Seahawks Death Week: Talking About The Elephants In The Room

Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, and John Schneider are those elephants. Jody Allen & Co. have some decisions to make. As I see it, the options are as follows:

  • Keep Everybody
  • Keep Pete Carroll and John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete and Russ, Fire John
  • Keep John and Russ, Fire Pete
  • Keep Russell Wilson, Fire Pete Carroll and John Schneider
  • Keep John Schneider, Fire Pete Carroll, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Keep Pete Carroll, Fire John Schneider, Trade Russell Wilson
  • Trade/Fire Everybody

Does that look right? It’s absurd how long it took me to figure out that 3-way quagmire. Anyway, one of those eight scenarios is bound to happen.

The likeliest three – in some order – are “Keep Everybody”, “Keep Pete & John (trade Russ)”, or “Keep Russ (fire Pete & John)”. The virtual lock that absolutely won’t happen is that everybody is gone.

Considering the news over the last couple days – and the fact that no change has been made as of yet – I’d say Pete and John are here to stay. I suppose – since we don’t have a traditional ownership set-up – they could be taking their time and might wait a little bit before making a move, but that seems like a disasterous scenario to me (considering all the teams who did their shit-canning on Black Monday would have a head start on us by now). It makes sense though, from a financial perspective. Pete and John were just extended to big money deals through the 2025 season (Pete) and 2027 draft (John); that’s fully guaranteed money. I know, in the grand scheme of things, a billionaire owner wouldn’t flinch at throwing away that kind of money if they felt it was necessary to make a move, but I would also argue the recency of these signings indicates they’re all on the same page with how this team should be run.

As for Russell Wilson, that’s anyone’s guess.

Do you put more stock in the rosy feeling of the Seahawks dominating their final two regular season games (and winning 4 of 6 overall)? Or, do you put more stock in Russell Wilson’s media campaign following the 2020 season, and how he nudge-nudge, wink-wink, wouldn’t mind being traded to a certain four teams? Everyone’s careful to state it wasn’t a trade demand, but following a 7-10 season, maybe whatever it was turns into one now.

Predicting this feels like a coin flip. I’m leaning towards Russell Wilson wanting out. I think there’s a lot of evidence to back it up. I would say, for starters, professional athletes (and coaches, and front office people, and just about everyone else) are notorious liars. So, when Wilson talks about wanting to be in Seattle, I’d put a big ol’ Maury Povich meme up next to that.

Wilson obviously wants to be in an offense that caters to his need to be the best quarterback in football. He wants everything to run through him, he wants to pass the ball significantly more than he hands it off. He wants an MVP award. He wants to be the main reason (by leaps and bounds) why his team wins football games. And he wants to win multiple Super Bowls. Ultimately, he wants to be a Hall of Famer. Because, again, he wants to go down as the best to ever play the position (or, failing that, the best after Tom Brady).

Yet, whenever Russell Wilson has tried to bite off more than he can chew in Seattle, he’s almost always struggled. The last two years of this Let Russ Cook nonsense is a prime example. It’s not ALL his fault, because obviously there’s a tug o’ war going on with Pete Carroll, who does stick his nose in and limits his rampant passing whenever the offense struggles and/or turns the ball over too much. It’s also not his fault that this offensive line largely struggles in pass protection (specifically for someone like Wilson, who likes to move around a lot and will run himself into opposing linemen; it’s hard to know where Wilson will be at any given moment as a play breaks down). It’s also not his fault that we continue to waste time with inferior linemen in general, when there are better options available (why it took so long for Phil Haynes to get an opportunity is anybody’s guess; why Pocic sat for so long after he returned from his injury is, again, a mystery).

But, I think we’ve also seen enough from Wilson to know where he’s limited, and where he’s sabotaging things. He’s not good at the intermediate passing game. He’s not smart about checking down when the deep pass isn’t there. He too often tries to twirl out of trouble or run backwards, exacerbating sacks that don’t need to be so devastating. He’s, frankly, not a good third down quarterback. And he chooses not to run as often as he should, to keep defenses honest; even if he’s lost a step, he’s still capable of running when he wants to.

Then there are, of course, all the non-football reasons why Wilson might want to leave. Seattle is a middling media market. Ciara is an international music star. Russ wants to be a Business, man. I think they would prefer he play for a team in New York, L.A., Miami, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., or Vegas. For football reasons, throw New Orleans, Atlanta, Indy, Denver, Cleveland, or Minnesota into the mix. There’s lots of options, any number of them would be more attractive for someone looking for a change of scenery than Seattle.

If we assume Pete and John are here to stay for the foreseeable future, then Russ has to decide if this is the place he wants to be. And, if he chooses to stay, then he needs to buy in 100% to the way this offense needs to be operated. We need to rely on our running game to bring the defense closer to the line of scrimmage; it’s the best way for Wilson to take advantage of what he does best: exploiting the defense over the top for explosive chunk gains.

Meanwhile, John needs to shore up talent along the offensive line, and have a better plan when it comes to bringing in quality running backs. And Pete and his coaching staff need to determine who the best players are earlier in the season, so we don’t keep blowing games early.

But, as I said before, gun to my head, I think Russ forces a trade. Now, is that something I want?

It’s hard. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve soured on Wilson after last year’s media blitz, but I’ve seen how this team can perform at its best. When everyone is on the same page, and everything is clicking, the Seahawks’ offense can do some real damage. And I do NOT believe Wilson has fallen off a cliff. Sure, he’s on the downside of his career, but he’s still close enough to his peak to easily be a Top 10 quarterback in this league, with a shot at being a Top 5 guy if everything goes according to plan. I still believe he’s destined to be a Hall of Famer; even the best all-time QBs have had down years during their careers.

Beating the Lions and Cardinals the way they did to close out the season shows me this team’s potential. That’s the closest I’ve seen to our late-2012 run since it happened. Sure, we’ve ended seasons on fire before, but not imposing our will the way we did in those two games. Again, the last 50-point game we put up was in 2012; that’s extremely difficult to do in the NFL!

But, do I want to be sucked in by our most recent two performances, one of which happened against one of the two worst teams in football (ignoring all the games that came before it, both this season and some of the more infuriating games we’ve bungled over the last half-decade)? Do I ultimately believe that this is a team – with Russell Wilson at the helm – that won’t just contend for playoff spots, but win a motherfucking championship?

Not really.

I think we, as Seahawks fans, have to face up to some hard truths. One of which is: Russell Wilson absolutely needs a quality running game and defense to win championships. Simply having “Russell Wilson: Top 5 Quarterback” isn’t sufficient. He’s good enough to make up for a lot of illnesses across this roster, but he’s only one man. Without proper support in those two key areas, all is lost.

