Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Seahawks sign Chance Warmack

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

The 2020 draft has three main strengths.

There’s real quality and depth at receiver. There are a lot of good interior offensive linemen and several offensive tackles will go in the first round. It’s also quietly impressive at running back.

On the other hand, the defensive line options are much weaker than a year ago and it’s really hard to find Seattle-style cornerbacks.

So of course, nearly a week into free agency, the Seahawks have signed four offensive linemen and the only addition to the unit of highest priority (pass rush) is Bruce Irvin (who turns 33 this year).

It’s important to remember that none of the offensive line additions carry any long term commitment. They can take a look at the group, see how they potentially fit into the roster for this year and make a call.

They could also be replaced by any rookies they add next month.

Chance Warmack will probably be on a veteran minimum contract after a year long sabbatical. Let’s assume that. Even though few would’ve predicted Cedric Ogbuehi’s backup role in Jacksonville would warrant a jump in salary from $750,000 to $3.3m.

The Seahawks have depth across the board now at every O-line position. Whether the depth is any good remains to be seen. None of these new additions are what you’d call proven quality. They also have younger players on the roster who need to show they belong too.

Warmack is the seventh player from the top-15 of the 2013 draft class to be signed by Seattle. It’s also one of the worst draft classes in recent history. There’ll be very little pressure on Warmack to stick but he won’t have to go too far to top the contributions of Luke Joeckel, Dion Jordan, Ziggy Ansah and Barkevious Mingo.

His addition is a perfectly plausible shot to nothing. Warmack at Alabama was seen as a sure thing. He was physical and dominating. People expected he would be what Quenton Nelson has been — that’s why he was the #10 overall pick as an interior lineman. He has good length (near 35 inch arms) and ideal size. He’s a good fit physically for Mike Solari and the Seattle offense.

This also continues their more recent philosophy of signing veteran offensive linemen at a certain cost to fill holes while also drafting to develop. For the last two years they’ve plugged in guys like D.J. Fluker, J.R. Sweezy and Mike Iupati. They’ve then used picks on players like Phil Haynes and Jamarco Jones on day three. With Germain Ifedi, George Fant and Iupati moving on — they had a few holes to fill this year. So they’ve simply continued with their plan. They’ve added veterans. It’s plausible they will now also draft to develop behind them.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this signing. If it works out — it’s a bargain. If not — he gets cut. Most of the moves they’re making on the O-line are unlikely to have a significant say in whether Seattle challenges for a Super Bowl or not in 2020.

What is going to have an impact on their ability to contend is fixing the pass rush and injecting much needed talent into the defense. So far — they’ve swapped Ziggy Ansah for Bruce Irvin, watched Quinton Jefferson move to Buffalo and that’s it.

They’re still trying to smoke out Jadeveon Clowney, who may or may not re-sign. If he moves on, they’ll lose the one X-factor player on a terrible D-line from 2019. Many of the alternative options have signed with other teams.

It’s time to start signing some pass rushers. The defense needs major work in general. It’ll be strange to see the Seahawks forced to tap into the D-line draft looking for impact when it’s one of the weaker D-line classes in recent memory. Particularly for edge rushers.

If they land Clowney for a much cheaper price than expected and are then able to surround him with others (because don’t forget — keeping Clowney merely maintains the status quo of what was a bad line in 2019) — then we’ll all look back on this period and laugh at our impatience.

The alternative — losing Clowney over a few million, limiting the alternative options or additional options and/or not doing enough to sufficiently improve a bad defense — could mean we’re sat here in a year talking about the same things all over again. Missed opportunities, wondering are they going to waste Russell Wilson’s best years, saying that they need to be pro-active in free agency. That can’t happen.

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Logan Wilson is fun to watch

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

We’ve talked about the types of linebacker Seattle likes. Agility testing appears to be key, or an overall superb physical profile.

I don’t think it’s very likely that the Seahawks will draft a linebacker this year. None of the players at the combine tested superbly in the short shuttle. They haven’t cut K.J. Wright and Pete Carroll has expressed interest in bringing back Mychal Kendricks. They drafted two players who fit their preferred profile a year ago (Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven).

They have much more pressing needs. At the moment the pass rush has not been addressed. They’ve signed three players for the offensive line but all carry question marks. They’ve not added another weapon for Russell Wilson either.

If they’re keeping Wright, they have to prioritise other areas.

I still want to talk about Wyoming’s Logan Wilson today though.

He might not fit Seattle’s ideal profile but he still tested well. His short shuttle of 4.27 is good at 241lbs and he ran a 7.07 three cone. He managed a 32 inch vertical and ran a 4.63 forty.

Wilson looks even better on tape. He has loose hips and gets around the field with ease. When he gets into attack mode he’s direct, quick and flies to the ball carrier. He’s adept at working through traffic and he’s very comfortable stringing plays out to the sideline. He’s in control even when he’s moving at full speed. He never looks unsure of himself, there’s no indecisive movement or a false step.

