The Seahawks Signed Carlos Hyde Instead

I wrote about not wanting the Seahawks to sign Devonta Freeman last week, so you could say this one-year deal for Carlos Hyde is a good thing. Forgetting money for a moment, practically speaking, signing Freeman probably would’ve been a disaster. After two very productive seasons in 2015 and 2016, it looks pretty clearly like Freeman is breaking down. He hasn’t been able to play in more than 14 games in any single season since then (with a 2-game campaign in 2018 really crushing his value), and last year he averaged a career-worst 3.6 yards per carry. It’s hard not to like his dual-threat capabilites as a pass-catcher out of the backfield – when he’s healthy – but once you start seeing this type of slide in a running back’s career, it’s pretty rare that they ever turn it around in any sort of significant way.

When you’re looking at the Seahawks, they have certain needs at the running back position that Freeman just doesn’t fit in his current condition. Chris Carson – as I’ve mentioned repeatedly – is our #1 running back. He’s set to earn the lion’s share of carries as an elite-level back in the league. But, he and our previous #2 – Rashaad Penny – are both injury-prone. The man we brought in to fill out the running back room needs to NOT be injury-prone; that, quite frankly, rules out Freeman.

Now, obviously, Carlos Hyde isn’t ideal here either. He’s missed some games. He’s also a lower-ceiling guy compared to Freeman. In a vacuum, when both players are in peak physical condition, Freeman is the better back. But, I see Hyde as the more-reliable, more-durable player. Hyde can play through injury and be more productive doing so. It’s a long season, guys get banged up and have to withstand nagging bruises and strains and whatnot. Hyde seems like a guy who will still give you everything he’s got; Freeman seems like more of a diva who’s more likely to sit out or otherwise dog it on the field if the conditions aren’t perfect.

Hyde also, not for nothing, has a similar hard-nosed running style to Carson, so if our starter goes down, I don’t expect we’ll miss a beat at all.

I’ve always really liked Hyde. I don’t think he’s gotten a fair shake in this league. The 49ers, for some reason, never seemed to want to commit to him, opting to bring in a bevy of mediocre running backs. They often tried to feature those mediocre guys when Hyde was clearly out-playing them, which made no sense to me! It’s even more mind-boggling to me that he’s bounced around so much; the Seahawks will be his fourth team in three seasons. He’s such a Seahawky-type of guy it’s unbelievable we didn’t bring him in sooner!

I don’t know all the contract details, but it sounds like a 1-year contract that will be worth UP TO $4 million. Which means, there’s likely a base deal between $2-3 million, with incentives that would elevate it based on playing time and production. That’s probably a fair deal for a guy like Hyde. You don’t necessarily WANT him to see all of those incentives reached – because that probably means Carson will have gotten hurt again – but it’s comforting to know he’s here just in case.

In an ideal world, of course, Hyde wouldn’t be here at all. You’d roll with Carson, Homer, and Dallas and utilize those salary cap savings elsewhere. For as much as the Seahawks love to get young players involved early, they seem to be hyper-cautious about trusting young running backs. I thought Homer looked pretty good in limited playing time last year as a rookie. From what it sounds like, Dallas is supposedly the best blocking running back in this year’s draft. Rashaad Penny is SUPPOSED to return from injury at some point during the regular season, so there’s another set of fresh legs to help us in the stretch run!

But, that’s a lot of if’s. At this point, no one should count on Carson playing in every single game. Homer probably tops out as a backup running back in any prospect projection. And, Dallas is a rookie; unless he’s taken in the top 15, I don’t know if I’d EVER trust a rookie completely. Plus, Penny’s injury is very serious, and a lot of times guys returning from ACL tears don’t look the same the next season (it often takes two years to return to normal again), with a high rate of re-injury to that or another body part in their rush to return to game action.

So, figure Hyde is a $4 million insurance policy. With the added bonus of being someone who can step onto the field at any point this season and help this offense move the ball. He’s a veteran who will be another positive leader for the younger guys to emulate, but he’s not so old that it feels like a novelty (which, let’s face it, is what Marshawn Lynch would be at this point).

Plus, I mean, it’s not like Lynch is going anywhere. If he continues to stay in shape, there’s nothing stopping us – at any point during the regular season – from re-signing him and throwing him back into the fire like we did in 2019.

Seahawks, Please DO NOT Sign Devonta Freeman

I’ll say it: at ANY price!

