Why have the Seahawks brought back Branden Jackson?

August 3rd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Branden Jackson was re-signed by the Seahawks today

“I thought something was brewing when they cut Hunt and Jackson. Now I’m waiting for them to re-sign both for $1m each.”

This is a reply I made in the comments section this week.

I was joking, sort of.

Yet earlier today, this tweet surfaced:

Branden Jackson joined the Seahawks in 2017. He’s played three seasons in Seattle, featuring in 36 games.

He has 3.5 career sacks.

It was never obvious why the Seahawks tendered him for $2.1m in the first place. What exactly were they protecting? Now, some months later, they’ve cut him and re-signed him — probably saving about $1m in the process.

A week ago I wrote an article asking whether another move was on the cards following the Jackson and Hunt cuts. The answer, categorically, was no. Nothing happened. It won’t be a big surprise if Hunt follows suit and similarly re-joins for a discounted price.

At least with Hunt there’d be a reason for the move. Currently Seattle’s depth at center is B.J. Finney — a career backup signed this year after mixing between positions in Pittsburgh — and second round underachiever Ethan Pocic.

Hunt might have struggled at times as a starter but it’s a sad reality that he could easily end up winning a camp battle to start once more.

Jackson rejoining, though, is much more of a head-scratcher.

The lack of sacks are not the only problem. He had only seven pressures last season in 15 games. He had only four hurries. His PFF grade of 50.4 ranked 96th out of 109 defensive lineman in 2019. Only one other player had a worse pass rushing grade.

He simply hasn’t been able to impact games.

His run defense grade (59.6) wasn’t anything to write home about either.

Thankfully this new contract will probably have no guarantees and down the line the Seahawks could simply cut him again or replace him with another player. Yet it’s somewhat indicative of Seattle’s problem.

In an interview with John Clayton at the combine, Pete Carroll said improving the defensive line and pass rush was ‘definitely the focal point and it has to be‘.

How many people honestly thought, upon hearing those words and acknowledging the off-season priority, that we’d still be talking about Branden Jackson in August?

Every team needs depth but you also need to justify your retention. After three seasons there’s extreme clarity on whether he’s good enough.

I want to be fair to Jackson. His team mates speak very positively about him as a person. Clowney name-checked him during his ‘gym interview’ a few weeks ago. He seems to be well liked and a positive influence in the locker room. There’s something to be said for that — but you also need to produce results on the field. Jackson simply hasn’t delivered.

You could easily make the argument tendering him for $2.1m was a waste. If Hunt wasn’t retained either, that’s $4.2m you could’ve used on a player to actively improve your stated priority for the off-season.

There’s still time to rectify the issue. The season, if it starts on time, is well over a month away. Both Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen remain available. We know Clowney isn’t going to budge on his demands — so in the next couple of weeks it’s time to make a call once and for all. Either come to an argreement for multiple years that can include a low first-year cap hit or move on and sign Everson Griffen. Inject some proven quality onto the line — and then get a defensive tackle too.

It’s not ideal to be addressing the biggest issue of the year this close to the start of the season. Griffen and a cheap interior lineman aren’t likely to transform a D-line recently described by PFF as the worst in the league either.

They need to do something though — otherwise all of the big investments at linebacker and safety will simply end up being undermined.

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An attempt at a reality check on the Jamal Adams trade

July 30th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Jamal Adams is a good player but we have to keep asking questions about this deal

A lot of arguments have been made to justify the massive investment Seattle made in Jamal Adams. A lot have gone unchallenged, mainly because on face value they seem valid. So I wanted to play devils advocate for a few of the points being discussed.

You tell me if any of this is unfair…

“It’s just like trading up in the draft. The Seahawks haven’t picked in the top-10 since 2010. This is just like they traded up from the 20’s…”

This is not strictly true. When you trade up in the draft, you are only trading one future pick. This means, you know the position you are trading from.

For example — in 2011 the Falcons traded from #27 up to #6 to select Julio Jones. Although they were including their 2012 first rounder, they knew the definitive value of one of the two high picks they were dealing (#27).

The Seahawks don’t have this luxury. They have traded two future picks, with an undetermined value. Had they made this move prior to the 2020 draft, they would’ve known they were dealing #27 plus their 2021 first rounder. Instead there’s a higher degree of unknown.

It’s assumed the Seahawks will be picking at the end of the first round for the next two seasons. However, it only takes one slice of misfortune for things to dramatically change.

The 2011 Indianapolis Colts approached the season expecting to be contenders. They were a playoff team in 2010 — losing surprisingly to the New York Jets in the wildcard round (17-16).

An injury to Peyton Manning changed everything. The rest of the roster wasn’t good enough to manage the loss of their star player. The backups — Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter — were incapable of replacing Manning. The season collapsed and they ultimately ended up picking first overall in 2012.

Hopefully such a dramatic set of circumstances won’t happen to the Seahawks. Yet like the Colts — if anything happens to Wilson during the 2020 or 2021 seasons, there’s every chance they will implode. We’re only three years removed from a loaded Seahawks roster struggling to 9-7 due to an injury crisis, including knee and ankle injuries to Wilson. They picked in the teens the following year.

You could argue this is an extreme counter. Admittedly a team isn’t going to avoid making a trade through fear of a worse case scenario.

The point is though, simply, that this isn’t the same as trading up in the draft. The Seahawks will need to avoid injury issues for the next two years — not just one season — to avoid this trade biting them badly on the backside. The roster isn’t good enough to suffer an injury to Wilson or a handful of players — as we saw at the end of last season.

“The Seahawks never use their first round picks properly anyway, so who cares if they’ve given away their next two?”

Certainly you can question Seattle’s record with their ‘first’ pick — let alone their first round picks. They’ve had hits with Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Bruce Irvin — but all were top-15 picks. They’ve struggled to find anything more than role players since. In 11 drafts, so far they are yet to extend their first player selected to a second contract, which is incredible.

However, this is a much deeper talking point than mere past history.

A first round pick is your greatest asset. It’s your best bargaining chip. It can end up being extremely valuable if you pick early. It can also be used to trade down and create more draft stock.

Why is that important?

Duane Brown turns 35 on August 30th. It’s unclear how many more years he intends to play but currently his contract runs until the end of the 2021 season. Last year he gallantly played through injuries in order to stay on the field.

Realistically the Seahawks are going to need to find a long term solution at the position — either in the draft or via trade.

The problem is, there’s a league-wide dearth of good left tackles.

Certainly it’s unlikely any are going to reach free agency. The only two proven left tackles to reach the market in recent history were Andrew Whitworth and he was pushing 40 plus Russell Okung (who had a strange situation given his injury history and lack of an agent).

It’s not impossible to add a good tackle without using a first round pick — as the trade for Brown and recent move by the 49ers to acquire Trent Williams show. These are rare cases though. The main way you gain a good left tackle is usually with a high draft pick or via an expensive trade.