I don’t believe those Seahawks teams from 2012-2015 would’ve been nearly as dominant without Russell Wilson; I certainly don’t think they would’ve made the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with someone like Andy Dalton (or some other replacement-level quarterback). That being said, it’s clear why those teams were so successful: the defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The defense, more or less since 2015, has declined severely as the key guys from that Legion of Boom era have all retired, gotten older/slower, or moved on to other teams. We’ve been massively unsuccessful in replacing those guys through the draft, trades, or free agency. And, as our coaching staff kept getting poached of its best and brightest, we’re left with mediocre leadership who continue to fail to get the most out of their players.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried countless times to find the successor to Marshawn Lynch. Most have been mediocre. Chris Carson was a worthy follow up, but he’s been too injured too often to come close to living up. Beastmode has so many elite and wonderful qualities – from his rough-house style of play, to his infectious personality – but one of the more underrated aspects to his greatness was his availability. He showed up, game-in and game-out.

Just go back and look at those seasons, particularly our Super Bowl runs of 2013 and 2014. Look at how many games where our offense struggled for long stretches and needed the defense to keep us in them, until Wilson led the offense to a late-game victory. Or, those games where the offense got us a lead, and the defense had to hold on to secure it. Now, start thinking about all of those games we haven’t won since 2016. Think about how the defense has struggled. Think about how we’ve needed the offense to be the one to carry this team, and how often they’ve failed in key moments.

The thing is, it’s not one or the other. You need the running game and the defense, but you DO need the quarterback as well. However, there’s only so much money to go around. And there’s only so much a GM can do when you’re drafting so low in the first round most years (that is, when you’re not trading away those picks to try to find elite talent in other ways, since there’s rarely elite talent falling into the 20’s of the NFL draft). Can the Seahawks build that defense when they’re paying Russell Wilson so much money? It’s possible, but it’s very difficult. Can a defense that’s not-quite-elite still win us a title with Wilson at quarterback? It’s possible, but it requires buy-in from the quarterback himself. And, even then, it’s going to need a running game like we saw from Rashaad Penny the last month of the season.

My main line of thinking is that I don’t believe Russell Wilson will ever get with the program. Even if he makes the commitment to stay and buys in to a more balanced philosophy that features more rushing than he’d like, he is who he is. He’s still going to struggle in the intermediate game, finding check-downs, converting third downs, and knowing when he himself needs to run with the football. I also don’t believe we’re ever going to find someone as durable as Marshawn Lynch, and so our running game will continue to be a revolving door from week to week. Finally, I don’t believe this defense – with Ken Norton & Co. in charge – is capable of being consistent enough to sustain even a Top 15 level of production.

At this point, I think it’s probably best for all involved for Wilson to demand a trade. The Seahawks need an infusion of draft picks. They need to bring in a new, young QB while we still have the culture in place to surround him with quality players in order to turn him into a winner. And, they need to use any and all resources – with that quarterback on his rookie deal – to bolster the defense like they did heading into 2013, so that we can take advantage in that brief window where the quarterback isn’t earning an untenable percentage of the overall salary cap.

If it doesn’t happen, and Wilson opts to stick around, I won’t be up in arms or anything. But, I’ll go into every season from here on out knowing there’s a ceiling to the Seahawks’ success, that being the Divisional Round of the playoffs and no further. Until they prove me wrong, that’s what we have to look forward to. And, instead of getting a jumpstart on a rebuild – while there’s enough of a core in place to possibly right the ship in a hurry – we’ll just kick this can down the road another few years, until Pete Carroll has to retire in disgrace, John Schneider returns to Green Bay, and Russell Wilson is wearing another jersey anyway.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Offensive Line

This group strikes me as having the highest possible variance of any group on the team. If someone traveled back in time to now – from the season’s end – and told me the Seahawks will have a Top 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. If they told me the Seahawks will have a Bottom 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. I mean, they’ve mastered the technology of time travel, so why wouldn’t I believe them? But, you understand what I’m getting at.

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about the Duane Brown situation – which you can read about in the bottom half of this post – but the vast majority of that variance lies right here. For the Seahawks to have a good-to-great offensive line, Duane Brown needs to play every game in the regular season and continue playing at the level we’ve seen from him since he donned a Seahawks uniform. He’s special. He’s fucking huge and athletic and one of the best left tackles in football. He’s also getting up there in age, and that cliff is right around the corner. We won’t know he’s fallen off of it until that injury strikes, and when it does, I anticipate it’ll be devastating for all involved.

If Duane Brown holds out, or demands a trade, or suddenly retires, it’s going to be REALLY dark for this unit, this offense, and this team as a whole. The Seahawks just don’t have the depth – particularly at tackle – to overcome such a loss! That has to be a big reason why he’s holding out to begin with: he knows he has the Seahawks over a barrel! Brandon Shell is a right tackle, end of story there. He’s a fine right tackle, when healthy, but you’re not moving him to the other side of the line and getting anything close to competent play. There’s a lot to like about Jamarco Jones’ skillset; I think he does have the talent to play left tackle at this level. But, he’s proven throughout his career that he’s incapable of staying healthy. And, not for nothing, but he’s injured NOW! That’s a bad sign. Cedric Ogbuehi has already told the team he thinks he’s better suited to play right tackle rather than left; the team seems to think he’d be good enough on the left side, at least in a fill-in capacity. But, he too is currently injured and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out for.

That leaves rookie tackles Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan; one taken in the sixth round, the other an undrafted free agent. Are you ready to hand over the starting left tackle job – arguably the most important spot on the O-Line; we’ve all seen the movie – to a lottery ticket prospect?

I don’t want to shit all over the depth on this team, because there’s actually a lot to like about what we have on the O-Line. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are quality starters in this league. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones are viable backups in this league, when healthy. I think Forsythe and Curhan are interesting projects that very well could develop into something solid in a year or two. But, when both of your primary backups are injured at the moment, and one of your starters is holding out, that’s a scary proposition!

It’s unfortunate, because there’s a lot to like about the interior. Damien Lewis returns and is being flopped over to left guard. He had a special rookie season last year, starting all his games at right guard. I don’t believe he has much – if any – experience on the left side, but it’s early enough in his NFL career that I’ll buy his ability to learn on the fly. Gabe Jackson is a veteran we brought in who’s proven as a capable right guard in this league. Considering how much we struggled in our interior protection – especially against Aaron Donald and the Rams, our main NFC West rival – this was our most critical upgrade of the offseason. To top it off, we return Ethan Pocic at center, and are having him compete with Kyle Fuller, Phil Haynes, and whoever else. So, the winner of that battle should be pretty well tested; there won’t be a question that man has earned his job.

The great thing is that everyone competing at center can also slide over and play guard in a pinch. On top of that, if Jordan Simmons can stay healthy, he’s flashed true greatness at the guard spot; much like Jamarco Jones, though, he just hasn’t proven he can remain on the field for more than a week or two.

