What Happens After The Seahawks Have Another .500-ish Season?

In the last 9 years, the Seahawks have won the NFC West twice; they’ve made the playoffs six times, but failed to advance beyond the divisional round. In the last three seasons – the final one with an injured Russell Wilson, and the two with Geno Smith at the helm – we’ve gone a combined 25-26, including back-to-back 9-8 seasons.

That’s the nutshell of why Pete Carroll was fired. We’re hoping – with Mike Macdonald & Co. – to do significantly better than that.

Pete Carroll had a Win Forever mentality. That means no rebuilding, no tearing things down to build back better; rather, to maintain a consistent level of excellence, presumably to give yourself as many bites at the apple as possible. As we’ve seen from numerous middling-looking players and teams throughout the Super Bowl Era, all it takes is one hot stretch in the playoffs, and you too can be a champion, Joe Flacco! You too can be a Two-Time Champion, Eli Manning!

To some of us Seahawks fans, that feels like a Fantasyland of sorts. As we saw here, no team can win forever, not even one as lethally-constructed as the Legion Of Boom-era Seahawks. Contracts and egos and draft mistakes and compounding trade mistakes get in the way, and slowly, but surely, erode what you’ve built. You’re forced to make compromises, you get trapped into investing in the wrong position groups (so desperate to cling to the few stars you’ve managed to cultivate, even if it’s multiple safeties), until eventually you’re winning just enough to MAKE the playoffs, but you’re never good enough to do any real damage once you get there.

It’s the teams who tear down, who are able to fortify through high draft picks at key positions (quarterback, both sides of the line of scrimmage), they’re the ones who tend to pop more often than not. They’re the ones who get good and deep, who stay good for a while, before ultimately falling apart and needing to start the cycle all over again.

I would rather have THAT, than be Forever Mediocre, which is ultimately what the Pete Carroll system brought us. You’ll never become elite if you’re always drafting in the 20’s.

That’s all just a way of me saying: I think the Seahawks are going to be mediocre in 2024 once again.

Honestly? I don’t see any way it’s possible for these Seahawks to win fewer than 8 games. I don’t even care about the schedule; it doesn’t matter who we’re going up against. We have two decent, but not-great quarterbacks. Geno Smith has already proven he’s good enough to get us to 9 wins; he’s done it twice in a row! The drop-off from Smith to Sam Howell is negligible at best; there’s an argument to be made that the Seahawks might ultimately be better with Howell. Regardless, we won’t be worse.

The running back room is strong, the wide receiver room is strong, and the tight ends are fine (if unimportant to the passing game at large). The only way this offense takes a significant step back is if the offensive line is a total disaster, or if the offensive scheme is too much for these players to handle (or if our play-caller just isn’t ready for NFL adjustments). The thing is, the offensive line was already pretty bad last year, and a lot of the same pieces are returning (or similar-in-talent pieces to the guys we lost). I’ll be watching the OC closely, but given that he’s a former Husky – who presided over the best Husky offense we’ve ever seen – I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As for the defense, the D-Line is as stacked as it’s been in years. We have talent at cornerback, so that’s the top two areas of need on any defense. We’re a little lacking in name recognition at linebacker and safety, but those are also two of the least-important position groups on any given team (and also the easiest to fill out with no-name players). Combined with Mike Macdonald being something of a defensive mastermind, I don’t expect this side of the ball to be any WORSE than it’s been the last few years (when it was down around 30th in the league in multiple areas).

The Seahawks have been 9-8 the last two years with a terrible defense and a Geno Smith-esque quarterback. Geno’s back, and the defense should be at least marginally improved, so I would expect nothing less than 8 or 9 wins this season.

With that being said, you might be wondering why I’m not asking what happens if the Seahawks are considerably better than expected? If, again, my floor is 8-9 wins, isn’t it at least possible that we win another 4 games and get to 12-13?

Sure, anything’s possible. But, again, this team has holes. The O-Line just isn’t there yet. Geno clearly has a ceiling that is going to prevent us from seriously competing against the very best teams in the league, and as long as we’ve got the 49ers and Rams in our own division, that dog just isn’t going to hunt. And, while I have the utmost confidence in our coaching staff, and believe we did a remarkable job wading through those waters in finding the correct hires this offseason, there’s always a learning curve that first season. There are growing pains, there are players who just won’t be good fits in our schemes, and there are players who will likely be resistant to change.

That’s my diplomatic way of saying: I don’t believe D.K. Metcalf will be long for this team.

All that put together, I’m expecting another 9-8 season in 2024. So, what happens when that ultimately transpires?

Well, I was discouraged to hear John Schneider – in some interview he gave recently – continue to espouse a version of that Win Forever mentality. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was a clunky way to avoid something that Pete Carroll either trademarked, or otherwise has his stink all over. Of course, what is an NFL GM going to say? They’re not going to tell us they WANT to have a shitty year or two, before rebounding and competing for a championship again. It just kinda has to come naturally, all while pretending you’re disappointed to be drafting in the Top 10 and getting a potential game-changing presence on your team.

This isn’t exclusive to the Seahawks, by the way. The Steelers seem to be a prime example of this philosophy. They haven’t seriously contended since 2016, when they lost in the AFC Championship game to the Patriots. Before that, it was 2010 when they lost in the Super Bowl to the Packers. Otherwise, you’re looking a nothing but early playoff exits and a whole lotta .500 ball or (slightly) better. I think this is precisely what the Seahawks want to be. Who’s more respected than the Steelers? They’ve had, like, 3 head coaches in the last 60 years or some shit. They’re rarely – if ever – truly bad; but outside of the Ben Roethlisberger era, they’re rarely great either. And, even in that Roethlisberger era, it was certainly front-loaded. For as talented as he was, later in his career, that team could never carry him over the finish line like the Broncos did with an elderly Peyton Manning.

