The Russell Wilson saga — an attempted explanation

January 21st, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Russell Wilson’s future will be a big talking point this off-season… again

Is it a story? Is it clickbait?

Will he stay or go?

What does Russell Wilson want? What do Pete Carroll and John Schneider want?

Who are the possible suitors?

This piece is an attempt to sift through the nonsense, get to the heart of the matter and flesh things out.

What is actually going on?

Does Russell Wilson want to stay in Seattle?

The answer, unequivocally, is yes — but with a catch.

Wilson is an incredibly ambitious individual with lofty personal goals in his career, which include winning multiple Super Bowls.

Ideally, that happens in Seattle. Wilson has repeatedly stated that.

Yet if he doesn’t think it’s possible, whether it’s his preference to stay or not, he is going to assess his options.

Clearly, he is doing just that.

Jay Glazer and Greg Olsen made it very clear during the season what some of the issues were. You can add to their claims the way the team has been built, the squandered resources and all of the other much-discussed problems that have led to the Seahawks winning just one playoff game in five years.

With no substantial changes being made at the top of the organisation, this increases the likelihood that Wilson is once again seriously considering his future.

But hasn’t he said numerous times he doesn’t want to go?

No, this is something mentioned a lot by fans but it simply isn’t true.

Wilson’s language has always been very careful and couched. For example, in early December he was asked about whether he wanted to remain in Seattle:

“That’s my hope. My hope’s not to just fulfil it. Hopefully I get to play here for 20 years in my career.”

Then at the end of the month, before the Detroit game, he volunteered the following quote when answering a question about Bobby Wagner’s future:

“I know for me personally, I hope it’s not my last game (in Seattle). But at the same time, I know it won’t be my last game in the NFL.”

Then in his final pre-game press conference he was once more asked whether he’d be staying with the Seahawks:

“Will that happen? I don’t know, but that’s my prayer, that’s my hope.”

“We’ve always thought I would be here. That’s been always my goal, to win multiple Super Bowls, and my plan is to be here and do that. You take every day and you just enjoy the moment.

The word ‘hope’ is the key thing here. Wilson is under contract with the Seahawks and the next few years of his career are tied to the team. There’s no need for him to say he ‘hopes’ to be here. If there was no question he was staying, he would simply outright end these rumours by stating once and for all he isn’t going anywhere.

He deliberately isn’t doing this.

Equally, there was no reason for Wilson to question, unprovoked, whether it would be his last game in Seattle as a Seahawk.

Here’s how we should parse these comments…

Wilson wants to win. He wants to succeed. And he wants to do it in Seattle.

But if he doesn’t believe the Seahawks match his ambitions with their actions, he’s going to keep his options open about playing somewhere that will.

It really is as simple as that.

This is all a media clickbait story!

This is one of the easiest arguments to dismiss and it’s frankly incredible that so many people still lazily trot out this line.

The following tweet should be ample evidence:

Mark Rodgers is not an independent rogue agent. He works for Wilson. This story was put into the twittersphere for a reason.

Now, as it happens, I think the Seahawks organisation had already indulged in a bit of media chicanery when an Athletic article was released just before Schefter’s tweet, detailing some inside-info on relationships behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, this was as close to a trade request as you’ll get without actually handing one in.

Furthermore, when the likes of Glazer and one of Wilson’s former team-mates are discussing his dissatisfaction and interest in potentially moving on, the truth is staring you in the face.

Wilson has, in my opinion, extremely justified concerns with the way the team is being run, built and led.

He is 33-years-old. He wants to attack the second half of his career with gusto and have no regrets.

For that reason, he is open to going somewhere where he feels he’ll be in a better position to succeed.

It’s not a media generated story. It’s real. It’ll remain an issue if, ultimately, Wilson isn’t dealt for the second year in a row.

So what’s happening at the moment?

I get the sense Wilson is biding his time. Potential suitors such as the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders are going through the process of appointing Head Coaches. Until those moves are concluded, Wilson can’t really do or say anything.

The Seahawks telling Mike Garafolo that they have no interest in trading Wilson was telling. It could simply be leverage. Or it could be a true reflection on how they feel, particularly if Pete Carroll has retained ultimate power in decision making.

Carroll has made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he has no interest in a rebuild. By all accounts he intends to keep this current group together, improve the pass rush and ‘run it back’ in 2022.

I suspect Carroll would only entertain a trade if it somehow guaranteed the Seahawks a worthy replacement. There are none in the draft, so that means a proven veteran.

That is the main stumbling block.

It appears there are three individuals all uncomfortably placed together at the top of the organisation.

Carroll wants business as usual and probably won’t entertain a Wilson trade.

According to Adam Schefter, John Schneider is more open to the idea of a trade. This is a feeling that has been doing the rounds for some time — in part due to Schneider and Mark Rodgers being so opposed to each other. This is all validated by Schneider’s meeting with former Chicago GM Ryan Pace a year ago to discuss a trade. The deal presented was rejected by Carroll.

And then you have Wilson — who wants to see big changes at the top of the organisation and given they don’t appear to be happening, is open to being dealt.

It’s unhealthy for the organisation to have the three most important people in the franchise not aligned.

Yet because Carroll has had unchecked power, he has been able to pull rank on this issue. If he is prepared to live uncomfortably with the drama for another year — he will. And given certain members of the local media are still obliging to play this story down, defying logic, it seems Carroll will maintain his stance.

Ultimately Carroll is only viewing what he wants as the priority. Wilson’s trade value will not grow or even retain as he gets older. It’s no good trading him in a year or two if that’s an inevitability. Given the number of reports claiming Wilson has no interest in signing another contract in Seattle, it will be an inevitability.

Equally, if Wilson wants out — it’s going to be really difficult to avoid this becoming a year-long, major distraction.

Carroll loves a challenge and has dealt with a lot of drama in Seattle. You can kid yourself into believing you’re invincible — always having the answer or solution. Very few teams thrive with dysfunction and the 2021 season was indicative of the Seahawks no longer being immune to such issues.

Why doesn’t Wilson just hand in a trade request then?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I don’t think it’s plausible, even if he prefers to be dealt.

You can’t force Pete Carroll into accepting a trade. Thus, if Wilson’s suspicion is Carroll will resist any offers for his quarterback, there’s little to be gained by requesting a trade.

You simply end up isolating yourself and putting the team in a state of disarray. That doesn’t suit anyone — especially the quarterback if he’s forced, ultimately, to rock up to training camp having stated his desire to leave.

Implying he wants a trade or agitating for one in the media plants the seed without creating chaos. You can’t row back from a trade request. You can, as silly as it feels sometimes, blame the media and say everything was overblown if you try and plant the seed instead.

This tactic puts potential suitors on standby and allows the Seahawks to discuss the situation internally. If nothing happens, you can do what you did last year and act like it was all a big fuss over nothing.

It might be frustrating for fans but its probably best for all concerned that it’s done this way.

The simple fact is that unless Carroll can be persuaded or forced to accept a trade, Wilson’s best bet is to keep all options on the table.

Is there no way he’ll ramp things up?

This tweet from Garafolo implied he might:

“Less passive and more aggressive” could be on the cards once teams have settled on their Head Coaching searches.

If Wilson does request a trade, it would be interesting to see how the Seahawks deal with that. If nothing else, they couldn’t claim this is a ‘non-story’ like they did a year ago. It would be risky by Wilson, though.

So what’s a summary of the current position?

— Pete Carroll is 71 this year and isn’t in a rebuilding mood. Any prospective deal needs to include a pathway to acquiring a viable QB1 who Carroll believes in

— I think John Schneider would’ve dealt Wilson a year ago, to Chicago, for three first round picks. I think he probably still holds that view. So this will be about presenting an offer to Carroll that he can buy into

— Russell Wilson is determined to make the most of the second half of his career so while his ideal situation is to succeed in Seattle, increasingly he feels like he might need to go somewhere else to make it happen

— There are going to be no fixes in the draft when it comes to quarterbacks so any prospective trade, if it’s ever going to happen, will need to create a situation where Seattle can replace Wilson — and therein lies the roadblock

What is a reasonable price in a trade?

Matt Stafford cost two first round picks and a quarterback. He has nowhere near Wilson’s résumé.

The San Francisco 49ers essentially paid three first round picks for Trey Lance. An unproven rookie.

Jamal Adams cost two first rounders and a third.

The Seahawks turned down an offer of three first round picks from the Bears.

Whatever your views on Wilson’s play in 2021, or the back end of 2020, the starting point in negotiations will be three first round picks.

Anyone offering less, will simply end up having to look elsewhere.

Who are the potential suitors?

Denver Broncos

Mike Klis is well connected to the Broncos inner sanctum. Last weekend he revealed on local TV that Denver’s Plan A is Aaron Rodgers and Plan B is Russell Wilson.

It seems the Broncos see themselves in a similar position to 2012. That year they had a lot pieces, they signed Payton Manning and then ultimately went to two Super Bowls.

They have a lot of pieces again now, they just don’t have a quarterback. They are set to be very aggressive this off-season to acquire one.

Plan A might be a lot harder to achieve since Rodgers’ spat with the Packers has cooled significantly.

There was talk among Denver’s media during the season about offering their entire draft to Seattle for Wilson. They are in a strong position — with a young roster, few holes and $34m in cap space.

They can afford to pay out a lot of picks. You can’t go beyond the next three drafts — so the maximum they can offer is three firsts and some other selections if necessary. Denver, perhaps more than any other team, appears primed to do that.

The problem is — they can’t offer a quarterback. And they’re unlikely to sacrifice quality players that weaken their impressive roster.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday’s wildcard beatdown in Tampa Bay was the type of game where an ambitious, aggressive owner and GM look at each other and say they need a better quarterback.

Jalen Hurts is fine. He’s done a better than expected job as the starter. Yet it’s hard to watch that playoff game and believe he’s destined to lead anyone to the promise land.

The Eagles aren’t as loaded as Denver and have some significant roster holes. However, they have the benefit of owning three first round picks this year.

They could offer #15, #16 and #19 and solve a major issue at quarterback — without it impacting future draft classes. That’s a rare situation, obviously, because it’s so unusual for a team to own three first round picks.

They could also trade Hurts to Seattle. I’m just not sure the Seahawks will view that in any way, shape or form as an adequate replacement.

You could argue he’s cheap, he’s athletic, he has big hands (9 3/4 inches) and he excelled at the Senior Bowl and combine. Hurts has won a lot of big football games in his career. He does tick some boxes for Seattle.

If the Eagles were prepared to trade three first round picks to replace him though, for your starter, doesn’t that say something?