It’s hard to imagine how the Seahawks will sufficiently address this situation before 2023 — the next time they’ll have a first round pick. Prior to Brown’s arrival, they had to start Bradley Sowell, George Fant and Rees Odhiambo. That’s not the way to protect Russell Wilson and was partly the reason he got injured in 2017.

Of course this would be easier to understand had they spent a high pick on a left tackle over the last two drafts — but they opted not to. Are they hoping to try and develop Cedric Ogbuehi? How many projects like that have actually worked out?

Trading away future first round picks makes it difficult to address that position for the next two years.

“He will add lots of sacks to make up for the below-par D-line”

It’s often pointed out that Adams had 6.5 sacks in 2019 — more than any of Seattle’s defensive linemen.

However, it’s important to remember who he played for in New York. First he had ultra-blitzing Todd Bowles. Then it was the even more aggressive Gregg Williams.

Williams embarrassingly calls himself ‘Doctor Blitz’. Adams blitzed 90 times during the 2019 season, ninth most in the entire NFL at any position. Baltimore’s Chuck Clark, in a similar scheme, was the only safety who blitzed at a similar rate.

In comparison, Bradley McDougald blitzed 21 times in Seattle last year. Even Bobby Wagner only blitzed 71 times.

In Seattle’s scheme, Earl Thomas recorded the grand total of zero sacks and Kam Chancellor had two. McDougald had 0.5 sacks in his Seahawks career. Different scheme, very different responsibilities and production.

“They can be really creative now and find a way to get Adams involved in different ways”

We’ve all had this discussion by now. Adams is going to blitz, pressure, destroy crossing routes, take out George Kittle, play single-high, take a linebacker off the field and presumably also achieve world peace.

Let’s remember the scheme in Seattle. This is a defense that played predominantly in ‘base’ last year. It’s a defense that has pretty much stayed the same for over a decade and preaches role responsibility, discipline and doing your job. The Seahawks are not creative blitzers. They don’t attack in the way Baltimore, Pittsburgh, the Jets or Tampa Bay do.

The most dramatic shift in the Carroll era has pretty much been the post-Earl Thomas cover-tweaks at the back-end and the return to base. That’s it. The idea that suddenly they’re going to open everything up having acquired Jamal Adams seems fanciful.

Look at the other players they’ve acquired for the defense over the years. Whether it was Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Sheldon Richardson or Jadeveon Clowney — no big scheme changes. No massive production. No real freedom for the individual. Simply an introduction to the scheme and a need to do your job.

Turn things over to the offense. Did they dramatically change things for Jimmy Graham? No — they tried to turn him into a ‘complete’ tight end. They wanted Graham to fit them, not the other way around.

Is Adams really likely to be turned into the Swiss-army knife many expect? It’s arguably more likely they drafted him to provide the toughness, tackling and intensity they’ve missed at the position since Kam Chancellor retired. Which is fine. However, whether his production or impact will justify two first round picks will be debatable if they aren’t willing to let him continue to impact games the way the Jets did.

“The Seahawks have great club control for three years”

Let’s get one thing straight. If the Houston Texans had made this trade, everyone would’ve hammered them. Just as they did a year ago when they traded for Laremy Tunsil.

Houston gave up a fortune to acquire Tunsil (and also gained Kenny Stills). However, they had no new contract in place. Thus — the feeling was — they had no leverage when talks would eventually begin.

A year later, the two parties agreed on a contract worth $22m a year. That is $5.5m per year more than the second highest paid tackle (Anthony Castonzo — $16.5m).

It’s incredible that the Texans didn’t have a new contract in place for Tunsil before the trade was complete. They ceded all leverage. Tunsil’s representatives could turn to Houston and say ‘pay us what we want because there’s no way you’re throwing away two first round picks for a couple of years of our man’.

The Rams then repeated the mistake and now they are seriously running the risk of losing Jalen Ramsey by 2022.

The Seahawks are in the same position. Their situation is slightly different because they made the trade after the coronavirus epidemic impacted the global economy. We don’t know what the consequences will be on the NFL going forward. There’s already a very real possibility the cap will reduce next season — following years of consistent growth.

However — that won’t mean anything to Adams and his agent. They can say, just as Tunsil did, ‘pay us what we want because there’s no way you will waste two first round picks’. If the Seahawks say Covid-19 has shifted the financial landscape — Adams’ people will point out they knew what the situation was when they traded for him.

It’s actually worse for the Seahawks in this case not to have a deal in place. If you have the framework for a contract now, you can plan accordingly including worst case scenarios regarding the cap. You can turn to Adams and say — this is the contract that comes with the trade. How badly do you want to be here?

Now they face the prospect of Adams demanding to be the highest paid defensive back in the NFL. He could ask for $20m. And what choice will the Seahawks have but to pay that? At a time when the entire league is going to need to cut costs?

You might argue they don’t need to worry about this for a while. However, they only have a years grace. By next year, Adams is not going to be looking at a $9m salary favourably. He might hold out without a new deal. It’s very unlikely he’ll be prepared to play for $9m next year and $11-12m on the franchise tag in 2022. A contract will need to be agreed in the next 18 months and Adams has all of the leverage.

It will be very difficult to justify paying a linebacker $18.5m a year and a strong safety $20m a year if the pass rush is terrible and ultimately costing the Seahawks a shot at a Championship.

This is the crux of the matter really and will be until the issue is solved. The Seahawks have a bad defensive line (the worst according to PFF). After signing their rookie class they now have about $13m to spend according to Spotrac (which is really about $8m when you factor in injured reserve and the practise squad). Snacks Harrison is considering whether he intends to play in 2020. Nothing is happening with Jadeveon Clowney as the stalemate drags on (will he sit out the season?). The cuts this week were clearly just part of a plan to get down to an 80-man roster rather than an indication of any additional signings being close.

They’ve essentially replaced Clowney with Benson Mayowa, while hoping Darrell Taylor and Bruce Irvin can chip in as a compliment. Meanwhile Al Woods and Quinton Jefferson — a good run defender and a good interior rusher — have not been replaced.

Colin Cowherd raised a fair point this week. When was Seattle’s last meaningful playoff win? It’s the 2014 season. Beating the Vikings thanks to a blown kick, the Lions in Seattle or the Eagles last year without their quarterback is nothing to write home about. They’ve lost against serious opponents such as Dallas, Green Bay, Carolina and Atlanta. In three of those games they were walloped and only Wilson’s magic in the second half prevented a blow-out.

For the Seahawks to become a serious threat in the post-season again — can they really rely on Mayowa, Irvin and Taylor? And won’t the lack of quality on the D-line simply undermine the massive investment made in the linebacker and safety positions? Because on top of Wagner and Adams they’re also paying K.J. Wright $10m this year, they’ve used a first round pick on Jordyn Brooks, they traded up in round three for Cody Barton, they traded for Quandre Diggs, used a top-50 pick on Marquise Blair, spent a third rounder on Lano Hill and a fourth rounder on Ugo Amadi.