Look, I get it (I guess). Rashaad Penny is injured and likely to start the season on the PUP list. Our current running back room looks like: Chris Carson, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, and the rest. Carson, obviously, has never met a football season that didn’t kick him in the testicles with some injury or another. Homer is heading into his second season and in a brief tryout late in 2019 as the starter, didn’t appear to be anything special. Dallas is obviously an incoming rookie without the aid of a Training Camp to get any sort of look at him within the confines of our offensive scheme. We (sort of) need a veteran backup to plug in there, just in case Carson goes down.

Marshawn Lynch’s name was bandied about recently (which is always fun, because Beastmode rules), and he would certainly fit what we (the fans) are looking for: cool dude, inexpensive, great in goalline situations, good teammate, and willing to play backup to someone like Carson who – at this point in their respective careers – is clearly the better of the two. I don’t see ONE good reason not to go with Lynch and call it a day.

But, this is the Seahawks we’re talking about. They’re incapable of not turning over every single stone in hopes of trying to find the perfect fit.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the names of all the free agent running backs out there, but I’m assuming there are a lot of them. Carlos Hyde was another name referenced yesterday, and again, GREAT! He was a 1,000-yard rusher last year, averaged 4.4 yards per attempt with the Texans, will be heading into his age-30 season, and most importantly doesn’t figure to cost a FUCKING arm and a leg!

To be fair, I could be wrong on that score. Maybe he is looking for upwards of $4-5 million like Devonta Freeman. If so, I’m sorry, but no.

Freeman – of the titular Devonta Freeman from this blog post – is even younger than Hyde. He’s also been significantly worse than Hyde the last three years; he hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2016! Injuries have decimated his value, so the fact that he’s looking for a $5 million deal is hilarious to me. NO! Do NOT do this!

Let me just say this for the record: none of the free agent running backs on the market at the time of this writing are worth ANYTHING over $2 million dollars. You want to know the bar? Chris Carson is set to earn $2.133 million in the final year of his deal this season. He deserves to be the highest-paid running back on this team, because he’ll be the starter heading in and is – when healthy – one of the most talented running backs in football. Veteran or not, none of these other guys deserve to earn one cent more than Carson, period.

There’s clearly a reason why these guys are still available. No one else wants them! So, why would you negotiate against yourselves? It’s a complete waste of money, when – AGAIN – we still need to fill out our roster along the defensive line! HELLO?!?! Is ANYBODY listening?!

I’m gonna go ahead and post this now, before I’m disappointed later to discover that Freeman is the newest member of the Seahawks and I have to start talking myself into why this is a good idea. God help us all.

So, What’s The Seahawks’ Plan With K.J. Wright?

It’s funny, if this was a Green Bay Packers blog, I’d probably be on Day Eight of going on and on about the new reality for the Green & Gold, my mind utterly blown at how the franchise could be so callous about their Hall Of Fame, Still-Not-Quite-Outside-Of-His-Prime quarterback (who MIGHT be the most elite player in a franchise history chock full of elite players). But, this is a Seattle sports blog, so I’m obsessed about *checks notes* linebackers?

Someone get my agent on the phone! This is unbelievable …

Apparently Sports Radio 950 KJR just destroyed it with their interview of John Schneider yesterday, so I had to go online and listen to the whole thing. MAN there were a lot of good nuggets in there!

He talked about how Damien Lewis looks like a starting right guard in this league (presumably right away), which is what we figured (especially with Fluker being cut, and subsequently snapped up by Baltimore, which will be a perfect situation for him). He talked about how they “gave it a run” with signing Clowney, but they “gotta keep going”. That’s interesting, a lot of past-tense talk there, even though he wouldn’t rule anything out. That makes sense! Clowney might not be in a hurry, but you can’t wait for him to make up his mind (unless you want to match his asking price, which – given the market for him – would be crazy).

Schneider went into detail on the running back room. Penny – as expected – probably won’t be ready for the start of the regular season, given the serious nature of his injury and the fact that it happened so late in the year last year. He looks to be on track to return under a normal timetable, but that timetable would almost certainly take us into the middle of the regular season (assuming we HAVE a regular season and all that). DeeJay Dallas comes in – per Schneider – as maybe the best blocking running back in the draft. I love it when the Seahawks get guys who are the “best” at something. Will Dissly was the best blocking tight end coming out of his draft, and he turned out to be phenomenal at catching the ball too! When guys are elite at one specific thing, you can teach the other stuff and hopefully incorporate them into your team that much quicker. Running back blocking is probably the least-sexy aspect about them in the grand scheme of things, but how many guys have we heard about not getting any playing time because they’re a liability in that regard? Let’s face facts, Dallas won’t be this team’s #1 running back as a rookie, which means he’ll only see the field when he’s spelling Carson (who, Schneider said in the interview, is expected to be ready for Week 1, coming off of his own injury). That’s usually a 3rd down (i.e. passing) situation, which means if Dallas is going to play, he’s going to have to be trusted to keep Russell Wilson upright. Coming in as the best blocking running back in the draft gives him a GREAT opportunity to play as a rookie (on top of all his Special Teams attributes, which Schneider deems to be … pretty special! He returns punts and kickoffs, and I’m sure he does everything else well in tackling and all that).