If the Injury Gods are our friends this year, I think the offensive line can be rock solid for us. That’s going to be vital, since we’re breaking in a new offensive coordinator/play-caller. I don’t need Russell Wilson worried about his protection when he’s trying to parse where the ball is supposed to go in a vastly new system. I also don’t need this offense consistently behind the sticks because we can’t run the ball effectively when we want to run the ball. We all have enough to worry about with this offensive system, I’d rather not throw personnel into the mix of concerns.

The talent on this side of the ball, from quarterback on down, is good enough to compete for an NFL championship. But, that won’t matter if we’re saddled with scrubs along the offensive line. We’ve seen that movie TOO MANY TIMES in Russell Wilson’s tenure here.

My grade for this unit probably tops out at an A-, but it can fall all the way down to an F+ if we’re unlucky. Let’s just hope the Duane Brown situation doesn’t go nuclear, because I don’t think anyone’s going to be happy with the results.

The Seahawks Have A Roster & It’s Not Too Terribly Surprising

I should also point out that, obviously, this isn’t set in stone. This is just the 53-man roster as it stands at this moment; it very well could change anytime this week, or after the first game, or at any other point in the season. So, let’s hop to it, we’re burning daylight!

Quarterbacks

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith

Yawn. This was never in any doubt. Especially in a season like this, you want a veteran backup over a rookie. The biggest surprise is that the Seahawks opted to go with Danny Etling over Anthony Gordon on the practice squad, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Obviously, you have to be happy with what the Seahawks have done here. Russell Wilson is one of the top two quarterbacks in all of football. And Geno Smith … is fine. If Wilson was ever seriously injured I would not want to live in this world any longer our chances at a championship would go down the tubes, but if we needed a spot start out of a guy for a week or two, you could do a lot worse than a game manager like Geno.

Running Backs

  • Chris Carson
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Travis Homer
  • DeeJay Dallas

Contain your glee, because while fullback Nick Bellore isn’t on this list, I wouldn’t expect that to last long. Just try to prevent the Seahawks from keeping a stupid fullback on their roster, I dare you! Bellore will be back. We just have to do that thing where we re-sign someone after the first week of the season, so their full year’s contract is no longer guaranteed (meaning they’re essentially week-to-week players who can be cut at any time with no financial consequence to the organization). It’s kind of a shitty thing to do to someone, but it’s not like fullback is a high-demand position in the NFL anymore.

If the hype around Dallas is as legitimate as it sounds like, we could be talking about the best running back room in the entire NFL. Chris Carson has Top Ten running back talent when he’s healthy. Carlos Hyde could start for any number of teams right now. Travis Homer proved his worth quite well as a late-round draft pick last year. Plus, on top of this embarrassment of riches, we still have Rashaad Penny coming back from the PUP list after six weeks (another guy who, when healthy, has proven to be quite good).

Wide Receivers

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua
  • Freddie Swain

One of the bigger surprises that probably shouldn’t have been once you heard Pete Carroll talk about him: Paul Richardson was cut. It was a fine idea, but considering we didn’t immediately jump on him as soon as he was waived by his previous team, you could sorta tell that we weren’t feeling it. He was an insurance policy until someone better came along. As our home-grown guys started getting healthy again, P-Rich was no longer needed. I wonder if he’s lost a step? It’ll be interesting to see if he gets another chance somewhere else, or if this is the end of the road. Obviously, whenever Josh Gordon is reinstated, he’ll take the spot of one of these guys (probably Swain). Also of note: the team renegotiated Moore’s contract over the weekend to lock him in place. He’s earning less than the just-over-$2 million he would’ve gotten on his tender, but it’s guaranteed, and it guarantees his spot on this roster now.

I know this group doesn’t look like much, especially from a national perspective. But, Tyler Lockett is legit, and will likely be criminally underrated his entire career. Metcalf looks poised to be the next Julio Jones. Dorsett, when healthy, should fit in quite nicely with what this team likes to do with its deep passing. When Josh Gordon comes back, that’s another elite-level receiver in our arsenal. David Moore, by all accounts, has looked like a true professional in camp this summer. And, I still have high hopes for John Ursua being a slot receiver for this team (so, watch the Seahawks cut him as soon as Gordon is reinstated). I know nothing about Swain, except he’s a rookie and I think he can also return kicks, which gives him an obvious edge over Ursua, who does nothing on Special Teams.

Tight Ends

  • Greg Olsen
  • Will Dissly
  • Luke Willson
  • Jacob Hollister

Both Stephen Sullivan and Tyler Mabry are on the Practice Squad right now, and Colby Parkinson is on the Non-Football Injury List, so we’ve got all of our guys! Luke Willson making the team is a wee bit of a shocker, but I think he can do double-duty as this team’s fullback for the time being, so I kinda hope that just makes him our full-time fullback going forward. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Like our running backs, I think this could be the best group of tight ends – from top to bottom – in the league. Olsen is on his last legs, but he was still highly productive last year. Dissly is a superstar waiting to not get severely injured every year happen. Willson is a true every-man who is a joy to have on the team and can do a little bit of everything. And Hollister is more like a wide receiver in a tight end’s body.

Offensive Line

  • Duane Brown
  • Mike Iupati
  • Ethan Pocic
  • Damien Lewis
  • Brandon Shell
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Phil Haynes
  • B.J. Finney
  • Jordan Simmons
  • Jamarco Jones

The only semi-surprise is the fact that we kept ten offensive linemen, but considering how hard the Seahawks went after this position group in free agency, it makes sense.

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous here. I think this group will gel at some point; I just hope it isn’t too horrific in the early going. I’m glad we’ve got Brown and Iupati locking down the left side. I find it endlessly fascinating that Pocic was able to beat out Finney for the starting center job (even though we gave Finney all of that guaranteed money over the next two seasons). And, I’m encouraged that Lewis and Shell were able to step right in here and win their jobs immediately. If nothing else, I really do love the depth at this spot; they won’t be the best in the league, but they should be far from the worst.

Defensive Line

  • Rasheem Green
  • Jarran Reed
  • Poona Ford
  • L.J. Collier
  • Bryan Mone
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Damontre Moore

The only surprise here is that the Seahawks have yet to make a surprise last-minute free agent signing! Even for a run-stuffing tackle, if not another pass rusher! Unless you count Damontre Moore, which I do not, because I don’t even know who that guy is, other than he’s one of an endless string of ex-Seahawks we like to keep around to pad out the back-end of our roster. In non-Seahawks news, Jadeveon Clowney finally made up his mind; he’s on the Tennessee Titans (1 year, $12 million, worth up to $15 million with incentives … or what the Seahawks previously offered to him months ago to re-sign here). It’s a bit of a bummer; apparently the Seahawks were still in the picture up to the moment of signing, but not in the top two or three. I’m just glad he didn’t sign with New Orleans; keep him out of our conference and out of our hair, thank you very much!