That’s a lot of resources simply to roll out a decidedly suspect defensive line.

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Why Seattle’s (possible) 2019 draft plan needs to be challenged

July 28th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Marquise Blair was a top-50 pick but what does the future hold?

The Seahawks used four picks in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft. They took defensive end L.J. Collier, safety Marquise Blair, receiver D.K. Metcalf and linebacker Cody Barton.

The Metcalf addition was an inspired one. His rookie season offers great hope for the future. He was even included in the NFL’s list of the top-100 players this week.

The Seahawks traded up to get him and that deal should be celebrated. It’s very surprising, with hindsight, that he lasted as long as he did (pick #64). It was an opportunity Seattle took advantage of.

If that was a major highlight, the other three picks warrant a serious discussion just 15 months on. This was a vital draft for the Seahawks at the heart of their reset, having just traded away Frank Clark for an extra first round pick.

We need to talk about the plan, the execution of the plan and how it’s hampered the team moving forward.

Let’s start with Marquise Blair.

The Seahawks drafted him in the top-50 and Pete Carroll, in his press conference at the conclusion of day two, gave the following assessment of what he’d bring to Seattle:

“We really like him attacking the line of scrimmage… blitzes well, tackles well, hits well. It’s his toughness that we’re really excited about. We’re going to zero in, make it focused for him as he starts out, at strong safety.”

Since making that selection at #47 the Seahawks have traded a fifth round pick for Quandre Diggs and now spent a kings ransom on Jamal Adams.

You can make a case for saying Adams is just too good and therefore the opportunity to acquire him is the only thing that matters. It’s still worth discussing and analysing the Blair pick though. A year later, they’ve basically replaced him. That blurb above from Carroll will probably be said about Adams whenever he next does a press conference. They drafted Blair to be the strong safety and after just 15 months they’ve now felt it necessary to spend two first round picks plus a fair bit extra to replace him.

I’ve had a few thoughts about the Blair pick in the past and I want to return to those briefly now. It’s well known that Carroll and John Schneider looked thoroughly miserable in their press conference immediately after the first round. See for yourself. There’s just no energy in the room.

They started with two first round picks and seemingly felt confident (based on their later comments that the board worked against them) they were going to land a top defensive lineman from a great positional class. There’s been a few rumours that their main targets were Rashan Gary and Brian Burns.

I think, based on what we’ve seen over the last year and a bit, that they specifically targeted two positions with their first two picks — D-line and safety.

Armed with #21 and #29 thanks to the Clark trade, I think they went into that first round believing they might be able to land Gary or Burns at #21 then Johnathan Abram, the Mississippi State safety, at #29.

That, in my opinion, would’ve been the double-dip that had them ‘pumped and jacked’. That, in my opinion, was their aim.

Instead there was a big rush on defensive linemen and both Gary and Burns were gone by pick #16. Seattle responded by trading #21 to the Packers, meaning they now had #29 and #30. My guess is they were still hoping to get Abram at #29 and would then, at least, have the comfort of getting one of their key targets.

Then the Oakland Raiders took Abram off the board at #27.

That’s why I think they were so disappointed when they spoke to the media. They’d missed out on the players they really wanted at both of the positions they’d focused on. And I think they still felt they had to address them. So rather than move on to other positions they went down their board and the next two names on the list were L.J. Collier (taken at #29) and then after trading down a bit more, they took Blair at #47 in round two.

I think they were determined to come out of that draft with a D-liner and a safety first up. I think the trade for Metcalf was a situation where they probably didn’t seriously consider him earlier but saw an opportunity they didn’t expect once they’d addressed the D-line and safety positions.

Sure — this is speculation and conjecture on my part. Ultimately though, they did go D-line and safety early and they’ve invested a lot of time and energy in both positions since. I think they’ve had a look at Blair and determined that he isn’t the player they need in that role. Or at the very least he’s going to need a lot of time and work. Thus, in comes Jamal Adams at a hefty price.

If this is even remotely accurate there are two lasting thoughts. One is that they’re now going to be tasked with creating a role for Blair, otherwise that pick will be a waste. You don’t draft in the top-50 for depth at strong safety — especially when you’re forced to pay a fortune to replace the player a year later. Thankfully Carroll did speak of Blair’s versatility after they drafted him and Schneider even said they thought he could potentially play corner due to his profile.

Secondly, it further reveals a little bit about the way Carroll and Schneider approach the draft. They seem to settle on the positions they’re going to address pre-draft. It was clearly running back in 2018, for example. They felt going into 2020 that they would get good value at the linebacker position at the end of round one and were willing to take one of a ‘big three’ who went in the second half of the first frame.

I don’t have ‘inside sources’ and would never claim to be that type of person. However, Kip Earlywine and I had heard from a reliable source prior to the 2010 draft that left tackle and safety were the targets with #6 and #14 — and that originally there’d been hope of taking Eric Berry at #6 and Trent Williams at #14 (before he shot up boards after the combine). In the end they took Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. The same source was adamant prior to the 2012 draft that they were selecting a pass rusher first (and took Bruce Irvin).

Carroll has also been fairly honest about their plans, such as prior to the 2011 draft when he talked of fixing the run as a priority before drafting James Carpenter (Alabama’s left tackle during Mark Ingram’s great career) or when he said speed in the front seven was the aim in 2012 (thus — Irvin and Bobby Wagner as the top two picks).

Having such clarity can be a good thing sometimes and can help you really zone in on certain players. Yet I also think they could be accused of being somewhat inflexible and run the risk of being caught out. I think that’s exactly what happened in 2019 and having attached themselves to two positions, they’ve ended up with a couple of players in Collier and Blair who are already fighting an uphill battle when they perhaps should’ve been willing to accept their fate and take more of a ‘best player on the board’ approach.

This contrasts to the way a team like New Orleans does things, for example. The Saints have had their own whiffs in the draft over the years. However, in 2019 they drafted Erik McCoy despite having already signed a veteran replacement for Max Unger. It was a clear ‘BPA’ pick. Then this year they selected the brilliant Cesar Ruiz (another center). Maybe it’s overkill but now they have two extremely talented interior linemen and one will simply transition to guard. I can think of worse scenarios.

I don’t want to make a habit of second-guessing draft decisions because it’s easy to do when things don’t go according to plan. However, the Seahawks face a bit of an uncertain future on the offensive line. They’ve moved on from Justin Britt and surely anticipated that possibility a year ago. Ditto Germain Ifedi’s future.

The following players were all drafted after Collier at tackle or center:

Kaleb McGary
Jawaan Taylor
Greg Little
Cody Ford
Elgton Jenkins
Erik McCoy

There were health/injury concerns regarding McGary and Taylor so it’s perhaps understandable why they didn’t bite there. I was never a fan of Little’s and always felt he was a bit overrated. Ford, Jenkins and McCoy however all oozed class and an impressive physical profile. It wasn’t surprising that all three played well as rookies.