This is particularly important for teams like Seattle who struggle to defend the perimeter run. We’ve talked about it a lot — but watching Cody Barton get blocked by Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs was difficult to accept. You want some violence from your linebackers. Rodgers should’ve been dumped on his backside. Wilson has strong hands at the point of contact to stay clean, he’s extremely direct to the football and if he needs to get off a block he does it in many different ways.

Simply put, he isn’t getting blocked by Aaron Rodgers.

When I watched him on tape I was surprised his short shuttle wasn’t in the elite 4.00-4.10 range. That’s how fluid and balanced he is. There’s very little stiffness there. He’s not on the same level but he’s similar to Leighton Vander Esch. They share the same ability to play with an aggressive, controlled demeanour and get around the field better than you’d expect.

He’s also no slouch against the run. He’ll play up at the LOS and help set an edge. As a blitzer he’s extremely useful and he can slip through gaps to make plays in the backfield. His tackling is extremely consistent.

Dropping in coverage is to be determined with Wilson. He wasn’t asked to do much more than spy the QB and try to read his eyes. Whether he’d be a liability defending the seam or trying to match-up with tight ends like the modern NFL demands — that’s a question mark. But it is with any linebacker at this level not named Isaiah Simmons. He did have 10 career interceptions at Wyoming which is impressive production.

The intangibles are also really high with Wilson. He played 3618 snaps in a four-year career and was a team captain for three years. He’s the kind of character this team has looked for in the last couple of drafts.

For me he’s a second round type prospect. If he lasted into the third it’d be tremendous value.

Stockpiling linebackers when there are so many other needs would be an odd tactic. I do think the Seahawks need one of three things to happen though. They either need Barton to take a big step forward in year two to warrant any long term faith — or they need to add some raw speed at the position or someone who just won’t take any s**t. Too many teams stretch out Seattle’s front seven and exploit the perimeter. That can’t keep happening. The Rams have a field day and the Niners have found ways to exploit the defensive front too. They need players who are angry, quick, violent and can get off blocks.

Wilson can do that. Whether he’s agile enough to turn their head — I can’t say. On tape, however, he looks like he’s up to the task.

The linebacker position does carry some options this year. Kenneth Murray and Patrick Queen are probably going to go too early to be considered. Willie Gay Jr is a superb physical talent with great playmaking qualities. His coverage ability and knack for forcing big plays should be highly attractive to teams even if there are some character question marks. Malik Harrison will be coveted too thanks to his excellent 6.83 three cone combined with an explosive 36 inch vertical but he’s a short area player. He does his best work at or just beyond the LOS. He’s good at reading screens and he packs a punch as a hitter. I think he can be targeted on the perimeter though and could be a liability in more expansive coverage situations. Even though he ran quite well at the combine — there are some limitations sideline-to-sideline.

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Further thoughts on the confusing Seahawks off-season

Friday, March 20th, 2020

This blog is not going to turn into the daily moan.

I have a piece lined up discussing Tua Tagovailoa’s status and I’ll run through the Bob McGinn draft notes.

However, right now there’s only one topic in town. Seattle’s off-season. So I hope you’ll indulge me talking about this again today.

Rather than the pro-active, problem-solving off-season many of us expected — the inactivity to date is increasingly creating confusion and frustration.

The latest update today is there’s no progress with Jadeveon Clowney. However, he’s now reportedly weighing up one year deals because his market is cold.

Meanwhile Everson Griffen has told Minnesota he’s moving on. According to Chris Tomasson though:

“A lot will depend on where Clowney signs and then Griffen could end up being an option B for a team that doesn’t get Clowney.”

How has it come to this?

At the combine Pete Carroll and John Schneider spoke of the critical need to fix the pass rush. Carroll called Clowney a ‘huge priority’. He talked about getting a premier pass rusher to play the LEO and a dynamic five technique.

Why hasn’t that been the priority then?

They’ve spent money retaining Jarran Reed, adding three offensive linemen and signing up a collection of mediocre RFA and ERFA’s. They’ve brought back Luke Willson and tendered Jacob Hollister to stack up the tight end position.

Why are they waiting it out with Clowney and/or Griffen instead of Brandon Shell and the currently unsigned Germain Ifedi? Why not roll the dice on Cordy Glenn being available down the line instead? Why zap resources on three O-liners who will need to compete for a job when the pass rush remains untouched barring Bruce Irvin?

For some reason, Ed Dickson remains on the roster. As does Tedric Thompson.

What are they waiting for? Are they waiting to see if Clowney fancies it? If not, just sign some cheap pass rushers and Ed and Ted can stick around for another camp?

I’ll repeat — why are Ed Dickson and Tedric Thompson still on the roster?

It just doesn’t make any sense.

Get your pass rush sorted. Everything else can wait. Go and get your five technique and your LEO. Solve the big need. Then let all the other things come to you.

So what if you need to pay Clowney a bit more to get it done? The Eagles paid Darius Slay and Javon Hargrave a bit more. The Dolphins paid Byron Jones a bit more. The Falcons paid Dante Fowler a bit more. It’s free agency. You generally end up having to pay a bit more than you want.

