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 Signed Benson Mayowa

We can’t wait around forever for Clowney to make up his G.D. mind! The Seahawks have places to go, people to see, and motherfuckin’ ASSES to kick!

You know, assuming we’re ever allowed to kick asses again (thanks Obama corona).

Benson Mayowa was signed to a 1-year, $3 million deal (with incentives possibly taking it up another mil). You might remember him as the last man on the defensive line depth chart in 2013, when he played in just 2 games and generated all of 2 tackles. He’s bounced around from Oakland to Dallas to Arizona and back to Oakland again in his career, playing mostly part-time roles in pass rushing situations.

He’s not, what you would call, a particularly sexy signing (you get what you pay for, of course), but HONESTLY? I mean, he had 7.0 sacks last year in 302 total snaps for the Raiders; by comparison, Bruce Irvin had 8.5 sacks in 608 total snaps. So, you know, do the math (please do the math, I was an English major; my brain isn’t equipped to handle such complex equations).

This is a depth piece.

We hope.

PLEASE GOD LET THIS BE A DEPTH PIECE AS OPPOSED TO THE WHOLE FUCKING ENCHILADA!

No, it’s fine. We’re all fine. He’ll be good.

Real talk though, as it stands, our starting four (if the season started this morning) would be Irvin, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, and Mayowa. If that sounds UNDERWHELMING AF, then I warn you: don’t look at the depth chart behind those guys.

Are you ready? Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

  • Rasheem Green (5 sacks in 2 years)
  • Branden Jackson (3.5 sacks in 4 years)
  • L.J. Collier (0.0 sacks in 1 year)
  • Bryan Mone (0.0 sacks in 1 year)

I dunno, there might be more under futures contracts or whatever, but you get the idea.

I read in the Seattle Times this morning that there are reports the Seahawks are offering somewhere in the $13-$15 million per year range to Clowney, who has since lowered his asking price (from over $20 million per year) to the $17-$18 million range. He previously stated that he wanted to play for a contender, but it looks like only the shitbird teams are interested in paying him what he’s looking for.

I like that the Seahawks are sticking to their guns here. He’s got an injury history, and while he can certainly be disruptive – even world-wrecking at times – he just doesn’t have the sack numbers to make it enticing for teams to want to re-set the defensive end market with him. He’s not Khalil Mack. He’s not Von Miller. He’s not Aaron Donald. He’s GOOD, don’t get me wrong; he would easily be the best defensive lineman on the Seahawks by a million miles! But, there is simply too much risk in guaranteeing him an insane amount of money, when I’ve kinda sorta been saying all along that I think we can get similar production from a collection of 2-3 mid-tier guys for the same amount of money.

And, that’s the whole point of the Mayowa signing. It’s in Clowney’s best interests to wait out this market – wait out this virus – and hopefully show out for interested teams in a tryout of sorts. But, that is in direct conflict with the Seahawks’ needs. We can’t wait for him to ultimately settle for whatever deal comes in at the last minute; we need to fill in this roster around him. Waiting for him to maximize his value will only serve in the rest of the league taking all of the other next-best options off the table.

At this point, I say just get Everson Griffen signed, maybe another mid-tier guy, and call it a day until the draft. If Clowney wants to play ball for a winner, he knows where to find us.

The Seahawks Cut Some Dead Weight

We all expected the Ed Dickson release, so this was the less-surprising of the two transactions the Seahawks made yesterday. He was signed to a 3-year deal, and throughout most of the first TWO years, he’s been injured (including the entirety of 2019). One might assume he’s finally healthy – of course, how long can THAT be expected to continue – but we’ve already gone out and stocked our Tight End room to overflowing, so this was beyond necessary.

As a reward, the Seahawks save $3 million this year. Neither here nor there: that’s less than half of what we’ve promised Greg Olsen, but what are you gonna do? The Seahawks have needs just like any other red-blooded American football franchise!

The other big move was something that became obvious in recent weeks, but isn’t necessarily something I would’ve expected coming out of 2019: they ALSO released Tedric Thompson. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that I didn’t realize he was set to earn over $2 million in 2020, the final year of his rookie deal. He must’ve hit some escalator clauses in his contract due to all the increased playing time the last couple seasons, which is just unreal because what benefit was all that to the Seahawks? Blown coverages, dropped interceptions, bad tackling and poor tackling routes. The flaws in his game are neverending! Of course, it’s hardly fair to him – being the safety to replace future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas – but you’re given the hand you’re dealt and you’ve gotta do the best with what you’ve got. The bottom line is: he was apparently a practice darling, but could never translate that into game success.

Obviously, the combination of the two releases saves the Seahawks $5 million in 2020. I don’t know if it’s necessarily enough to bridge the salary cap divide to get us into a Clowney contract (particularly if he’s looking to settle on a short-term deal, where we don’t get nearly the help with his signing bonus proration), but I think it was beat writer Bob Condotta on Twitter who wondered if these moves were made with something bigger in mind happening in the near future.

There are, of course, other expected moves the Seahawks will make to free up more cash. I’ve been on the bandwagon that’s calling for the release of Justin Britt pretty much since the moment he was lost for 2019 to injury (he’ll be fine, he’s made plenty of money in his career, with the opportunity to make plenty more elsewhere). Also, since we know Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner aren’t going anywhere, we can apparently turn their 2020 salaries into signing bonuses – thus spreading out the cap burden to future seasons – but obviously you don’t love to do that too often, as it kicks the can down the road until you’re in Salary Cap Hell by 2022.

There was a report yesterday that veteran defensive end Everson Griffen has interest in joining the Seahawks – he did play for Pete Carroll at USC – and the feeling is apparently mutual … with a catch: only if we can’t sign Clowney. Mike Salk relayed a similar sentiment on Twitter last night and I agree: WHY THE FUCK NOT BOTH?!

Are we REALLY banking on a defensive line that’s anchored by JUST Clowney and Irvin? Or JUST Griffen and Irvin? That sounds FUCKING insane to me! For starters, there’s ZERO depth there – who are we going to have left to rely on when one or both of them inevitably get injured (because Clowney’s always been banged up, his entire career, either playing through it or flat-out sitting on the sidelines; and Griffen and Irvin are both 32 years old) – and secondly, we had Clowney last year and were among the worst at rushing the passer in the entire league! I love Bruce Irvin as much as the next guy, but come on! He’s not going to single-handedly turn this ship around!

I’m also getting more and more agitated by the fact that it’s taking so long to make a formal decision on Clowney. The longer we wait – or, rather, the longer he holds out hope of some miracle deal from some mystery team who’s yet to throw their hat in the ring – the more other possible replacements get snapped up on team-friendly contracts by other clubs. At this point, I’d be looking to set a firm deadline for Clowney to either hop aboard or find employment elsewhere; at which point I’d grab Griffen and another guy or two to fill out the veteran presence in that Defensive Line Room. Because it’s going to fucking suck when he waits until the last minute, then signs a short-term deal with someone else anyway. At that point, we’re going to be scrambling to trade for one of these franchise tag guys, which will likely cost us a first round draft pick (at a minimum) PLUS probably more money than we wanted to pay Clowney in the first place!

It’s all annoying with this situation right now, so let’s go back to the feel-good vibes of releasing two guys who brought next-to-nothing to the table for the Seahawks the last two seasons. Good riddance! See you never!