Could or should the Seahawks have anticipated the run on defensive lineman? Should they have concluded that if the top D-liner’s and Johnathan Abram were off the board, they should have a Plan B that moved onto other positions such as the O-line?

Should some planning ahead on the offensive line have been a greater consideration in 2019 and 2020 given the overhaul this year, the now long term uncertainty at several positions and the fact they’re not going to find it easy to replace someone like Duane Brown in the future without a first round pick until 2023?

Again, I know I’m speculating about how they approached the 2019 draft. Aren’t these fair questions to ask though, given the state of the reset and the events of the last few days?

There are two other things I want to mention about this draft.

Firstly, the Seahawks put themselves in a bind at defensive end by trading Frank Clark. They almost had to do something to replace him. They created a gaping hole and were always going to draft someone to try and fill it. The lesson to be learned here is if you have one of the most explosive and exciting pass rushers in the NFL (who you were only able to acquire due to off-field issues) — you’re going to struggle to find an adequate replacement in the late first round.

The truth is Seattle drafted Collier and knew, immediately, they had to find players to start instead. They added Ziggy Ansah and then eventually traded for Jadeveon Clowney. Collier’s ankle injury didn’t help his situation. Yet him starting was probably a stretch anyway. He turns 25 in September and already seems to be facing a make-or-break year. Certainly nobody is talking about him this off-season, rightly or wrongly, as a viable option to dramatically improve a bad D-line.

The Seahawks traded away an excellent pass rusher, drafted someone to be part of the replacement solution, and have been trying to find better options ever since.

The other point to raise is Cody Barton’s status. The Seahawks traded up for Barton, just as they did for Metcalf. They gave up a fifth rounder to move up four spots — seemingly to get ahead of Indianapolis who subsequently drafted Bobby Oreke (another linebacker).

It’s not an astonishingly expensive move, admittedly. Yet the Seahawks clearly saw something in Barton and wanted to bring him in presumably as a potential heir-apparent to K.J. Wright. They’d just signed Wright to a two-year extension with an out after one year. They were preparing for the long term and clearly didn’t want to miss out on their preferred player.

Yet just as with Marquise Blair — a year later they used a considerable asset to bring in another player at the same position. They spent their first round pick, #27, on Jordyn Brooks.

If Barton only ends up being a backup player long term, it won’t be the end of the world. He was only the #88 pick in the draft — not a top-50 selection like Blair. If the Seahawks liked Brooks so much, using that pick (even after a trade up) on Barton isn’t going to hold them back.

Yet it’s still not a glowing review of how they feel about Barton (whose most memorable moment as a rookie was being blocked out of a play by Aaron Rodgers).

It’s interesting that of the four players taken in the first three rounds, this is the situation a year later:

L.J. Collier — trying to find better players to start ahead of him
Marquise Blair — traded a haul to replace him
D.K. Metcalf — excellent pick
Cody Barton — spent a first round pick in 2020 to replace him

The plan, the execution, the development of those players apart from Metcalf — it all comes into question. As we wonder why they’ve aggressively traded for Jamal Adams and consider why, arguably, the reset hasn’t gone as well as hoped so far — it all pretty much stems from that week in April in 2019 when they traded Clark then set about their plan for the draft.

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Is something else brewing in Seattle?

July 27th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

‘Snacks’ Harrison remains a free agent

Yesterday the Seahawks cut a number of players, including Branden Jackson and Joey Hunt. Those two moves saved $4.2m. According to Spotrac, the Seahawks now have nearly $20m in available cap space.

This is actually more like $8-12m because the Seahawks still haven’t signed most of their rookies and they have to save millions for injured reserve and a practise squad.

Nevertheless, there’s a bit more room to spend now with several areas needing to be addressed.

So is something on the cards?

The answer seems to be yes, with one caveat.

It was revealed last week that the 2021 cap will not drop below $175m. That would still be a considerable reduction from the $198.2m this year. With coronavirus still at large and no sign of fans being allowed back in stadiums en masse any time soon, the chances are that the $175m figure could become a reality.

Several teams are in bother. Eight are already above the $175m threshold. The Seahawks are in a relatively healthy position. They are $39,203,489 in the black according to OTC if the cap was set at $175m. That doesn’t include Jamal Adams’ $9m though and it’s worth noting that a lot of players in Seattle are on short term contracts.

Although many people have celebrated Seattle’s use of two firsts and a third round pick on Jamal Adams (mainly because of the talent being acquired but also because Seattle’s recent draft history is patchy) — it’s worth remembering that a first round pick is your most valuable asset in terms of acquiring further assets. Fans might not like the constant trading down but it does, at times, provide you with a cost-effective way to fill out a roster.

Seattle will only pick once in the first three rounds next year. And while they’ll have about $30m to spend in free agency, here’s the long list of free agents who will need to be re-signed or replaced in the next off-season:

Shaquill Griffin
Chris Carson
K.J. Wright
Greg Olsen
Bruce Irvin
Quinton Dunbar
Poona Ford (RFA)
Jacob Hollister
Benson Mayowa
Mike Iupati
Cedric Ogbuehi
David Moore
Luke Willson
Geno Smith
Neiko Thorpe
Nick Bellore
Ethan Pocic
Bryan Mone (ERFA)
Phillip Dorsett
Lano Hill

There are others too who currently constitute camp competition for this year, so I haven’t listed them.

That’s a significant portion of the roster. The $30m available will also reduce considerably if they decide to retain the likes of Griffin and Carson. And while the 2020 draft class will be trusted to step into the shoes of some of the departing players, the Seahawks face a bit of a depth dilemma next year if the cap drops to $175m.

They won’t be alone of course. The entire league will be facing a similar struggle. The players might find a much weaker market as a consequence and it could make for one of the weirdest and most unpredictable free agency periods ever. The point is though — the Seahawks might want to carry over some cap space into next year for insurance purposes.

The counter to that is obviously they might also be determined to be ‘all-in’ for 2020 — and the Jamal Adams trade would suggest this is a team aggressively trying to win now with one eye (rather than two) on the future.

The most obvious moves to make to further improve the team are on the defensive line. It’s a safe bet that they’ll sign a defensive tackle at some point. They could probably do with a couple in all honesty. The depth behind Jarran Reed and Poona Ford is particularly weak and runs the risk of undermining the teams investment at linebacker. Whether it’s Snacks Harrison, Brandon Mebane or Timmy Jernigan — the Seahawks need to make at least one signing to bolster their interior.

That seems inevitable.

The other two question marks are clearly pass rush and receiver. The Seahawks still likely don’t have the money available to sign Jadeveon Clowney (especially considering they need to add other players too). The only realistic ways to make it work are for Clowney to feel unusually charitable and take a team-friendly one-year deal worth about $6-7m (unlikely). Or they can sign him to a long term contract with a low year-one cap hit (also unlikely, because the Seahawks like the rest of the league seem to have concerns about his longevity).

