Archive for the ‘Front Page News’ Category

Some thoughts on Russell Wilson’s ‘deadline day’

Monday, April 15th, 2019

1. This has been as ugly as expected

Threats to call off talks indefinitely, threats of breaking off talks altogether, rumours about trades to New York and mystery about Wilson’s desire to stay in Seattle.

This was always going to be a contentious affair. Both parties appear willing to do their bidding through the media and so it has proved.

The big question is — was it all posturing? An attempt to gain whatever leverage was available? Trying to win the PR battle? Or is there a serious disconnect here?

Deadlines often bring results. We’ll see if both parties are willing to compromise. It’s on both parties though. The Seahawks have to be willing to make Wilson the highest paid player in the league. Wilson has to be prepared to not change the face of NFL contracts forever.

2. Will they trade him if they can’t sign a deal today?

It seems virtually impossible. How many potential suitors are there? And how many are willing to pay a kings ransom in trade compensation then offer the kind of deal Wilson is seeking?

The New York Giants have the picks but don’t have a competitive roster. They’re seemingly prepared to roll with Eli Manning for one more season. They need to use #6, #17 and #37 to build their team. Next year, with Manning almost certainly done in New York, it would make sense to consider a big splash at quarterback. Currently that doesn’t seem likely and they may prefer to draft a young, affordable signal caller anyway.

There aren’t any real alternatives. The Raiders reportedly didn’t have the cash to put Khalil Mack’s full guarantees in escrow. Why would things be any different now? The Chargers are more likely to consider a move when Philip Rivers moves on. Twelve teams have drafted young quarterbacks in recent history. Several others have established starters while the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins a year ago and Jacksonville just paid Nick Foles.

Adam Schefter put together a report for ESPN earlier highlighting the issue:

“As for suggestions that the Seahawks could trade Wilson if he does not sign a new deal, there are no obvious teams willing to surrender draft picks or pay Wilson what he is seeking, sources said.”

If Wilson cuts off talks with the Seahawks an eventual trade becomes more likely but not this year.

3. So what would happen?

In all likelihood there’d be a dose of damage limitation from both parties, knowing there’s no alternative but to play out the 2019 season. This would become the status quo until a development emerged (either a serious trade offer or fresh contract talks).

We’ve been saying since the end of the 2018 season — if anyone was going to bet on himself it was Russell Wilson. The aggressive talks and seemingly improbable demands (eg wanting a percentage of the cap) are probably a sign of this. For Wilson it could easily be a case of make me an incredible offer or I’ll do a Kirk Cousins.

The Seahawks and Wilson might both be comfortable with that situation. It’s likely the team would prefer to bide their time rather than commit to a league-changing contract. Wilson would see the tag as a step closer to reaching the open market.

And while fans may say the Seahawks would be better off trading Wilson than rolling through a slow-dance of uncertainty — you can’t force a team to offer three first round picks. Essentially, both parties are stuck with each other for now.

4. What does this mean for the draft?

Maybe nothing. It all comes down to how they view the quarterback class. If they don’t fancy it there’s not much they can do. I’m going to keep mentioning the name Will Grier though. He does what the Seahawks offense needs. He makes downfield throws, manages the offense and he elevated West Virginia.

For more on Grier’s potential fit click here.

Since December I’ve been touting Kyler Murray and Grier as the two players I can imagine John Schneider admiring. It’s no surprise he attended the Oklahoma vs West Virginia game in person. Murray will go #1 overall. It’s unclear where Grier will land. Some think round one, others round three or later.

For the purpose of this piece let’s say he goes in the #25-#45 range. When the Seahawks trade back from #21 — if they like Grier as much as I think they might — they have to consider drafting him.

If Wilson and the Seahawks aren’t going to talk about a long term contract after today — they have no choice. They have to start identifying quarterbacks to draft. Because if Wilson won’t talk contract he’s either going to be traded in the next three years or he’ll eventually hit the open market.

They can’t and won’t sleepwalk into that. And while everyone will wring their hands about the pick, hammer the front office and complain they didn’t draft an ‘impact’ player — it’d actually be a wise investment for the future.

If/when Wilson leaves you don’t want to hand the keys of the franchise to an unprepared novice. ‘Having one in the chamber’ — as Schneider would put it — is important.

So don’t be shocked if the Seahawks draft a quarterback early this year if Wilson and the team don’t agree on an extension today.

5. What’s your prediction?

It’s been consistent from the day after the Dallas game. Wilson doesn’t agree a new deal this year, will back himself to play on the tag and in 2020 the team will have a major call to make about their next move. I think they will strongly consider drafting a quarterback, possibly Grier, as insurance for a potential divorce.

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Sunday links — updates on Russell Wilson, Frank Clark

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Frank Clark won’t be leaving Seattle

According to Jay Glazer, trade talks concerning Frank Clark have died down. Glazer originally suggested teams were calling about Clark back in March. He name-checked the Bills as a suitor, before the team denied the link.

Now Glazer says the likelihood is Clark will stay with the Seahawks. This isn’t a surprise. With a fantastic 2019 defensive line class in the draft and the need to pay Clark at least $65m guaranteed after giving up a high pick, a trade became increasingly unlikely. Now the question is can the Seahawks get a long term deal done before July 15th or will he play on the franchise tag and become a free agent in 2020?

Russell Wilson wants out of Seattle?