New York Giants

Having appointed Buffalo’s Joe Schoen as GM today, the expectation is he might target Bills offensive guru Brian Daboll as Head Coach.

That would likely appeal to Wilson, given the way Daboll has helped take Josh Allen to new heights.

It’s also worth noting how aggressive Buffalo have been in their front office — trading up for Allen and trading for Stefon Diggs.

Equally, owner John Mara is under a lot of pressure. Giants fans are rapidly losing faith and the franchise has become a shambles.

A big splash addition that turns the jeers into cheers would be a sure-fire way to get people back on-side.

The New York media is already calling for the Giants to bring Wilson to the east coast. That’s a campaign that will grow and grow. And while it’s true their O-line needs work, they have enough wiggle room financially to address that in free agency. The Giants have weapons, some defensive pieces and a legit franchise left tackle.

Leading NYG out of the doom and gloom would likely appeal to Wilson.

The Giants own picks #5, #7 and #36 so they have fantastic stock to offer Seattle.

Again though, there’s no solution at quarterback. And that’s the problem.

Las Vegas Raiders

Last week Ian Rapoport mentioned that Mark Davis was smitten with the idea of trading for Wilson a year ago. It seems Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden pushed back — but both are no longer in the building.

Rapoport added that Davis is keen for the Raiders to have a ‘rock star’ coach and a ‘rock star’ quarterback. He is lukewarm on Derek Carr and appears ready to make a change, depending on the coach he eventually hires and what their preference is.

This is a situation to watch because Las Vegas was on Wilson’s list of potential trade destinations a year ago.

There’s also the prospect of Seattle receiving Carr in the deal — addressing the replacement quarterback issue.

I’m not a big fan of Carr (I think he’s average) but I can imagine the Seahawks feeling comfortable with him. He would be in a contract year with a point to prove. There’d be no long term commitment.

The problem is the compensation. In the first two days of the draft, the Raiders own picks #22, #53 and #86. Given they’d be including Carr in the deal — whose value could match that of Matt Stafford (traded for two first rounders a year ago), the potential draft returns could be minimal.

Even if the Raiders offered their first round picks in the next two drafts, is that really enough to swap Wilson for Carr?

Remember — Carr has only thrown for +30 touchdowns in a season once — seven years ago. Wilson has done it five times and would’ve done it again this year if he didn’t miss three and a half games.

Wilson’s career quarterback rating is 101.8. Carr’s is 92.4. He has vastly superior numbers in terms of touchdowns, turnover percentage and wins.

So the Raiders can offer a replacement quarterback — but can they create a worthy package to entice Carroll?

Why are other teams not included?

New Orleans — this would be an ideal fit but the Saints are in cap hell, they only own the #18 pick and there’s continued speculation about the future of Sean Payton

Cleveland — I just don’t see this as a very likely proposition. In fact, I think the main reason Wilson wanted a no-trade clause inserted into his current contract is because he was linked to the Browns in 2018

Pittsburgh — they own the #20 pick, they have cap issues and it’s not really their style to go big in a trade like this. The GM is also retiring after the draft — it’s hardly right he bows out by leaving his successor with an empty cupboard

Chicago — quite aside from the fact they’re more likely to give Justin Fields a chance with a new coaching setup — they don’t own a 2022 first round pick and Fields didn’t show anywhere near enough this season to warrant ‘straight swap’ consideration. Plus he’s a turnover machine due to his technique — which Carroll won’t like

When will things heat up?

Potentially, as soon as the coaching hires are completed. The Matt Stafford trade was agreed on January 30th a year ago. It should be noted, though, that the coaching searches are taking longer than they did a year ago.

Could the Seahawks trade Wilson, then deal for someone else?

The one name that stands out is Deshaun Watson.

I don’t think it’s very likely though.

Knowing the city, I don’t think Watson would be well received in Seattle, or by a large portion of Seahawks fans, due to the allegations made against him over the last 12 months.

For some teams and cities, it would be different. For example, he remains extremely popular in Carolina due to his time at Clemson. For a desperate franchise that has spent years looking for a true starting quarterback, they might be prepared to welcome him in.

The Seahawks aren’t in that position. For some fans, it’d be a tough pill to swallow going from a big family man who is a homegrown star, to someone with Watson’s skeletons.

It’s incredibly unlikely that the 49ers would trade Jimmy Garoppolo to Seattle.

You could trade for Kirk Cousins. I suspect the Vikings would be very appreciative of a call. If they trade him before June 1st, it saves them $35m. However, you would also need to pay Cousins his base salary of… $35m. So unless he restructured his deal, you’d be paying a fortune.

It is worth noting that Carroll was reportedly very interested in Cousins going into the 2012 draft. So much so, Cousins was apparently quite agitated that Seattle selected Wilson instead of him.

Minnesota might be prepared to take a discount to get Cousins off the books — especially as they embrace a complete refresh with a new GM and Head Coach. It wouldn’t be quite like the Rams paying Goff to go to Detroit but it wouldn’t be far off.

That’s one to consider. If the Vikings were willing to play ball — the Seahawks might be more inclined to trade Wilson and then strike a deal for Cousins. Like it or loathe it, that seems plausible.

I don’t think the Falcons will be realistic in any trade talks for 37-year-old Matt Ryan, especially as they have no obvious means to replace him.

The other name worth bringing up is Tyler Huntley in Baltimore. I’m not sure he’s shown enough for Carroll to feel comfortable trading Wilson. There were flashes of ability in a system that used three similarly skilled quarterbacks in Baltimore this season (and all had production). Can he replicate that same production when he’s not playing for Greg Roman? That’s a question mark.

Are there really no options in the draft?

No, it’s the worst year since 2013 to go shopping for a rookie.

There are things to like about each individual quarterback. Kenny Pickett is more athletic than people realise and he manipulates the pocket well to extend plays. Carson Strong has a dynamite arm and is capable of ‘wow’ throws. Matt Corral has some talent as a passer and Malik Willis is a big-time athlete and a strong runner. Desmond Ridder has led Cincinnati to a new level.

The problem is, each have glaring flaws too. Pickett reportedly has 8 1/4 inch hands and has to throw in gloves. We know Schneider puts a lot of stock in hand size. Strong has a lingering knee issue that could shorten his career and he has no mobility, improv or escapability in the pocket. Corral is 6-0 and 200lbs and got injured in his last game for Ole Miss. Willis’ technique is all over the place and it creates significant issues, especially with turnovers. Ridder is rail-thin, has major inconsistencies with his accuracy and endured a humbling experience against Alabama in the playoffs.

The situation might not be much better in 2023 either, although Kentucky’s Will Levis is one to watch.

So what’s a viable prediction for the coming weeks?

I think Carroll, as we sit here today on the 22nd January, has no intention of trading Wilson because he has no interest in a rebuild.

The only way that will change is due to one of the following:

1. Last week’s meeting with Jody Allen led to a shift in decision making and John Schneider now has a stronger authority on team building

2. Carroll is presented with a plan which enables the Seahawks to replace Wilson with an alternative proven starting quarterback

3. Wilson takes on a more aggressive stance that forces Seattle’s hand — and rather than Carroll opting to put his fingers in his ears as he did last year, they make a move

I think several teams are positioning themselves to make a big offer for Wilson. Denver certainly. The Giants almost certainly. I’d say the Raiders and Eagles are TBD but will consider it.

I expect, in some cases, the offers will be extremely tempting. After all, getting #5 and #7 would be very appealing — with an opportunity to draft a young offensive lineman, pass rusher or potential star cornerback in Derek Stingley Jr.

Be careful what you wish for though. This is still a quarterback league. You don’t want to replace another franchise in purgatory. That is why I am opposed to trading Wilson.

I think Wilson is realistic, sensible and very conscious of how he needs to play his hand. As noted earlier, the best tactic is going to be keeping his options open. I think we’ll see some media encouragement to flesh out potential suitors. We could see some talk and speculation about his dissatisfaction.

I don’t think he’ll come out publicly and say ‘trade me’ though, because the consequences are too severe (for team and player) if Carroll has retained his power and control and doesn’t want to make a deal.

So all in all — my prediction is a lot of speculation, a lot of talk in the media, a quarterback who likely sees his future elsewhere and one man, who has become so powerful within the organisation, continuing to do what he wants to do unchecked.

Which, funnily enough, is a big part of the problem.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

Why Seattle is primed to fill their key need in the draft

January 20th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Ole Miss’ Sam Williams — very much one to watch

I wrote my off-season plan a few days ago and it included the kind of splashy moves the Seahawks typically don’t make.

Truth be told, I don’t expect a big eye-catching addition that generates excitement. I hope it happens. I think if you’re serious about ‘running it back’ and trying to take a step forward, you have to be aggressive.

If you’re prepared to make the Jamal Adams trade — you should equally be willing to ‘go for it’ in free agency for the right player.

There are always risks. Yet spreading their cap on journeymen hasn’t worked. It’s time to add some genuine talent.

I appreciate, though, that we’ve seen how they operate. They’re much more inclined to simply retain their own players, wait for the market to cool and then add second or third tier free agents.

I hope that after years of being a mile away from contention they might do things differently.

Perhaps even a compromise?

If it’s not a big splash for Chandler Jones, maybe they can go and land Akiem Hicks to provide some interior pressure? After all — defensive coordinator candidates Clint Hurtt, Ed Donatell and Sean Desai (more on them later) have all worked with Hicks during his time in Chicago.

Having identified pass rush as a key need, it’d be nice to see them truly address this rather than the lip-service they’ve paid to it over the last three seasons. We’ve been talking about this issue for too long.

It might be the draft, rather than free agency, where they make their biggest move.

I think there’s a very real chance they’ll look at the 2022 class and feel like they’re well placed to add a pass rusher with their top pick, which is currently #41 overall.

This draft remains very difficult to project and we need the Senior Bowl and combine to provide a bit more clarity. However, I do think we’re starting to see which positions might be strong in the first two frames.

Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will both go very early. After that, there’s a handful of players who will also go in round one.

David Ojabo has done enough to secure that projection. George Karlaftis’ production and frame are a bit of a concern but he’s expected to test very well.

Jermaine Johnson has everything you look for in a pass rusher and had a great year for Florida State. Houston’s Logan Hall is an absolute terror with true flexibility to play across the line.

I think those four are very likely to go in round one. If they test well, we could be talking top-20 for each.

Nose tackle Jordan Davis should also go in that range.

Then you have a whole bunch of players who could come off the board in the late first or early second round. That is where the Seahawks are based.

Some of these prospects are raw but the Seahawks like super-charged athletic, explosive players. They might feel pretty comfortable about their options.