The alternative is Everson Griffen although it’s unclear what kind of contract he’s seeking or why he’s seemingly been so impacted by the Clowney stalemate. The fact he hasn’t signed anywhere is surprising and there’s been little info as to why other than he needed to wait for the Clowney situation to play out.

The mutual interest between Griffen and Seattle has been reported and is no surprise given the relationship between player and Pete Carroll. The question will surely come down to cost and whether the Seahawks can make it work.

The ideal situation would be to find a way to add both and go into the 2020 season with the teams best depth on the defensive line since 2013. People are too willing to forget how vital that depth was to the Super Bowl run. The fact is the Seahawks want to rush with four and it’s very difficult for this scheme to operate with a mediocre defensive front.

With regards to signing both — unfortunately that ship probably sailed in March. The much more likely scenario is that Seattle will add a defensive tackle and anything left could be creatively used to add a receiver and another pass rusher.

Getting another wide out is likely given the availability of Josh Gordon and the endless flirting with Antonio Brown.

It also feels increasingly important for the quarterback. Russell Wilson has been more active and outspoken this year. Whether it was the plea to add ‘superstars’ at the Pro Bowl or the public workout with Brown to the more subtle (but actually not so subtle) messaging offered through his media friends or social media.

Wilson is a tactical liker. He only follows 69 accounts on Twitter and none of them are Seahawks media people or writers. Yet he still manages a way to ‘like’ certain tweets (while knowing that people will, ultimately, report that he’s ‘liked’ them). A good example was when he liked my own tweet about Jonathan Taylor’s interest in playing for the Seahawks. This week, he also liked Corbin Smith’s tweet about re-signing Jadeveon Clowney.

Wilson is never going to come out and criticise the franchise but he’s seemingly been a bit more ‘pro-active’, shall we say, in trying to encourage some action. We all know that he’s addicted to winning (see: son’s name). I suspect he felt a bit agitated with the off-season and perhaps a little impatient. We’ll see, with time ticking down to training camp, whether the Seahawks can make a few extra moves to reassure their star player and give the team a much better chance to compete.

It does feel like something is brewing. As noted yesterday, they can only really justify the massive investment in Jamal Adams if they follow it up by finally fixing a D-line that PFF ranked as the worst in the league.

If you missed my ‘Jamal Adams trade’ podcast with Brandan, check it out below:

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How the Seahawks can justify the Jamal Adams trade

July 26th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Before getting into today’s article, if you missed my podcast with Brandan discussing the Jamal Adams trade — check it out here…

The reaction to the deal has been two-fold. There’s a flurry of excitement having acquired one of the NFL’s best defenders. Serious questions also need to be asked about the cost, what it says about the direction of the franchise and whether this is a desperation move to make up for what has been mostly a lousy off-season.

I made a lot of the arguments questioning the deal yesterday, so check out the article if you missed it. Jason Fitzgerald at Overthecap.com also raised some concerns:

I think you can make a case for this being a reasonable use of financial resources as it’s the cheapest way to get a star player if money is the bottom line.

Does that mean I would have done this if I was Seattle? Absolutely not because I can not believe the Jets had any market like this. It is no secret the Jets shopped Adams last year and it is no secret that the highest the bidding went is a 1 and a 3. How do you go from a 1 and a 3 to two 1’s and a pick swap? Especially after the player criticized every single person in the organization in the local newspaper. Not only that but he had a $2.8M roster bonus coming up in a few days (again assuming the Jets are not paying this) which means time was on Seattle’s side.

Seattle has been down this road before with Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham neither of whom lived up to the billing in Seattle and maybe they just can’t help themselves.

It feels a lot like the Seahawks felt they had to do something and Adams was the player who happened to be available. They lost the negotiating battle because they were desperate. They’ve now paid a quarterback, left tackle or pass rusher price for a safety when the position wasn’t even a pressing need.

The move virtually renders the Marquise Blair pick a waste. It was highly unlikely the play of Quandre Diggs, Bradley McDougald and Blair was going to cost the Seahawks a legitimate tilt at a Super Bowl. The issue in Seattle is clear — the D-line, pass rush and what on earth they’ll do at nickel corner. None of those areas were adequately addressed in an off-season that saw the team spend $60m in free agency.

Trading the house for Adams does not solve the problems the Seahawks had.

Many people have argued Seattle hasn’t made best use of its first round picks recently so the compensation doesn’t matter. It’s not an unfair point to make. Yet the broader problem here is what it says about the franchise.

They appear reactionary and a little directionless. Had they completed this trade at the start of free agency in March, it would’ve been a statement of their desire to land Adams. ‘We’ve planned and prepared for this moment, with all of our resources, and this is the player we need’. Instead, the trade has come at great expense days before training camp begins, despite Adams seemingly having been available since the 2019 trade deadline.

Instead of a well thought out plan it smacks of panic. The cost, the timing, the position. It all seems a bit knee-jerk.

None of this is a review of Jamal Adams either. He’s an extremely talented, quality player. Yet to me his addition this late in the process, especially given the cost, just further suggests the Seahawks are making this up as they go along. They had no serious plan to fix the pass rush in free agency. Their draft plan saw them select a linebacker in round one despite already paying $25m for two other linebackers on the roster, having traded up for Cody Barton only a year ago. Now they’ve given up an incredible haul to land a safety.

As Fitzgerald at OTC notes:

Under no circumstance should two 1s be traded for a safety especially an unhappy one.

So how can they justify it? How can they make things right and get this team back on track?

Purely and simply — they have to do something to finally fix the pass rush and defensive line.

You cannot spend two first rounders plus change on a safety and then ask that player to defend the second level behind Rasheem Green and Benson Mayowa. You can’t. For all the talk of the importance of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2013 — they also benefitted from a stacked defensive line.

The current group has more holes than Swiss cheese.

If this really is an attempt to double-down on what worked before and have a quality defense, you can’t make that happen with the current pass rush and D-line. There’s a distinct lack of quality and depth.

Bryan Mone can’t be your primary backup to Jarran Reed and Poona Ford. They need to add someone to replace Al Woods who can legitimately take snaps and be effective. Whether that’s Snacks Harrison, Brandon Mebane or both. They need more at defensive tackle, pronto.

That’s the absolute bare minimum in terms of action. I fear that they’ve made their bed at defensive end. At defensive tackle there’s a numbers shortage. That isn’t the case at end. Mayowa, Green, Collier, Taylor and Robinson with Irvin complimenting is depth. It looks like a problem waiting to happen and the distinct lack of proven ability to create consistent pressure in Seattle’s preferred four-man fronts could be a season-ender. Yet there are numbers there and, unfortunately, they could simply proceed with what they have.