At the Pro-Bowl Russell Wilson asked for superstars.

He was right to. We can all see this was an off-season that required action.

So why hasn’t it happened yet?

Many are willing to call for patience. And that’s fine. But being patient is risky. What happens if you wait out Clowney and he goes somewhere else? How much longer is Griffen going to be available as a backup option? And if you don’t get either — then what? Talk to the Jaguars or Ravens about Yannick Ngakoue or Matt Judon with very little leverage? What if they decide they want a massive return via trade?

Names like Benson Mayowa are being thrown around. Really?

Being active in week one of free agency doesn’t have to be reckless. Have the Ravens been reckless in acquiring Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers? Or the Bills in trading for Stefon Diggs? Or the Cardinals stealing DeAndre Hopkins? Or the Eagles in signing Hargrave and trading for Slay?

The Seahawks, by their own admission, needed to fix the pass rush.

And now they’re in a stalemate with a player merely to maintain the status quo. Keeping Clowney simply means the same line as 2019 that finished in the bottom five for pressures, sacks, hurries, was a league leader for missed tackles and struggled to defend the perimeter run. The only difference is Bruce Irvin has replaced Quinton Jefferson.

Are they going to rely on a weak D-line draft class to try and rescue the 2020 season from being another first or second round playoff exit before the same old talk of this ‘feeling like 2012’ while promising to fix the glaring issues?

The retention of Dickson and Thompson, the collecting of tight ends, preferring to wait out the pass rushers and instead quickly signing three offensive linemen who (at best) are unknown quantities.

And the only pass rush move is Bruce Irvin.

I’ve spent 24 hours trying to work this out and I just don’t get it.

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It’s time for the Seahawks to solve their pass rush

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

This is still no time to panic. As Sea Mode noted in a comment in yesterday’s piece, the Seahawks still have plenty of cap flexibility. They can get done what they need to get done.

Recently I’ve argued the Seahawks shouldn’t be judged until we know what moves they’ve actually made. Because they will do something to fix the pass rush. Then, and only then, are we in a proper position to analyse.

Now having got all of that out of the way — let’s get to the point.

It’s time for the Seahawks to start making some moves.

We’re four days into free agency. This was a free agency period that required action.

The Seahawks are good enough to make the playoffs consistently thanks to the quarterback. They’re not good enough to go much further than the wild card or the divisional round. That has shown to be true in the last two years.

They need an injection of talent.

The patient building of the previous two off-seasons was understandable. They had barely any draft picks and the cap room was limited as they cut veterans and tried to freshen up the culture and regain their identity.

After two years of re-setting — now was the time. They had picks and money to spend. They have a quarterback who turns 32 in November and is playing the best football of his career. You have some pieces but not enough.

In particular the pass rush and defense in general is holding the team back. It’s not good enough. They ranked among the worst teams for sacks, pressures and hurries. They miss too many tackles and the run defense is poor — especially at the perimeter.

That needed fixing this off-season.

They needed to channel their 2013 form. The trade for Percy Harvin followed by deals with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. A statement of intent. Genuine quality added.

It would’ve been unrealistic to expect that level of success (although the Harvin trade was an expensive bust). But an attempt to try and replicate it? That’s not unreasonable.

People regularly mention how patient the Seahawks are at the start of free agency. Not in 2013. Not in 2015 when they traded for Jimmy Graham. Not in 2011 when they needed to give the rebuild a shot in the arm and signed Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery and Tarvaris Jackson while also re-signing Brandon Mebane.

So far the Seahawks have been relatively inactive. They’ve signed three offensive linemen to replace, presumably, Mike Iupati, George Fant and Germain Ifedi. It remains to be seen if B.J. Finney, Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell are capable of improving or even maintaining the O-line performance from 2019.

They’ve also re-signed Jarran Reed and added Irvin, who turns 33 in November.

Compare this to some of the other teams in the NFL:

— The Ravens traded for Calais Campbell for a fifth round pick then signed Michael Brockers

— The Cardinals aggressively moved to add DeAndre Hopkins for a bargain price

— The Colts, needing D-line reinforcements, stepped up and traded for DeForest Buckner then paid him a handsome new contract

— The Bills supported their quarterback by trading for Stefon Diggs

— The Eagles have signed Javon Hargrave and traded for Darius Slay

— The Falcons actively created cap room to sign Dante Fowler

— The Broncos traded for Jurell Casey

— The 49ers solved a problem by re-signing Arik Armstead and acquiring a top-15 pick for a player (Buckner) they felt they couldn’t retain

There’s also been a lot of reckless, unwise spending too. Nobody should hope for the Seahawks to start doing that. Yet some of the teams above have been pro-active, found value and solved problems.

What have the Seahawks done? Hedge certain positions and tried to fill holes on the O-line with players who physically ‘fit’ but don’t have a proven track record.

It could work out well in the end. They might get their guys at an affordable price. Is it fair to start wondering though — is a bit of bargain hunting adequate? The options are getting lighter now. For the sake of saving enough money to sign Brandon Shell or keep together a fairly mediocre core of restricted free agents, wouldn’t they just be better off going after the guys they want?