I want to believe the Seahawks – upon finishing 9-8 again, or maybe even 10-7 and sneaking into a wild card spot – will cut ties with Geno Smith and make a serious push in the next year or two at drafting a quarterback of the future. Because how many of these mediocre finishes can we withstand? It’s the fucking WORST! I’d rather be fucking 3-14 than lose in the wild card round again.

But, I dunno. If Mike Macdonald is going to stick around here, he needs to do something great in the first couple years. Making a wild card as a rookie head coach might buy him a couple extra seasons, but will it also encourage this organization to stay the course? To put their faith in Geno Smith? To continue struggling to fill the O-Line because you can’t get any good linemen in the 20’s of the NFL draft?

It kinda feels like we’re in for another five years of this shit, until ultimately the entire house is swept away. Until the team is sold, Schneider is fired, and Macdonald is back coordinating defenses again. At which point, I’ll be pushing 50.

Good God, the passage of time is a cruel bitch.

The Seattle Sports 5-Year Trends

If you scroll down the right side of my home page (if you are viewing this on a laptop or PC; otherwise it’s at the very bottom of the home page on a mobile device), you’ll see a list of all the Seattle-based teams I follow, and their most recent five seasons’ worth of records. I started doing that a LONG time ago, intending to refer to that information every so often, to take a global view of the Seattle sports landscape. Which teams are on the rise? Which teams are sinking like a stone? And which teams are helplessly treading water?

It’s funny, when I devised of this concept – and then absolutely failed to follow through, until today – I thought five years in sports terms was an adequate amount of time to figure out where a team is going. But, in reality, it’s both an eternity, and no time at all. Sports teams can turn around their fortunes so fast, you might get whiplash with all the wildly disparate outcomes. One year, you might be on top of the world, then you might be among the worst teams in the game, then you’re able to snap right back into being relevant again, coming from out of nowhere.

I would put the Husky football team in this category. Through 2019, you could argue this was a team on the rise. Then, we had the COVID season, followed by a total bottoming out in 2021, with a housecleaning to follow. From there, they snapped right back into being one of the best teams in college football in 2022, only to make it to the National Championship Game in 2023. We have since been confronted with a different sort of housecleaning, unfortunately, and now this looks like a team that’s going to fall. How could it not? We reached a height we haven’t seen since the early 90’s, and we didn’t replace all that we lost with comparable talent; it’s only natural to see a drop-off.

You can also look at the Kraken and even though we don’t have five seasons’ worth of data, we have almost three. They started off bad, then they made the playoffs in year two, only to hover around .500 in year three. Young players haven’t developed into the superstars we hoped for, and everyone on the roster feels like role players. There’s probably going to be a new head coach to come, and we’ll see where we go from here.

On the flipside, you can look at the Husky basketball team and see a team that’s largely been around .500. Five straight years of stagnation, and counting. Part of that has to do with the coaching staff – which has been replaced this offseason – and part of that is the nature of college basketball nowadays. Unless you’re recruiting the best of the best high school players – who can step in and compete right away – you’re not able to develop younger guys like you used to. You just have to hope you’re poaching enough quality in the transfer portal to find the special mixture that will gel immediately.

The NFL is arguably the most volatile sport of the bunch, with teams going from worst to first all the time! And yet, the Seahawks appear to be on a steady decline. Or, at the very least, a decline followed by a flatline. They were 12-game winners (including playoffs) in 2019 and 2020. Then, we had Russell Wilson’s injury-plagued and inconsistent final year here, followed by two years of Geno Smith and some apathetic .500 ball. I can conceive of a future where this is a team on the rise again, but I think we’re going to have to endure another 9-ish win season in the interim.

The only team you could make an argument that’s a team “on the rise” is the Mariners. But, that entirely hinges on what happens in 2024. It’s a franchise with a clear plan, who underwent an obvious rebuild, and who managed to cobble together a pretty good-looking young core. 2019 was terrible. The COVID-shortened 2020 season was better than expected. The 2021 season was better still. In 2022, we finally broke the playoff drought. And, 2023 could conceivably be excused for missing the playoffs, because teams don’t always follow one straight trajectory from year to year. If we make it back to the playoffs in 2024, I think 2023 can be forgiven. At that point, some of the younger prospects still developing in the minors might be ready to take the next step. The Mariners still feel like they’re a few pieces away, and if we have to get them internally, so be it.

So, the last 5 years have been kind of a mixed bag. That’s Seattle sports for ya. Never too high, rarely too low, with lots of unexpected gut punches in between (that only become expected the longer you root for these teams).

My Favorite Seahawks Move So Far This Offseason

This blog post on Field Gulls popped up late last week at just around the same time I had a similar idea for my own blog. Of course, they posted first, so credit where it’s due for getting the job done ahead of me. But, that’s still not going to stop me from voicing my own take!

As I’ve talked about, it’s been a very Seahawky offseason so far. No real big outside free agent splash signings; we kept our own highest-priority free agent, we shuffled off some money in the form of overpaid cap casualties, and we brought in a bevy of bridge guys on short-term, inexpensive deals to fill out the roster around our core. So, when you look at that list of players on the Field Gulls link, it’s not going to knock you out.

On the whole, I would say I like what the Seahawks have done. I can’t say I’m totally in love with it, but then again, I don’t know what I can really expect. We were in pretty bad shape the last few years, both from a salary cap standpoint, as well as an underperforming veterans standpoint. It really says something when the Seahawks have exactly one player from their 2020 draft class on their roster, and that’s only because Darrell Taylor lost a year of eligibility due to coming into the league with an injury (at this point, based on what we’ve seen from him through three seasons, it would be a longshot to see him getting a proper second contract with the Seahawks).

My point is, it’s not like the Seahawks could afford to spend lavishly in free agency. And, with our stupid 9-8 record – and the fact that we traded away a second round pick for Leonard Williams last year (which was only necessary BECAUSE our salary cap situation was so shitty) – it’s not like we have a solid cache of draft picks to fall back on. So again, what did I really expect? We came into this offseason with one hand tied behind our back, we used what cap casualties we could to loosen that binding, but ultimately there’s only so much money to go around, and a lot of roster spots needed to field a team.