It was interesting to hear that the Miami Hurricanes are known for an elite Special Teams-centric group of coaches. Dallas wasn’t the first Hurricane we selected (Travis Homer), and it sounds like he might not be the last, if we’re in need of help in that area.

The biggest news of the interview, obviously, was word that K.J. Wright had shoulder surgery, and that he might not be ready to start Week 1. It’s weird, because Schneider said it wasn’t a “serious” surgery, but if that’s true, why wouldn’t he be ready?

In conjunction with that, Schneider couldn’t have been more glowing about Jordyn Brooks, which is exciting to me. He said Brooks (along with a couple of the other linebackers drafted in that area of the first round) was a “culture changer”. I guess you’d have to be pretty high on a guy to take a linebacker in the first round (considering how they’ve been devalued along with running backs in recent years), so this is starting to feel more like a slam dunk than maybe I expected initially.

There’s now talk about Brooks taking over for K.J. Wright immediately in his weak-side linebacker spot next to Bobby Wagner. I think that’s FANTASTIC! I was dreading this being another wasted draft pick; yet another slow-developing guy who won’t make an impact until MAYBE the final year of his rookie deal. To maximize your draft picks, you need to squeeze as much value out of them while they’re still cheap; that’s how you win a Super Bowl with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner in their second seasons, because you can afford to stock the team with high-quality veterans like Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and such! Well, now we have those high-quality veterans on mega-contracts in Wilson & Wagner, so the team NEEDS to fill in around them the opposite way: with draft picks making minimal dollars who are able to start/play immediately.

That leaves a lot of questions about K.J. Wright’s status, which I find grows more fascinating by the day. When did he have this surgery? Obviously, they knew about it before the draft, which makes the Brooks pick all the more reasonable (SAM linebacker is the least-important spot on this defense, while WILL is pretty high up there, as he’s on the field generally for most-every snap). But, did he have the surgery before he was due that $1 million roster bonus back in March? Did the team know that he needed it when they opted to keep him around? If THAT’S the case, then it seems all but guaranteed that Wright will be here this year.

If that’s the case, and they’re talking about Brooks taking over for him, then Wright is here for two reasons: to help the team in its transition from one future Ring of Honor player (in Wright) to hopefully another (in Brooks). It has to suck to train your replacement – regardless of what job you have – but Wright must be a pretty cool, secure dude to take this on (of course, the extra million bucks probably doesn’t hurt his ego very much; it shows the team respects him and what he’s given of himself, if nothing else). The other reason to keep Wright around feels a little more suspect to me: Schneider mentioned moving Wright to strong-side linebacker (which, as I JUST said, is the least-important spot on this defense). It’s also – not for nothing – the spot that Bruce Irvin was apparently brought in here to play (when he doesn’t have his hand on the ground as a speed-rusher on the defensive line). How is THAT going to look?

Irvin playing defensive end is likely going to be what happens on most third downs/passing situations. In those situations, you generally don’t have a SAM linebacker on the field, because you want a more speedy nickel corner out there to account for the extra receivers running routes (unless you’re the infuriating 2019 Seahawks defense, who didn’t have a reliable-enough nickel corner, to all of our collective chagrin). So, either we’re swapping Irvin and Wright seemingly on a whim from play to play, or Irvin is going to be playing more defensive end than we expected, or Wright is going to mostly be relegated to backup status, or Wright’s surgery was more serious than Schneider is letting on (and he’ll start the season on the PUP list wth Penny) …

OR, the team is going to cut Wright at some point, regardless of the fact that they gave him that $1 million roster bonus back in March.

So, what’s the plan? No fucking idea. YOU DIDN’T COME HERE FOR ANSWERS, DID YOU?! This shit’s rhetorical, yo! Do I work for the Seahawks? No, I do not (there, there’s an answer for you). I can’t tell you what’s going through their minds.

Couple of final nuggets from Schneider:

He got a little fired up about L.J. Collier when he was talking about how we really haven’t seen much of him yet (seeming to indicate: just WAIT until he gets his opportunity to shine). Boy do I hope he’s right on! I would love nothing more than to be wrong about that guy!