Another weekend, another load of weird drama in the Russell Wilson contract saga.

Firstly, Jake Heaps tweeted that John Schneider and Mark Rodgers had been spending hours together trying to work out a deal. Many saw this as a breakthrough, although Heaps had only 24 hours earlier suggested there was an alarming lack of traction in talks.

Then Mike Florio wrote an article, seemingly from the Seahawks perspective, that the team isn’t sure Wilson wants to stay in Seattle:

“Per a league source, the Seahawks think that Wilson would like to play elsewhere, even if he hasn’t and wouldn’t ever say it. They also believe that this unspoken dynamic will cause Wilson to drive a harder bargain with them than he would with another team.”

Shortly after, NFL insider and intrepid reporter Tyrann Mathieu tweeted the following:

Then today Florio opined on Wilson again — hinting strongly that he’s looking for a percentage of the cap per year:

“If the Seahawks want to avoid embarking on a year-to-year franchise-tag dance with Wilson, which would culminate in a one-year tender of $52.43 million in 2022, they likely will need to be willing to give Wilson insurance against spikes in the cap and, in turn, growth in the market that could result in players like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Baker Mayfield leapfrogging Wilson while he works through the years of his third NFL deal.”

Although not quoting any sources, this reads like a direct response from the Wilson camp to Florio’s earlier report about the Seahawks thinking the player would like to play elsewhere.

Life’s never dull in Seattle. And don’t say we didn’t warn you. This latest saga is already well past the Earl Thomas drama from a year ago.

So what can we make of all this?

It reads like the two parties continuing to play out negotiations through the media — a staple for both since the end of the season. Battling for the upper hand is normal in negotiations of this nature. Public opinion also matters.

Deadlines force action. We’ll see if both sides are willing to compromise in the 11th hour. By Tuesday this could all be a load of hot air from both parties in the middle of a heated negotiation.

That said, it really looks like Wilson is coming at this from two positions:

1. Re-set the quarterback contracts market as a Seahawk

2. If the team won’t do that, play out on the tag and follow a similar path to Kirk Cousins

If that’s the position — it’s no wonder Adam Schefter, Jack del Rio and others are at least touting the possibility of a trade. The Seahawks aren’t going to sleepwalk into a scenario where Wilson walks as a free agent in 2022. If he shuts down negotiations after April 15th — they basically have one more off-season to work this out. Get a deal done or make a trade.

Let’s speculate for a moment and consider the possibility that the Seahawks are willing to make Wilson the highest paid player in the league based on APY. If Wilson’s response is to continue to ask for a league-changing percentage of the cap guaranteed — it’s no wonder they might start to question his desire to remain in Seattle (thus, Florio’s report and all the trade talk).

Compromise from both parties was always going to be necessary. Are both willing to compromise?

We’ll probably find out in the next 24 hours.

My prediction hasn’t changed. I doubt Wilson signs a new contract before April 15th and will play the 2019 season in Seattle. Then in the 2020 off-season he will be tagged and the Seahawks will be left with a big call — either give in to Wilson’s demands or trade him.

And I’ll say it again for the 456th time this off-season. If there’s no deal before the draft and if this is heading to a stand-off in 12 months time — they have to seriously consider spending a high pick on a quarterback.

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Thoughts on the possible addition of a nickel hybrid

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson made several TFL’s at nickel

The Seahawks will set out to fill as many needs as possible. Some are more important than others. They need to bolster the defensive line. They could do with adding another nickel defender having lost the impressive Justin Coleman. Doug Baldwin’s possible retirement increases the need at receiver.

And of course there’s quarterback. It has to be a consideration early if the right player is available and Russell Wilson’s contract remains unresolved by the draft.

There are also lesser needs where some extra competition or forward planning is needed — such as tight end and outside cornerback.

Identifying players in different ranges who can fill these needs is the key. They might spend their first pick on their biggest need (arguably the D-line) but they could also use the extreme strength of the defensive line class to their advantage.

For example — if they want to add a base end to replace Dion Jordan (someone in the 270-285lbs range) there are several strong options. We know the Seahawks like their defensive linemen to have length, quickness and agility. Several of the bigger base ends and five-technique types in this class excelled in the short shuttle. So while they’ve shown interest in two earlier round prospects (Rashan Gary and L.J. Collier) there are plenty of others who could be available in the rounds 3-4 range.

The recent additions of Nate Orchard and Cassius Marsh, coupled with a strong first year for Jacob Martin, could lessen the need for an EDGE. It’s not a particularly deep EDGE class. Not compared to DE and DT. It’s possible someone like Brian Burns lasts longer than many of the media are suggesting and he could be a target. Failing that, they might wait on the position or ignore it all together if they can get a pass rushing base end.

If they wait on the defensive line it opens things up with the first pick. They recently met with N’Keal Harry and are meeting with Parris Campbell. There are other receivers who could be appealing in the #20-50 range. The Seahawks might be inclined to strongly consider taking a receiver first. The depth is weaker than it is at defensive line. Again, this is about adding as many impact players as possible and filling several needs. The draft is a puzzle and you need to work out the right range to target specific positions.

While receiver is a possible early round option, quarterback and nickel could be too. We’ll see what happens with Russell Wilson and not go over old ground there. The one quarterback we’ve latched onto is Will Grier as a fit for their offense. Grier won’t be sitting in the middle rounds. If they want to take him, they’ll have to consider doing it early.