People often say you don’t win the Super Bowl by winning free agency. Yet a year ago the Niners spent big money on Kwon Alexander then traded for Dee Ford. The Chiefs traded for and paid Frank Clark. Green Bay reached the NFC Championship game after spending money on two new pass rushers.

It doesn’t guarantee success but a pro-active free agency for a good team can sure help.

Jadeveon Clowney seems to be stuck in no man’s land — wanting a big contract that nobody is prepared to offer yet seemingly unwilling to accept whatever it is Seattle’s presenting. Likewise, the Seahawks apparently aren’t sweetening the deal to get it over the line.

Mike Garafolo says the Seahawks are speaking to a number of other edge rushers just in case Clowney moves on. Who exactly? Everson Griffen is out there. Is he going to setup the oldest pass rushing duo in the league with Irvin? Garafolo also says nothing is happening regarding a Yannick Ngakoue trade — presumably because the asking price is too high. I can’t get excited about the prospect of Matt Judon — a former fifth round pick coming from a scheme that generally does a great job manufacturing pressure. As he’s been tagged, he’d also cost a major salary too — unless you’re prepared to add him as a one year rental on the tag.

It’ll be a positive if Clowney is retained. The status quo from last year isn’t enough though and the options in the draft are severely limited. It’s at least somewhat positive that they have the flexibility to create more cap space — having spent a large chunk on a mediocre group of restricted players.

The Seahawks can’t be in the same place in 12 months time — on the periphery compared to the real contenders and needing a big off-season.

There’s still time to get things sorted. After all, the Chiefs didn’t trade for Clark until right before the draft.

I’m not sure this team has the luxury to be able to wait this out to that extent though. The 2018 Chiefs were better than the 2019 Seahawks. Seattle can’t afford to miss out.

I can only sit here and say ‘patience’ to you for so long. In part I hope by posting this it provokes some kind of reverse psychology. Eventually there needs to be some action. If Clowney wants $20m and the Seahawks are offering about $18m — was it really worth signing Irvin or Oguehi? Why not just get it done?

Now’s the time. Otherwise they’re going to go into the draft handcuffed to a massive, glaring need in the worst D-line draft for years.

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Wednesday notes: Bruce returns & Clowney hangs on

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

The latest on Jadeveon Clowney

If you ever wondered about the impact of one tweet, look no further than this by Mike Garofolo. After a week of the local media saying it was becoming increasingly unlikely Clowney would remain in Seattle and then reacting to every big free agent signing with an enormous ‘ot-ow’ — suddenly the penny dropped.

His market is cold.

This is why it’s always best to let a situation play out. For all the speculation about interest from the Giants and others and for all the talk of re-setting the market, mega-deals and the impact of contracts elsewhere — nobody is biting.

It’s so bad even his agent is seemingly contacting Ian Rapoport to tell him to mention on the TV that he’s fully healthy and working out in Houston.

Clowney will now be reflecting on the situation and will probably do one of two things. Either he’ll wait this out and bet on himself whenever players are permitted to visit teams and conduct a medical. This isn’t necessarily going to make any difference because most teams have spent a lot of their available cap room. He reportedly wants $20m. It’s pretty clear that kind of money isn’t there.

Or, on the other hand, he’ll take Seattle’s offer.

The Rapoport tweet suggests he’s still holding out hope that someone will pony up.

From the Seahawks perspective, you wonder if they’ll try and move the needle with a ‘final offer’ to get this done. A marginal sweetening.

Either way they could do with sealing this. As things stand Seattle’s pass rush remains inadequate. Even retaining Clowney will only preserve the 2019 status quo. It’s time to start making some significant moves, beginning with Clowney.

Bruce Irvin returns

This will be very popular among fans. Bruce is incredibly likeable. There’s always been a connection between the fanbase and the player — even though he’s now spent more time away from Seattle than the four years he had to start his pro career. He had 8.5 sacks last season — a career high.

He also turns 33 this year.

As part of a rotation, this is a perfectly good addition. The problem is — the rotational cog has signed before the key components. Instead of this being the cherry on the top — the cake hasn’t even come out of the oven.

The difference between Seattle’s bottom-five pass rush last year and a big improvement in 2020 is not Bruce (especially when the top performer on a bad D-line is still yet to re-sign). There needs to be some activity now.

It’s still not time to panic

Last week I posted a handful of predictions, including a guess at Seattle’s top-six pass rush targets.

Even though players have been snapped up elsewhere — three still remain:

Jadeveon Clowney
Yannick Ngakoue
Everson Griffen

Add two of the three and things will look a lot brighter. They’re also somewhat likely to spend another high pick on a pass rusher (one of the top-three seems realistic).

Things would then start to take shape.

We’re also still seeing surprise trades around the league. Today it was Jurrell Casey to Denver and Nick Foles to Chicago. Who knows what else might be around the corner?