It really just depends what they’re after.

I’ve found it curious that they almost over-pursued an interior pass rusher in 2017 by drafting Malik McDowell and then trading for Sheldon Richardson — but have otherwise generally shown little interest in adding a dynamic inside threat.

Could they now settle on Carlos Dunlap and Darrell Taylor as starters off the edge and go for a defensive tackle?

Or will they look for another player to add to the EDGE rotation? Perhaps even more of an inside/out rusher?

I wanted to note the long list of players who could come off the board in Seattle’s range — to emphasise why they might lean on their top pick to fix their self-confessed biggest need and look at potential targets.

Arnold Ebiketie (DE, Penn State)
Ebiketie has an opportunity to launch his stock into round one if he tests well. He could also be an ideal addition for the Seahawks at #41 if available. He had 18 TFL’s and 9.5 sacks in 2021 and flies off the edge with frightening speed. He can engage, absorb contact and fight to the QB. He uses subtle hand-use to swipe away blockers and then accelerate and finish. There’s evidence of a swim/rip. He is afforded a wide, long-run up by Penn State and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares 1v1 in a more narrow alignment at the Senior Bowl. Opponents are visibly wary of his speed and are hesitant to engage. Has he got the size to play early downs and defend the run? Either way he has a terrific motor. He’s a big combine and Senior Bowl away from elevating himself into a high range (after I wrote this review, I noticed Mel Kiper had him at #16 in his first mock draft — that is a very real possibility).

Sam Williams (DE, Ole Miss)
Right off the bat he looks the part. He had 16 TFL’s and 12.5 sacks in 2021. His body is sturdier than some of the leaner edge rushers in this class and he appears more filled out. He has taken a few reps inside. He perhaps doesn’t attack the edge with the same refinement as others and he’s a bit stiff in his motion. Yet his change of direction is good (expect a good three cone) and there’s evidence of winning with bend. Williams has a great motor and plays to the whistle — chasing around the field to get to the ball-carrier. He’s tough to stop when he attacks the edge and has a ‘bull in a china shop’ style of play. He has something about him where you feel like his best football might still be ahead. Reportedly he has run a 4.4 forty at Ole Miss’ facility and jumped a 40-inch vertical.

Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)
He’s extremely powerful and can manhandle opponents at the LOS — delivering a jolting punch or driving at contact to force blockers backwards. His production was lower than others in 2021 with 7.5 TFL’s and six sacks. He’s capable of absorbing double teams and still working across the line in the running game. Walker keeps his eyes on the ball-carrier and combines his power with a slippery elusiveness. He’s difficult to control and looks very explosive. He flashes great quickness when he slips gaps lining up inside. He seems to do his best work when he’s in the trenches, battling it out with a lot of bodies and traffic. Thus, you kind of wonder what his best position is. He’s 6-4 and 275lbs. He’s not a natural twitchy edge rusher and he’s not a big guy who plays inside. Yet it still, for the most part, works — and he’s a very explosive street-fighter who plays across the line and he’s shown an ability to work in space.

Myjai Sanders (DE, Cincinnati)
He’s long limbed and leaner than a lot of other players. He’s all arms and legs. His production was disappointing in 2021 but he did draw a lot of attention — he finished with 7.5 TFL’s and just 2.5 sacks. He uses his length well to keep his frame clean. The rip/swim move is there. He can absorb contact and finish. Sanders has a nice fake inside move before countering to the outside. He’s got smooth, quick feet and good athleticism/quickness. He can round the edge but doesn’t have the lean/balance of the elite rushers. He might find it tough-sledding vs the run in a 4-3 system if he works the edge on early downs. He’s reportedly capable of running a 4.56 forty and a 4.10 short shuttle. He’s also broad jumped 10-2 and has a vertical jump of 35 inches. That kind of testing, along with a strong Senior Bowl, will get him noticed.

Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
Great initial hand placement and can jolt offensive tackles off balance using one arm, freeing his other arm to rip and disengage. Has a tremendous amount of power in his one-arm bull rush. Mafe had 10 TFL’s and seven sacks in 2021. He’s very good at initiating contact, disengaging and then exploding to the QB. Loves contact and likes a battle — he doesn’t lose many 1v1’s and his power and agility show up on tape. Has shown an ability to stack vs the run and keep himself free to make the tackle. Is more ideally suited to handle the run game compared to other edge defenders in this class. Can bend and straighten against flat-footed right tackles. He can chop down hands to round the arc, drive into your chest or attack the edge with speed. Not sure he has the sudden get-off some others have but he is easily the best with his hands and his combination of length, size and hand-use make him a very intriguing prospect. He can reportedly run a 4.57 plus jump a 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-6 broad.

DeMarvin Leal (DT, Texas A&M)
He is a somewhat overrated versatile rusher who still generated reasonable production in 2021 with 12.5 TFL’s and 8.5 sacks. He’s regularly mocked in the first but is much more likely to be a second day pick. He has a lot of the tools and it’ll be interesting to see how he tests at the combine. Yet he lingers on blocks too long and needs to learn how to disengage. If he wants to make a permanent shift to defensive tackle he could do with getting closer to 300lbs. There’s often not much of a plan with the way he pressures and he seems like a player who relies a lot on physical qualities rather than technique. That said, Chris Jones was a similar type of player in 2016. He had a lot of qualities but teams didn’t know whether he could put it together. Thus, he lasted to pick #37 and ended up being a steal for the Chiefs. Leal could end up being a similar type of value prospect who needs a fair bit of work but there’s risk/reward on offer. For the Seahawks he’d offer something they just don’t have at the moment.

Phidarian Mathis (DT, Alabama)
People are really underestimating Mathis. It’s possibly due to his climb from little-known day-three project to star for the Crimson Tide and the fact that he doesn’t look like the best athlete in terms of body shape. Yet his tape in 2021 was exceptional. He had 12 TFL’s and nine sacks. He has ideal size — 34 inch arms, 6-4, 312lbs. It’s hard to pick floors in his game and he deserves a lot more attention. Firstly, he’s incredibly powerful. He drives back interior linemen with one hand, keeps his head up and reads the backfield. He overwhelmed several blockers this season and he makes your life a misery. He’s an absolute war-horse in the trenches — his feet don’t stop and even when you engage and maybe even gain initial leverage, there’s a counter-punch to the chest, a swipe with his free arm and suddenly you’re on your backside and he’s pressuring the QB. Yet you also see clips where he flashes incredible agility and quickness. There was one snap against LSU where the guard doesn’t engage and Mathis just danced round him, straight into the backfield, with choppy, quick feet before hammering the quarterback. He’s disciplined versus the run. He has a swim/rip to slip into the backfield. This is a player you want to go to war with.

Drake Jackson (DE, USC)
He is raw compared to some of the other prospects listed and will need technical refinement in order to show better hands and the ability to make the most of his potential. Yet in terms of physical tools — he’s a very appealing prospect. His production in 2021 was so-so (eight TFL’s, five sacks) but he attacks the edge with a real bursts and rounds the tackle with ease. He threatens offensive tackles the way teams love — he has that natural bend and suddenness that you can’t teach. There’s one rep he had against Arizona State last season where he dips under the tackle’s attempted block which has to be seen to believe. I’m not sure I’ve seen a player get so low, round with such balance and basically not lose a step of momentum — it’s all in one motion, direct to the QB. Getting him to put it together consistently is the key but the potential is there.

Cameron Thomas (DE, San Diego State)
He had big-time production in 2021 with 20.5 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. When I watched him for the first time a few weeks ago — he blew up the first two plays in the game. On another snap he started at left end, looped around to the right side of the line on an elongated stunt, then when the QB scrambled to the opposite side of the field — he continued his pursuit right to the sideline, hammering the passer as he tried to throw. It’s one of the best ‘effort’ plays I’ve ever seen. He lines up off the edge and inside. He can win inside with his agility and feet and he has the length to engage and compete. Sometimes he just bullies his way through blocks. There are some cheap inside stunts (they dominate college these days) so I want to see how he tests. If he performs well at the combine he could have legit inside/out potential.

Dante Stills (DT, West Virginia)
He’s extremely athletic with NFL bloodlines and a lot of potential. He had 15 TFL’s in 2021 and seven sacks. He shoots gaps with quickness and directness. There’s evidence of a swim move and he plays with a great motor to chase down ball-carriers. Stills has good, strong hands and combines it well with agility — he ran a 4.24 short shuttle at SPARQ. The problem is he’s a bit of a tweener. He’s 6-4 and 280lbs and might have an issue with arm length. That said, there’s talent on offer here and while the second day might prove a bit early — he’s shown to be a dynamic, pressure-creating force for WVU.

All of these players could be considered in Seattle’s range, with perhaps the exception of Stills (who could provide value later on).

It’s a nice thought that they could add a Jordan Davis (a monster who will stun people with his athleticism at the combine), Jermaine Johnson (the ultimate edge rusher — he does everything well), Logan Hall (a dominating force when he lines up inside, capable of winning with brute strength and quickness) or Devonte Wyatt (who’s expected to run a 4.8 forty at +300lbs and could elevate himself into the top-25).

They would all be great options but are less likely to last.

As we can see, though, #41 might be a sweet-spot for a defensive lineman/pass rusher. For that reason, the safe money could be on that being Seattle’s pick.

If they do address this area with gusto in free agency — they could turn their attention to linebacker (if they move on from Bobby Wagner) with Channing Tindall, Brian Asamoah, JoJo Domann and Quay Walker all worthy of attention.

I only watched Domann for the first time yesterday and he’s got ‘Patriots’ written all over him. He plays with his hair on fire, can jump a 36.5 inch vertical and he’s run a (probably assisted) 3.97 short shuttle.

They could also take a long look at Florida running back Dameon Pierce — who will likely go earlier than a lot of people realise. It’s also possible — maybe not likely, but possible — that tackles Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas last into range.

Yet having clearly stated what their off-season aim is — pass rush — it aligns with their draft position nicely. It’s worth keeping an eye on the D-liners in Mobile during the Senior Bowl.

Other notes

The good and bad of the D-coordinator search

I can’t decide whether I’m encouraged or sceptical about Seattle’s desire to interview some highly regarded outside candidates for the defensive coordinator job.

On the one hand, it’s been quite interesting to see fans of the Bears and Cowboys react with fear that they might lose Sean Desai or Joe Whitt Jr.

Both have enjoyed success in their respective roles and Desai in particular has led a defense, rather than working for a defensive minded Head Coach.