Then there’s the nickel position. It’s similar to the receivers. There are a cluster who could go in round two. If you wait until rounds 3-4 you might miss out. So again, it’s something to consider. If you want a playmaking defensive back with versatility you might need to go in that direction with the first pick.

The Seahawks have visited with a number of defensive backs. While a lot of people think the Seahawks are trying to replace Earl Thomas, I think they’re trying to replace Justin Coleman.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Juan Thornhill both did a lot of work lined up at nickel. Eric Galko linked the Seahawks to Byron Murphy in a mock draft. Lance Zierlein describes Darnell Savage as, ‘a day-two hybrid defender offering early starting potential as a two-high zone or slot cover talent‘.

All have experience working as a nickel, ‘big nickel’ or hybrid defender.

You might argue — ‘but the Seahawks don’t utilize a big nickel’.

You’d be surprised.

During the 2018 season, Delano Hill played 32.29% of the defensive snaps. He only started two games in relief of Tedric Thompson. Justin Coleman played 67.81% of the snaps. This tells us a couple of things. Firstly, the Seahawks played nickel in base for most of 2018. Secondly, they used Hill as a big nickel in various situations (or at least used three-safety formations).

The Patriots nullified the Rams in the Super Bowl by lining up safeties at the LOS to combat the sweeps and misdirection. The NFL is a copycat league and teams will try to mimic a lot of what the Rams do on offense. Having the personnel to handle this — and specifically the Rams — will be important. It’s even better if you can find a hybrid defender, capable of switching to various positions and roles. One week you might need to match-up against a tight end. The next you might have the responsibility of playing read/react against the Rams. Another week you might have to fill in at safety.

The great thing about the 2019 safety class is many of the players have experienced playing multiple roles and most have the necessary speed for this to translate to the next level.

I’ve said before that I think the Seahawks like their existing safeties more than the fans and media. Pete Carroll in particular seems to really like the potential of Delano Hill. He had a strong end to the regular season. Bradley McDougald has become one of the most important players on the team. Tedric Thompson provides some depth. They traded for Shalom Luani. Competition is required — but forcing Hill to the bench isn’t a gigantic problem that needs fixing.

The Seahawks have to fill the holes left by Justin Coleman and the two departures on the D-line (Shemar Stephen, Dion Jordan). If they can replace Coleman with a hybrid defender and not a one-dimensional player — even better. It’ll only help the defense.

Gardner-Johnson, Thornhill and Murphy have all shown an ability to take the ball away. That’s something else the Seahawks need to replace. There’s an assumption they’ll be able to fill the nickel vacancy with ease, given the way they plucked Coleman away from the Patriots. Yet Coleman made big plays — three interceptions and three touchdowns — during his time in Seattle. Finding someone who can make up for that and maybe add more takeaways would be a plus.

Thornhill had six interceptions in 2018 while both Murphy and Gardner-Johnson had four.

Being a strong run defender is also very important at nickel.

Murphy stands out in that regard, as we noted in our review of him a couple of weeks ago. He hits like a hammer when given the chance, is sudden and quick to the ball-carrier and he can tackle.

Thornhill tested superbly at the combine and I think this best shows up on tape when he’s reading the play, running to the ball carrier and tackling. There are examples where he runs across the line, works through traffic and makes a tackle behind the LOS.

Murphy had four TFL’s in 2018 while Thornhill had 4.5.

But if you really want a player who excels in this area Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is your man.

I watched four of his games yesterday and the one thing I didn’t notice when watching him during the season is the way he sheds or avoids blocks to break to the ball carrier and tackle. He does it time and time again. Any throws to the flat, any screens or stretch runs — he’s very good at either avoiding blocks with agility/speed or simply bench-pressing the blocker and winning with power. College receivers couldn’t contain him.

This shows up in the stat sheet — he had 9.5 TFL’s in 2018.

I’d probably describe the trio this way — Murphy is more sudden and talented, Thornhill the fastest and most explosive and Gardner-Johnson the more complete. Strictly viewing all three as potential hybrid nickel defenders, Murphy is the best player. Thornhill has the most upside. Gardner-Johnson is the most likely to adjust to the league quickly given the way he handles the dirty work at the nickel (taking on blocks, defending the run, making plays behind the LOS). It’s probably not surprising given he made the full-time switch to nickel at Florida.

All three players are strong candidates to be a hybrid defender and all three could go in the top-50.

If they opt to pepper their D-line and pass rush with additions from the middle rounds onwards, adding a playmaking defensive back feels like a possibility. It doesn’t mean it will happen. However this year, unlike last, it feels like there are a few options for the Seahawks.

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More Schefter on Wilson & an even newer podcast

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Two things today. I was invited onto the Waxing Lyrical podcast to talk about the Seahawks and the draft. By bit starts 17 minutes in. Check it out below. Plus Adam Schefter has also been giving further thoughts on the Russell Wilson situation today…

Some thoughts on ‘the saga’ ahead of April 15th

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

I’ll start this piece by apologising to those who are tired of the Russell Wilson talk. I will say though — this is the defining story of Seattle’s off-season. It’s going to be the big old elephant in the room until it’s resolved one way or another. I’m ready for a conclusion as much as anyone but with five days until Wilson’s self-imposed contract deadline expires, how can we pretend like it’s not the big talking point? Everything — the draft plan, the direction of the franchise, the players we look at — is determined by what they do with Wilson.