Look, I’ll just say this: I hope the Seahawks know what they’re doing. They seem to be pretty satisfied with what they’ve done here, and are not freaking out like the rest of the fanbase. That’s a good sign, but by the same token, it’s still interesting that we continued to push to sign Clowney even after he turned down our earlier offer. I’m an “I’ll Believe It When I See It” kind of guy, so …

Linebackers

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • D’Andre Walker

The bummer of the weekend was seeing that Shaquem Griffin didn’t make the cut. He is on the Practice Squad though, so all hope is not lost! I would expect him to play again this year – once someone goes down with an injury – and to make a solid contribution to the team. D’Andre Walker was the only guy the Seahawks picked up from another team after cut-downs on Saturday. He was drafted by the Titans in the fifth round last year and has yet to play in the pros; he did get a good number of sacks in college though, so maybe he’s a little diamond in the rough project for us?

We’re in good hands with this group. Wagner and Wright are still top shelf. Brooks looks like he’s ready to start immediately. Irvin is still looking to prove himself. Barton, by all accounts, has looked tremendous in his second year. And BBK still figures to be a stalwart on Special Teams.

Secondary

  • Jamal Adams
  • Quandre Diggs
  • Marquise Blair
  • Lano Hill
  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi

Linden Stephens was the guy we cut when we claimed D’Andre Walker; what a rollercoaster for Stephens! He thought he made the team – at a pretty deep position, all things considered – and then he had it yanked out from under him within a day! By all accounts, the Seahawks want him on the Practice Squad (he just has to clear waivers first), so I wouldn’t expect him to be going too far.

Best Secondary in football. Period. I can’t wait to see these guys do their thing! And, as chance would have it, we get to see it right away when we play the Falcons on Sunday!

Special Teams

  • Tyler Ott (long-snapper)
  • Jason Myers (kicker)
  • Michael Dickson (punter)

No surprises whatsoever here.

Trying To Predict A 2020 Seahawks Roster

I do one of these every year; they’re a waste of time, but they’re fun. There are, as with every new season, a number of intriguing battles coming up in training camp. It’ll be interesting to see who makes the cut (either because they’re going to contribute, or because we don’t want them poached by other teams), who is able to slide onto the expanded practice squad (however big it ends up being), and who washes out completely.

Mostly, I’m just interested in seeing if there’s a legitimate way for Shaquem Griffin to make this team, or if he has to beat out a significant role player from a year ago. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Quarterback

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith
  • Anthony Gordon

This will be more interesting than it’s been in a LONG time, because for the first year since Wilson became entrenched as this team’s starter, I think there’s a legitimate chance this team keeps a third quarterback. Anthony Gordon comes as highly-touted as an undrafted quarterback gets, so the risk of trying to pawn him off on the practice squad could be too high. Also, given COVID concerns, it will be prudent to keep an extra one laying around just in case we’re short-handed for a week or two. The argument against that is, obviously, depth on this team is pretty great (with lots of young guys we’d prefer to keep around to fill starting roles in upcoming seasons), and it’s hard to justify having TWO quarterbacks who – if all goes according to plan – will never see the light of day. Also, without a preseason, there’s less of a chance for Gordon to shine. I’m leaning towards he makes the roster, but we’ll have to see what other teams do with their own cuts (the more injuries to the quarterback position around the league, the likelier it is that Gordon would get claimed).

Running Back

  • Chris Carson
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Travis Homer
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Matt Nick Bellore (FB)

It is with a very reluctant and annoyed sigh that I include the fullback (whose first name I had to look up to confirm is NOT Matt) on this list. I put up with a lot as a Seahawks fan – first and foremost, the utter lack of cooking we let Russ participate in – but rostering a fullback is one of the more galling. He participates in a VERY small handful of offensive snaps per game, and otherwise is a Special Teams guy of no note (to me anyway, who – granted – doesn’t follow the Special Teams goings on all that closely). The rest of these running backs listed are self-explanatory (Rashaad Penny will start on the PUP list).

Wide Receiver & Tight End

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua or Freddie Swain
  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)
  • Jacob Hollister (TE)
  • Cody Colby Parkinson or Luke Willson (TE)

I’ll be the first to admit, these spots are mostly a mystery to me. From a numbers standpoint, I think we’re looking at nine of these guys, with some very tough cuts to be made. I’m leaning towards Ursua given his experience, and Colby “don’t call me Cody” Parkinson (I really need to stop trying to do this based off of memory) over Willson only if Parkinson is healthy. Really, I could see a 3-way battle for two spots by throwing Hollister in there, but I think his overall effectiveness down the stretch last year as this team’s starter gives him the edge. Also, someone like Josh Gordon definitely throws a wrinkle into this mix (if he’s reinstated by the league), but in that case I would expect David Moore to get chopped, because they essentially play the same receiver spot, while Ursua/Swain are both projected to be slot guys.

Offensive Line

  • B.J. Finney
  • Duane Brown
  • Phil Haynes
  • Mike Iupati
  • Damien Lewis
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Brandon Shell
  • Ethan Pocic or Kyle Fuller
  • Jamarco Jones or Jordan Simmons

I’m pretty sold on these being your nine to eleven offensive linemen, depending on what the team wants to do (and how big the rosters actually are this season). Of the projected “safe” bets, Iupati is probably on the shakiest ground – considering his age and likelihood of wearing down over the course of the season – but I like him to make it and be a starter out of the gate since there won’t be any pre-season games (and the team will likely want to settle on an official Starting Five relatively early in camp, to give them the most reps and allow for the most continuity as possible).

The offense, as listed, comes to 26 players. Usually, you like a 25/25 split between offense and defense, but I don’t think it’s been totally settled how big rosters are going to be. If anything, I think I’m one spot low on the O-Line (there will almost certainly be 10 guys kept there), which could mean nothing, or could mean our third quarterback pipe dream goes POOF!

Cornerback & Safety

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair (FS)
  • Jamal Adams (SS)
  • Quandre Diggs (FS)
  • Lano Hill (SS)
  • Quinton Dunbar or CB TBD

I’m not calling Amadi a safety – even though he’s listed as such – because everyone keeps saying he’s going to be in the running for a nickel cornerback spot. That would, in effect, make Lano Hill’s standing on this team relatively secure, but we’ll see (because I still don’t think he’s very good). Quinton Dunbar, obviously, has a bevy of legal hurdles to clear before he can play again, which could open up a spot for one of our young guys to be a surprise contender. D.J. Reed – recently claimed off of waivers from the 49ers – figures to be injured until late into the season, but could provide a nice boost in November or December, if he recovers okay.