They need more though. We can all see that.

The Jadeveon Clowney ship has probably sailed. The Adams trade actually created cap room for Seattle — about $600-800,000 in extra spending money. Yet they’re still only at about $5-7m when you account for the fact most of the rookies are not signed and they need to save space for injured reserve and the practise squad.

Clowney has surely not held out deep into July and possibly August or September to suddenly take a paltry $5-6m one-year contract. In reality, he’s possibly more likely to sit out the start of the season than do that.

People have touted asking Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett to help create money by turning some of their salaries into bonuses. How much can that create though? Nobody really knows. And if Clowney is intent on landing a deal worth the franchise tag in 2020, they’d need to create millions.

They could, of course, sign him to a longer term deal with a low year-one cap hit. Yet if that was on the table, it’d probably be done by now. The Seahawks, like the rest of the league, appear suspicious of Clowney’s longevity.

The other option is Everson Griffen. It’s unclear what kind of salary he will ask for. Yet this is a player who delivered 35 pressures, 13 knockdowns and 13 hurries last season. He has 74.5 sacks since entering the league. He might be in the latter stages of a fine career but at least he would provide a realistic chance to get after the quarterback in a four-man rush.

Ideally the Seahawks would have landed both months ago, providing a mouth-watering duo and making a serious statement about the need to fix the pass rush. Throw in Darrell Taylor in the draft and this would start to look like the old Bennett/Avril/Clark combo.

They don’t have the money to do that now, having frittered away $60m by giving Bruce Irvin a 32% pay increase, bumping Cedric Ogbuehi’s pay from $895,000 to $2.237m, spending $3.259m on Jacob Hollister despite investing $7m in Greg Olsen then drafting two tight ends, using a first round pick on a position where you’ve already committed $25m to two players, collecting offensive linemen projects and spending $11.796m on David Moore, Branden Jackson, Joey Hunt, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jacob Hollister.

I’ve seen it suggested they could do undo most of this by simply cutting the likes of Moore, Jackson, Hunt and Hollister to create room. This is unrealistic. Hacking away at the depth — including slicing away the backup (or maybe even starting) center or a tight end they committed a second round tender to is just not going to happen.

Neither are they going to cut K.J. Wright. They would’ve saved $7.5m at the start of the off-season and it would cost them $1m to do it now instead. Plus — if he was going to depart it would’ve been at the same time as Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker (days after they’d spent a first rounder on a linebacker). They are not doing it now, to a team legend, limiting his chances of catching on somewhere else.

Jackson could depart to save $2.1m. Cutting Lano Hill and Ethan Pocic creates just shy of another $2m. It’s hardly major surgery though to create the kind of space needed to be bold.

Theoretically they can put themselves in a position to have about $10-13m to spend. That might be enough to get Everson Griffen and a defensive tackle — perhaps even another receiver (Josh Gordon or Antonio Brown).

Something needs to be done though, especially to the pass rush. Otherwise the Adams trade will just be tinsel on an unkempt, sparse Christmas tree.

I’ve criticised this off-season a lot. If they make the moves to fix the problems they have, I’ll be rushing to write a very different article.

Aggressively land the players to fix the D-line and suddenly the entire complexion of the season changes. Suddenly the Seahawks can look like contenders. Suddenly the Adams trade can be shone in a different light.

Otherwise it’ll just seem like a panic move designed to mask what has been a poor off-season.

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Podcast: Reacting to the Jamal Adams trade

July 26th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Brandan and I reflected on the Jamal Adams trade for nearly an hour — check it out below. And if you missed my article discussing the compensation involved and what the deal says about the Seahawks’ current situation, click here.

 

Seahawks trade the house for Jamal Adams

July 25th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks have had a desperate off-season.

They failed to sufficiently address their biggest need, the pass rush. They didn’t deliver ‘superstars’ as requested by their quarterback. They were going into the 2020 season with very little energy or expectation.

Their reaction was to trade for Jamal Adams — a fantastic player with the potential to be a major contributor.

The cost of the trade, however, is absolutely unjustifiable.

The Seahawks have given up their first round picks in 2021 and 2022, a third round pick in 2021 and Bradley McDougald. In return, they receive a fourth round pick in 2022 along with Adams.

Let’s put this deal into perspective.

A year ago the Pittsburgh Steelers traded their 2020 first and fifth round picks plus their sixth rounder in 2021 for Minkah Fitzpatrick, who plays the same position as Adams. That deal looks like an absolute bargain compared to the Adams trade.

In 2018 the Chicago Bears traded their 2019 first and sixth round picks and a 2020 first round pick for Khalil Mack. Yet in return, they received Oakland’s 2020 second rounder plus a conditional pick in the same class.

Again, the Seahawks paid a lot more for Jamal Adams.

The LA Rams traded for Jalen Ramsey during the 2019 season. It cost them a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-rounder and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

For the third time — that is cheaper than Seattle’s deal for Adams.

There is simply no precedent whatsoever for the cost of this trade. Nobody can dispute Adams’ talent. We’ve also talked several times on this blog about the benefit of trading away 2021 picks. The college football season is in flux this year and the 2021 class appears to be top heavy. Dealing your first rounder for a proven veteran who can improve a mediocre defense made sense.

Yet this is the kind of outlay you can really only justify for a quarterback or a truly elite pass rusher or left tackle.

It’s not even comparable to Houston’s deal for Laremy Tunsil. They gave up two first rounders, a second round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport. Yet they still received Kenny Stills and a fourth rounder plus a top-tier left tackle to protect Deshaun Watson.

The Seahawks have invested their next two drafts for a safety — a year removed from using a second round pick on Marquise Blair.

So what does this mean? Is Blair a write-off already? Is Quandre Diggs only a short-term solution?

And what about the pass rush and defensive line? What use is such a massive investment in a safety if you can’t create any pressure? Seattle had one of the worst defensive lines in football in 2019 and their moves so far this year were to replace Jadeveon Clowney with rookies plus Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin.

Will the addition of Adams also prevent them from making any further moves? Is that the end of the very last hope of Clowney returning? Can they even bring in someone — anyone — to replace Al Woods?

The Seahawks came into the off-season with some depth and investment at linebacker and safety and needed to add to the D-line and at cornerback. What they’ve actually done is spend their first round pick on a linebacker (despite spending $25m on Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright this year, having traded up for Cody Barton a year ago) and now they’ve spent two first round picks on Jamal Adams having only just traded for Quandre Diggs and drafting Marquise Blair.

It doesn’t make sense.

It feels like a panic move in reaction to what has been a poor off-season. The astronomical price lends weight to that suggestion.

And while Jamal Adams is an excellent addition who can be a leader and help set the tone on defense — he’s not an Earl Thomas-style free safety. He ran a 4.56 at the combine. He’s a strong safety. When’s the last time a strong safety cost two first round picks plus extras?

Meanwhile the pass rush remains a major issue.