I don’t think the Seahawks will trade Russell Wilson in 2019. Next year? It’s a lot more likely if a long-term extension isn’t agreed.

It’s quite simple why a deal is highly unlikely this year.

Firstly, the Seahawks will want to exhaust the possibility of keeping Wilson. Trading him now is just giving up. Seattle’s main motivation, surely, is to keep their franchise quarterback. They have to let the process play out before conceding defeat.

Secondly, they don’t have an alternative option on the roster. If they feel a divorce from Wilson is highly possible in the future — they should try and draft a quarterback they like first. It might not be possible. If it is — you make the call. You have to. That way you’re not totally unprepared for the future. And if you get a deal done with Wilson the worst case scenario is you’re simply left with a cheap, young backup who might have some trade value down the line.

So no. I’m not buying into the prospect of an earth-shaking trade. That doesn’t mean it isn’t being considered though. There’s a reason why it’s being talked about in NFL circles (and it clearly is). There’s a reason why the Seahawks have been looking at quarterbacks in recent years. There’s a reason why we’ve spent a lot longer discussing players like Kyler Murray and Will Grier during this draft cycle.

We’ve been anticipating this huge stand-off for many weeks now. Wilson’s camp have been extremely aggressive. The Seahawks have dabbled in a bit of ‘negotiation via media’ too. Both sides need to compromise and neither appears willing to currently. Wilson seems fully prepared to use the franchise tag if the Seahawks won’t pay him what he wants. If that happens the team has two choices. Pay him the money he’s asking for — even if it cripples the salary cap — or move him.

With Wilson setting his own deadline for April 15th, it accelerates the process somewhat. If he tells the Seahawks, bluntly, in five days time — ‘I am now playing on the tag until you pay me what I want’ — you might as well see what’s out there via trade. If you’re going to do that in a year anyway, why delay things? It doesn’t mean you deal him necessarily. It just means you see what’s on offer.

That’s my read on the situation. That’s why I think it’s being talked about. I don’t think Wilson will be dealt in 2019. I think potential suitors, such as the Giants or Dolphins, will want to get through this draft and build. In a year they will be able to make a call on whether they want to go all-in on a superstar quarterback.

New York will be a much better team in 12 months if they use #6, #17 and #37 this year to build their team up with young talent before inserting Wilson. The Dolphins need everything — so there’s little point paying Wilson $100m guaranteed now and then not having any draft picks to support him.

Next year both teams would be prime candidates for a trade. There would be others.

If someone did make a fantastic offer next week — say three first round picks and more — they’d have to consider it. Or they’d have to at least turn to Wilson and put to him whether he wants this to happen. Are you prepared to move on or will you compromise on a deal to stay?

I want to run through some thoughts on what I think the Seahawks will consider doing for the two scenarios — keeping Wilson and trading Wilson.

If Russell Wilson stays in 2019 (without a new contract)

1. They should aim to draft a quarterback as a priority. I know the team has needs at various positions. If they’re in that situation of needing to find ‘the next guy’ — you have to start drafting quarterbacks. You keep looking until you find the one. It all depends on whether the players you like (and they’ll find at least one they like within this class) are available.

2. I still think there’s a very good chance Will Grier will be a target. I won’t repeat everything again but he was by far the best downfield thrower in college football for the last two seasons. He’s a perfect fit for what they want to do (run the ball and take shots). He has mechanical flaws that impact his velocity and he takes too many sacks. Those are fixable issues. What he does well — the downfield accuracy, the ability to hang in the pocket and make big plays, to elevate a team like he did at WVU — is impressive.

3. You back yourself as a coaching/scouting staff to fill your other holes. They will trade down and accumulate more picks. If they can trade down and select a quarterback — it doesn’t mean they can’t find impact players in rounds 3-7. Let’s remember — Frank Clark (late R2), Tyler Lockett (R3), Chris Carson (R7), Tre Flowers (R5), Poona Ford (UDFA) and Jarran Reed (R2) weren’t high picks. And the best defense in team history was built on day three prospects by this GM and Head Coach.

If Russell Wilson is traded in 2019

1. Speak immediately to Indianapolis about Jacoby Brissett. Can you get him for a 2020 second rounder or less? That way you’re adding a player with starting experience, some talent and he’s familiar with Brian Schottenheimer. You would need a hedge for the draft and some competition at QB.

2. Assuming they get at least two extra picks in round one, they need to make up for the loss of a franchise quarterback by building up their defense. If they pick in the top-10 I think Rashan Gary would be their target. He perfectly fits what they look for in an athlete, versatility, scheme discipline and a former #1 recruit. Book-ending Gary with Frank Clark with Jarran Reed in the middle would be a tantalising prospect.

3. If they picked again in the teens they should double-down on defense. Do you add Byron Murphy to cover the nickel spot? Do you see what remains of the defensive tackle class? If you’re trading Wilson it’s to try and create another great defense. They would need to add young, legit first round talent.

4. They could use their native #21 overall to make sure they get the quarterback they like (eg Will Grier) or they could trade down as they currently plan to try and do. They’d need to come away with a QB at some point but the flexibility would be there to build up their defense. Any prospective trade would need to provide the Seahawks with a fuller draft board on days two and three. That would be an ideal opportunity to look at the tight ends and receivers.