Defensive Line

  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Darrell Taylor
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • DL TBD

The consensus is: we’re at least one defensive tackle short on this roster. Of course, there are tweeners – like Collier and Green – who can slide inside, but word on the street is the Seahawks are seriously considering a street free agent to be a boost to our outside pass rush (Everson Griffen or even Clay Matthews maybe), which really makes me wonder what this unit is going to look like when it’s all said and done.

Linebacker

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Shaquem Griffin

When you factor in Bruce Irvin largely playing defensive end, as well as Shaquem Griffin, that’s a lot of edge rushing on this team. That puts the official number at 25 players for defense (although, again, I’m probably one short on the defensive line, when it comes to the D-Tackle spot specifically). I mean, unless rosters are expanded to a full 55 players (26 offense, 26 defense, 3 special teams specialists), there will be some REALLY difficult cuts to be made here.

We’re still a week away from training camp getting started, so obviously a lot can change between now and then. I’m sure I’ll be off-base in any number of ways! Such is the fun and the pointlessness of an exercise like this.

How Many Starters Have The Seahawks Drafted In The Previous Ten Years?

On the Brock & Salk podcast this week, they were talking to Daniel Jeremiah who made an interesting point about the NFL Draft. He said that every team’s goal should be to select three starters in every draft, ideally with one of those players being true blue chippers. You can define “starter” and “blue chipper” in any number of ways; I think as you’ll see, I’m pretty generous.

For example, I would count Nickel Corner among the “starters” because they play such a high percentage of snaps (usually). I would also count #2 tight ends, because the Seahawks value that position so highly (I would not, however, count #2 running backs, oddly enough; so you won’t see Robert Turbin on here). I’m also not counting players the Seahawks drafted who would go on to have more successful careers elsewhere (so, no Mark Glowinski or Spencer Ware among my picks); if they weren’t starters for the Seahawks, then I’m not interested. I don’t care about “hit rate” unless it applies to the team I love.

The discussion, of course, centers around how GREAT the Seahawks were at drafting from 2010-2012, contrasted with how TERRIBLE they’ve been from 2013 onward. So, without further ado, let’s a-DO this!

2010-2012: The Good Years

2010

  • Russell Okung (LT)
  • Earl Thomas (FS)
  • Golden Tate (WR)
  • Walter Thurmond (CB)
  • Kam Chancellor (SS)

2011

  • James Carpenter (LG)
  • K.J. Wright (LB)
  • Richard Sherman (CB)
  • Byron Maxwell (CB)
  • Malcolm Smith (LB)

2012

  • Bruce Irvin (DE/LB)
  • Bobby Wagner (LB)
  • Russell Wilson (QB)
  • Jeremy Lane (CB)
  • J.R. Sweezy (RG)

What a murderer’s row! That’s not even factoring in such quality starters/blue chippers as undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin, DeShawn Shead, and Jermaine Kearse! You can see why this team went to back-to-back Super Bowls; those are three drafts that produced 15 starters, with 8 of them being real blue chippers (Okung, Earl, Tate, Kam, K.J., Sherm, BWagz, and Russ) on top of, again, blue chipper Doug and two more starting-calibre players.

Now, you can nitpick, of course. Malcolm Smith might be the biggest stretch, but in base defense as a strongside linebacker he made some impact plays (and, of course, was MVP of the Super Bowl, so give me a break!). Lane and Thurmond were both nickel corners. And, some of these guys took a couple years before they developed into starters. Nevertheless, all of these guys made significant impacts on the Seahawks’ success for our glory years.

2013-2016: The Bad Years

2013

  • Luke Willson (TE)

2014

  • Justin Britt (C)

2015

  • Frank Clark (DE)
  • Tyler Lockett (WR)

2016

  • Germain Ifedi (RT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)

That’s truly NOT GREAT! Frank Clark is arguably the best player on this list, and he’s not even on the team anymore because we didn’t see him as worthy of a contract at the top of the market. Lockett is probably the guy who panned out the best for us, given that we were able to extend him to a reasonable second contract (that he continues to out-play every time he steps on the field). Luke Willson is a HUGE stretch, because he’s only been a de facto #1 tight end when the guys ahead of him got injured; otherwise he’s at-best a #2. Britt and Ifedi you could argue were overpaid busts. Reed is still around, but obviously wasn’t able to capitalize on his one great year due to being suspended for domestic violence.

2017-2019: The We’ll See Years

2017

  • Shaquill Griffin (CB)
  • Chris Carson (RB)

2018

  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Tre Flowers (CB)
  • Michael Dickson (P)

2019

  • D.K. Metcalf

Before we talk about these guys, I have one holdover from the 2016 draft – Joey Hunt – who became a starter for a large chunk of the 2019 season, but I’m hesitant to want to elevate him on my list unless he wins the center job out of camp in 2020. That might make the 2016 draft look marginally better, but still I don’t know if anyone expects Hunt to be here long-term.

Anyway, it’s pretty early to make definitive proclamations about the 2017-2019 drafts, but it’s encouraging that I’ve listed the same number of players here that I did for the FOUR drafts preceeding them. Griffin and Dickson have already made Pro Bowls (though, Dickson almost feels like cheating since he’s a punter). Dissly looks as good as any tight end in football when he’s healthy, as does Carson among running backs. And, D.K. really broke out as a rookie last year, looking like a stud for many years to come.

You can probably close the book on the rest of the 2017 draft; none of the guys I left off look like they’ll be anything of note for the Seahawks. There’s marginal hope for a couple others from 2018. Rasheem Green has the highest upside, and figures to get a lot of playing time this year along the defensive line. He’s sort of a default starter for the Seahawks; we’ll see if he’s able to do anything with the opportunity. Tre Flowers – while it looks like he’ll lose his starting job to newcomer Quinton Dunbar (assuming he’s formally acquitted of robbery charges, AND isn’t suspended by the team/league) – still figures to be well involved in the defense. Also, if he can stay healthy and play well, Jamarco Jones has a higher ceiling than we might’ve originally expected.

As for 2019, there are a lot of hopefuls. L.J. Collier will get a long look this season. Marquise Blair hopes to win one of the starting safety jobs (and could also figure in the Big Nickel package, against the more difficult tight ends on our schedule). Cody Barton could eventually start at one of the outside linebacker spots if he plays his cards right (looking less likely, of course, with who the Seahawks drafted last month). Phil Haynes might win a starting spot on the offensive line in his second season. And, with a VERY outside chance, who knows? Maybe John Ursua takes over as this offense’s primary slot receiver!

As for the 2020 draft, all we can do is speculate. Jordyn Brooks figures to be a starter one day soon. Damien Lewis might be a starter from day one. And, everyone hopes Darrell Taylor gets a lot of play early at defensive end. Also, Colby Parkinson will have every opportunity to be this team’s #2 tight end as early as 2021.