If I’m being honest, the Seahawks move that got me the most excited is the hiring of Mike Macdonald. My second-favorite move is hiring Ryan Grubb. My third-favorite is firing Clint Hurtt. But, that doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the exercise.

My favorite player move, then, has to be Leonard Williams. Simply because he’s the best player we signed, period. He’s either the best or second-best player on our defense, and I’d put him probably in the top five most impactful players on the entire team. Dude is a stud, on a team that’s kind of in short supply of them.

But, I dunno, that signing doesn’t feel like it’s in the spirit of the exercise either. Just as similar favorites – cutting Jamal Adams, not overpaying for Bobby Wagner, and not REALLY overpaying for Damien Lewis – are also not in the spirit. In my mind, the question posed in the title of this post has to do with NEW players. What’s my favorite incoming Seahawks move?

If it feels like slim pickin’s, that’s because it is. Two incoming free agents on 2-year deals, everyone else is on a 1-year deal. The most money – SURPRISE – is going to a safety. I want to say Rayshawn Jenkins – or one of the two middle linebackers – is my favorite move, but to be honest, I don’t know those guys from Adam. I’m sure one or more of them will make a great impact, but right now, they’re all J.A.G.’s to me.

I can’t bring myself to put Sam Howell in this category, even though I like him. I do think he has potential. Sure, he’s most likely in the range of Drew Lock to Baker Mayfield, which isn’t tremendous. I mean, before last season’s resurgence with the Bucs, we were talking about Baker being an injury-prone bust for crying out loud! But, with the right development, and a little luck, maybe Howell turns into something more? Maybe he’s a Rich Gannon or a Jeff Garcia type. Someone who’s better than a Game Manager, but obviously well short of a Hall of Famer. Someone who – on the right team – can lead you to a Super Bowl, but is going to need a lot of help to push you over the edge.

My biggest beef with the Sam Howell deal is that we traded for him to be a backup. I mean, maybe that’s what he deserves to be, after leading the league in interceptions and sacks endured; it’s probably not the worst idea in the world to let him sit and learn a little more. But, if the whole point is to bring in a young player on a cap-friendly contract, you’re not exactly extracting any value from that deal by sitting him for one of the two remaining years before he’s a free agent. I think the odds are long that he comes in and blows everyone away in Training Camp. With a new team and a new offensive coordinator, he’s not going to overtake a dependable – if uninspiring – veteran in Geno Smith. The only way Howell plays extensively is if Geno REALLY shits the bed, or succumbs to injury, which, we’ll see.

So, if I’m being honest, I think my favorite move is bringing back George Fant!

The Seahawks clearly struggled last year on the O-Line. Abe Lucas apparently has a chronic knee issue that’s always going to limit him in one way or another (if it’s not practice reps, then it’ll be games played), and he’s coming off of some sort of clean-up procedure done this offseason. The hope was to get two more years of competent tackle play from Lucas and Charles Cross, but I don’t know if you can count on that. When you factor in needing to replace all three interior linemen spots, it’s pretty demoralizing knowing that one of your tackle spots is also unreliable.

I think we’re all of the mindset that the Seahawks are going to draft guard with their first pick (probably after they trade down a time or two). My guess is, we won’t stop at just one draft pick; there will be multiple interior linemen drafted. That’s a lot of youth up front – especially when you add last year’s picks of Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi – so it’s nice to have someone like George Fant on the roster. Someone who can capably slide into either tackle spot in a pinch, as well as someone who can mentor the younger players. Lord knows we’re not getting either quality from Stone Forsythe!

It’s not the sexiest move the Seahawks have ever made, but George Fant is 100% my favorite incoming player on this team.

But, taking the question a little more abstractly, I think my favorite “move” of all is the fact that the Seahawks are eating all of Jamal Adams’ dead money this year, and the fact that we seem to be cleaning house financially, so as to be in a position next year to really make some headway on this rebuild. It’s not a tank job; I’m sure we’re still well-positioned for another 9-8 season in 2024. But, there’s bound to be plenty of money for next year to go out and have some fun. Maybe we’ll get a party boat!

The Seahawks Traded For Sam Howell?!

Huh.

The Seahawks get Sam Howell (2 years left on his rookie deal), a 4th & 6th rounder (102 & 179 respectively); the Commanders get a 3rd & 5th (78 & 152 respectively).

There’s conflicting reports about what kind of value the Washington Football Team received – anywhere from the equivalent of a late 3rd round pick, all the way down to a 7th round pick – but all I see is now the Seahawks have traded away their only second round pick and the higher of their two third round picks. We have all of 7 draft picks this year, 5 of them in the fourth round or later (in a draft, mind you, that is universally panned for its lack of depth on Day 3).

But, okay whatever. We’ll deal with that later. For now, what do we have in Sam Howell?

We have a guy who was a 5th round pick in 2022. A guy who started all 17 games in 2023. A guy who led the league in pass attempts (612), interceptions (21), and times sacked (65). He completed 63.4% of passes, for 3,946 yards, 21 TDs, and 6.4 yards per attempt. Geno Smith was 7.3 yards per attempt, if we’re into comparing numbers.

According to Brady Henderson, Washington was 14th in pass block win rate, so it’s not like we can even blame a shitty O-Line. I will say, though, that we COULD probably blame the shittiness of the team as a whole, with the defense being particularly atrocious in the second half of the season (when they lost 8 in a row); considering he was always forced into throwing them back into games, it’s not a shocker that he’d be a little mistake prone.

But, even that argument doesn’t hold a lot of water, because if a quarterback is truly great, shouldn’t he lift up an inferior team? Sam Howell might be a lot of things, but “great” isn’t one of them. I think he’s fine. On the low end, he’s probably Drew Lock. On the high end, he’s probably a poor man’s Baker Mayfield. That’s a nice little middle-range where Geno Smith also resides, albeit with different skills and different deficiencies.