On the other hand, I wonder why either would take this job? Why would they want to come and run Pete Carroll’s defense, rather than their own? And is this window-dressing before the inevitable appointment of Ed Donatell and Clint Hurtt as co-coordinators? Are these interviews really only to enable the Seahawks to say, ‘see — this was a thorough search’.

They did appoint Shane Waldron, an outsider, a year ago. I hope that is a trend, not a one-off. This defense needs new ideas and a fresh set of eyes.

For too long Carroll has appointed yes-men and family members. It’s time for the Seahawks to try and build the best staff money can buy — not the staff most willing to follow along like loyal disciples.

Be creative with the center position

It’s not a good draft at center and they need an answer here.

The Seahawks have tended, in recent years, to invest in veteran O-liners. That market isn’t flush with options either.

I mentioned this in my off-season plan and increasingly I think they should call New Orleans about Cesar Ruiz.

We know they like length and size. We know they like explosive traits. Ruiz is the complete package for them physically.

He has struggled after moving to guard. The Saints drafted Erik McCoy and he’s retained the center spot. Fans have started to get on Ruiz’s back and increasingly it feels like he needs a fresh start.

I don’t know what kind of price it would take but I’d pick up the phone and ask the question. Saints fans certainly seem ready to move on so it might be a cheap deal.

DK Metcalf trade rumours?

Who knows whether this is legit — but this tweet emerged a week ago:

I’ve never heard of ‘uSTADIUM’ before. They have 36,700 Twitter followers (a fair amount) but they also follow 15,400 accounts (which makes the 36,700 more manufactured).

Nevertheless, this could end up being a story that pops up this off-season.

It will cost a minimum of $20m a year to sign Metcalf to a new contract. That’s where the market is. The franchise tag this year was just over $19m. He could realistically ask for $23-25m and it wouldn’t be unfair.

Seattle has to decide whether it wants to do that.

Trading him now would probably be peak value. A buyer would get one last year on his rookie deal and a franchise tag. That’s a decent position to negotiate a new contract.

For a team like the Jets — with no weapons and a young quarterback needing an outlet — it would make sense. They have loads of cap space and they have, as we know, two first round picks this year.

Metcalf should command a deal similar to the Jamal Adams trade. If the Seahawks don’t want to pay him and feel it’d be worthwhile to get their #10 pick back — plus another first in 2023 — that could be tempting. Especially if they think the Jets are unlikely to take a big step forward next year. It could be another high pick.

It was a strange year for Metcalf in 2021. The Seahawks struggled to feature him in some games. He actively looked frustrated and angry at times. Against Washington, he was visibly gesturing to Geno Smith after one failed drive — as if to say ‘this guy should be starting’.

He might find life even more irritating in New York but money talks — and the Jets can buy his favour by offering a record-breaking contract, given their favourable cap situation.

Certainly the Jets need an injection of proven quality from somewhere.

Seattle found themselves in a very similar situation with Frank Clark where they felt priced out. That deal didn’t secure a top-10 pick, rather a late first.

The only thing is — if they are very much in ‘win now’ mode, can you justify a trade that could easily make you worse?

It’s an interesting topic. Especially because you could easily argue they spent a second round pick on Dee Eskridge a year ago, they’ve chosen to pay Tyler Lockett big money already, there are some good veteran receivers reaching free agency and there are players like Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson available in the draft. So they wouldn’t be short at receiver.

A top-10 pick could give you a chance to secure a pass rusher or offensive tackle.

One final note though — Carroll loves big, athletic receivers. He finally found one in 2019. I’m not sure he’ll give that up easily. The Clark trade does provide some precedent though.

Still, it might be more one for next year rather than this year. And the Seahawks have never been particularly pro-active on trading their own until the last minute.

If you missed my interview with Jim Nagy yesterday, please check it out here:

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

An interview with Jim Nagy (Ex. Dir. Reese’s Senior Bowl)

January 19th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Today I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jim Nagy again, discussing the prospects set to attend the Senior Bowl this year. As ever Jim is incredibly generous with his time and produces the ideal primer for the week in Mobile.

Check out our conversation where we cover a number of prospects. Please also like the video, share it around and check out the prospects we discuss.

 

Thoughts on Ken Norton Jr’s departure & replacement

January 18th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Ken Norton Jr is out as Seattle’s D-coordinator

Ken Norton Jr seems like a likeable person (at least from afar, I’ve never met him). I also think his influence and impact on the Seahawks deserves to be acknowledged. He felt like a big part of the creation of the LOB defense — if not schematically then certainly in terms of guidance, leadership, experience and attitude.

I’ll never forget the clip of Norton Jr barking out to his linebackers during the 2013 NFC Championship game. A few moments later, ‘the tip’ happened.

That said, it’s pretty clear he isn’t much of a defensive coordinator. We’ve seen enough evidence to make that judgement based on two spells in Oakland and now in Seattle.

The last couple of years have been a chore. The Seahawks have started each year a disorganised, mistake-prone mess. They were giving up a ton of yards and points. They were the opposite of a well oiled machine. They were so poorly oiled, in fact, it made you wonder what on earth they do during training camp.

Adding to that was a lack of consistent pressure and pass rush, plus a total inability to turn the ball over.

A case has been made regarding Seattle’s points per game as a justification for the unit. They conceded 21.5 PPG in 2021 — good for the ninth best record in the NFL.

In isolation it’s relatively impressive. But you have to consider a whole bunch of other aspects.

The Seahawks’ sack percentage was just 4.9% — despite their late season flourish — the fourth worst in the league. They had the 11th fewest sacks. Their pressure percentage (22.2%) was the seventh worst. They had just 18 takeaways — eighth fewest.

Per DVOA they had only the 21st ranked defense.

Game after game they simply couldn’t get off the field, relying on a ‘bend but don’t break’ formula that is always open to fluctuating form.

This is despite all of the investment pumped into the unit — the top two picks in 2019, the top two picks in 2020, the Jamal Adams trade and the Bobby Wagner contract extension.

It simply wasn’t good enough.

A failed bear-front experiment, pass rushers dropping into coverage, the big-ticket player you traded for failing to make much of an impact.

Thus, Norton Jr had to go. This change had to be made.

After a 7-10 season it shouldn’t have been acceptable for the same staff and mostly the same personnel to go unscathed. Something had to give.

That said — at what point are we actually going to look at the man making these coaching hires?

Norton Jr was Carroll’s guy, hand-picked in 2018. Brian Schottenheimer was his guy too. Both fired.

It wasn’t exactly unpredictable either, was it? They were two underwhelming hires when they happened as Carroll battened down the hatches and decided he was going to do things his way once again as the reset began.

There is a danger sometimes of coordinators becoming convenient scapegoats. Norton Jr was never qualified for this gig. Carroll appointed him. Just as he’s had ultimate control over personnel, philosophy and scheming and simply not done a good enough job over the last 4-5 years.

He now gets another chance to appoint a new coordinator and have another off-season with millions to spend and a draft to follow in April.

When will the buck eventually stop with the man at the top?

To me, this is a crucial opportunity for Carroll to show he’s willing to change and make amends for previous bad hires and some iffy personnel decisions.

As I’ve noted numerous times in the past — I think he can be a tremendous Head Coach for the Seahawks. I just think he has to be willing to delegate a bit more, install the best staff money can buy and take on a Nick Saban-esque ‘figurehead’ role rather than trying to control absolutely everything.

If he went out and landed Vic Fangio, for example, what a coup that would be. A proven, established, brilliant defensive coordinator who’s had success wherever he goes.

The problem is — Fangio will want to run his defense. Is Carroll willing to cede some control to a man with a brilliant track record? Or is it more important for Carroll to have the final say on everything?

And what’s better for the Seahawks? Getting possibly the best defensive coordinator in the NFL or ploughing on with Carroll running the show?

Seattle should be asking Fangio to name his price. Instead, predictably, two other names are being linked.

One is Clint Hurtt, the current Assistant Head Coach and D-line coach in Seattle. The other is Ed Donatell — a vastly experienced defensive veteran who worked with Carroll during his time with the New York Jets.

Essentially, two of Carroll’s guys.

I do think it could be a lot worse.

After all, Donatell has been Fangio’s defensive coordinator for the last few years in Chicago and Denver. So if you can’t get the man himself, this might be the next best thing. But Shane Waldron isn’t Sean McVay and Donatell isn’t Fangio.

Hurtt is immensely likeable and has, admittedly, done a good job with the likes of Poona Ford, Al Woods and Bryan Mone.

As you’ll see in this podcast, he’s also willing to be honest. He admitted Irvin and Mayowa were rotational pass rushers and it wasn’t sustainable to have them play as many snaps as they did early in 2020. He said he was ‘pissed off’ with the pass rush last season. He acknowledged the loss of Jarran Reed.

He sounds like someone who tells it as it is. That’s needed.

The idea of the two working together is quite appealing, given Donatell is a defensive backs coach predominantly and Hurtt deals with the D-line. Could they be co-coordinators? Maybe that would work?

Yet it all comes back to Carroll seeking comfort in his old pals act. Don’t we want to see a few new voices added — just as he did in 2011 when he went out of his bubble to bring in Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell?

People can quibble about that pair. They had Head Coaching interviews during their stints in Seattle and were outsiders. Cable, in particular, was always credited by Marshawn Lynch for what he added to the offensive scheming.

It’d be refreshing to see a Fangio type come in — with his fresh set of eyes. It would equally be reassuring to know that Carroll is willing to adapt and try new things in 2022. Isn’t it worth a shot, at this stage?

This feels like a legit chance to finally sort out the pass rush, particularly given Carroll has already stated it’s a priority for the personnel department. Fangio has enjoyed a ton of success developing safeties. Could his presence relaunch Jamal Adams’ career?

It’d be exciting. It’d give many fans, not just me, an enormous jolt of confidence to begin the off-season.

I’m afraid just resorting to another ‘friend of Carroll’ won’t do that — despite the way I’ve talked positively about Hurtt and Donatell.

I hope the Seahawks are willing to throw money at this. There’s no salary cap for coaches. Go big, don’t go home. Embrace change, don’t go with familiarity. Deliver proven quality, don’t gamble with untried and untested.

There aren’t many instances where a 63-year-old, grizzled football coach with a reputation for being a bit of a misery guts can re-ignite your passion for a football team. Yet here we are.

Will Fangio to Seattle happen? Almost certainly not.

It’d be one heck of a move, though. The Seahawks need this.

If you want an outside bet who is worth an interview I’d pitch Philadelphia Eagles DB coach Dennard Wilson. He’s done an excellent job in Philly, speaks well and is very much seen as an up-and-comer.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

My off-season plan for the Seahawks

January 17th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Chandler Jones should be a priority target they aggressively pursue

Make difficult decisions with existing players

Pete Carroll has already spoken of his desire to ‘keep the band together’ but it’s time for a refresh and for some tough choices to be made.