Again — this is all just a lot of thinking out loud based around a major talking point involving the Seahawks. If you’re fed up with the Wilson stuff — I’m sorry. But everything around the team is connected to the decision they make with Wilson. If they are destined to part ways — it impacts the 2019 draft significantly.

New VMAC visit confirmed

Idaho linebacker Kaden Elliss will take an official-30 visit to Seattle next week. According to reports he ran a 6.49 three-cone. We now know twelve of Seattle’s confirmed visits:

Parris Campbell (WR)
L.J. Collier (DE)
Dre Greenlaw (LB)
Juan Thornhill (DB)
Darnell Savage (DB)
Darwin Thompson (RB)
Rashan Gary (DE)
Corrion Ballard (DB)
Jace Sternberger (TE)
Derrek Thomas (CB)
N’Keal Harry (WR)
Kaden Elliss (LB)


If you missed yesterday’s new podcast discussing the latest topics involving the Seahawks and the draft, don’t forget to check it out…

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Schefter, Del Rio speculate on Russell Wilson’s future

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Trades before the draft?

Regular readers will know what I think the chances of that are.

It’s highly unlikely a team will offer the Seahawks an attractive deal for Frank Clark. He’ll cost at least $65m in guaranteed money. This is a sensational draft class for defensive linemen. You could be looking at a $50m difference in contract guarantees. If the Seahawks were going to deal Clark it likely would’ve been done by now. A much more likely scenario is both parties work towards the July 15th deadline and either come to an agreement or Clark will play on the franchise tag. You can’t force another team to make an attractive offer.

As for Russell Wilson, it’s even more unlikely. You don’t trade your franchise quarterback without a plausible alternative on the roster. They can’t guarantee a rookie quarterback they like will be available in the requisite range. If they try and trade for someone like Jacoby Brissett, the price will be extortionate because the Seahawks will be desperate.

If they believe this is a relationship that can’t last they at the very least need to try and draft a potential replacement first, then exhaust all avenues on a contract extension. Only then would it be right to move on.

That’s my take. Yet something isn’t right.

Adam Schefter isn’t a rumour-monger. Jack Del Rio has no reason to talk about Wilson’s future.

Both indulged in some serious speculating this week:

This is starting to remind me of the Michael Silver piece from just over a year ago. He reported that the LOB era was coming to an end after the week-15 debacle against the Rams. Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor would retire. Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett were on the way out. Earl Thomas could be moved. It was all true — even though many fought it at the time.

Schefter isn’t reporting Wilson will go but just consider this. He made an appearance on a Mel Kiper and Todd McShay mock draft show. It was all about the draft. Yet Schefter had his own personal segment dedicated to the future of Russell Wilson. He brought up Wilson three separate times in the one-hour special. His body language throughout was interesting too.

Then there’s Del Rio, casually dropping out that Wilson could be moved. His reasoning for it happening was a little flawed and he was a little off on why Seattle has moved on from certain players recently. However — it’s clear there’s talk within the NFL that this could happen. Whether it does or not — it’s still a thing being discussed.

And while I still don’t think Wilson will be traded before the draft (or Clark) — it’d be totally wrong to just ignore this.

It would be a ground-breaking move. It’s hard to imagine they would do this and then simply hope for the best in the draft without a viable veteran option on the roster.

It’s also possible this is just Seattle’s counter in what is increasingly becoming a contract war waged through the media.

It’s set to be an interesting few days as that April 15th deadline approaches. Whether Wilson is traded or not before the draft — there’s a reason we’ve talked up Will Grier. He’s a superb downfield thrower who fits Seattle’s offense. If they can’t get a deal done with Wilson before the draft, don’t be surprised if they spend their first pick on Grier just in case they head towards a parting in 2020.

If you missed today’s new podcast discussing the latest topics involving the Seahawks and the draft, don’t forget to check it out…

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New podcast: Discussing the future of the Seahawks

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

I joined Brandan Schulze to talk about many of the main topics dominating the Seahawks agenda. Check out the podcast below and let us know what you think about the coverage. We’ll be recording a few more of these before the draft.

New mock draft podcast

Monday, April 8th, 2019

We have another (longer) podcast dropping tomorrow going through a few different Seahawks topics. However, here’s a quick 25-minutes on my recent three-round mock draft with Brandan Schulze…

Three-round mock draft & Seahawks seven round mock

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

The future of Doug Baldwin could impact Seattle’s draft

It was interesting to see another report on the NFL Network this week discussing the future of Doug Baldwin. There were a few hints at the end of the regular season that he might call it a career. Recently that talk has intensified.

Ian Rapoport mentioned something that was brought up a couple of weeks ago. This is a very different team now. Many of Baldwin’s closest friends have moved on or retired. It’s a new locker room and perhaps, along with the injuries, that is playing into Baldwin’s thinking.

If the Seahawks believe he will retire — wide receiver becomes a much greater need. It was a need anyway because Baldwin isn’t likely to play for another 3-4 years. But if he’s not with the team in 2019 it increases the need to support Tyler Lockett and Russell Wilson with another key weapon in the passing game.

It also makes you wonder if the official-30 visit with Jace Sternberger is any kind of indicator too. He’s currently much more of a receiving tight end than a blocker. Losing Baldwin would be a big deal — in the red zone, on third down, in general play. He won’t be easily replaced by one player. It might take a couple.