Geno can be pretty accurate. Geno is mistake-averse. And, I thought he showed some improvement in 2023 in avoiding sacks and getting the ball out of his hands quickly (by offensive design, naturally), but he too tends to hold onto the ball too long, and takes too many back-breaking sacks on third down. The main difference between Geno and Sam is that Sam can actually scramble. He can better extend those third down plays when it’s an obvious passing situation and opposing defenses are gearing up to take his head off.

The main question will be processing. How quickly can Sam Howell process what’s going on? How quickly can he read the defense and find the right receiver (or check to the right play to take advantage of what the other team is giving him)?

This doesn’t change my conviction that the Seahawks need to draft a quarterback. But, I don’t know how they’re going to do that! If they don’t draft one in the first round, if they don’t trade down to acquire more picks, then what is this going to look like?

What this does do, however, is give credence to possibly eating a bunch of Geno’s salary and trading him to a needy team that wants a middle-of-the-road veteran quarterback. Could we sucker a team like the Raiders or Titans into giving us a draft pick or two? What if we sweeten the deal with a D.K. Metcalf?

On its own, I don’t love this move. Sam Howell doesn’t appear to be an obvious upgrade over Geno Smith, and I’m not even sure he’s an upgrade over Drew Lock!

But, I’m told Howell allegedly has a strong arm. And I kinda like how he’s not just a Checkdown Charlie. But, 21 interceptions and 65 sacks is absolutely unforgivable.

Ultimately, my opinion on this move will hinge on whether or not the Seahawks draft a quarterback this year. And, failing that, it’s going to hinge on how quickly we choose to move on from Geno Smith. If we have no rookie, and if we blow through the entire 2024 season with Geno at the helm, I’m going to be extremely upset when we end up with another 9-win campaign.

Not that I necessarily believe Howell would be able to do any better. But, I think it’s fair to say there’s at least a little uncertainty about his ceiling. We know Geno’s ceiling; we’ve lived it the last two years. I want fresh blood!

The Seahawks Re-Signed Noah Fant & Leonard Williams

The first day of free agency is so much fun! It’s almost worth it to take the day off of work and spend the whole time scrolling through Formerly Twitter to see all the moves. Just a nonstop barrage of contracts being announced during the Legal Tampering Period or whatever you want to call it.

It’s also fun to imagine fans going nuts, as free agents start flying off the board, because under John Schneider, the Seahawks always tend to hang back. This isn’t the team that’s going to “win” free agency. Oftentimes, they’re barely even going to participate!

Thankfully, I no longer freak out about this stuff. Instead, I’ve started marvelling at the over-pays we see (which seems to be going to the 100th power this year, with the influx of salary cap money every team has available to spend).

What’s interesting about this offseason is the fact that the Seahawks both have a good chunk of change with which to restock the roster (thanks to favorable cuts and restructures), but we also have the smallest roster of players in the league (meaning we have the most holes to fill to get to 90 players by the time Training Camp rolls around). We have something in the ballpark of $40-$50 million, minus whatever we need to sign our draft picks and hold in reserve for injury replacements.

In an upcoming post, I’ll write about all the players who are going elsewhere. Not for nothing, but it’s beginning to feel like the Seahawks are on the hunt for compensatory draft picks for 2025. Considering we’ve been shut out of those valuable freebies dating back to 2020, I would say it’s long overdue! Considering the reason we’ve been shut out is because – by and large – we’re signing worthless free agents, makes it all the more galling.

One way to ensure you get some comp picks is by re-signing your own free agents. Of course, coming off of back-to-back 9-8 seasons, you don’t want to bring back TOO MANY of your own guys, lest history repeats itself. But, all things being equal, you definitely would rather bring back your best guys, rather than try to outspend other teams for players who are going to take away from your comp pick ledger.

The Seahawks were down to approximately zero tight ends heading into yesterday. Spoiler alert: prior to Noah Fant re-signing, the other two tight end mainstays latched onto new teams. I’m all too happy to go dumpster diving for tight ends, or finding some in the draft. But, it’s nice to have at least ONE trusted veteran in the fold, if for no other reason than to help the new class understand what it takes to play the position at this level. Tight end should only be considered a premium position if you have one of the very best. Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Sam LaPorta. Otherwise, I think it’s smarter to save (especially if the wide receiver room is already taking up as much of our cap space as it is).

Did the Seahawks accomplish that feat? 2 years, $21 million. It’s not nothing! But, again, I do think there’s value in having a guy like Fant in the fold. He may not be the long-term answer at the position, but he’s still right there in the prime of his career, and should be a nice little bridge to whatever the position morphs into in the years to come.

I like Fant. He obviously hasn’t been as productive in Seattle as he was in Denver, but I attribute that to the bevy of wide receivers and running backs commanding their share of touches. On top of which, I would argue last year all three of our tight ends were pretty close to equal in ability, and none of them really got hurt. When Fant got targets, though, he made the most out of them. He had sneaky big-play ability, which shows up in his 12.9 yards per reception, which was the most he racked up since his rookie year in 2019.

It’s also nice to know the Russell Wilson trade is still paying dividends. There’s a reason we wanted Fant as part of that deal. He’s a capable tight end with good hands who can stay healthy. It’s nice to have that kind of security blanket, even if Geno Smith doesn’t utilize him as much as he should. Or, hell, who knows? Maybe he utilizes him the appropriate amount!

The big news of the day was keeping Leonard Williams on a 3-year, $64.5 million deal. It’s pretty massive, nearly $49 million is guaranteed to the soon-to-be 30 year old. I figure that means he’s locked in for the first two years.

This was beyond necessary. For starters, we gave up our second round pick this year to get him during last season. Had he walked – while it indeed would’ve amounted to a pretty decent compensatory pick – we would’ve given up a second rounder for pretty much nothing.