So, it’s been a real rollercoaster over the last decade! Here’s hoping things are finally trending back in the right direction over the last 3-4 drafts. The one thing that worries me is the lack of blue chippers since 2013. From The Bad Years, I count only two from those four drafts (Clark & Lockett). From The We’ll See Years … again, we’ll see. D.K. seems like the safest bet. Griffin, I guess, you have to put in there (though, compared to blue chippers of seasons past, he doesn’t quite live up). Dickson, again, feels like cheating, but okay he counts. Carson and Dissly are definite blue chippers when healthy, but they both feel like incompletes.

The argument from 2013-2016 was that the Seahawks had so many great players from the previous three years that it was exceedingly difficult for younger guys to break through. That has, decidedly, not been as much of a problem over the last three seasons, particularly on defense where it’s been trending downward for half a decade. 2020 will be VERY interesting, because I don’t see too many sacred cows on this roster (again, particularly on defense). What I think is interesting is that the Seahawks don’t seem to be NEARLY as concerned with the defensive line as the fans are, which leads me to wonder what they know that we don’t. We have lots of stats and anecdotal information at our disposal, but they’re obviously embedded with these players fairly intimately. They get to see what these guys are capable of in practice, as well as talk to them and get into their heads.

Long story short: the team almost always knows more than the fans and “experts” do. So, maybe they’ll be right. Maybe we don’t need someone like Clowney because guys like Green, Collier, and Taylor will take huge steps forward! I remember fans being similarly up in arms in the early years of this regime, when a lot of the younger guys in the secondary won their jobs over established veterans. We were freaking out, but the Legion Of Boom proved us all to be pretty foolish. I hope we’re in for something like that again!

The Seahawks Might Favor Phil Haynes Over Mike Iupati

In “Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel” news, let’s *sigh* talk about left guard for a minute.

I could REALLY use some baseball games to bitch about right about now …

One of the things that I seem to have missed in the flurry of news that came out of John Schneider’s interview last week is that Mike Iupati might be the left guard incumbent, but he might not necessarily be the one expected to win the starting job in 2020.

So, here’s what we know: Iupati recently signed a 1-year deal to re-up with the Seahawks. There’s $1 million guaranteed – most of that is wrapped up in a signing bonus. Assuming he makes the team out of the pre-season, he’ll earn another $1 million. Then, there are weekly bonuses where – if he’s active for those games – he can earn up to another $500,000. So, it’s not a ton of money (and, obviously, if he gets injured before the season starts, or otherwise just doesn’t have it, it’s not a huge expense to eat), but it’s also not one of those zero-guarantee deals where the guy is more camp fodder than legitimate candidate to make the team.

In short, this strikes me as a real, true, honest competition.

While I think the team would PREFER for Haynes to win the job – and in any Tie Goes To The Runner situation, I think he’ll get the nod – you don’t essentially guarantee half a guy’s salary just to cut him before the season starts (I don’t believe, anyway). Haynes has only been in the league a year, and he wasn’t able to generate much in the way of playing time in 2019. So, it’s very reasonable to expect that he’d still be green and maybe not quite ready to assume such a major role on a team that’s expected to compete for a division title.

Iupati is as good of a hedge as the Seahawks can hope for, in this situation. He started for us last year, he’s been great throughout his career (when healthy). But, he’s also sort of on his last legs. If he blows Haynes away, there’s no question Iupati would reclaim his job. At this point, however, “blowing Haynes away” would mean that Haynes just isn’t very good. We know what Iupati is; he’s not going to miraculously take his game to another level. He’s what we’ll gladly settle for, because we know this offense will move just fine with him in there. The hope is: the offense will at least maintain last season’s level of efficiency with the younger, cheaper Haynes (so, when we get to 2021 and beyond, we can just pencil him in there and not have to worry about that spot for a while).

The Double Secret Probation hope, not for nothing, is that the offense is actually BETTER with Haynes, because let’s face it, there were times Iupati showed his age last year.

Regardless, I think Iupati sticks with the team in 2020, whether he wins the starting job or not. That being said, I don’t know if I’d be TOTALLY shocked if he’s among the healthy scratches in certain weeks, to try to save some dough. He’s a guy you wouldn’t mind as an insurance policy – especially since his presence alone could help a young player like Haynes through a trying first season as a starter – but as an emergency fill-in player on a weekly basis, you generally want linemen who can fill in at multiple spots. I don’t know if Iupati has a ton of experience anywhere but left guard, so asking him to fill in at center or right guard might be a bit of a stretch.

It also wouldn’t surprise me if he gets cut. ALL the options are on the table, you guys! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!

The Seahawks Cut Justin Britt & D.J. Fluker

As expected, the Seahawks made a couple of cost-saving cuts to the offensive line. Expected because the Seahawks needed the extra money to put towards other needs, and because they ended up signing a million offensive linemen over the last few months!

This helps to bring things into a little more clarity. As I alluded to yesterday, dropping Fluker not only frees up approximately three and a half million dollars from our salary cap, but clears the way for rookie right guard Damien Lewis to step in and immediately lock down an important spot on the O-Line. They’re all important, but I would argue given our quarterback – and the division we play in – guards arguably hold more importance on this team and how it wants to perform offensively. Russell Wilson needs space in front of him to be able to function at peak capacity; if the tackles suck, he can always run around them to find open spaces, but if the guards suck, giant, angry assholes will swallow him whole!

Of course, nothing will be handed to a rookie, but it would make a lot of sense to give Lewis every opportunity, when you consider his low salary point, as well as the fact that so many of our offensive linemen are on short-term deals. It would be nice to have one of the five spots set in place for the next four years.

There’s only one guarantee at this point in the league year: Duane Brown will remain our Pro Bowl left tackle for at least 2020, if not also 2021. From there, we’ve got competition across the board.

Mike Iupati figures to be the leader in the clubhouse for the starting left guard spot. He was our starter last year, he’s being fairly well-compensated on another one-year deal, and he has a history with our offensive line coach and in this league as a reliable presence. When you factor in how the Seahawks will likely have someone new playing center in 2020, it would be nice to have some stability in place to help him out with line calls and whatnot. Iupati’s biggest competitor figures to be Phil Haynes, who was a rookie last year that the team likes an awful lot. Haynes obviously isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m not AS bothered with Iupati sticking around; but it would be nice to be able to hand a second O-Line spot to a young up-and-comer. On that end, Iupati is old, and not likely to play a full 16-game season, so figure Haynes – if he can stay healthy – should get some more experience regardless.

Newcomer B.J. Finney looks like he’ll get the nod at center. He signed a 2-year deal for pretty significant money, and is coming off of a quality year with the Steelers last year. Joey Hunt – who took over for Britt last year – will give him all he can handle in the competition, but the fact that the Seahawks can save a little over $2 million by cutting him surely will play a factor in the decision here. I can’t imagine the team being comfortable with a no-name for a backup at center, so if Pocic doesn’t step up and prove he can handle the position (and more importantly, actually stay healthy), we might be stuck with Hunt regardless. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but obviously you’d like to allocate those dollars along the defensive line if possible.