I was planning on doing a three-round mock draft anyway but I’m going to use this story to represent the possibility of a bigger need at receiver. I’ll have a few notes on Seattle’s picks below and a seven-round Seahawks projection. I’ve only included trades involving the Seahawks to avoid the mock becoming overly complicated with teams in various rounds switching places.

First round

#1 Arizona — Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma)
#2 San Francisco — Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
#3 New York Jets — Josh Allen (EDGE, Kentucky)
#4 Oakland — Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama)
#5 Tampa Bay — Devin White (LB, LSU)
#6 New York Giants — Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
#7 Jacksonville — T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa)
#8 Detroit — Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
#9 Buffalo — Noah Fant (TE, Iowa)
#10 Denver — Drew Lock (QB, Missouri)
#11 Cincinnati — Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State)
#12 Green Bay — Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
#13 Miami — Jonah Williams (G, Alabama)
#14 Atlanta — Montez Sweat (EDGE, Mississippi State)
#15 Washington — Daniel Jones (QB, Duke)
#16 Carolina — Andre Dillard (T, Washington State)
#17 New York Giants (via CLE) — Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
#18 Minnesota — Jawaan Taylor (T, Florida)
#19 Tennessee — Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
#20 Pittsburgh — Devin Bush (LB, Michigan)
#21 Kansas City (via SEA) — D.K. Metcalf (WR, Ole Miss)
#22 Baltimore — Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State)
#23 Houston — Cody Ford (T, Oklahoma)
#24 Oakland (via CHI) — Byron Murphy (CB, Washington)
#25 Philadelphia — Brian Burns (EDGE, Florida State)
#26 Indianapolis — Terry McLaurin (WR, Ohio State)
#27 Oakland (via DAL) — Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
#28 LA Chargers — Kaleb McGary (T, Washington)
#29 Arizona (via SEA, KC) — Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma)
#30 Green Bay (via NO) — A.J. Brown (WR, Ole Miss)
#31 LA Rams — Jeffery Simmons (DT, Mississippi State)
#32 New England — Will Grier (QB, West Virginia)

Second round

#33 Seattle (via ARI) — N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State)
#34 Indianapolis (via NYJ) — Rock Ya-Sin (CB, Temple)
#35 Oakland — Irv Smith Jr (TE, Alabama)
#36 San Francisco — Justin Layne (CB, Michigan State)
#37 New York Giants — Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State)
#38 Jacksonville — Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama)
#39 Tampa Bay — Lonnie Johnson (CB, Kentucky)
#40 Buffalo — Erik McCoy (C, Texas A&M)
#41 Denver — Dawson Knox (TE, Ole Miss)
#42 Cincinnati — Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
#43 Detroit — L.J. Collier (DE, TCU)
#44 Green Bay — Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College)
#45 Atlanta — Josh Oliver (TE, San Jose State)
#46 Washington — Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina)
#47 Carolina — Darnell Savage (S, Maryland)
#48 Miami — Chase Winovich (EDGE, Michigan)
#49 Cleveland — Greg Little (T, Ole Miss)

#50 Minnesota — Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
#51 Tennessee — Trysten Hill (DT, UCF)
#52 Pittsburgh — Juan Thornhill (S, Virginia)
#53 Philadelphia (via BAL) — Garrett Bradbury (C, NC State)
#54 Houston (via SEA) — Dru Samia (G, Oklahoma)

#55 Houston — Isaiah Johnson (CB, Houston)
#56 New England (via CHI) — Kahale Warring (TE, San Diego State)
#57 Philadelphia — Marquise Blair (S, Utah)
#58 Dallas — Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S, Florida)
#59 Indianapolis — Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)
#60 LA Chargers — Bobby Okereke (LB, Stanford)
#61 Kansas City — Deandre Baker (CB, Georgia)
#62 New Orleans — Dalton Risner (T, Kansas State)
#63 Kansas City (via LAR) — Joe Jackson (DE, Miami)
#64 New England — Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)

Third round

#65 Arizona — D’Andre Walker (EDGE, Georgia)
#66 Pittsburgh (via OAK) — Emmanuel Hall (WR, Missouri)
#67 San Francisco — Amani Hooker (S, Iowa)
#68 New York Jets — Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State)
#69 Jacksonville — Jachai Polite (EDGE, Florida)
#70 Tampa Bay — Jaylon Ferguson (EDGE, Louisiana Tech)
#71 New York Giants — forfeited (supplemental draft)

#72 Denver — Deionte Thompson (S, Alabama)
#73 Cincinnati — Mack Wilson (LB, Alabama)
#74 New England (via DET) — 
Christian Miller (EDGE, Alabama)

#75 Buffalo — Hakeem Butler (WR, Iowa State)
#76 Green Bay — Anthony Nelson (DE, Iowa)
#77 Washington — Joejuan Williams (CB, Vanderbilt)
#78 Carolina — Jace Sternberger (TE, Texas A&M)
#79 Miami — Nasir Adderley (S, Delaware)
#80 Atlanta — Tytus Howard (T, Alabama State)
#81 Cleveland — Julian Love (CB, Notre Dame)
#82 Minnesota — J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR, Stanford)
#83 Tennessee — Trayvon Mullen (CB, Clemson)
#84 Pittsburgh — Renell Wren (DT, Arizona State)
#85 Seattle — Charles Omenihu (DE, Texas)
#86 Baltimore — Michael Jordan (G, Ohio State)