I’ll never understand how this defense flopped so spectacularly after he got here. Leonard Williams was far and away our best defensive lineman – and maybe our best overall defensive asset – and yet we got worse? Maybe it’s just bad luck. Maybe it was the schedule getting tougher. But, if that isn’t reason-enough to clean house with the coaching staff, I don’t know what is.

He had 4.0 sacks in 10 games with the Seahawks. He had 9 tackles for loss, which was second on the team. He’s just an absolute monster along the interior, and quite frankly, I don’t know if we’ve ever had anyone quite like him. We certainly haven’t had someone with his set of skills in the John Schneider Era. And, while it’s a lot of money, if he can stay healthy, he should be worth every penny, especially with Mike Macdonald revamping this side of the ball.

There seems to be a lot of changes happening, but it’s comforting to know something remains the same. All along, John Schneider has maintained that Leonard Williams was our top priority. You know when the Seahawks say that, they tend to get their guys. And, considering some of the other contracts I’ve seen thrown around this week by other teams, the values of these two deals don’t feel out of bounds in the slightest.

I can’t wait to see where we go from here!

The Seahawks Cut Diggs, Adams, Dissly

While these are some obvious moves the Seahawks needed to make to free up some much-needed cash ahead of the 2024 offseason, go ahead and disregard a lot of the financial numbers I referenced in this post.

The good news for the Seahawks when it comes to the NFL raising the salary cap to a record $255.4 million is that it helped us greatly when it comes to our financial woes. The last however many years, the Seahawks have been right up against the cap limit every single year. Not much – if any – carry-over from one season to the next. That’s the price you pay when you’re doing everything you possibly can to cling to contention, without any resets.

The bad news for the Seahawks when it comes to the NFL raising the salary cap to a record $255.4 million is that it helps everyone else by the same amount. And, pretty much everyone else was already in a better salary cap situation, so that’s neat.

The three moves combined apparently save a little over $25 million. As for the dead money? Don’t even go there! One cool element of this is that we’re NOT making Jamal Adams a post-June 1st cut, which means we eat all the dead money now, but then in 2025 and beyond, we’re no longer obligated.

I like that. We’ve got a new coaching staff, we’ve got a front office with a new lease on life now that Pete Carroll is no longer where the buck stops. Let’s try to give the Seahawks some semblance of a fresh start. For all intents and purposes, should the Seahawks look to clean house in 2025, there isn’t a TON of dead money to have to endure. Dead money on Geno, Tyler, and even D.K. is all pretty reasonable. There wouldn’t be a lot left for Dre’Mont Jones, and you could even get out from under Nwosu if you really wanted to. Beyond those guys (and, presumably, any duds we sign in this offseason to multi-year deals), there isn’t a lot of fat on this roster going forward.

The toughest hit in this group is Quandre Diggs. He’s been nothing but a pro’s pro since joining the Seahawks. Indeed, either we got him at his very best, or we were able to make the best use of his talents. He spent 4.5 years with Detroit and 4.5 years with Seattle. All three of his Pro Bowls happened when he was here, and 18 of his 24 career interceptions came here.

There’s a lot of lamenting how much money the Seahawks have had tied up in the safety position in recent years. But, people also forget how TRULY awful we were at that position from 2018 (when Earl Thomas went down after 4 games) until Diggs joined the team halfway through 2019. Don’t forget, we also lost Kam Chancellor halfway through 2017, and had to suffer the likes of Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, and Marquise Blair for that whole stretch. The point being: lack of quality safety play can really set your defense back.

That being said, you just can’t afford to have Safety as your most expensive position on the team. That’s no way to build a great roster. The impact you get from even the best of the best isn’t enough to counterbalance the negatives you’re getting from a nothing defensive line.

The easiest and most obvious cut to swallow was Jamal Adams. It’s going down as one of the worst trades in Seahawks history, and maybe even one of the worst trades in NFL history! We gave them a first and third rounder in 2021 (which they used to trade up in the first round that year, only to draft a journeyman guard/tackle who’s hit the IR twice out of three years), a first rounder in 2022 (which they used to take Garrett Wilson at 10th overall), and Bradley McDougald (who was pretty much cooked by the time we got rid of him). In return, we got a fourth round pick in 2021 (which we used to take Coby Bryant) and one great season (in 2020) where Adams had 9.5 sacks in 12 games. He would go on to have 0 more sacks in a combined 22 more games across the next three seasons, somehow catching 2 INTs (while dropping countless others), and making little-to-no impact whatsoever amidst an injury-plagued career. And, to top it all off, he was both delusional and an ass on the Internet, with one foot out the door pretty much since the moment he got here.

I would put Will Dissly somewhere in the middle. I definitely don’t dislike Dissly; honestly, he’s always been a joy to watch, dating back to his days as a Washington Husky. Every time he catches a ball, or contributes in any way, I light up like a Christmas tree! But also, like, what are we doing paying a – primarily blocking – tight end that much money? He averages a hair over 2 touchdowns, 21 receptions, and 236 yards per season; you’re giving THAT guy an average salary of $8 million per year? Again, what are we doing?

I wouldn’t be against paying him the minimum to come back. But, I’m guessing if we wanted to do that – and he wanted to accept that – he’d be here on a modified deal. As it stands, I’m assuming he can earn more elsewhere, and if so, God bless him.

All in all, kind of a weird day, but not totally shocking. The first of many, many moves to come in a pretty exciting offseason for the Seahawks.

Worst-Kept Secret: The Broncos Are Cutting Russell Wilson

There’s no doubt about it: the Seahawks won the Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos. If you ONLY count the players involved, we’re talking about the two worst seasons in Wilson’s career, and a 4th round defensive lineman who underwhelmed as a rookie and was suspended for gambling in year two. That was the haul for Denver.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, got something of a mixed bag in return, but still unquestionably the better of the situation.