The other thing Schneider mentioned was keeping some cash free to sign players who get cut by other teams. We might be in a position to snap up a quality defensive lineman late in the offseason/pre-season. That’s great news, because there’s ALWAYS a player or two who still have a lot left in the tank, but get cut for money reasons, or because they want to give a younger guy a break.

That being said, I’d still love to see an Everson Griffin signing at some point. You know, if Clowney really is a past-tense player for this team.

The Seahawks Drafted Seven Other Guys Besides Jordyn Brooks

Did you read my uninformed take on the Seahawks’ first round draft pick last week? Well, stick around for my uninformed takes on the rest of these guys I’ve never heard of!

Here’s the full list:

  • First Round – Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Second Round – Darrell Taylor (DE)
  • Third Round – Damien Lewis (G)
  • Fourth Round – Colby Parkinson (TE)
  • Fourth Round – DeeJay Dallas (RB)
  • Fifth Round – Alton Robinson (DE)
  • Sixth Round – Freddie Swain (WR)
  • Seventh Round – Stephen Sullivan (TE)

The Seahawks had a lot of holes to fill on an underperforming defense, so OF COURSE they spent 5 of their 8 draft picks (including trading away a pick in 2021 just to jump back into the seventh round this year) on the offense! And yet, honestly? I don’t think I can fault their logic here.

The last couple of Seahawks drafts felt like we were bolstering our depth. They made 20 picks in 2018 & 2019, at a period in this franchise’s history where depth was at its thinnest. Properly replenished, it’s now time to start taking some chances on drafting starters and stars again. And, I get the feeling here – more than I have in recent seasons – that the Seahawks are going to give these guys every opportunity to win jobs very soon.

Brooks, we’ve discussed. No one believes he’s muscling Bobby Wagner out of his job anytime soon, but clearly K.J. Wright is on notice. No one would be shocked if he gets cut before the season, but regardless 2020 is a mortal lock to be Wright’s last year in a Seahawks uniform.

I’m going to lump Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson together here, because they’re essentially the same guy from a body-type point of view (6’4, 267; 6’3, 264 respectively) and both figure to vie for the LEO defensive end spot. I mean, yeah, IDEALLY both of these guys are future Hall of Famers; but realistically, the Seahawks are hoping for one of these guys to pan out as a respectable starter for the next however many years. Taken in context with who the Seahawks have on the roster right now, their direct competition appears to be Benson Mayowa (the entrenched starter at the moment) and Bruce Irvin (who will play SAM linebacker and shift to defensive end on passing downs), neither of whom are longterm options for this team. So, there’s your 2020 rotation for the LEO end spot; both of these rookies will get a chance to compete and it’s just a matter of staying healthy and learning the defense.

Damien Lewis might have the clearest path to starting for this team (especially with the moves the Seahawks made last night, which I’ll get to later in the week). He’s a right guard, so right away there’s no confusion about where he’s going to stick. He’s not a guard/center, or a right tackle that projects as a guard; he’s just a fucking GUARD! Isn’t that wonderful? To boot, he was the second guard taken in the entire draft! That (and the fact that Tom Cable is nowhere near this decision) should tell you everything you need to know: Lewis is almost certainly ready to start from Day 1. He played for National Champion LSU, on the college world’s greatest offensive line, and has played a signifiant number of games from junior college through his two years with the Tigers, so this isn’t some project who needs seasoning to learn the game. He’s a powerful run blocker – obviously a trait the Seahawks appreciate more than most NFL teams – and his pass protection numbers aren’t bad at all. At this point, it would be an upset (and deeply upsetting) if he didn’t start as a rookie.

I’m not going to lump the two listed tight ends for reasons I’ll talk about later, so for now let’s discuss the unfortunately-named Colby Parkinson. He’s a 6’7, 251-pound pass-catching tight end out of Stanford. This is an interesting pick for a variety of reasons. The Seahawks are clearly a power-rushing offense that likes to take deep shots down field. The tight ends who work best in this offense are the heavy, run-blocking bulldozers who are able to take advantage over slower linebackers in the passing game. Yet, the Seahawks seem to have a perpetual hard-on for these elite pass-catchers in the Jimmy Graham mold, of which Parkinson would seem to emulate.