#87 Houston — Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
#88 Chicago — Maxx Crosby (DE, Eastern Michigan)
#89 Detroit (via PHI) — Nate Davis (G, Charlotte)
#90 Indianapolis — Khalen Saunders (DT, Western Illinois)
#91 Dallas — Ed Alexander (DT, LSU)
#92 LA Chargers — Drew Sample (TE, Washington)
#93 Seattle (via KC) — Marvell Tell III (S, USC)
#94 New York Jets (via NO) — Miles Boykin (WR, Notre Dame)
#95 LA Rams — Connor McGovern (G, Penn State)
#96 New York Giants (via NE) — Chuma Edoga (T, USC)
#97 Washington — Ben Banogu (EDGE, TCU)
#98 New England — Bobby Evans (T, Oklahoma)
#99 Jacksonville — Riley Ridley (WR, Georgia)
#100 LA Rams — Justice Hill (RB, Oklahoma State)
#101 Carolina — Miles Sanders (RB, Penn State)
#102 New England — Mecole Hardman (WR, Georgia)
#103 Baltimore — Oshane Ximines (EDGE, Old Dominion)

General notes on the draft

— I think this mock represents three likely ‘runs’. Initially we’ll see a run on the top defensive linemen. At the end of the first round and start of the second I think we’ll see a run on receivers. Then we’ll see a run on tight ends.

— Three fits I like are Emmanuel Hall to Pittsburgh (with the pick acquired in the Antonio Brown trade), Christian Miller to New England (as an eventual replacement for Kyle Van Noy) and Kyler Murray to Arizona because he’s the most talented player in the draft by a stretch.

— The Seahawks will want to trade down. They have one big thing working in their favour. Draft position. Being ahead of Baltimore is an advantage. Neither team has a second round pick so both will likely want to move down. By being ahead of the Ravens, the Seahawks are the team you talk to first. Plus, Baltimore has clear, defined and obvious needs at receiver and interior O-line. Whether it’s a center (Erik McCoy or Garrett Bradbury), guard (Cody Ford) or receiver (pick any of about 5-6 options) — teams with similar needs will fear who the Ravens might take.

Notes on the Seahawks

— The first trade down sees Kansas City jumping ahead of the Ravens to take D.K. Metcalf. The Chiefs have an issue to resolve concerning Tyreek Hill. Metcalf’s deep-speed and size would be an ideal match for Patrick Mahomes. According to Tony Pauline the Ravens are very interested in Metcalf. The Chiefs have two second round picks so they might be willing to part with their third rounder. They also own two sixth round picks and might be willing to add one to sweeten the deal. That would give the Seahawks six picks instead of four.

— The second trade down involves the Cardinals. You might argue teams in the same division won’t trade with each other. However, that’s exactly what happened two years ago when the 49ers gave the Seahawks a fourth round pick to move from #31 to #34 so the Niners could select Reuben Foster. If the Cardinals get a chance to reunite Kyler Murray and Marquise Brown they should take it. In this scenario they jump ahead of the Green Bay Packers to make sure it happens, giving the Seahawks a fourth rounder (and seven picks in total):

R2 (#33)
R3 (#85)
R3 (#93)
R4 (#104)
R4 (#125)
R5 (#160)
R6 (#216)

— I was torn on the first pick of N’Keal Harry. The Seahawks have only drafted two receivers who ran slower than a 4.4. One was a seventh round flier (Kenny Lawler) and the other was Chris Harper (a fourth round pick who ran a 4.50). They clearly value quickness and the one big concern I have with Harry is acceleration and suddenness. He’s not going to sprint downfield on a go-route and win with pure speed. That’s something they’ve consistently sought even from their bigger receivers. Harry is more of a possession receiver with surprisingly good YAC ability for his size.

— The reason I paired him with Seattle is for two reasons. One, he’s still a tremendous athlete with a fantastic looking frame. There may be some untapped potential and we know the Seahawks want to develop upside first and foremost with their top pick. Pete Carroll has wanted a dynamic big target for a long time and Harry has the size to fill that role. Two, he has exceptional character and a competitive spirit. Harry is close friends with Washington cornerback Byron Murphy and they’re both very similar personalities. Teams will have zero concern about either players’ will to succeed. Harry had an official-30 visit with the Seahawks recently.

— Having taken a receiver with their first pick it was vital to focus on defense with the two third round selections. It appears the Seahawks want a base-end type to start across from Frank Clark. There are several options. Remember — previously the Seahawks have drafted players with length and excellent short shuttle times. In this class the likes of Zach Allen, Anthony Nelson, John Cominsky, Charles Omenihu and Kingsley Keke fit that profile. I’ve gone with Omenihu here for his rare length (36 inch arms) and his 4.36 short shuttle at 280lbs. That’s a rare combination. N’Keal Harry would be an attempt to fill the void left by Doug Baldwin. Omenihu would be a replacement for Dion Jordan.

— It also appears the Seahawks are very keen to add a hybrid defensive back. Someone capable of playing big nickel, conventional nickel and safety. They’ve already met with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and arranged official-30 visits with Juan Thornhill and Darnell Savage. They could easily draft this type of player with their first or second pick. They’ll work out the best way to address all their needs, they always do. If they leave this position to round three the options will be fairly thin but Marvell Tell remained on the board here. He has impressive height (6-2) and length (33 1/8 inch arms) and tested exceptionally well in the agility tests (6.63 three cone, 4.01 short shuttle). In the nickel position, short-area quickness and agility is vital. Tell is also high character and only really scratched the surface of his potential at USC.