According to Over the Cap, the Seahawks have $40,686,269 to spend in 2022. It’s the sixth most in the league — but they need more to take a serious step forward.

One of the big issues in recent years has been the way they’ve spent their resources. They’ve used three first round picks on the linebacker and safety positions since 2020. They’ve paid an absolute fortune to Bobby Wagner. They’ve given Jamal Adams a $17.5m-a-year extension.

It’s finally time to shift resources to the trenches.

Cutting or trading Bobby Wagner saves $16,600,000. That has to be the first move. Wagner deserves to be remembered as a legendary Seahawk but nothing lasts forever. The team can’t be sentimental as they try to return to contention.

It’s time to put Jordyn Brooks at middle linebacker and simply draft or sign a cheaper alternative to Wagner.

Georgia’s Channing Tindall has been a blog favourite for a while. There isn’t a better run-and-chase linebacker in this class for me — and he has an outstanding physical profile. He ran a 4.19 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 40-inch vertical.

He might rise out of contention for Seattle but on day two, if available, he should be considered.

Alternatively they could look at free agent Jarrad Davis. Despite being a much heralded first round pick in 2017, Davis has failed to live up to his potential so far in stints with Detroit and the New York Jets.

That said, there’s a player in there. If you’re going to chance your arm on a reclamation project or cheap ‘prove-it’ player — I’d rather do that at linebacker than the O-line or D-line in 2022.

Of course the Seahawks will lose something by parting with Wagner. You could even argue it’d be like losing a limb — that’s how integral Wagner has felt to the team in his 10-year career. His performances are fading though and so is his impact.

On Quandre Diggs — his unfortunate injury probably gives the Seahawks a chance to get him back at a modest price, such is the business of the NFL. However — this is a good draft at safety with options likely stretching into the third day.

Seattle made their bed when they paid Jamal Adams. They can’t justify paying $25-30m a year at safety — even if, in an ideal, world, you’d keep Diggs. That has to be a situation where you need to be prepared to walk away if the price isn’t right.

After a 7-10 season, there has to be a serious review of where the financial priorities lie. For me — that means pumping money into the trenches and making savings at the likes of linebacker and safety. They’ve tried investing in those positions and it hasn’t delivered the required results.

Re-sign your cornerbacks

Sidney Jones should be retained. I don’t think he did enough to launch himself into an expensive free agent which means it should be relatively straight forward to get something done. He played well, he’s a reasonable if unspectacular starter and he’s had a year in the system.

D.J. Reed will be a tougher re-sign. However, I’m also not sure if his market will be out of this world as was the case with Shaquill Griffin. I think Reed is a better player but for whatever reason — probably publicity and awareness — Griffin got a lot more attention.

Securing the position by signing him to a good deal that will allow him to reach free agency again in 2023 or 2024 might work for all parties.

I think this is a premium position where you spend a bit of money, unlike linebacker and safety (where you’ve already ploughed resources into Adams and Brooks).

Keeping Jones and Reed allows you to focus on strengthening rather than replacing.

Add a quality pass rusher

Pete Carroll has already stated that fixing the pass rush is a priority this off-season. He has to do a better job than 2020, where he made a similar statement.

In that instance, ‘fixing the pass rush’ equated to failing to convince Jadeveon Clowney to return, then signing Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin instead.

If the Seahawks want to be a serious contender, they need a difference maker.

They should take their savings on a player like Wagner and give it to Chandler Jones.

Imagine him lining up across from Darrell Taylor? That would be a terrifying proposition for opponents and would legitimately give the Seahawks their best pass-rushing duo since Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

That equates to fixing the pass rush.

They need to make a splash, not spread their cap across a number of average journeymen. They need to add a blue-chip stud.

Harold Landry could be an alternative. The Rams are unlikely to let Von Miller get away after spending so much — but he’s an option too. It’s not implausible that the Chiefs cut Frank Clark to save $12.7m.

Nevertheless, Jones is the standout name and should be targeted with aggression and gusto when the market opens. The Seahawks need to make a statement of intent with their pass rush and this is the opportunity to do so.

Keep Carlos Dunlap

Don’t have him dropping into coverage. Get rid of the bear front. Just let Dunlap get after the quarterback.

His late-season flurry shows what he’s capable of. Adding Chandler Jones to Taylor and Dunlap would be a legit trio.

You only save $900,000 by cutting or trading Dunlap. You might as well keep him. I only bring this up because in a 710 ESPN interview recently, he hinted this would be his final year in Seattle.

There are better options where you can make savings.

Cutting LJ Collier saves $986,323. You might as well just rip that band aid off. Jason Myers would save $4m and he’s not done enough to warrant that salary.

Moving Chris Carson saves you $3.4m. It’s time to move on.

Cutting Benson Mayowa saves $1.5m and Kerry Hyder saves $2m. They’re two journeymen. Move on.

I enjoy Nick Bellore’s videos and he’s a key special teamer. His departure saves $2.1m. We need to consider whether that’s genuinely money well spent.

There’s plenty there to ensure Dunlap stays — and you might even have enough to bring back Rasheem Green and Al Woods.

Add an interior pass rusher

The Seahawks have badly lacked any kind of dynamic interior pass rush threat in the Carroll era. That should change this year as a priority.

Akiem Hicks is a free agent. He would be an ideal addition. If the Seahawks start the 2022 season with Hicks and Jones added to the D-line, that would be an exciting proposition that would energise the team and fanbase.

I’ve long wanted to see Calais Campbell in Seattle. He’s not the player he was 2-3 years ago but as Woods has shown, you can still have an impact deep into your 30’s. He could be a cheaper alternative.

The draft could also provide a solution here.

I suspect Georgia’s Jordan Davis will be a top-20 pick. However, his team-mate Devonte Wyatt is a dynamic athlete with outstanding talent and rush ability. He could be available in the early second round — or the late first via a modest trade-up.

Wyatt can reportedly run a 4.87 and jump a 9-3 broad and 31-inch vertical. The Seahawks need that kind of quickness and explosive power.

Houston’s superb Logan Hall would be a strong alternative.

There aren’t a ton of options but this is why the Seahawks need to be more aggressive this year to add players at key positions — not let things linger, as they did with the pass rush in 2020 and with center/cornerback in 2021.

It’s a shame they don’t own the #10 pick. Not only would they save the $17.5m they’ve committed to Jamal Adams (who’s suffered his second serious shoulder injury in 12 months) but we could legitimately discuss the possibility of adding Jordan Davis, David Ojabo, Jermaine Johnson or George Karlaftis. Or you could go the veteran route on the D-line and draft a good, young offensive linemen.

Reinforce the O-line

In an ideal world you’d make a big splash move on the offensive line. Last year there was Corey Linsley and Joe Thuney. This year, there are far fewer options.

Unless you want to spend a fortune on Terron Armstead — who might be tagged — the best bet is probably to re-sign Duane Brown and kick the can down the road.

Brandon Scherff would be great but he’s another right guard and what the Seahawks really need is an addition at center and/or right tackle.

Ryan Jensen is the best available free agent. Jason Kelce would be great but he’s practically Philadelphia’s favourite son and I can’t see him leaving the Eagles.

James Daniels shifted to guard from center in Chicago. He could move back and is worth considering if he reaches the market. He has a terrific physical profile and is a former high-draft pick.

The Bills are $2m over the cap for 2022. Would they consider trading Mitch Morse?

It hasn’t worked out for Cesar Ruiz in New Orleans and he’s become a target for fans. However, he has immense potential. Could you work a trade with the Saints to bring him to Seattle for a fresh start?

I think Trevor Penning, Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas will be high picks. If not, the Seahawks should give them a serious look in the draft. All three are excellent players with tremendous physical potential to start at left or right tackle at the next level.

It’s going to be harder to address the O-line than D-line this off-season. The opposite was true a year ago.

Set a limit for Rashaad Penny and stick to it

I sympathise with the Seahawks on this one. I’ve no idea how you judge Penny’s end to the season or the value you place on him.

If they let him go somewhere else, they could watch him go and set the league alight (maybe even with a NFC West rival). If they commit to him — who’s to say he’ll be able to stay healthy?

After all — he was even limping off the field against Arizona after one big run.

This is a major quandary and short of him having a lukewarm market and coming back on a team-friendly deal — there’s a lot of risk involved.

However, the running back market is sufficiently quiet in free agency and it might play into Seattle’s hands to let him discover his true value then make a decision. Homegrown runners get paid — as we’ve seen with the big names over the last few years. Very few reach free agency and hit the jackpot.

I can’t personally project a dollar value for him. It’s too difficult to predict. You’ve almost got to let everyone else set it for you.

I do think, given the state of the team currently, you have to exert some effort to retain him. He played well enough to create an intriguing ‘what if?’ scenario. The injuries are a major concern. Yet his production at the end of the year went beyond ‘good’. It was ‘great’. Thus, you’re put in a situation where you have to determine how much is too much financially.

Either way I think you need to draft a running back. Personally I think they should cut Carson and make it a reasonable priority to draft Florida’s BAMF Dameon Pierce.

What about Gerald Everett?

He’s looked very good at times in Seattle and he’s a potential X-factor. It’s also hard to forget his nightmarish performance against the Niners with multiple turnovers or his horrible dropped touchdown against the Cardinals.

It’s a strong draft at tight end, which has to be factored in.

UCLA’s Greg Dulcich, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Nevada’s Cole Turner, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta, San Jose State’s Derrick Deese Jr, Washington’s Cade Otton, Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, Iowa State’s Charles Kolar and Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson should all be available in a range for Seattle.

I wouldn’t rule out Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer being there either.

Everett at his best is an ideal complementary weapon to the receivers on the roster. Yet his best is often only present in fits and starts. In five years he’s never had more than the 478 yards and four touchdowns he had in Seattle this season. Is he capable of being more consistent, to justify the $6m he cost in 2021?

That said, he’s clearly talented, athletic and plays with a level of intensity.

It’s another difficult one to work out. I’d be very tempted to take a long look at the Senior Bowl and combine before making a decision. It could be that he’ll need to settle for less than $6m to return.

Stand-pat with D.K. Metcalf for another year

This off-season presents the first opportunity for the Seahawks to pay and extend Metcalf. However, it’s yet another difficult problem to solve.

On the one hand, the possibility of a ‘hold-in’ is strong. He’s due just $1,459,198 in 2022. Not having him in camp — as was the case last year with Jamal Adams, Duane Brown and then Quandre Diggs — isn’t helpful.