Here’s the deal: how great would it be to have the next Gronk, or George Kittle, or Travis Kelce? Who WOULDN’T want a big, tall guy who plays like a receiver, but can also blow you up like an offensive lineman? Who WOULDN’T want the type of offensive mismatch who is too fast to be covered by a mortal linebacker, but is also too big and overpowering for any cornerback or safety you try to throw his way? But, these guys are rarer than a unicorn steak on top of a bed of four-leaf clovers with a side-order of dodo egg stew! More often than not, you pick a guy with an obvious flaw and hope they’re able to develop it sooner rather than later. So, which is a better starting-off point to come from when trying to reverse-engineer one of these studs? The quality blocking tight end with stone hands, or the pass-catching phenom who blocks like a matador’s cape?

Fun fact: a matador’s cape is called a muleta! Seattle Sports Hell: come for the half-assed sports commentary, stay for the half-assed dictionary lesson!

I’m kind of on the side of thinking that it’s better to have the guy who knows how to block well and have him develop the ability to catch, because blocking seems like more of a “want-to” attitude, and if you have a good-enough quarterback, he should be able to throw catchable balls to a tall guy in traffic. But, clearly the Seahawks are hoping this way works as well. We’ll see. I’ll say this much: drafting a guy and teaching him how to block is WAY more preferable to trading for a guy (Jimmy Graham) after he’s an established offensive star in the league and just hoping he’ll stop crumpling into a paper ball at the first sight of contact.

I can’t say my hopes are super high on Parkinson, but at the same time – getting back to my original point, what feels like thousands of words ago – look at his competition. Greg Olsen, Luke Willson, and Jacob Hollister are all on 1-year deals; while Olsen isn’t going anywhere, nothing is guaranteed to the other two. All Parkinson has to do is beat a couple of dime-a-dozen guys and he’s locked in behind Olsen and Dissly (when he’s healthy). If he manages that simple feat, he’ll figure pretty prominently in any red zone situation. AND, if he does develop into even a passable blocker, he could be a fantasy god for years to come!

Boy, do I love a guy who spells out his name DeeJay! DeeJay Dallas is such a perfect running back name, I can’t even stand it. Also, if you think I’m not calling him DeeJ, you’re crazy!

So, DeeJ is kind of on the bigger, slower side, but that slow stuff is more about how he tests; his game speed appears to be fine. He’s a converted wide receiver, which makes him an ideal candidate to play on third downs, and he also apparently has kick returning experience. So, this jack of all trades looks like a lock to make the team, with a high probability of seeing significant playing time behind Chris Carson. Is he a future starter for this team? I guess we’ll find out, but he’s got a lot going for him to get his foot in the door, which is all you can ask for. Plus, considering the Seahawks’ poor track record of drafting guys in the fourth round, I don’t mind them going with a running back so early. Unless he’s simply incapable of finding a hole to run through, this feels like a can’t-miss, with some obvious high upside because it’s the running back position: as long as the O-Line is doing its job, anyone should be good here!

Finally, let’s lump in the last two guys: receiver Freddie Swain and tight end/receiver Stephen Sullivan. Sullivan is 6’5 and was a tight end in college, but the Seahawks are listing him as a receiver, which is all you need to know: slow, tall receiver. After all that talk about Parkinson, you’d think I’d be alarmed about Sullivan’s blocking skills, or lack thereof. But, the Seahawks ask a lot out of their receivers in blocking, so if he can’t at least manhandle some cornerbacks, I don’t think there’s much hope for him to stick here. The good news is: he’s a seventh round pick. You’d think we could stash him on the practice squad and let him do nothing but learn for a year. This guy is the epitome of a capital-p Project; best case scenario is – in a year or two – he’s starting opposite D.K. Metcalf in a potent offense full of huge pass-catchers during many multiple MVP seasons by Russell Wilson.

The real interesting guy is Freddie Swain, who is a prototypical slot receiver. Unless the Seahawks go out and sign another free agent, it’s pretty safe to say the top four receivers are Lockett, Metcalf, Dorsett, and David Moore. John Ursua looks to have a leg up as another slot guy for this team, but there’s a pretty clear path for Swain to be a fifth or sixth receiver on this team (especially if he can add anything on special teams). There’s also a chance for Malik Turner to rejoin the team, who will be nice as competition fodder. Bottom line is – between Swain and Ursua – we should be pretty set at slot receiver (especially when you figure Lockett is more than comfortable there as well).

My initial impression is: I like Lewis an awful lot to start right away. But, I think there’s more higher-upside guys in this draft class than in any year since maybe 2012! Now, obviously, the guys still have to pan out – which is FAR from a guarantee – but if we manage to hit on even half of these guys (particularly one of the defensive ends), the Seahawks should be in good shape for a while.