— This projection doesn’t have the Seahawks taking a quarterback but that still remains a distinct possibility considering the uncertain future of Russell Wilson.

Seven round Seahawks mock

R2 (#33) — N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State)
If the Seahawks lose Doug Baldwin they’ll need to consider a high pick at receiver.

R3 (#85) — Charles Omenihu (DE, Texas)
He has the size and length to play base-end and his short shuttle (4.36) will appeal.

R3 (#93) — Marvell Tell (S, USC)
Fantastic agility testing and length makes him an appealing hybrid DB.

R4 (#104) — Armon Watts (DT, Arkansas)
Terrific length and power to anchor vs the run with plus pass-rushing upside.

R4 (#125) — Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
One of the few TE’s in this class to run a sub-7.10 three-cone.

R5 (#160) — Greg Gaines (DT, Washington)
The Seahawks are reportedly interested in Gaines.

R6 (#216) — Derrek Thomas (CB, Baylor)
A converted receiver, Thomas looked like a Seahawks corner at the combine.

What happens now with Frank Clark?

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

Frank Clark’s market has been set by Demarcus Lawrence

With the Dallas Cowboys re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year, $105 million extension with $65 million guaranteed — the market has been set for Frank Clark.

He has more career sacks than Lawrence (35 vs 34) and he’s younger (27 vs 25). Clark had a more productive year in 2018 with 13 sacks compared to Lawrence’s 10.5. Athletically Clark is a superior talent. There’s no realistic argument for him being awarded a cheaper contract.

So what are the Seahawks going to do?

Lawrence, Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are the only three defensive players averaging more than $20 million per season. Mack and Donald are game-wreckers and game-winners. Lawrence is a quality pass rusher but doesn’t have the ability to take over a game like Mack and Donald. Neither, currently, does Frank Clark.

The Seahawks have to determine how much potential remains with Clark. He doesn’t turn 26 until June and with an elite physical profile — it’s possible he could become more consistent and more dominant in the coming years. He’s always had the potential to develop into one of the leagues best defensive ends. If that’s his trajectory over the next few seasons — it’d be a real shame to miss out on his prime having spent four years carefully bringing along his talent.

Last season was his first year as the main man. Previously he’d played in a rotation with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Gaining 13 sacks was a nice start for Clark as the focal point of the pass rush.

The other thing to consider is the rapid growth of the salary cap and player salaries. For all the hand-wringing some members of the media do about the CBA — players have never been wealthier. The earning potential has exploded in recent seasons.

$20m a year for Clark today sounds like a kings ransom. But how will it look in two years time when Myles Garrett and Joey Bosa get paid? And when you consider Trey Flowers is on $18m a year, C.J. Mosley $17m a year and Za’Darius Smith $16.5m a year — doesn’t that put a potential Clark contract into context?

While he probably doesn’t warrant a deal similar to Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack — Clark is a better player than Flowers, Mosley and Smith.

For me there are two realistic scenarios here:

1. Pay Clark the going rate and build with a player you’ve already accepted is part of your new core

2. Let him play out the 2018 season on the tag, just as the Cowboys did with Lawrence, and see what the situation is in 12 months time

People will rightly question the first scenario because of the cost. Yet, as noted above, $20m a year might seem like a bargain in two years time if salaries continue to increase and Clark turns into a star.

The second scenario is a gamble because you run the risk of losing Clark in free agency in 2020. That could easily happen. However, the Seahawks seem to want to exhaust all possibilities with their players. They didn’t take the best offer for Earl Thomas and were happy to risk losing him in free agency. They haven’t traded Clark despite knowing it would cost a fortune to keep him long term. I think there’s a realistic chance they’ll run the risk of losing him for nothing more than a third round comp pick next year — simply to give themselves the longest possible window to tie him down.

You can make a compelling case for trading Clark now, getting more than a possible 2021 third round comp pick and being able to draft a rookie to replace him at a team-friendly price.

Sounds great, right?

But what if nobody wants to trade for Clark?

Mike Garafolo said it’d take a high first round pick. Is that what the Seahawks want — or is it what teams are actually willing to pay?

Here’s the thing — the 2019 draft class is loaded with defensive line talent. Why would anyone trade a high pick for Frank Clark to pay him $20m a year with $65-70m guaranteed when you can draft a pass rusher in round one at a fraction of the cost?

It’s not realistic. Not this year.

Perhaps a team in the late first round might consider it? There’s no guarantee though. And if teams are only talking about a second rounder at best — the Seahawks might think they’re better off keeping Clark and trying to extend his contract this summer rather than giving up for just a second rounder.

After all, who thought the offers for Earl Thomas would be so weak a year ago? Their best offer was a third round pick. It’s easy to say ‘trade a player’ — it’s a lot harder to make it happen for a fair deal.

When the Bills were being linked a few weeks ago I proposed a trade that included swapping #21 for #9 and Seattle getting Buffalo’s second rounder (#40). I think that’s about the best you could hope for. You’d have a shot at one of the top rookie defensive linemen and you make up the gaping hole in round two.

Again though — how interested are Buffalo in a deal like that? Especially now you’d have to pay Clark a mega-contract with massive guarantees.

A trade just doesn’t seem likely at this stage — because of the cost of the contract and the talent in the draft. And if that assertion is correct — the Seahawks have to make a call on whether they want to pay the market rate or wait this out.

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