On the plus side, we got to draft Devon Witherspoon, who looks like a potential star in this league. We also got a starting left tackle in Charles Cross, and a likely starting outside linebacker in Boye Mafe. Mafe had 3 sacks as a rookie, and made the leap to 9 sacks in year two, looking like a very promising pass rusher.

In the middle, we got two very competent seasons out of tight end Noah Fant and we had a somewhat capable backup quarterback in Drew Lock. Both are free agents at the moment, so we’ll see if the team opts to bring either of them back.

On the down side, we got one so-so season out of Shelby Harris before cutting him (this was a season where our run defense was extremely poor), we have sort of a wild card in outside linebacker Derick Hall (who didn’t seem to develop like people had hoped as his rookie season wore on), and we drafted Tyreke Smith in the 5th round in 2022 (who spent his entire rookie seaon injured, and his entire second season on the practice squad before being claimed by the Cardinals in December).

Like I said: a bit of a mixed bag. But, the three “hits” obviously outweigh all the misses down below, and you’re not going to be 100% on moves like this. Frankly, this outcome is probably as good as we could’ve hoped for.

Where the almighty bullet was dodged, however, is avoiding the long-term ramifications of choosing Russell Wilson over Pete Carroll and/or John Schneider.

As always, it’s not totally black and white. Obviously, Pete Carroll isn’t here anymore after two 9-win seasons sans Wilson. BUT, also obviously, the Seahawks don’t have to reckon with a 5-year, $242.6 million contract that is just kicking in THIS YEAR, which boggles the mind. In 2023, Wilson’s Seahawks contract just ran out, which is absurd to think about. A guy who was so highly coveted, couldn’t even make it to Year One of his new deal.

That’s $85 million in dead money, spread out over 2024 and 2025. The Broncos had a brand new regime in 2022, then fired everyone for Sean Payton in 2023. Presumably, Payton will have something of a longer leash to try to turn things around, but it seems like the next two years are going to be a challenge. It’s hard to really try to bottom out and still keep your job, but also that’s probably what’s necessary (trade players for draft picks, go with a super youth movement, then try to bounce back in 2026 in free agency).

Can you imagine what the Seahawks would be doing right now, with that kind of Russell Wilson contract on the books? For starters, I don’t know if we’d be talking about cutting him and eating that kind of dead money. It’s interesting to imagine where this team would be – and what we might’ve accomplished the last two years – with Wilson still in the fold. Considering our shabby draft positioning thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, I have to believe we would’ve been considerably worse the last two years!

Now, the questions are: where will Russell Wilson end up next, and will he be able to resuscitate his career?

There are plenty of dimwits who wonder if the Seahawks might bring him back. He is, after all, poised to earn the veteran minimum (thanks to offsets built into his Broncos deal; any new money paid to him only helps his former team). But, why would the Seahawks put themselves through that? Geno Smith hasn’t been a world-beater the last two years, but he’s still been better than Russell Wilson. And I’m sure that Wilson would prefer to go somewhere with a more-established offensive identity (rather than the Seahawks, who are breaking in a lot of young/first-time NFL coaches).

I would find it extremely curious what the Vikings end up doing, particularly if Kirk Cousins moves on to Atlanta or wherever. The Vikings have two terrific wide receivers who can go get deep balls, and a top-tier offensive line that should be able to accommodate Wilson’s lack of mobility. Paying a guy like Wilson the minimum might help them offset the cost of extending Justin Jefferson for what is sure to be the highest wide receiver contract in NFL history.

Regardless of where Wilson ends up, it’s fascinating to see how the narrative has shifted. In the beginning of his Seahawks tenure, he was just a game manager behind an elite run game and defense. As time went on, and he used his magic to pull our asses out of more and more fires, Wilson was properly rated as among the best quarterbacks in the game. Then, as the Seahawks stagnated later in his tenure here, it was the coaching staff and offensive scheme that was holding him back, until he finally forced his way out. Then, in his first year in Denver, Wilson’s struggles were chocked up to Nathaniel Hackett and his poor performance as the head coach. When even the great Sean Payton couldn’t change Wilson’s fortunes, it was time for everyone to admit that maybe Wilson was cooked, and the Seahawks were never to blame for his inability to get over the hump into a proper MVP conversation.

But, does anyone really have to be to blame?

Wilson’s last truly great year was in 2020. But, even then, you could see the writing on the wall. That Seahawks team ended up winning the NFC West, which was nothing new for Russell Wilson in his time here. But, in the L.O.B. days, Wilson was the perfect complement for an elite defense. In the immediate post-L.O.B. days, Wilson ended up compensating for a lot of holes elsewhere on the roster. But, by 2020, those holes weren’t quite as dramatic. And, Wilson was actually starting to be more of the problem than the solution. He threw 8 of his 13 interceptions in our four regular season losses (13 INTs being the most for him in any one season), and added one more for good measure in our playoff loss at home to the Rams. He mopped the floor with the league through five games, then suffered a massive mid-season lull (costing us 3 of 4) before having the reins pulled back by season’s end. The home playoff defeat should have been his final go in Seattle, but we stuck with him for one more year before pulling the trigger with the Broncos.

This is what happens. Quarterbacks age, and eventually they play themselves out of the league. As it turns out, given Wilson’s limitations, he probably was never destined to play into his 40’s like he’d hoped. I’m not ready to say his time has come to an end in the NFL, because I’d like to see what he’s still capable of with a competent coaching staff who actually WANTS him on their team. I think he’s still accurate enough – and has a strong-enough arm – to bounce back and be a productive mid-tier QB. But, an MVP is out of the question, and I’m guessing so is another Super Bowl appearance.

Other than the Vikings, I wonder what he’d look like in a Browns uniform. Could he also compete for a job with the Giants? And what if the Falcons pass on Cousins? There’s a lot of talent down in ATL, that’s going to make some veteran quarterback’s job pretty easy.