That said, the receiver market is in a horrible place — making life very difficult for the Seahawks.

DeAndre Hopkins earns a ridiculous $27.25m-a-year with the Cardinals. They structured it to be short-term, making the most of Kyler Murray’s rookie deal. Yet Julio Jones ($22m), Keenan Allen ($20m), Amari Cooper ($20m), Michael Thomas ($19.25m) and Kenny Golliday ($18m) are not far behind.

None of these players are providing value for money.

Making things even trickier is the direction of the market over the next 12 months. What contract will Davante Adams sign? What about Deebo Samuel?

Things could get even harder.

I’m not sure bailing on Metcalf and this contract dilemma is the best idea but I can see why some people come to that conclusion. It would remove a financial headache, especially if you can get a bunch of picks. With players like Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky) declaring for the draft, talent will be readily available.

Robinson is a terrific player who is flying under the radar. I’d highly recommend checking him out.

A cluster of free agents are also intriguing — Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Zay Jones, Odell Beckham Jr and Christian Kirk to name a few. The Seahawks are also only a year removed from spending a second round pick on Dee Eskridge.

That said, I’m not a big fan of trading away your homegrown talent. So here’s how I would try to work this situation.

Offer Metcalf a reasonable market-value contract in the $20m a year range. It’s expensive now but if you get that in before the Adams extension in Green Bay — it might look very reasonable within 2-3 years.

Too often the Seahawks have extended players too late (Wagner, Adams) and let other players re-set markets, costing Seattle money. If the Seahawks can get ahead of the game here, it might benefit them in the long-run.

The franchise tag provides some protection if you can’t get a deal done. The tag in 2021 was worth $19.1m.

If you have to tag him in 2023, that might be the point to consider a trade — much like the Frank Clark situation.

For now though, I would keep Metcalf. He along with Lockett are assets and the Seahawks don’t have enough of those. Removing talent on the off-chance of finding others who are good enough to compensate isn’t easy. They found that out with Clark three years ago.

Closing thoughts

Of course, there are other changes I’d like to see too. I’d rather see bold, new additions to the coaching staff — especially on defense — to provide fresh ideas. I’d like to see Pete Carroll delegate more and not feel like he has to control everything — even if ultimately it’s his vision and he is the man at the top.

This is a plan strictly for the draft and free agency as the roster stands today.

To be fair — make the changes in the paragraph above (and follow some of the suggestions re:personnel) and we might be able to avoid another off-season of drama.

The key to future success is going to be built around the trenches. That’s where they need to commit their resources — not positions like linebacker and safety.

If they do that and fail, there won’t be any complaints from me. I said the same when they failed to address the pass rush in 2020. I can live with trying and failing. What I can’t live with is having $58.25m to spend and coming away with Mayowa and Irvin.

Make the O-line and D-line a strength, have plenty of weapons for a good quarterback and don’t be a liability at cornerback and that, really, is a fairly obvious blueprint to success in the modern NFL.

The Seahawks have wasted $100m in free agency the last two years and squandered draft picks. Not having a first rounder this year is a killer, even in an average looking class.

Lessons need to be learned from prior mistakes, not brushed under the carpet. Do that and they can take a step forward.

I don’t think any of this is unrealistic. Focus on investing in the right areas and the Seahawks can improve quickly.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

And so it begins…

January 16th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Today, Ian Rapoport is reporting that Russell Wilson, “wants to explore his options to see what else might be out there for him.”

We’re a fortnight removed from Adam Schefter reporting, “There is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season.”

If the intention really is to ‘run it back’ — the chances are we’re about to embark on another off-season of drama, negotiation played out through the media and we could realistically see the quarterback traded.

How does this benefit the franchise? We can’t have annual drama of the quarterback thinking about wanting out and the front office saying ‘no’. It isn’t conducive to success. Eventually, a decision needs to be made.

How are the Seahawks going to be serious players in free agency — either to retain their own or add new players — if there’s a cloud over Wilson’s future? Especially in a competitive market for the top names?

The fans also deserve better than weeks and months of uncertainty about the quarterback, as they argue, bicker and war on social media about the whole situation.

Per Rapoport:

“Wilson has not demanded a trade, and it’s not clear if he will. But at the least, those close to Wilson say he wants to investigate other destinations to see if those would put him in a better position to win another championship and create the legacy he sees for himself.”

I think, at this stage, Wilson should just get it over and done with. Request a trade. There’s no face-saving exercise to be had by flirting with it constantly. The Seahawks can’t be in limbo every off-season. You either want a move or you don’t.

This can’t keep going on, year after year.

It impacts fans’ enjoyment of the team. It’s a talking point that never goes away.

Mike Garafolo chimed in:

“Wilson was adamant that last offseason he didn’t request a trade from the Seahawks, just merely provided a list of teams he preferred. Have to figure it’ll be less passive and more aggressive this time around if his ideal conditions for staying in Seattle aren’t met.”

A few months ago, Wilson’s injury provided a distraction for the distraction — if that makes sense.

After just four games, Wilson’s future was being discussed as a Fox lead-in to Thursday Night Football. He injured his finger in that very game and that dominated the headlines instead.

Personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to have this hanging over the team for two years and there not be consequences. Either in the locker room, in terms of your team-building or ultimately your performance on the field.

It needs addressing.

I said a year ago that the only serious way to put this all to bed and have Wilson remain is a new contract. I stand by that. Trade him or extend him. That’s the only way to draw a line under it.

Another off-season of Pete Carroll and John Schneider pretending it doesn’t exist, while every media outlet reports on it constantly, shouldn’t be an option.

Last week Rapoport spoke of Mark Davis’ interest in Wilson a year ago. Apparently Davis has a vision for the Raiders that is pure ‘rockstar’ — he wants a rockstar coach and a rockstar franchise figurehead.

Yesterday he reiterated that Derek Carr’s future in Las Vegas is uncertain.

Let’s not forget that a year ago, Wilson listed the Raiders as a destination he would be willing to be dealt to.

If they land an impressive offensive-minded Head Coach, it could set the table for a trade.

The Raiders don’t have a lot of draft stock to offer. They don’t have any extra picks. Their selection in round one will be between #20-23 overall. They do have a quarterback though. And if the Seahawks really want to try and maintain a somewhat competitive presence, they might feel granting Wilson his wish and acquiring Carr is a way to do that.

For me it would be a thoroughly underwhelming move. You wouldn’t be adding significant draft stock and Carr is unexciting as a potential starter. I doubt the Seahawks would be on a pathway to glory.

His contract expires after the 2022 season. So you’d be paying him a reasonable $19.7m this year and then, if he performs well, you’re looking at the need to pay him significantly more.

A lot of people like Carr and would likely welcome such a situation. I just feel he’s average. I think the playoffs are already showing that you need better than average at quarterback to succeed.

Plus, for all the complaining about Wilson, look at his stats compared to Carr’s. In a season where Wilson endured injury and horrendous spells of form (his worst ever season?) — he finished with a touchdown/interception ratio of 27/6 and a QBR of 53.9. In comparison, Carr finished with a 23/14 ratio and a 52.8 QBR.

Carr has only thrown for +30 touchdowns in a season once — seven years ago. Wilson has done it five times and would’ve done it again this year if he didn’t miss three and a half games.

Wilson’s career quarterback rating is 101.8. Carr’s is 92.4.

It’s pretty clear to me this would be a significant downgrade.

Let’s go a step further. Even Carson Wentz had a superior TD/INT ratio (28/7), QBR (54.4) and quarterback rating (90.1) in 2021. That’s the kind of quarterback you’d be acquiring. The type that is well known and viewed as competent — but isn’t a difference maker.

It would be a tough pill to swallow, swapping Wilson for Carr. I fear if Wilson agitates to leave, however, the front office that dealt for Charlie Whitehurst, made Tarvaris Jackson a starter and then paid Matt Flynn generous money, might convince themselves Carr is a great option that enables them to contend in 2022.

A final point. It’s pretty remarkable that after everything that has happened — many Seahawks fans are still in total denial that this is a story with Wilson. Many of the replies to Rapoport’s article were insisting Wilson had already committed his future to Seattle — which is complete bunkum.

The denial of reality on this story has to be seen to be believed. I’m not sure I’ve come across anything like it before.

It alone is reason enough for a resolution to this as soon as physically possible, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s get one thing straight — this isn’t some zany media creation. Wilson’s dissatisfaction is real and has been for some time. It’s not a question in the slightest of whether he’s open to a trade. The only question is how this gets sorted out over the coming months.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know what’s going on

January 14th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Why does everything have to be a war?

Seahawks fans are particularly tetchy at the moment. It feels like we’re destined to live in perpetual disagreement over something. Let Russ Cook. Running Backs Don’t Matter. Carroll Out.

Some of the discourse has been pretty obnoxious. At times, it’s almost felt cultish.

Personally, I appreciate how and why some fans are content with no change. Pete Carroll and John Schneider brought the first Championship to the franchise. They are popular and likeable.

I also think plenty of strong arguments have been made in support of change. The Seahawks ended the 2020 season with many acknowledging that playoff progress was vital this season. Instead, the Seahawks didn’t even qualify for the post-season. They finished 7-10.

People cite the Russell Wilson injury as an excuse but fail to note that San Francisco, Arizona and Philadelphia also needed to field a backup. New Orleans started four different quarterbacks and still finished with a better record than Seattle.

The future of Wilson remains a big question mark. Again, we’re only 12 days removed from this article by Adam Schefter.

I think change is important and reasonable. If nothing else though, I think if the status quo remains the fanbase is owed a bit more of an explanation on how this team intends to return to contention.

Just going along, bringing every staff member back, not shifting anything in the front office, cracking on with perhaps a few minor tweaks doesn’t feel adequate.

And therefore, given the well publicised meetings this week reported by some members of the national media — it’s not unreasonable to expect some kind of communication from the team.

We don’t need to know any state secrets. Yet bringing the fans — all of the fans — on a journey in 2022 is still important.

Those pushing back against the need to do this might be content. But they aren’t the entire fan base. And it’s not a tiny minority, I’d suggest, who want some answers. Certainly none were provided by Carroll in his ‘everything’s just peachy’ press conference on Monday.

If nothing else — the mystery surrounding the team isn’t healthy. It wasn’t last year either, when the Seahawks refused to address the Wilson saga. It just left everything hanging, created anxiety in some cases and had the fans warring against each other on Twitter.

That’s happening again already. Where’s the benefit in that?

Would it really hurt the Seahawks to release a statement, if the status quo is remaining, saying that all parties look forward to working together to return the team to the playoffs next season?