There’s something to remember on Ngakoue. Tony Pauline reported the Seahawks wanted to trade for him. Here’s some other things Pauline touted weeks in advance of free agency:

— Dante Fowler would go to Atlanta
— Jarran Reed was a priority for Seattle
— Phillip Rivers will sign with the Colts
— The Jets liked George Fant and would go for him if they missed out on Conklin

Pauline is the quintessential league insider. Him linking Ngakoue to Seattle is very much worth paying attention to now.

The Seahawks can still be active, aggressive and accomplish their goals. I sense their main targets were the three names above and they’re all still available.

Seattle add two offensive tackles

According to Adam Schefter, the Seahawks have signed Brandon Shell to a two-year deal worth $11m. He was previously with the Jets after being drafted in the fifth round.

He’s their type of right tackle — 6-5, 324lbs and nearly 35 inch arms with explosive traits (30.5 inch vertical, 9-4 broad). He’s a 94.3 in weighted TEF.

They’ve also reportedly added former Bengals first round pick Cedric Ogbuehi. He spent last year in Jacksonville. He’ll cost $3.3m. He’s also well sized at 6-5, 306lbs and with near 36 inch arms.

There are two things to consider here:

1. As we’ve often said, the Seahawks have changed things up recently and preferred experienced linemen. They’ve then added players in the middle or later rounds of the draft to develop. They’ve added B.J. Finney and now Shell and Ogbuehi in the last 24 hours to fill two holes. It seems like this approach is continuing.

2. If they’re losing Germain Ifedi and George Fant, they needed to add veteran replacements. This could still be nothing more than a double draft hedge — albeit a slightly more costly one than anticipated. I’ll say this though — they’re hedging everywhere. The one glaring weakness, however, is the D-line. And it could be much more of a draft focus than we first thought. There’s also very likely to be a big first round rush on the offensive tackle position.

Tedric Thompson on the trading block

Reportedly he’s been given permission to seek a move. This seems like a very public last shot at trying to generate some interest before he’s cut.

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Chill out and read a mid-free agency mock draft

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Hakeem Adeniji was superb at the Senior Bowl

I’m doing this mock draft for two reasons:

1. The Seahawks haven’t done anything today (yet)

2. To act as a distraction

You might ask, ‘but Rob — a distraction to what‘?

The freaking out that is on the brink of happening.

I can sense it bubbling. It’s not there yet — but it’s close.

Let’s just take a step back for a minute here. Who’s off the board?

I can understand disappointment about Calais Campbell because that was a cheap value trade. Increasingly it seems like the Jaguars worked with Baltimore to send him to his preferred destination.

Apart from that?

I know some fans like Robert Quinn but let’s not forget that two teams quit on him recently due to the precarious nature of his health. The Cowboys, despite saying they were keen to retain him, didn’t go anywhere near the big contract Chicago offered.

Vic Beasley has gone to Tennessee for $9.5m. Arik Armstead stays in San Francisco.

That’s about it.

Jadeveon Clowney, Dante Fowler and Everson Griffen remain available. Nobody has traded for Yannick Ngakoue. Who knows who else might be available via trade?

Twitter might be counting down every pass rusher leaving the market like it’s an ominous sign but the reality is this isn’t a bad thing. Players who we thought they might be interested in are not getting mega contracts in the first 24 hours. If the price comes down — as it did for Bennett and Avril in 2013 — that’s a good thing.

The time to judge is when they’ve made some moves, not before.

So here’s the mock to give us something else to discuss until something happens:

Round one

#1 Cincinnati — Joe Burrow (QB, LSU)
This is locked in by now.

#2 Washington — Chase Young (EDGE, Ohio State)
This is also locked in.

#3 Detroit — Jeff Okudah (CB, Ohio State)
The Lions will want to move down but they’ve run out of trade partners.

#4 New York Giants — Derrick Brown (DT, Alabama)
He’s really good and this is very Dave Gettleman.

#5 Miami — Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama)
There’s no need to worry any more. They’ll get whoever they see as QB2.

#6 LA Chargers — Andrew Thomas (T, Georgia)
Whether it’s Tom Brady or Cam Newton, they’ll go left tackle here.

#7 Carolina — Isaiah Simmons (LB, Clemson)
They get arguably the best defensive player in the draft.

#8 Arizona — Tristan Wirfs (G, Iowa)
With DeAndre Hopkins acquired, they further bolster their O-line.

#9 Jacksonville — Javon Kinlaw (DT, South Carolina)
They’ve pulled apart their D-line so need to build it back up.

#10 Cleveland — Mekhi Becton (T, Louisville)
It won’t be a shock if he goes at #6 to the Chargers.

#11 New York Jets — Jedrick Wills (G, Alabama)
Wills would be a major injection of talent to the interior line.

#12 Las Vegas — Henry Ruggs (WR, Alabama)
Mike Mayock said it at the combine — they need playmakers.

#13 San Francisco (v/IND) — CeeDee Lamb (WR, Oklahoma)
They’ve got their eye on somebody in particular here.

#14 Tampa Bay — Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin)
Running backs who are 225, explosive, talented and run a 4.39 still go early.

