, is that an offensive line issue? Is it a play-calling issue? Is it Russell Wilson having a bad game and making poor decisions? Is it the scheme?

There were a couple of frustrating moments in the first half, but otherwise I thought the offense looked as good as it did a week ago in Indy. Then, it just totally shut down, against a defense who – again – let Freddie Swain beat them for 68 yards!

I figured I’d be more upset by the loss, but to tell the truth I’m more baffled than anything. It’s like someone hit me in the head and I’m left in a daze. I know for a fact I’d be much more angry if this loss came to an NFC West opponent, or one of the other NFC contenders. But, honestly? If you’re going to lose a game, losing one to an AFC opponent isn’t the worst thing in the world. As far as tie-breakers go, it’s relatively harmless. Of course, you can’t have too many of these, because the ultimate tie-breaker is simple Win/Loss record. But, the 2021 Seahawks were never going to go undefeated. If this wakes us up and gets us to perform better and smarter against the teams we really NEED to beat, then I don’t think all hope is lost.

But, if this is foreshadowing a defense that’s going to be totally inept – either because we don’t have the talent to stop high-level offenses, or because we don’t have the coordinator to coach these guys up – and an offense that’s going to go in the tank for long stretches of games, then I guess we’ll all look back at this loss as a bad omen for the season.

My ultimate take-away is that we’re never going to see the Titans again. Their offense was always going to be a bad matchup for us. But, thankfully, no NFC team has a running back like Derrick Henry; as far as running backs go, the only scary one remaining on our schedule is Dalvin Cook next week, and I expect us to be super fired up to shut him down after being so thoroughly embarrassed on the ground this past Sunday. So, it’s not like we have to worry about the Titans competing for a playoff spot with us, or have them looming as a potential post-season opponent (yes, I understand the Super Bowl is a thing that exists, but there’s no way the Titans are making it out of the AFC). On to Minnesota.

Kudos to Lockett (8 for 178 and a TD) and Swain (5 for 95 and a TD). Anti-Kudos to Metcalf (6 for 53 on 11 targets, plus multiple penalties).

Kudos to Bobby Wagner for his 20 tackles, his sack, and his two quarterback hits. Kudos to Al Woods for being an animal in the middle (filling in for Bryan Mone, who was out injured), with 7 tackles and a sack. Kudos to Alton Robinson for his sack and forced fumble, and to Kerry Hyder for recovering that fumble and being a menace in the backfield.

Anti-Kudos to the secondary. Just, all of it. D.J. Reed had an awful taunting penalty. Tre Flowers had his usual miserable game. Quandre Diggs couldn’t contain Henry on his 60-yard touchdown. And Jamal Adams had no positive impact on this game, while negatively impacting it with his own penalties. Fucking sorry effort by the whole lot of ’em.

Also, a weird bad game from our kicking duo. Michael Dickson had at least two punts sail into the endzone, and of course, Myers had that missed extra point that loomed potentially large. I guess there’s a non-zero chance the defense might’ve stopped Henry an inch short of the goalline, or maybe the Titans would’ve run a dumb non-Henry play for the game-tying 2-point conversion had they needed it to force overtime. I dunno.

Lots to work on before next week! Maybe start with the rulebook.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Cornerbacks

This feels like a timely position group to talk about, considering the recent moves.

Let’s start with the trade for Sidney Jones. We sent Jacksonville a sixth round pick for him, so you’d expect he’ll have every opportunity to start. Jones, of course, was a standout with the University of Washington, and might’ve even been a first round pick if it weren’t for an injury that led him to slide to the second round. That felt like a steal for the Eagles at the time, but unfortunately the injury bug has followed him into the NFL. All these injuries seem to have stunted his NFL development to the point where he’s really just been a fringe starter at best. The Eagles waived him after the 2019 season and he played last year in Jacksonville before coming here.

I’d like to say that all he needs to do is stay healthy and he’ll be an effective player for us, but I can’t make that guarantee. Even if he’s 100%, I don’t know if he’s necessarily any better than anyone else we’ve got on the roster. Besides, who knows if he’s a fit for our scheme and the way we like our cornerbacks to play defense? It’s a nice low-risk gamble on a guy with a good amount of talent, but I’m not getting my hopes up that it’ll pay off like gangbusters.

Which is a shame, because the Seahawks really needed the front office to make a splash at this spot. It feels like we’re an elite cornerback away from being a Top 5 defense. Unfortunately, the difference is quite significant, as I can see this as – at best – a Top 15 unit. I’m expecting lots of soft coverage, lots of first downs by opponents, more deep completions than we’re used to seeing given up, and a complete and utter lack of turnovers generated. Hopefully our run defense can step it up and be an impact-maker, and hopefully we get enough timely sacks to help us win a lot more than we lose. But, without that lockdown corner, I just don’t see us being able to make the stops necessary in the playoffs to get to the Super Bowl.

There’s lots of nice second- and third-tier cornerbacks on this roster, though. Starting with D.J. Reed, who isn’t a lockdown corner, but is the next tier down. He’s been injured all pre-season, of course, so that’s a concern. Next man down the ladder is probably Sidney Jones, who I’ve talked about. Then, there’s Ugo Amadi, who is a nice nickel/slot corner. Between him and Marquise Blair (both listed as safeties), we’ve got a couple of nice specialist coverage men who can get the little guys and big guys, respectively.