Just let everyone get on with their lives.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with that.

Yet I see a tweet like this:

And it embodies the snarky, unnecessarily dismissive tone that just creates tension.

Why does it have to be this way?

The simple answer is — it doesn’t.

Communicating with your fans is par for the course. Putting minds at ease, getting everyone on board — that’s what everyone wants.

I’d rather know, than assume, it’s business as usual. Unless, of course it isn’t. And in that case, maybe certain people could just pipe down acting like that’s the case when in truth — none of us really know anything.

This week I was invited onto the Pedestrian Podcast with Stu and Adam to discuss the future of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

It’s a good conversation so be sure to check it out below…

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

New podcast appearance: Pedestrian Podcast

January 14th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I was invited onto the Pedestrian Podcast with Stu and Adam to discuss the future of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

It’s a good conversation so be sure to check it out below…

 

Pete Carroll’s press conference tactics were deliberate

January 11th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Make no mistake — Pete Carroll’s end of season press conference was an attempt to set the narrative.

Carroll wanted to send the message that everything was just fine. The Seahawks were on the right track and there was nothing to worry about.

Concerns around their drafting, decision making, scheming and performance were brushed aside. This was a franchise that was simply a little unlucky.

It sounded like a pitch to ownership, more than anything else. An accommodating group of journalists would relay the message to the masses.

This tweet from ‘Idaho Highlander’ summed it up perfectly:

I want to come back to Russell Wilson’s role in a moment. Firstly though, I want to dive into what Carroll said.

There were two striking issues with the press conference. Firstly, the rejection of any implied criticism of the way they’ve drafted (and built the team). Secondly, the relentless talk of being ‘close’ and having the key components of a Championship caliber roster.

Carroll: “We’ve been so close throughout the whole season”

That simply isn’t true. They have the weakest roster in the NFC West. What happened this year has been on the cards for a while. They aren’t close and haven’t been close at any point this season.

They’ve built the team poorly, they’ve wasted resources and the same problems keep repeating while new ones emerge.

This was a rambling performance from Carroll, speaking without the kind of steely direction that was so evident when he took the job in 2010. Instead of a man with a vision and the motivation to execute his plan — he appeared to be trying to justify his continued employment. This was a survival mission of a press conference, rather than a convincing display that made you feel confident that he was remotely willing to make the necessary changes.

It felt like his platitudes and phrases were meant for Jody Allen, while trying to fill out the media articles and airwaves with positivity to strengthen his own position.

It was self-preservation and it mostly went unchallenged.

I came away from it all wondering whether sticking by Carroll was for his benefit or ours, as fans of a team we hope to see return to the Super Bowl.

The rather meaningless win against a well below-par Arizona (1-4 in their last five, including a 30-12 loss to Detroit) has seemingly convinced large swathes of the fan base that this team is in a strong position. Yet there are glaring issues that need to be addressed.

Listening to Carroll however, you wouldn’t know it. He played off that win to paint a picture that defies reality.

I couldn’t help but think this is one of Wilson’s big issues with the Seahawks.

Who in ownership is sitting Carroll down and challenging him?

Where is the accountability?

Even if Jody Allen and co. have no interest in firing Carroll — there still needs to be some serious questions asked.

Do they have the best possible staff? Look at the names available at the moment. A team is going to employ Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator in the coming days. Why aren’t the Seahawks looking at that?

After four years of having Ken Norton Jr as defensive coordinator, is it not time to consider a fresh approach there? After all — look at the way the defense started the 2020 and 2021 seasons as a jumbled mess.

The ‘bear front’ plan didn’t work at all. It took them until the final weeks of the season to realise a.) dropping your best pass rushers into coverage isn’t a good idea and b.) Carlos Dunlap should be getting more than a handful of snaps a game.

Should Carroll be prepared to introduce some outsiders to his staff? Rather than basically employing a series of old pals who will do what he wants? Don’t we all need to be challenged from time to time? Why is Carroll seemingly only prepared to surround himself with people who won’t challenge him?

He admitted a year ago that Carl ‘Tater’ Smith and his son Nate were his main sources of accountability. Does that not concern ownership?

The Seahawks should be aspiring to have staff members who are coveted by other teams for future Head Coaching roles. Norton Jr is never going to be considered for a top gig. Doesn’t that say everything we need to know?

Does Carroll have too much control over personnel? Why does he think they have drafted well? Shouldn’t they be learning lessons on how they’ve used their resources? Are they spending their money in the right areas?

The drafting point, in particular, was a big concern for me. Carroll spoke at length to defend Seattle’s recent record, leaning on an excuse that John Schneider also mentioned on the radio on Sunday.

Both the GM and the Head Coach have now complained about not picking in the top-10 and therefore ‘not having access’ to the ‘top names’ in a class.

It’s a ridiculous point that deserves far more of a challenge than either Carroll or Schneider received when they uttered the words.

You don’t need to pick that early to acquire top-tier talent. Let’s run through the names that were drafted from 2016-2020 in the range Seattle picked:

2016 — Kenny Clark, Chris Jones, Xavien Howard, Derrick Henry, Michael Thomas

2017 — Tre’Davious White, T.J. Watt, Ryan Ramczyk, Budda Baker, Dalvin Cook

2018 — Lamar Jackson, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, Jaire Alexander, Frank Ragnow, Leighton Vander Esch, D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley

2019 — Montez Sweat, Josh Jacobs, Deebo Samuel, Elgton Jenkins, A.J. Brown

2020 — Jonathan Taylor, Trevon Diggs

The Seahawks could’ve had any of these players. Instead, they selected Germain Ifedi, Malik McDowell, Rashaad Penny, L.J. Collier, Marquis Blair and Jordyn Brooks.

They have had ample opportunity to draft world class stars and they simply made bad decisions.

Their opinion that not picking in the top-10 has put them at a disadvantage is frankly ridiculous and flat out wrong. Yet they have both said it, unchallenged, in the last 48 hours.

Even worse, this viewpoint was seemingly a big motivating factor in their decision to trade for Jamal Adams. Their line of thinking, it appears, was that they might as well spend two late first round picks on a big name player because in their eyes, those late first rounders are not providing any value.

Not only is that completely wrong because their own bad decisions devalued those picks, not the available talent — but the deal for Adams has also ended up costing them a top-10 pick which they’re now sending to the Jets, because the team has flopped to 7-10.

So while they complain about not picking in the top-10, their own bad decision making is going to prevent them from being able to do the thing they crave.

You couldn’t make it up.

Seattle has now committed $17.5m a year to Adams — a player who has already had two serious shoulder injuries since the trade. Meanwhile, the defense suffered no noticeable drop-off when he was absent. Ryan Neal, on a free agent salary, has provided a perfectly adequate, if not superior, replacement.

And that brings us back to their resource spend. Someone in ownership needs to challenge Carroll on their drafting, not allow him to call it a job well done (as he did in his press conference). They also need to question how they can justify spending as much as they are on Bobby Wagner and Adams when the defensive performance is no worse when they’re not playing.

The Seahawks spent nearly $100m in free agency in 2020 and 2021. How do they justify how they’ve used that money? Carroll should be made to defend that record and explain in detail how they’re going to do things differently.

He did admit during the press conference that fixing the pass rush was the off-season priority. Usually, I would say that was great to hear. It absolutely must be a priority.

Yet he said the same thing in 2020. What happened then? They failed to convince Jadeveon Clowney to come back to Seattle — a priority re-sign in their words. Instead they brought in Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa and felt that was enough.

That is what ‘fixing the pass rush’ looked like in 2020. And what happened? Their pass rush was even worse when the season kicked off.

I’d like to look at a player like Chandler Jones and think the Seahawks would move heaven and earth to bring him in. That would be a real signal of intent. Imagine Jones lining up with Dunlap and Darrell Taylor? That would be a tour de force.

You could then use pick #41 (or even move up) to draft an interior pass rusher such as Georgia’s brilliant Devonte Wyatt or Houston’s Logan Hall.

That would do more than anything to elevate this team to a new level.

Yet based on their last two off-seasons they’re more likely to cut Dunlap like they did with Jarran Reed, before spending $2-3m on a random journeyman and extolling the benefits of depth over elite talent.

That plan hasn’t worked. Yet you’d never know it from Carroll’s words. They’ve just been a little unfortunate, don’t you know?

There have been consistent issues with the team. Third downs. Fluctuating production on offense — jumping from amazing to awful and vice versa. The running game hasn’t been consistent since the Marshawn Lynch days. The defense gives up way too many yards and can’t get off the field and has struggled to turn the ball over.

Why are these problems never resolved?

The Seahawks are pitched as a success story because they’ve won a lot of regular season games. Yet their record of one lousy playoff win in five years is of much more pressing concern.

Their post-season record was bad enough as it was, without missing out on an extended playoff structure this year. They couldn’t even finish as the seventh best team in the NFC.

A quick reminder that #5 Arizona, #6 San Francisco and #7 Philadelphia have all been forced to use backup quarterbacks too. New Orleans, the #8 seed, have had to use four quarterbacks (and none of them are any good).

They still won more games than Seattle.

Losing Wilson for a few weeks was a convenient excuse. Carroll needs to explain why they couldn’t handle it better than they did. He needs to explain why they were left to rely on a quarterback as thoroughly mediocre as Geno Smith is. Why haven’t they done a better job finding a backup to Wilson over the years?

Why will more of the same shift their playoff fortunes, if they even qualify next season? How do they go from post-season also-rans to serious contenders? Why have so many of their playoff exits since 2014 been embarrassing blowouts?

All of this was brushed off. Because the intention of this press conference was to set a positive narrative. There are no problems here. We’re OK. I’m OK. My job isn’t at risk. We’ll have the usual meetings and then crack on. We are a good team. There’s lots to be excited about.

In other words…

If ownership buys Carroll’s spiel and allows things to carry on as normal, I fear we’ll be right back here in 12 months having the same conversation.

We know Paul Allen used to challenge Carroll. It was reported not so long ago that he insisted they bring in Mike Pettine in 2017 as an outside voice to offer different viewpoints.

If Paul was with us today — I’m pretty sure he’d be demanding some answers to some serious questions. If nothing else, he’d be ordering things to be done differently.

Since his passing in 2018, it feels like all of that has been lost. It feels like Carroll is pretty much a law unto himself. He doesn’t have to answer to anyone and thus, there’s nobody really asking for an explanation when things go wrong.

This is a major, major problem that a win in Arizona shouldn’t cloud and it’s why I sincerely hope ownership are prepared to overlook that one game and the feel-good factor it’s provided, plus Carroll’s press conference attempt to control the narrative, and make some big decisions.