#15 Denver — Jerry Jeudy (WR, Alabama)
They take a weapon for Drew Lock.

#16 Atlanta — Patrick Queen (LB, LSU)
This is now a fairly significant need.

#17 Dallas — C.J. Henderson (CB, Florida)
Henderson could go in the top-11.

#18 Miami (v/PIT) — Austin Jackson (T, USC)
Jackson could go in the top-11.

#19 Las Vegas (v/CHI) — Kenneth Murray (LB, Oklahoma)
He’s the type of individual they’re targeting.

#20 Jacksonville (v/LAR) — Denzel Mims (WR, Baylor)
The Jags just need to add talent at this stage.

#21 Philadelphia — Justin Jefferson (WR, LSU)
He’s quick enough for the Eagles.

#22 Minnesota (v/BUF) — Trevon Diggs (CB, Alabama)
Mike Zimmer loves to draft cornerbacks.

#23 New England — K.J. Hamler (WR, Penn State)
He’s so dynamic and some teams will love him.

#24 New Orleans — Jalen Reagor (WR, TCU)
Fast and explosive — the perfect compliment to Michael Thomas.

#25 Minnesota — Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona State)
They find their Stefon Diggs replacement here.

#26 Miami (v/HOU) — Ezra Cleveland (T, Boise State)
The Dolphins take a punt on his upside.

#27 Indianapolis (v/SEA) — Jordan Love (QB, Utah State)
The Colts move back into round one to invest in their future.

#28 Baltimore — Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)
He can kick inside to guard. This would be a home run.

#29 Tennessee — Isaiah Wilson (T, Georgia)
He fills in for Jack Conklin.

#30 Green Bay — Justin Herbert (QB, Oregon)
Herbert falls and Green Bay hopes to repeat the Aaron Rodgers heist.

#31 San Francisco — Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
He’d fit right into that D-line.

#32 Kansas City — Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
A strong combine should keep Fulton in the round one discussion.

The Seahawks trade down from #27 to #44, acquiring Indianapolis’ third round pick (#75).

Round two

#33 Cincinnati — Willie Gay Jr (LB, Mississippi State)
He’s too good. Someone will take a chance.

#34 Dallas (v/IND, WAS) — Grant Delpit (S, LSU)
I have Dallas trading up to complete a sensational first two rounds by Jerry Jones.

#35 Detroit — Zack Baun (LB, Wisconsin)
Ideal scheme fit after missing out on Kyle Van Noy.

#36 New York Giants — Josh Jones (T, Houston)
They need a left tackle.

#37 LA Chargers — D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia)
A great way to replace Melvin Gordon.

#38 Detroit (v/CAR) — Damien Lewis (G, LSU)
He’s such a good blocker and he can get even better.

#39 Miami — Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, LSU)
One of the best players in the draft.

#40 Arizona — Julian Okwara (DE, Notre Dame)
I think he’s a legit first rounder but the injury could push him back.

#41 Cleveland — Antoine Winfield Jr (S, Minnesota)
One of the big winners from the combine.

#42 Jacksonville — Jaylon Johnson (CB, Utah)
Teams apparently really like him.

#43 Chicago — Laviska Shenault (WR, Colorado)
He could fall further than this.

#44 Seattle (v/IND) — Justin Madubuike (DT, Texas A&M)
He’d provide a quicker compliment to what they already have.

#45 Tampa Bay — Ross Blacklock (DT, TCU)
The kind of aggressive, freelancing DT that can work in this scheme.

#46 Denver — Matt Hennessy (C, Temple)
Hennessy is a brilliant prospect.

#47 Atlanta — K’Lavon Chaisson (LB, LSU)
Love the character and the leadership but he’s overrated.

#48 New York Jets — Damon Arnette (CB, Ohio State)
Ran poorly but still extremely talented.

#49 Pittsburgh — Curtis Weaver (DE, Boise State)
He’s their type of pass rusher.

#50 Chicago — John Simpson (G, Clemson)
Highly explosive, massive potential.

#51 Indianapolis (v/DAL) — Yetur Gross-Matos (DE, Penn State)
They still need to keep adding pass rushers.

#52 LA Rams — Prince Tega Wanogho (T, Auburn)
They need to find answers on the O-line with minimal picks.

#53 Philadelphia — Joshua Uche (LB, Michigan)
They need a linebacker or two.

#54 Buffalo — A.J. Epenesa (DE, Iowa)
He replaces Shaq Lawson.

#55 Atlanta (v/NE) — J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State)
If he falls this far it’ll be good value.

#56 Miami — Hunter Bryant (TE, Washington)
Don’t sleep on Bryant.

#57 Houston — Lucas Niang (T, TCU)
They need to keep building up their O-line.

#58 Minnesota — Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
I don’t understand why he’s mocked as high as he is.

#59 Seattle — Hakeem Adeniji (G, Kansas)
Very explosive, had a superb Senior Bowl and has played guard and tackle.