I feel like his worst-case scenario is going to Tennessee or Vegas. The Titans are truly bottom-of-the-barrel talent-wise, and the Raiders seem fairly unstable at the moment (I don’t know if I believe they’re going to commit to their erstwhile interim head coach longterm). After that, it’s probably settling for any number of backup jobs.

As for my personal feelings on the matter, I think I’m coming around again. When he was with Denver, I was all too happy to root against him. I wasn’t thrilled with the way things ended in Seattle, and his personality quirks started to rub me the wrong way. But, now that he’s a free agent, I’m still happy to laugh at the Broncos’ misfortunes, but I’m also starting to feel sorry for Russ. For all his faults, he’s still a good-enough guy, and he did play during our greatest era of Seahawks football. There are still so many wonderful memories with him behind center.

I’m rooting for the Russell Wilson comeback! It won’t be in Seattle, but that’s okay. He can’t hurt us anymore.

Give Me A Break, John Schneider

You know what I’m sick and tired of hearing about? It’s not that I’m hearing about it constantly or anything. It’s not like it’s ruining my life. But, there’s a lot of chatter about what the Seahawks are going to do with their quarterback room. After Geno Smith, what’s going to happen? Is it running it back with Drew Lock? Is it going to be a rookie (maybe with that first pick, maybe after trading down, maybe trading into the second round somehow, maybe later in the draft)? Is it going to be a triad, with the rookie sitting for the year before moving on from the veterans in 2025? While there aren’t limitless possibilities, there are certainly some.

What I’m sick of hearing about, though, is Seahawks GM John Schneider telling us about his Green Bay Packers past, and how they would rarely let a year go by without drafting a quarterback. It’s been 14 years with the Seahawks now. 14 NFL Drafts. And two quarterbacks. One of them was Russell Wilson, and one of them was 7th rounder Alex McGough, a guy they couldn’t WAIT to cut and put on the practice squad before his first NFL season.

And what’s the excuse? Oh, none of the drafts broke the right way. Oh, we just didn’t find the right guy at the right spot. Oh, we had other needs.

I’m sorry, but that’s a load. What are we talking about? In 14 years, after 127 picks, you could only find TWO guys, and one of them didn’t even make the team out of the pre-season? In 2019 alone you drafted more wide receivers (3) than you have QBs in all your years here. In 2017, you drafted more safeties, and in 2016, you drafted more RBs!

I’m not buying it. There were quarterbacks to be had, quarterbacks that could have helped this team; you CHOSE not to pick any of them, and that’s your right. But, don’t blame the draft board, or the draft classes.

Sure, people can argue that we had Russell Wilson for so many years, and therefore didn’t NEED to pick one. That we had other holes we should’ve filled, and it would’ve been a waste of resources. But, you know what? Where did that get us? Did we win any more Super Bowls after that first one because we went away from the QB position? No we did not.

Those Packers teams he keeps talking about; did they keep drafting quarterbacks even though they had Hall of Famers in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers? Damn right! How do you think they got Rodgers (and later Jordan Love) in the first place? Because they kept drafting quarterbacks, and were well positioned to maintain a high level of quarterback play as a result, for going on three generations now.

What did the Seahawks do? First they squandered Russell Wilson’s prime years, then they let him get old and complacent and overpaid, to the point where he wasn’t nearly as effective as he used to be. And now here we are, talking about running it back a THIRD time with Geno Smith and Drew Lock, two of the most uninspiring options I can think of.

Note: I didn’t say “bad”, I said “uninspiring”. They’re as inspiring as lukewarm white bread toast.

So, forgive me if I’m not buying what John Schneider is selling. If you’re so accustomed to drafting a quarterback most every year, then DO IT! Draft a quarterback this year! Or, just admit that it’s not actually a priority for you.

Geno Smith Is Still With The Seahawks, For Now

I wouldn’t say this is Earth-shattering news, but it was announced today that the Seahawks will be keeping Geno Smith beyond Friday’s deadline. That deadline? Keep Geno and have his 2024 base salary guaranteed (at $12.7 million), or let him go and save that amount.

So, there’s a couple things to keep in mind with this move. First, the base salary figure obviously isn’t equal to his cap hit for this season, which will be considerably higher; after all, you have the pro-rated portion of his signing bonus to factor in ($8.7 million). Second, there’s also a $9.6 million roster bonus that triggers on March 17th. All told, with a $200,000 workout bonus, we’re looking at a total cap hit of just over $31 million, if Geno Smith is still here on St. Patrick’s Day.

Clearly, if Geno Smith is still on the Seahawks at that point, he’s here to stay at least through this season. That doesn’t prevent us from looking towards the draft for his replacement, but it would be tricky to trade him after that point.

Though, I dunno, maybe not. If we eat his roster bonus, then presumably we could get more in return after it vests. But, ideally, we’d find a trade partner beforehand, and avoid that unpleasantness altogether, while still getting some semblance of a return.

I don’t have a very strong opinion on this matter. It doesn’t sound like Geno Smith is getting a ringing endorsement. I will say that my opinion will largely hinge on what we do at backup. If we’re simply going to run it back with Geno and Drew Lock, with no attempt at drafting anyone of significance (i.e. someone in the first three rounds), I think I’ll be pretty upset. Because clearly it isn’t working with this configuration, and now it kicks the can another year down the road when it comes to finding a long-term solution. On top of which, everyone in the know says that the 2025 draft class is going to be pretty meagre when it comes to the quarterback position. I guess that can always change, but I dunno. Feels like another 9-8 type of season if we keep the status quo.

But, if we end up making a big draft splash and getting a quarterback this year, then it’s a pretty solid move to keep Geno one more year, let the rookie sit until he’s ready, and then move on for 2025 (while not having to eat nearly as much in dead money).

As usual, we can’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other until we see the other moves in the works. Ain’t it always the way?

The Seahawks Hired Mike Macdonald To Be The New Head Coach

Did the Seahawks just hire the best head coaching candidate available?