Factoring in the competition for right guard, Lewis will have to tangle with a lot of holdovers. Phil Haynes, Jordan Roos, Jordan Simmons (among others), as well as newcomer Chance Warmack (another of those one-year deal guys, who is coming off of a year away from the game to get healthy, but comes with a high pedigree and a lot of experience in the league). My hunch is Lewis will win the starting job, but Warmack will stick around regardless as a veteran backup. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Haynes continue to get work at center just in case; he would figure to be the next-man-up in any interior offensive line injury situation.

Finally, at right tackle, Brandon Shell is the presumptive starter, as he too signed a pretty lucrative contract this offseason. Jamarco Jones will continue to compete here, but he’s had injury issues of his own that have hampered him in his young career. Newcomer Cedric Ogbuehi will also factor in the running, but he strikes me as more of an insurance backup than anything else, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get cut if he struggles (and if the youngsters manage to stay healthy and look good).

Here’s my hunch for what the Seahawks’ offensive line looks like in 2020:

  • LT – Duane Brown
  • LG – Mike Iupati
  • C – B.J. Finney
  • RG – Damien Lewis
  • RT – Brandon Shell

And here are five backups I’m predicting will make the cut:

  • Phil Haynes
  • Chance Warmack
  • Jamarco Jones
  • Joey Hunt
  • Jordan Simmons

I wonder how close I’ll be! I wonder if I’ll ever remember to come back to this and find out!

I doubt I will!

The Seahawks Made Some Little Moves This Week

I don’t think any of the things I’m about to talk about will move the needle in any significant way – in your interest-level of the 2020 Seahawks, or in actual game-impact – but stuff happened and I feel compelled to talk about when stuff happens (considering how little stuff has been happening of late).

Neiko Thorpe. How does that guy float your boat? When you lead off a post about a guy who plays almost-exclusively on Special Teams (and not even as a return man, but just a guy who stops opposing return men sometimes), I should think that lowers your expectations in a hurry that we’re going to be discussing anyone of actual import. I like Neiko Thorpe! Don’t get me wrong here, guys like him have value. He does a lot of the dirty work and he does it quite well. There are so many little hidden plays on Special Teams that don’t really get the credit they deserve, that you can get a lot of impact from a guy like Thorpe without having to spend a lot of money.

But, also, like, his next tackle will be his 100th (in what will be his eighth season). If you just look at his stat sheet, you’ll see that his biggest contribution there – to the Seahawks anyway – are the three fumble recoveries he’s collected in his four seasons here. Also, not for nothing, but the number of games he’s been healthy for has gone down every year he’s been here (he played in a career-low seven games in 2019). With Thorpe, you’re looking for consistency. But, he brings nothing to the table defensively, and ideally I think you’d like to fill that roster spot with someone who’s not ONLY a standout on Special Teams, but someone who can contribute in some sort of meaningful way – at least on a rotational basis – in some of the nickel or dime packages.

Working my way down the list of Seahawks moves, they rescinded the Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender to Malik Turner. You might remember Malik Turner as the receiver who dropped the WIDE OPEN would-be first down throw late in the NFC Divisional Round game in Green Bay. I’m not saying he single-handedly cost us a chance to advance, but I’ll go ahead and let you finish this sentence for yourself.

Word has trickled in that the Seahawks might still be interested in keeping Turner, but not necessarily guaranteeing him the money he’d get as an ERFA-tendered player (what little that is, anyway). This is similar to what they did with Jordan Simmons, though with Simmons the concern was more injury-related. Turner just might not be good! Also, this rookie draft class looks to be STACKED with talent at wide receiver. Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, and Phillip Dorsett are all virtual locks to make the team (barring something completely out-of-the-blue); so there just might not be any room at the inn for ol’ Turner (especially if we use one of our top two or three draft picks on yet another stud receiver). Therefore, guaranteeing Turner ANYTHING seems idiotic, and you wonder why we even tendered him in the first place (you also wonder why he hadn’t signed his tender yet, but maybe that’s normal).

Finally, I guess the Seahawks are just going to sign every single middling interior offensive lineman NFL free agency has to offer? If you thought they were done after tendering Joey Hunt, signing B.J. Finney, Chance Warmack, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, and bringing back Jordan Simmons (on top of the holdovers we’ve got, like Jamarco Jones, Ethan Pocic, Phil Haynes, and still-future-cap-casualty Justin Britt), then apparently you’re nuts, because not only CAN’T the Seahawks stop, but for some reason they also WON’T stop. It’s really something; someone should call a doctor.

Mike Iupati is back! If he’s back, then that means he’s in the running to continue starting at left guard. If that’s the case, then you figure he has to be the frontrunner at that spot, because he started for us last year, he’s a solid long-time veteran, and he’s got a history of great success in this league. So, if he’s the frontrunner, then WHAT THE FUCK are we doing with all of these other guys we brought in?!

This tells me that there will be multiple significant cuts along the offensive line, not just Britt. There could be a real surprise release somewhere in the mix (I’m looking at D.J. Fluker, if I’m being honest), which makes me wonder – of all these O-Line contracts we’ve handed out this offseason – how many of them are fully guaranteed? Which of these guys are camp fodder being thrown into the mix as “competition”, but probably don’t have a realistic chance to win a starting job or even make the team?

The move I understand probably the least is Joey Hunt. He’s making a little over $2 million this year on his original round (sixth) tender. He took over at center for Britt last year and was Good Enough. In all honesty, as a sixth round draft pick, I think we’ve managed to squeeze the most possible value out of someone with his size and skillset. He’s youngish, he’s stayed relatively healthy in his career, he’s shown real toughness and grit in dealing with some of the fiercest defensive tackles in football; at around $2 million, I’m happy spending that amount of money on someone who’s going to be my starting center. But, if he’s going to be in a dogfight with three or four other guys, and ends up losing out to someone like Finney or Pocic or even Haynes, then $2 million is kind of a lot of money to spend on a backup (especially with how tight up against the salary cap the Seahawks are every single year).

We’ll see, I guess! Ours is not to reason why and all that.

The Seahawks Signed Chance Warmack & No Other Stuff Happened

Another offensive lineman! I guess this year’s draft is a piece of shit when it comes to the O-Line, so the Seahawks are going hard in free agency to hedge some bets.

I guess I took more stock in D.J. Fluker’s status as a starting guard a little more seriously as I should’ve. Granted, Warmack sounds more like a left guard, but then how do you explain B.J. Finney’s 2-year deal? Unless Finney really is going to vie for the starting center job with Joey Hunt.