#60 Baltimore — Cole Kmet (TE, Notre Dame)
They just traded Hayden Hurst to Atlanta.

#61 Tennessee — Tee Higgins (WR, Clemson)
He rested during the combine then had a crappy pro-day.

#62 Green Bay — Michael Pittman Jr (WR, USC)
I like this match for both parties.

#63 Kansas City (v/SF) — Chase Claypool (WR, Notre Dame)
One of the big winners at the combine and KC loves speed.

#64 Seattle — Jabari Zuniga (DE, Florida)
Zuniga adds speed and twitch to the pass rush.

The Cowboys trade up to #34, sending #51 and their third round pick to Indianapolis.

Seattle’s top three picks

#44 — Justin Madubuike (DT)
#59 — Hakeem Adeniji (G/T)
#64 — Jabari Zuniga (DE)

After trading down they acquire an extra third round pick, enabling them to add:

#75 — Cam Akers (RB)
#101 — Nick Harris (C)

Hope that was a suitable distraction.

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Jarran Reed stays in Seattle & other notes

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

I’ve just woken up to see the big news from last night so here’s some thoughts…

— The Seahawks placed a big emphasis on culture, fit and familiarity. It’s not a surprise to see Jarran Reed return. At the combine John Schneider talked of his importance and value in the locker room.

— The deal is a good one for both parties. The Seahawks are not committing major money on a long term contract but they keep a key player at their biggest area of need. Reed gets a decent salary and can reach the market again in two years. Win-win. A good start to free agency.

— Either way, the success and failure of this free agency period wasn’t resting with Reed. They need to improve the pass rush. On day one hardly any of the top pass rushers left the market. That could be a good sign — is it colder than many anticipated? Or is it just slow to get going? We’ll find out soon. But the last time the market was chillier than expected the Seahawks landed Bennett and Avril.

— Luke Willson joins Jacob Hollister in returning to Seattle. Suddenly, the Seahawks have an army of tight ends. Clearly they are placing a lot of emphasis on the position. For that reason, I’m loathe to totally rule out them adding another (eg Hunter Bryant) in the draft. After injuries hammered the position in 2019, it seems like they’re taking no chances in 2020. Yet their moves so far could easily be inspired by the weak draft at the position.

— As noted earlier — it’s probably a good thing Jadeveon Clowney is biding his time.

— Can anyone remember a few weeks ago when Field Gulls decided to write a long article saying there’s absolutely no way Minnesota would trade Stefon Diggs for a first round pick in the 20’s?

— Today is a big reminder to all of the people who dismiss trade suggestions during the lull between the end of the season and free agency starting. Deals are always unlikely until they happen. And they happen all the time. It’s best to stay open minded. Because next year nobody will anticipate the equivalent of DeAndre Hopkins for a second and David Johnson, Calais Campbell for a fifth or Stefon Diggs for a first and change.

— The Dallas Cowboys had a good 2-3 years in terms of front office decisions. Allowing Dak Prescott’s contract to run down, getting into a potential Kirk Cousins situation with him on the tag and being forced to give Amari Cooper $20m a year to stop him going anywhere else is… an error.

— The 49ers retained Arik Armstead on a big contract and then paid out to keep Jimmie Ward. They also acquired the #13 pick but lost DeForest Buckner. That’s an exciting first day for the Niners but I’m not sure it makes them better.

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Report: Jadeveon Clowney playing a waiting game?

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Despite a fair bit of doom-mongering on twitter, the tweet above is probably good news for the Seahawks.

It’s been a relatively quiet first day of the legal tampering period for Seattle. With other blockbuster deals happening within the NFC West (DeForest Buckner leaving the Niners, DeAndre Hopkins joining the Cards) — the Seahawks are yet to make a move.

Importantly, none of their likely D-line targets are off the market apart from Arik Armstead.

A lot of people have been pointing to Buckner’s new $21m-a-year deal in Indianapolis as a bad sign for Seattle and their pursuit of Clowney. Why though?

If he was going to agree terms on a fat contract that was too rich for the Seahawks, he likely wouldn’t be taking his time to consider his next move. He’d just be signing on the dotted line. If there are things to consider and a process to play out, that likely means he hasn’t been immediately blown away by the offers on the table.

Furthermore — the Colts made a bold trade to acquire Buckner. The minute you chuck the #13 overall pick to San Francisco, you immediately hand the player a heap of leverage. You don’t trade away top-15 picks for non-elite players. You also don’t trade away top-15 picks on rentals. The Colts had to sign him and pay him.

Clowney is in a very different boat as a free agent.

There may come a time when desperate teams throw money at him to make a splash. That could still take him to another club. Many big name free agents, including Tom Brady, are yet to make a call.

Yet it’s also possible teams simply aren’t willing to pay him at an elite rate.

The Seahawks have clearly made retaining Clowney a priority. A bit of patience might land him at the price their most comfortable paying. We’ll see.

As for Seattle’s quiet start overall — it’s been fairly quiet for most teams with a few big headline moves. The players they need are still out there. The time to judge will be when the signings are made, not now.