Even if Carroll stays — the Seahawks have to do things differently. The way they draft, the way they approach free agency. Carroll should have less control here.

They should also insist on staffing changes with outside voices being brought in.

If Carroll resists this change, then the next step is obvious for both parties. But he shouldn’t be allowed to dictate the running of this team. He can no longer control everything without any accountability.

There has to be some self-reflection and adjustment after a 7-10 season. We can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

Colin Cowherd has talked repeatedly about the extent of Carroll’s control being a problem in Seattle. That means Wilson thinks it’s a problem. Clearly Cowherd’s sources are from the Wilson camp.

They aren’t limited to the Wilson camp though. In this piece yesterday he cited a source who worked in Seattle’s scouting department within the last five years (fast forward to 9:00):

According to Cowherd’s source, John Schneider ‘too often deferred to the coach and not the scouting department’.

This is the problem. Too much power and control.

Wilson sees this as an issue, among other issues.

When I see people reducing Wilson’s dissatisfaction to a mere ‘he wants to throw more’ angle — as Mike Salk did last week — it’s really frustrating. This goes way beyond that. It’s about many things, including Carroll’s unshakeable power in Seattle and a feeling that his philosophy, and the decisions he makes, are not going to put this team in a position to succeed at the very top.

If ownership isn’t willing to challenge Carroll — and if things don’t change — Wilson’s next move will be interesting.

A lot of people are suddenly talking themselves into believing he will be content to come back and carry on. Those people are kidding themselves.

Here’s what Adam Schefter reported on January 2nd:

Pete Carroll & Russell Wilson duo set for possible finale with Seattle Seahawks, sources say

There is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season, which would represent the end of one of the most successful head coach/quarterback duos in NFL history.

Wilson has said several times that his first desire would be to remain in Seattle, but only if the Seahawks’ desire to win matches his.

The offseason decisions on Carroll, who is under contract through the 2025 season, and Wilson, who has two years remaining on his current deal, will hinge on team chair Jody Allen, who has been the Seahawks’ de facto owner since her brother Paul died in 2018.

Some sources believe Schneider is open to starting anew with added draft picks, but he also knows the value of a quarterback like Wilson.

That was just over a week ago. That article was clearly sourced from the Wilson camp. After all, it’s the same journalist who broke the story on the potential trade destinations last off-season.

This article deserves some contemplation. Carroll can say what he wants in the press conference on Monday. It’s going to be up to Jody Allen to determine the path forward.

Carroll’s press conference was his pitch for continuity that he will no doubt relay to Allen. When she speaks to John Schneider, he may well voice a preference to trade Wilson, as the article suggests. If she speaks to Wilson — he will actively voice a desire for change at the top or a trade.

If he doesn’t have a direct line to ownership, expect a media onslaught pretty soon.

Something’s got to give. Allen has to consider a lot of things here, not just Carroll’s preference. He’s tried to imply everything is fine with ownership and the quarterback. Really, he’s in no position to speak for either with confidence.

While it feels like the status quo is likely right now — the truth is there are many chess moves still to be made.

Wilson will not just go along quietly. If you think some form of change is needed, as I do, he’s the one big hope in all of this. He’s the only one who can make ownership sit up and take notice.

Failing that, he’ll ask for a new team. Which could provoke even bigger changes than people realise.

I still maintain that Carroll doesn’t see a future without Wilson. He isn’t talking about any rebuilds here. If he’s forced into one, I don’t think he will accept it.

That remains the key point. Because equally, I don’t think Wilson sees a future in Seattle with Carroll in position, controlling everything as he currently does.

The meetings between Allen and the key components here are crucial.

We heard Carroll’s side of the story on Monday. It was confidence-sapping, denialist and somewhat insulting to our intelligence.

I hope Allen sees it that way too and ensures some degree of change occurs. The thought of the Seahawks just carrying on as normal after the season they’ve just had would’ve been unthinkable two weeks ago. A good win to end the season shouldn’t change that.

Mike McCarthy was an equally successful coach as Carroll. He could make a lot of the same arguments Carroll made in his press conference yesterday. The Green Bay Packers made a change because they could sense it was time. And it was time.

They made a difficult but necessary call and have been rewarded.

The Seahawks need to follow suit.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!

 

It’s time for change

January 10th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

The win in Arizona shouldn’t fool anyone but I fear it has done.

It was a good victory against a lacklustre Cardinals outfit. The Seahawks have finished strongly with two wins. Yet a fortnight ago, they lost hopelessly to the Chicago Bears.

When your season ends in the playoffs, it’s usually off the back of a defeat and you analyse from the perspective of disappointment. This year Seattle were well out of the post-season race and they’ve ended with a win. The end result is still the same and should be reflected on as such. Yet it feels like the victory has glossed over a whole bunch of issues we should be discussing.

The need for change goes way beyond what happened in games at the end of this season. Let’s not forget that Detroit similarly beat the Packers on Sunday, the Jaguars knocked the Colts out of the playoffs and last week the Jets should’ve beaten Tom Brady and Tampa Bay.

The Seahawks haven’t just had an ‘off’ year. They haven’t been an ascending team for years. They haven’t looked like a true contender for years. The 2021 season was a step backwards from what was already a frustrating situation, with the team basically amounting to a car stuck in the mud spinning its wheels.

Hearing Pete Carroll talk up ‘carrying on’ and having another go next year is difficult to take. I speak as someone who hugely appreciates and respects what Carroll has achieved in Seattle. I suspect nearly all of us do. Yet he shouldn’t be allowed to claim this team is ‘close’. It isn’t.

The use of resources since the 2018 reset has been galling. They squandered tens of millions of dollars in the last two off-seasons on average players who didn’t elevate the team to a new level.

They’ve taken a path of depth over quality and it hasn’t worked.

The Jamal Adams trade was a disaster and his contract could be a lead weight for two more years.

They’ve neglected the trenches and spent money and high picks at safety and linebacker instead.

Carroll has a philosophy of wanting to run the ball and the Seahawks are clearly at their best when they’re able to do so. Yet he places too much faith in injury-prone runners and hasn’t built his team from the inside-out.

They’ve drafted extremely poorly — emphasised by the disastrous start to the 2019 draft, passing on the likes of Creed Humphrey a year ago for a WR3 they don’t know how to use effectively and opting not to select a number of proven stars at positions of need when they were on the clock (T.J. Watt, Jonathan Taylor, Budda Baker, Nick Chubb, Ryan Ramczyk etc).

They complain, as John Schneider did on the radio on Sunday, about not having an opportunity to pick in the top-10 like their NFC West neighbours. And yet having created a team sufficiently bad enough to end up in that position — they won’t get the chance to use their top-10 pick because they blew it on a desperate trade a year ago for the most expensive box safety in NFL history.

The Seahawks should be setting out to build the best staff possible. Instead, they’ve become an old pals act.

Carroll employs Carl ‘Tater’ Smith, Ken Norton Jr and one of his sons. Norton Jr should be on the way out after back-to-back seasons where the defense began as a disorganised mess. They should be pulling out all of the stops to employ Vic Fangio or someone similar. Yet they won’t, because Carroll feels he needs to have complete control over everything to the point he’s seemingly only willing to employ defensive coordinators who are ‘his guys’.

The Seahawks need a new direction. If Carroll was willing to embrace taking a back seat, handing more control to top-tier coordinators and taking on the role of Nick Saban-style figurehead, that would be plausible as a way forward. The status quo, however, with Carroll controlling everything from top to bottom, cannot go on any longer.

They have one playoff win in five years. Nothing about the 2021 season suggested they’re on a pathway to changing that. That one playoff win came against an Eagles team that lost its starting quarterback in the first half and had to play a 40-year-old backup.

If they try and roll this back, all we’ll end up with is months of uncertainty about Russell Wilson’s future. I know some fans have started to kid themselves that Wilson is actually perfectly content. They forget we’re a week removed from Adam Schefter reporting his continued dissatisfaction and desire for change and Wilson actively questioning his future by declaring he ‘hoped’ the Detroit game wouldn’t be his last as a Seahawk in Seattle.

If you want weeks of Colin Cowherd, Brandon Marshall, Adam Schefter and Jason La Canfora reporting daily updates on Wilson’s desire to go elsewhere — root for the status quo.

He wants change and he acknowledges what a lot of us have also concluded — this team needs a fresh start, with fresh ideas and a new approach.

Forget the money owed to Carroll on his contract. This is a franchise that has just committed a huge lump sum to Jamal Adams. In Paul Allen’s days, they wrote off a huge chunk of cash to fire Jim Mora.

If they want to make a change, they can do. They shouldn’t be swayed by a good win against Arizona or the price of a sunk-cost pay-off.

The following message should be delivered to Carroll. Embrace adopting the position of Saban-esque leader with top coordinators or be prepared to lose your job. Cede more personnel control to the GM. Be prepared to make changes. Do what you’re best at — leading and motivating. Let others handle the roster construction and the X’s and O’s.

If he does those things, and if Wilson is given more input into the philosophy, they have a shot to progress forward together.

Make the right decisions in the off-season and investing in the trenches will give them a chance to succeed, too.

Change doesn’t have to mean firing the coach. The Seahawks can’t pretend that they’re on the right track though, or believe more of the same will produce different results.

If Carroll’s intention is to ‘have another go’ in 2022 with largely the same cast of characters — it’ll simply be a waste of everyone’s time. It’ll be more of the same, a continuation of the last few years where the Seahawks have been on the periphery — paper tigers and not a serious contender in the post-season.

We’ll be having the same conversations during and after the season that we’ve been having for the last three years.

Without change, Wilson is going to agitate to leave. He won’t waste another year of his career. And if the Seahawks put their fingers in their ears again, it won’t be good for anyone. The franchise can’t stay in limbo with question marks at quarterback every year.

The fans deserve a proper resolution too. The whole topic of Carroll and Wilson is tearing the fan base apart online. Everyone is arguing about it. It’ll be poor leadership from the very top if this subject lingers on and on for weeks and months — dominating the daily NFL news cycle as it did a year ago.

If the status quo remains, I think we need to have it confirmed. There’s no need for any lingering questions or discussion. If Wilson intends to seek a trade, then he should just rip off the band-aid. As I’m sure many will agree — I can process clarity, whatever it ends up being. The unknown is what ends up becoming so divisive.

For more on this whole topic, I wrote a lengthy piece on Carroll’s future here and why change is necessary.

Pete Carroll deserves to be recognised as a Seahawks legend — but it’s time.

It’s time for a change.

Please consider supporting the blog via Patreon (click the tab below)…

Become a Patron!