The point is, I guess the Seahawks have a lot of options, all across the board. Duane Brown locks down the left tackle spot. Warmack and Finney might compete for left guard with youngsters Jamarco Jones, Ethan Pocic, and Phil Haynes. Hunt, Pocic, and Finney might compete for center (with Britt MAYBE, but I doubt he’ll be around). Then, you’ve got Fluker, Finney, and the youngsters also going after the right guard spot. And, finally, there’s Brandon Shell, Cedric … Ogbuehi, and I don’t know who else going after the right tackle spot (though, I feel pretty secure in anointing Shell at this point, based on his experience).

I think this is all good. I feel MUCH more comfortable going with veteran re-treads over rookies any day, but there’s enough potential here to build something better than average. The holdovers are all either great (Brown) or solid (Hunt, Jones, Fluker), with the new depth holding limitless possibilities (particularly Warmack and Shell; Finney to a lesser extent), and some of the younger guys having a lot of promise (everyone seems high on Haynes, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to totally quit Pocic, especially if he’s the center).

Depth! Depth at a critical position of need on a team where it’ll make a world of difference. We all know Russell Wilson can manage without a top notch O-Line, but he’s unlocked and allowed to go off when he’s got even a modicum of protection. He thrives, the running game thrives, and the offense as a whole is really free to do its thing.

These are also relatively cheap deals, meaning there’s still a significant reserve of funds available (especially with a few key roster cuts) to bolster the defense. As a plus, this frees us up in the draft to go hard after some high-risk/high-reward defenders. Considering where we’re picking (27th overall) and considering where our D-Line ranked last year, I think it’s time to roll the dice again. They’re not all Malik McDowells! Sometimes they’re Frank Clarks! I mean, as I write that, it doesn’t sound totally great, but on the field Clark was a beast and that’s what I’m talking about here! Finding a beast in this year’s draft who maybe didn’t allegedly do … things, you know what? Nevermind. Whatever the Seahawks want to do, or not do. Whatever.

No one said it was easy being a sports fan.

Should The Seahawks Go All In On Clowney?

The Seahawks are in the Top 10 teams with the most money available to spend in free agency in 2020. We’re also coming off of a semi-deep playoff run, with a franchise quarterback and a front office set-up that’s the envy of most in the league. Paired with a whole mess of draft picks, you’d be hard-pressed to find many teams in a better position to improve from 2019 to 2020. Could this be the year we go back to the Super Bowl?

A lot of that will depend on what happens in free agency. As I wrote about HERE and HERE, there are a lot of players whose contracts are up. The most important of them are along the offensive and defensive lines. So, while the Seahawks have a lot of money to play around with, they’ll have to use a significant portion of it if they’d like to keep some of the better players around. The biggest money guys on offense are Ifedi and Fant; I don’t know if we can afford to lose them both, as that would put us in a situation where we might have to (or want to) replace 4 of our 5 O-Linemen. The Seahawks likely won’t keep both Ifedi and Fant, but keeping just one around will require a significant chunk of change.

Defensively, the big money guys are Jarran Reed and Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks very well MIGHT want to keep both of these guys, which would take most of the rest of our available salary cap resources. Considering how poor the Seahawks’ defensive line was in 2019, and that performance largely included both of those guys playing significant snaps when healthy & active, is it smart to give these two a lot of money?

I’m mostly focused on Clowney in this instance. I think if we want to extend Reed long term, we’d be entitled to something of a discount considering his suspension and his lackluster performance in the games following his suspension. Either a 1-year prove-it deal, or a multi-year deal at a lower average than we anticipated following his 10.5-sack 2018.

Clowney, on the other hand, will be looking for top-of-the-market defensive player money. Anywhere from $20-$25 million per year on average. Even with the pro-rated signing bonus, that won’t make for a necessarily cheap first year cap hit.

So, I pose the question: pay Clowney what he’s looking for, or not?

Paying Clowney would put the Seahawks with three players making money at or near the top of their respective markets, including Russell Wilson at the most expensive position in football (the other is obviously Bobby Wagner).

It’s hard to answer this question without knowing the full plan. Are the Seahawks going to pump a bunch of dollars back into the O-Line? I think they absolutely should, as I’m not ready for the likes of Pocic, Haynes, and Jones to take over full time (I also wouldn’t mind an upgrade over Fluker, if I’m being honest). Are they going to make a splashy trade or signing for a wide receiver or tight end that will set us back in the cap? I hope and pray that they don’t; we should be able to get by with who we have, and let Russell Wilson take on the burden of making those around him better.

I would obviously love to have Clowney back, as I do believe he’s one of the five or ten best overall defensive ends in football. I base this not on his sack numbers, but his overall presence on the field, the pressure he’s able to generate on his own, and what he’s able to do in slowing down the opponent’s run game. Also, not for nothing, but the Seahawks don’t have anyone else remotely CLOSE to what Clowney can do on a football field in how he can wreck games; and I don’t believe there’s anyone in the free agent market that can approach his level of production either.

But, as I said before, the Seahawks need a lot of help along the D-Line. If it comes down to signing Clowney, or signing 2-3 mid-level defensive linemen, I think I’d rather have the volume of players. 3 competent linemen who are able to do a little bit of everything is preferable to 1 outstanding lineman and 2 duds who can’t do anything.

The problem, as I see it, is the fact that most every team in football can say the exact same thing. Lots of teams need defensive line help; lots of teams have money to spend on free agents.

Everyone always points to the Seahawks signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett before the 2013 season as the gold standard, as if those types of players grow on trees. The Seahawks were in a unique position that year to take advantage of market inefficiencies; that’s a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of factors that we pretty much lucked into. Most every other season, you run into what we have this year: older veterans on the cusp of falling off a cliff, or younger guys who have yet to prove they can do the job for a full season.

The X-factor in this whole thing is whatever potential trade market is out there. Who are the players entering the final year of their rookie deals? The players who get Franchise Tagged and aren’t particularly happy about it? We won’t know the answer to that for another few weeks, but could the Seahawks find themselves in another Clowney situation in 2020? I wouldn’t throw that option out of bed.

I think my biggest worry is Clowney’s durability. He’s suffered a bevy of injuries throughout his college and pro career. Giving that kind of money to one man puts a lot of risk on your plate; if he doesn’t live up to the contract – because of injuries, declining ability, or a lack of want-to – then you’ve effectively screwed yourself in the short and long term. If signing Clowney means we can’t afford to put the type of players around him to make this whole thing better than it was in 2019, then not only do we need him active for the full 16-game season, but we need him absolutely destroying fools on an every-game basis if we want to reach our objectives:

  • Winning the NFC West
  • Getting a first-round BYE
  • Making the Super Bowl

That’s all I care about. I want the Seahawks to do whatever gets us back to the mountain top. If that includes Clowney, then I hope it includes enough complementary pieces around him to enhance his abilities, and I certainly hope it includes the right guys to keep Russell Wilson upright and contending for MVPs.