It’s interesting to go through the list of current NFL head coaches – in order of year hired – and see the different head coaching classes. When the Commanders finally get their asses in gear, 19 of the 32 head coaches will have been hired in 2022 or later. WELL over half of all head coaches have been in their current jobs for 2 seasons or less.

There are currently only three from the 2021 class: Dan Campbell (whose stock is as high as can be, in spite of some questionable decisions in the NFC Championship Game), Robert Saleh (who feels like he needs a HUGE 2024 with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and probably a deep playoff run if he still wants to be with the Jets in 2025), and Nick Sirianni (who took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in year two, only to almost get fired in year three).

The 2020 class has just two members: Mike McCarthy (in desperate need of a deep playoff run to save his job) and Kevin Stefanski (who probably earned Coach of the Year with the job he did with the Browns in 2023). There’s two left from 2019: Zac Taylor & Matt LaFleur (not going anywhere). No one from 2018. Pretty big three from 2017: Sean McDermott, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan. Then, you have to go back to the Old Guard: 2013 – Andy Reid, 2008 – John Harbaugh, 2007 – Mike Tomlin.

So, what does that tell us? Unless there’s a VERY big surprise looming, there are currently seven members of the 2024 class of new head coaches: Raheem Morris (Atlanta), Dave Canales (Carolina), Jim Harbaugh (Chargers), Jerod Mayo (New England), Brian Callahan (Tennessee), Mike Macdonald (Seahawks), and whoever the Commanders hire. What the above tells us is that in three years, over half of these guys aren’t going to hit.

How to predict where it’s going to work and where it isn’t is kind of a fool’s errand. Canales seems like a longshot to be good. He’s going to the least stable franchise of the bunch (with a crazy owner, a legitimately bad team, and no first round draft pick this year), he’s coming off of only a year as a coordinator, and he just has the feel of a guy who took a job nobody else wanted (I wonder if the same will be said for whoever Washington hires). I’m always leery of the Head Coach In Waiting, ever since it went so poorly with Jim Mora Jr. in Seattle. Seems like Mayo has a huge job ahead of him to right the ship in New England. And I’ll be honest, I had no idea the Titans hired Callahan – or even who Callahan was – until I looked him up and realized he was the OC for Cincinnati. Oh, you mean the offense with the best quarterback we’ve seen since Patrick Mahomes, with one of the most talented and elite wide receivers in the game? Seems hard to NOT have success in that job.

After Raheem Morris’ initial stint as one of the worst active head coaches in the NFL from 2009-2011, I’ll admit he wasn’t on my short list of favorite candidates. Didn’t Bill Simmons coin the phrase WARM (Wins Above Raheem Morris) as a play on baseball’s WAR stat? I’m sure he’s come a long way in the intervening years, but he joins a Falcons team with no quarterback, and no real great shot at drafting one of the top three. If we’re just going by which team – who hired a new coach this offseason – is set up the best from a personnel perspective, then I would say Jim Harbaugh has the best chance to succeed. If the Chargers can’t find a way to win with Justin Herbert and a competent head coach, then they’re more cursed than I realized.

So, unless one of these guys really surprises me, I think Mike Macdonald has a real chance to be great. He’s joining a really solid franchise in the Seahawks, with a lot of good, young, talented players. He’s got a strong GM who should continue to draft well and sign the right guys, now that he’s the head man in charge. And, just based on what I’ve heard about him, it really seems like he has a special aura about him. Very intelligent, very gifted (at least at running a defense), players love him, and he becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at the moment (if you’re that young and rising through the ranks this fast, you must be doing something right).

Obviously, there are two ways to go with hiring an NFL head coach: bring in a retread, or find someone new from among the college or coordinator ranks. By my calculations, there are currently eight head coaches with previous head coaching experience. Admittedly, that’s sort of an educated guess; I didn’t go through every single bio. Best-case scenario of those guys? Andy Reid, and he obviously gets to enjoy the talents of Mahomes after a successful run in Philly. While there are occasional hits (Pete Carroll obviously being one of them), the retreads never seem to work out too well. For every Bill Belichick, there’s dozens of Mike McCarthys and Dennis Allens. Oddly enough, Bill Belichick was one of the guys available in this go-around, but clearly John Schneider wasn’t ready to hand over the keys to personnel after he just got them handed to himself.

If I had to go with a retread, I would’ve been happy with Mike Vrabel, but I’ll admit I’m pretty thrilled we’re going with someone new and young. I know there’s lots of new, young guys hired every year, but if you find that dynamic someone, it can really be a boost for your franchise for years to come. I find it incredibly heartening that Mike Macdonald is being described as the defensive version of Sean McVay. And not just as a play caller or a schemer, but as someone who can transition into the head coaching job, find the right coaches to put around him, and has the vision to make it all work. On top of which, you know he’s hungry and you know he’s going to give it everything he’s got. Can you say the same thing about Sean Payton or Doug Pederson?

In 2022, in his first year as the Ravens’ DC, they were 3rd in fewest points scored and rushing yards allowed (10th in total yards allowed), as well as tied for fifth in sacks. In 2023, the defense improved to 1st in points allowed, 1st in sacks, and 1st in lowest passer rating allowed, all the while improving to 6th in total yards allowed. And that’s with blitzing less than all but seven teams, according to this article. The more I read about him and hear about him, the more impressed I am!

But, you know, as with any head coach, there are so many variables at play. So many other decisions left to make. Who will be his assistant coaches? What are we doing with Geno Smith? What are we doing in the draft? How long until the team is sold? How solid is John Schneider’s job in the organization?

I’ll tell you what, though, this hire gives me a lot of hope! It’ll ultimately be decided on the football field, likely over the next 2-3 seasons. But, I think we’ve set ourselves up very well to succeed the greatest head coach in franchise history and a legitimate hall of fame candidate. I can’t wait to see what these new Seahawks look like. If nothing else, I’m expecting a rapid turnaround of the defense. And, as we all know, that’s when the Seahawks are always at their best.