Meanwhile they have given Jacob Hollister a high tender:

This would suggest they’re less likely to draft someone like Hunter Bryant.

And George Fant is moving on to the Jets after signing for $10m per year:

Increasingly it was trending towards Fant getting the starting opportunity he was looking for. There’s no news yet on Germain Ifedi. The Seahawks were never going to be shopping in the high-end market at tackle with such a major need on the D-line. Expect some kind of veteran hedge if Ifedi also departs, followed by some draft competition.

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The day before free agency & Calais Campbell to the Ravens

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

If you missed yesterday’s free agency preview podcast, check it out…

According to Adam Schefter, the new league is set to begin as planned this week. The ‘legal tampering’ period of free agency will start on Monday.

We’re already seeing deals being agreed. The Titans have re-signed Ryan Tannehill and the Colts Anthony Castonzo. Bradley Roby is reportedly returning to the Texans.

We’ve also seen Calais Campbell traded to the Ravens in principal.

The price? A fifth round pick.

We need to talk about this trade.

Why so cheap? Why didn’t the Seahawks go for him?

Let’s get into it.

Why only a fifth rounder?

Trade suggestions or proposals are always dismissed as unrealistic until the point they occur. Then everyone acts surprised. Campbell for a fifth. Clowney for a third. Diggs for a fifth.

Unexpected stuff happens all the time in the NFL.

Campbell has been exceptionally productive in his three years in Jacksonville. He was consistently graded as a top-five defensive lineman by PFF. In 2019 he had 6.5 sacks working the interior to go with 33 pressures and 16 QB knockdowns.

He’s a quality player. The price probably reflects a number of aspects:

1. Jacksonville’s acceptance that they’re in a rebuild

2. His age

3. Their respect for him

4. His desire to go to a certain team

The Jags save $15m with this trade. They move on from a player who turns 34 this year and probably won’t be part of their next core. They also have a lot of respect and admiration for Calais within the organisation and probably worked with him to find an ideal destination rather than trying to milk what they could get.

Not everything is a clinical business decision. Most things are, granted. But not everything. I suspect Campbell instructed the Jaguars of his preference and they worked on a deal. They probably did their due diligence at the combine to get a feel for what was on offer. My guess would be that after gathering all the information, they worked with the player to get him his preferred move.

Why didn’t the Seahawks just offer a higher pick?

For starters, it’s possible Campbell didn’t fancy it. Geographically there might be reasons. He also spent many years playing for the Cardinals. Ending his career with a rival NFC West team might not have been his preference.

The move to Baltimore will carry huge appeal. They were 14-2 last year. They have an exciting young quarterback and a fierce defense. Unlike the Seahawks, they don’t play in the toughest division in football.

They also use a scheme that Campbell is familiar with from his Cardinals days.

There’s every chance he had his heart set on a move to Baltimore and there’s nothing anyone could’ve done to change that. Especially if the Jags were motivated to move him to the team he wanted to go to.

There’s also something else to consider.

The Seahawks have cap space to spend but they don’t have a bottomless pit. The key is going to be to prioritise where they use their money.

Pete Carroll has already specifically named Jadeveon Clowney as a ‘huge priority’. Keeping Clowney will not be cheap. If you trade for Campbell, it limits your ability to get that done.

He also spoke very clearly about the LEO and the five technique positions. They want a premier pass rusher and a dynamic defensive end partner. Presumably that means Clowney and one other. That is do-able in free agency with their cap space and the expected massive cap increases in future seasons due to the passing of the new CBA.

It’s very difficult, however, to sign two players to fill those positions while also spending $20m guaranteed on Calais Campbell.

They’ve also spoken of their desire to keep Jarran Reed (a point re-emphasised by Jeremy Fowler earlier). Once again — they are big on culture, familiarity and fit.

At the moment they’re probably just not in a position to make this trade and guarantee they can do the other things they want to do. I don’t think you’re likely to see any moves until they know where they stand with Clowney. That could happen by the end of today for all we know. But clearly they aren’t there yet.

The news of this trade will disappoint many Seahawks fans. We’re all well aware of Campbell’s talent after the years he had in Arizona. Carroll and Schneider have been searching for their version of Calais for years too. Now that he was available for such a cheap price — people will wonder why they didn’t make this move.

Heck — I’m pretty sure this is the only website that even considered it a possibility that he’d be available. Like anyone else, I found this news deflating.

Yet when you take a step back and consider his possible preference, the likelihood of the Jaguars organisation to do him a solid and Seattle’s need to prioritise the five technique (Clowney) and LEO positions — it likely meant this simply wasn’t to be.

Make no mistake though — now is the time for the Seahawks. They have to be pro-active and aggressive this off-season. In free agency and the draft. The defense in particular needs a major talent injection. They deserve an opportunity to show their hand and reveal what their plan of action is for the 2020 season.

And we’ll have every opportunity to analyse and judge that plan in the coming days.

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New podcast: 90 minutes of Seahawks talk

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

If you’re stuck for something to do this weekend, here’s a nice long Seahawks podcast…