It gets dicey from there. Ahkello Witherspoon was a moderate free agent signing this past offseason from the 49ers. He disappointed in San Francisco throughout his career, until the back-half of this past season, and now we’re supposed to believe he’s fixed all of his problems? By many accounts, he’s looked like nothing special in training camp and pre-season. He’s been competing with Tre Flowers, who still isn’t guaranteed a spot on this team – even though he made the initial 53-man roster – because he has zero guaranteed dollars in the final year of his deal. Many fans and beat writers alike were surprised to see him even make the 53-man! We all know what Tre Flowers is, and based on what we’ve seen in the pre-season, we know that nothing has changed. He’s serviceable; which means he’s far from great.

The last one left is Tre Brown, who is one of our three rookie draft picks this year. I’ve heard both good and bad things about him in practice, which puts him in line with most every rookie ever.

I don’t think the plan was to intentionally skimp on the cornerback spot, but clearly more resources were poured into the safety, linebacker, and defensive line spots. The default thinking from there is: if we can harass the opposing quarterback enough, then the cornerbacks won’t have to work as hard (especially if we can do enough of that harassing with our base four linemen). The problem with that is, even when we blitz, there are going to be times where the protection holds up. And, I fear those’ll be the times when opposing offenses hit us for big plays in our swiss cheese secondary.

I think this unit tops out at a B-, and bottoms out at a D+. The Glass Half Full thinker might believe D.J. Reed IS a shutdown corner, and Jones or Witherspoon continue to take steps in the right direction. Cornerback will always be a liability, but maybe it can be a limited one.

The Glass Half Empty thinker might worry that the top-end depth in this unit gets injured, and bemoan the fact that we didn’t go after Stephon Gilmore in a trade. That’s the type of Go For It attitude this team needs to really put it over the top. The Rams did something similar with Jalen Ramsey, and they’re all the better for it.

UPDATE 9/3/2021: My how the tables have turned! Tre Flowers went from looking like he might get cut to being the starter opposite D.J. Reed. Meanwhile, Witherspoon was traded to the Steelers for a 2023 5th round pick (they’re likelier to be worse in 2022 than they’ll be in 2021, so I like that we pushed it a year), and it sounds like the Seahawks still aren’t done making moves. I’m disappointed that I did the Cornerbacks post so early, with so much yet to come in the next few days.

The Seahawks Looked Dreadful In A Pre-Season Loss To The Broncos

In yet another game where no starters played, we saw an offense that couldn’t do a God damn thing, and a defense that was somehow both better and worse than it was a week ago. Again, I don’t know what you can glean from a performance like this, other than the depth on the Seahawks might be a HUGE problem. Don’t get injured, good starters!

On top of Wilson taking another week off, the Seahawks also kept Geno Smith safely stashed on the sidelines. Alex McGough got the start and had three horrific turnovers in his half of play; clearly not a great way to stay on this particular team. Sean Mannion looked marginally better by comparison, but averaged a measly 5.1 yards per attempt against Broncos 3rd and 4th stringers, so …

Still nothing from the running game. 74 total yards on 24 carries. Still no real standouts in the passing game, as the ball was spread to 12 different receivers.

On defense, I don’t know how you can heap too much praise on a unit that gave up 30 points. Sure, McGough (and some shaky O-Line play) put us behind the 8-ball in some of those drives. But the Broncos were allowed to convert 3/4 fourth down plays; the Seahawks, by comparison, converted 0/4 fourth downs.

I saw Jordyn Brooks make some nice plays. Nick Bellore is a fun story: a fullback playing significant linebacker minutes. Rasheem Green had another sack and looked pretty active. I think our defensive tackle rotation – particularly from a run stuffing perspective – will be a big strength when we settle on the three or four primary guys.

The secondary looked pretty weak. That’s, obviously, a big concern. It’s less of a concern when our defensive line does its job and harasses the quarterback. But, when our guys get stuffed, we’re going to need the cornerbacks to actually cover guys and make plays on the ball. I don’t know if they’re talented enough to do that. I don’t think any of the cornerbacks who played on Saturday are starting calibre. Considering D.J. Reed appears to be the only guy worth a damn – and he’s out with injury – that’s pretty scary as a Seahawks fan. Are we SURE Richard Sherman is a no-go this season? We couldn’t sign him to an incentive-laden deal based on games played?

The Player of the Game, non-Michael Dickson Edition, was DeeJay Dallas. He had two phenomenal kickoff returns, including one that went 45 yards. When you combine that with his 3 catches for 27 yards, he looked like one of the VERY few players on the Seahawks who belonged on an NFL field. He looked fast! So much improvement over a season ago! It makes me wonder if he hasn’t earned a leapfrog over Rashaad Penny (who managed all of 8 rushing yards on 5 carries).

As for Dickson himself, the turnovers prevented us from punting as much as we’d like (WHAT A SENTENCE TO WRITE!), but he had a long of 61 yards and landed both of his kicks inside the 20 yard line. MVP, baby!