People will be excited about the move and should be allowed to be excited about it. I’m not here to ruin your day. Yet this, to me, is simply further evidence of a franchise that has lost its way during this reset.

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Colin Cowherd goes to bat for Russell Wilson again

July 23rd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Russell Wilson and Colin Cowherd are close

He is saving this franchise

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article noting how Colin Cowherd was more or less revealing how Russell Wilson feels about the current off-season.

Wilson and Cowherd are close. A lot of what Cowherd was saying went beyond the usual media insight you’d expect on the Seahawks. It felt a lot more intimate. A lot more real. He spoke to how Wilson felt. He speculated that he might be looking at a player like Patrick Mahomes with envy. Mahomes is the focal point of Kansas City’s offensive philosophy, he’s consulted on who they draft and the Chiefs have been as aggressive as anyone to build around their quarterback.

In Seattle? The difference couldn’t be more stark.

PFF this week ranked the Seahawks’ defensive line dead last in the entire league. It’s incredible really. They came into the off-season with the #1 priority of fixing their pass rush. To be here, on July 23rd, with potentially the worst D-line in the whole NFL is a damning indictment on Seattle was able to achieve.

It’s also exactly what the Seahawks deserve. Going into week one with a starting line of Rasheem Green, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Benson Mayowa — that simply isn’t good enough. That’s a failure. And while they might hope that L.J. Collier can make a giant leap forward (a mere ‘step forward’ won’t be enough) or that Bruce Irvin can find a niche to create some pressures and sacks — collectively it’s staggering that the Seahawks have so done so poorly in trying to solve their biggest off-season task.

They still haven’t even replaced Al Woods.

And after having the very public workout with Antonio Brown and it not amounting to anything, not to mention Jake Heaps (who works closely with Russell Wilson) speculating interest in Jamal Adams — we now have Cowherd returning with another damning analysis of the Seahawks:

“They don’t draft particularly well at the top of the draft. They can’t build offensive and defensive lines. A great owner passed away, the current ownership group doesn’t necessarily want it. Who’s got support and who doesn’t?”

You can see all of Cowherd’s take in the video below:

Hasn’t he got a point?

Defensively it might be a bit harsh. The trade for Chris Clemons was inspired — as was the following additions of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin and Frank Clark. Yet recently they’ve seen all depart and their attempts to build a new D-line have been, to put it bluntly, a bit of a mess.

The O-line issue is fair comment. They’ve pumped resources into the line over the years but have never been able to create the kind of unit you could realistically call a strength. Wilson has Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf but he clearly feels like he needs more — thus the Brown workout and the recent renewed talk about Josh Gordon.

The Seahawks are being propped up by their quarterback. They’ve had three resetting off-seasons and they aren’t making enough progress. That’s why I asked this week whether they’re treading water. They aren’t adding enough quality players and they’re not developing enough draft picks into contributors — let alone top starters.

I don’t think this noise is going to go away and I think it’s safe to say Wilson is going to be a big reason why. He is a highly ambitious individual and he will feel his chances of delivering on his talent are being jeopardised by a team that isn’t doing a good enough job surrounding him with complimentary pieces.

Cowherd is saying what he’s saying for a reason. Wilson’s not happy with this off-season. He asked for superstars. He wants to see the Seahawks make the moves to give him an opportunity to win more rings but instead they can’t even bring back Jadeveon Clowney — their one truly dynamic D-liner from 2019.

ESPN this week ranked the Seahawks as having the third worst off-season in the league.

The star player wants to see more urgency and he’s right to feel that way. We’ll see if he’s able to trigger some action.

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Notes on Pittsburgh duo Jaylen Twyman & Paris Ford

July 22nd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Jaylen Twyman is the kind of player Seattle needs

Pittsburgh’s defense from 2019 was a lot of fun to watch, thanks to two players in particular who stand out as possible targets in the 2021 class.

There’s a lot to like about defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman and safety Paris Ford.

Twyman is listed at 6-2 and 290lbs so he’s relatively undersized to play inside. He also doesn’t really have much scope to get above 300lbs — so you’re going to have to compensate size for impact. Frankly, this is the type of player Seattle has needed for some time.

We’ll need to see how he matches up in terms of arm length. With the way he plays, that’ll be important. His hand use is very good and is the most attractive aspect of his game alongside his athleticism. Being able to keep his frame clean and disengage at the next level will be crucial to his potential success, so that’s something to keep in mind when measurements are taken next year.

However, he had 10.5 sacks in 2019 and 12 TFL’s. There aren’t many defensive tackles putting up those numbers in college.

As mentioned, the thing that really stands out is his ability to stay clean and work openings. Twyman has a really good swim move and executes the push/pull to a high standard too. He keeps his feet moving and doesn’t stop working to the quarterback. That’s not always a good thing because sometimes you want to see a defensive tackle just plant their feet, bully and force a blocker backwards into the pocket. You can easily lose balance if you’re too active and get washed out. Twyman’s balance is excellent though and rather than get walked out of contention he forces blockers onto the backfoot with extended arms, quickness and the threat to slip a gap at any moment.

It’s a connected process. His hand-use bats off attempted blocks and combines with the movement. He’s difficult to pin down — you can’t engage and lock out as a blocker and you’re forced to attack on the move. He’s nearly always clean and then he can play with patience — waiting for the moment to rip/swim.

When he connects he’s very good at jolting with a strong punch or tossing blockers out of the way. He looks quick and agile and has just enough sand in his pants to handle duties inside.

There’s one rush against Delaware where the center gets into his shoulder pads and creates initial contain. Twyman simply bides his time and shrugs him off with a swim before exploding into the backfield for a sack. He’s really slippery. You’re not going to stone him too often at the line. He’s going to wriggle free.

On another play against North Carolina he stunted to the edge and ran a really extended loop all the way to the quarterback — showing off his quickness and agility.

As we know in Seattle, you need gap-discipline to play defensive tackle in this scheme. They’ve never had a dynamic sack artist working inside because they don’t often play in attack mode. Priority number one is handle your gaps. They’re happy for their defensive tackles to push the pocket rather than necessarily shoot and play in attack-mode. I need to see Twyman this year to understand whether he’s going to be someone they see as a fit — or whether he’d be more suited to a situational rush role (which would obviously impact his stock).

Even so — it’s always exciting to see a defensive tackle who can create problems and collect sacks. A dynamic interior rusher is one of the more exciting aspects of the game. Seattle hasn’t had one for far too long.

If Twyman produced fireworks as a pass rusher, Paris Ford delivers energy and intensity at safety.

The entire defense was lifted by his play. They were hollering at his hits and the way he celebrates every successful moment. Ford has the attitude, the edge and the desire to enjoy himself that every team needs in their defensive backfield.

Again he’s not the biggest player (6-0, 190lbs) but he plays way beyond his size. He will deliver an absolute sledgehammer hit given the opportunity. You hear cracks when he tackles — the unmistakable sound of a helmet being smacked on a jarring hit follows Ford around the field. Don’t come into his area or he’ll dump you on your arse. He’s a bruising, intense hitter that helps set a tone.

In other words — he’s Seattle’s kind of safety. There’s not a lot of consistency in terms of the physical profile they’ve targeted at the position. However, they love guys who play like this. Hitting is an aspect they treasure.

Ford has decent range in run support. He identifies stretch runs and can sprint to the ball carrier to create TFL situations. Virginia Tech ran the quarterback on one play against Pittsburgh last year and he read it all the way, sprinted up to the LOS and just hammered the QB. It suggested evidence of an ability to understand the play, trust his eyes and finish. The ability to handle the perimeter stuff is key for a team playing against the NFC West teams.

He reads the middle of the field well and is opportunistic. He has a knack for making plays — sticking in coverage, collecting a deflected pass for an interception, making an open-field tackle. He’s much more tenacious than you’d expect for his size.

He’s only had one year as a starter so it’ll be interesting to see how he develops. He had three interceptions in 2019. Can he add to that tally, show off great range in the open-field and convince teams he’s a complete safety prospect? Even if he can’t — his play around the LOS and the second level is still highly impressive.

It’ll also be interesting to see how he tests. Ford was a four-star recruit and the likes of Auburn, Florida and Michigan all showed interest before he opted to stay close to home. Twyman was also a four-star prospect coveted by Penn State, Florida and South Carolina. So it’s not like both are overachieving types — they have a pedigree.

Twyman and Ford are highly talented and need to be on our radar for the future — whether there’s a college football season in 2020 or not.

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Are the Seahawks treading water?

July 18th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks still have holes, even with training camp coming up

It’s July 18th. In ten days time, training camp is scheduled to begin. There’s some doubt whether that’ll actually be the case, as the NFL and the NFLPA discuss a safe return. Reportedly, however, the NFL are wedded to their plan.

For those minded to push back against criticism of Seattle’s off-season, the case for the defense has been to suggest ‘they’re far from finished’. That’s a term used by both the media and the fans. Yet actually nothing has happened since the days after the draft when Carlos Hyde and Geno Smith were brought in.

The Seahawks still haven’t signed a replacement for Al Woods. There’s been no conclusion to the Jadeveon Clowney saga. Everson Griffen and several other familiar names also remain unsigned.

Russell Wilson has been working out with Antonio Brown. There have been rumours about Jamal Adams but I think it’s fair to suggest that Seattle’s interest is more due diligence than an aggressive courting.

At the moment the Seahawks haven’t signed many of their draft picks. They’re still operating with about $5-6m in actual cap space. There’s room for a move — maybe even two with a couple of choice cuts. Anything more will require manoeuvering.

If the Seahawks are going to do anything else, when’s it going to happen? If camp starts in ten days, is that a deadline of sorts to work towards? Are they waiting, perhaps like the rest of the league, to see what emerges from the talks with the NFLPA?

Either way, surely this year more than any other it’ll be necessary to have your players with you at the start of camp? You’re going to be far more limited in what you can do. There are going to be protocols to learn and adjust to.

Every day is going to be important.

Again, there’s not a great deal they can do.

Presumably they’ll want another body at defensive tackle even if it’s just for depth.

Other than that? It’s hard to imagine what possible deal the Seahawks and Clowney could work out to make a return remotely possible. Is he really going to hold out for this long simply to accept a $7m contract? Maybe, if it’s his best offer. I’m not sure from his perspective he’ll welcome a contract like that rather than simply sit out even longer. Maybe even into the season.

Antonio Brown or Josh Gordon could be added, as long as the financial package is cheap. They’d need to be cheap too.

The reality of the situation is that, as has been the case for some time, the Seahawks are pretty much done in terms of roster building for this year. They’ve spent their $60m, used their picks and what they have is, pretty much, going to be what they go with in 2020.

It is fair to question what they’ve done. This hasn’t felt like a ‘Championship off-season’. At least not in terms of adding players.

It’s possible, given everything that has happened in the world, that Pete Carroll’s enthusiasm for the way they’ve handled the lockdown of facilities is warranted. Some teams, especially those with inexperienced or new staff members, might struggle. Having established players who know what they’re doing in the scheme is a bonus.

They also have Russell Wilson. A quarterback of his caliber will make the Seahawks a good bet for the playoffs and a winning record.

Any further optimism feels like a stretch though. The enormous question marks about both the pass rush and defensive line in general, the changes to the O-line, the ways they’ve spent $60m, the use of $25m on two linebackers while simultaneously using their top draft pick on another linebacker and the overall lack of obvious improvement. All of this needs to be challenged.

If nothing else it was critical they fixed the pass rush this off-season and what they’ve done looks like a failure. Subtracting Jadeveon Clowney and relying on Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin is not in any way, shape or form an adequate addressing of the problem. It underpins what has been a fairly mundane few months, with little in the way of excitement.

Which is why, ultimately, you currently have the quarterback campaigning for Antonio Brown while his buddy on FS1 happily reveals what is probably a degree of quarterback dissatisfaction with the off-season — especially when he looks at several other rival teams and the way they’ve progressed.

As a franchise are they treading water? It’s six years since the last Super Bowl run and since then the 49ers and Rams have both won the NFC and the Cardinals have competed in the Championship game. Early playoff exits have stacked up and that was easier to accept as one era ended and a reset began.

Now the Seahawks are three off-seasons into their reset. The energy and vibrancy of 2018 is giving way to doubt. Unlike in previous years, the bold and adventurous Seahawks have become fairly conservative in the way they do business.

Everyone expects a competitive team. I’m not sure anyone expects to win the NFC West — something they’ve only done once in the last five years. That in turn means a long route through the playoffs and the increasing chances of another familiar playoff exit in the Wildcard or Divisional round.

The Carroll and Schneider era has always been very good at allowing you to dream. They’d make moves that highlighted an aggressive pursuit of Championships. Not all of their moves worked but at least you knew they were going for it. You could never accuse them of being complacent.

This off-season has been different. It’s been underwhelming. An expression to sum it up would be ‘meh’. Many held out hope that, in time, there would be some further moves to bring everything together. The key moves would come later in the summer. Well, the countdown is on now and the available money is limited.

It begs the question — how are they going to get back into serious contention? They’ve struggled to address a pass rush issue for two off-seasons now. Their drafts have been a mixed bag with more bad than good. There are question marks about the O-line again. Are they supporting Wilson enough — both with weapons, protection and a competent defense?

Currently a neutral observer will tune in to gaze at the brilliance of the quarterback in 2020. Nobody’s throwing down $20 on them winning the Super Bowl though. How are they going to change that?

It’s hard to imagine what they can realistically do between now and the season starting to generate some excitement and more importantly — generate reasons to think they can do more than make up the numbers if they make the post season.

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