We spent a lot of time before the last draft debating Seattle’s need for a taller, bigger target — either at tight end or receiver. There weren’t countless options in the draft, but there were enough. Seattle went against the grain — as they often do — to draft 6-0, 183lbs Paul Richardson in round two after trading down. And when I write 183lbs, that’s now. He was lighter in college.
We all cursed our mistake after the draft. Of course! This is a Seattle type of player. He’s fast, explosive. Comparisons were made to DeSean Jackson. They were looking for speed and difference making athleticism. They had Percy Harvin and that was the future.
In the aftermath of the Harvin trade, I think it’s pretty obvious what the team is now thinking. They need that bigger target after all.
According to various reports they tried to trade Harvin to Cleveland, Denver and Indianapolis for Jordan Cameron, Julius Thomas and Coby Fleener respectively. That’s two of the most dynamic taller pass-catchers in the NFL, and Coby Fleener.
The Seahawks have converted 30 of 75 third down attempts (40%) this year — good for 20th in the NFL. They’re 58% in the red zone — right in the middle of the pack. There’s an improvement to be had in both areas. With teams game-planning to contain Russell Wilson in the pocket, he needs an easier outlet. Imagine if he had a fade option to a 6-4/6-5 receiver matched up against a smaller defensive back? Imagine if he had a target capable of winning over the middle against a linebacker? Imagine if he had a situation where he doesn’t have to be brilliantly accurate — he can even deliberately overthrow a receiver and let them go up and get it?
Think back to the Pro Bowl after Wilson’s rookie year. He was throwing darts to Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson. And boy did it look good.
This is no disrespect to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Seattle started the year with Harvin and Sidney Rice and both are gone. It’s a sheer numbers game if nothing else.
Admittedly it isn’t Seattle’s greatest need at the moment. Yesterday’s productive second half possibly changed a few minds in the front office. They’re struggling for depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. But it’s very unlikely the Seahawks are going to be able to work a deal for a dynamic pass rusher before the trade deadline. Some positions are just easier to fix mid-season.
So can they work a deal?
According to reports over the weekend Tampa Bay are at least willing to discuss a move for Vincent Jackson. This is exactly the type of player Seattle needs. In terms of taller, dynamic receivers — Jackson has been a true #1 for several years. The Seahawks showed some interest when he was a possible trade option in San Diego. Could they take another look?
The issue here is age and cost. Jackson is slated to earn $12m in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He’s also 32 in January. It’s quite a commitment to a player who might be past his peak as early as next season. Seattle has extra cap room following Harvin’s departure, but this would be a sure-fire way to make life more difficult to retain multiple players in the off-season beyond Wilson and Bobby Wagner.
There’d surely have to be a compromise in terms of compensation — and Tampa Bay would have to concede some ground to save some cash. They drafted Mike Evans in the top ten this year — a similar player physically who comes at a much cheaper price. They’d be well within their rights to ask for a third rounder for an impact player who can contribute quickly. I’m not convinced Seattle could stomach giving up yet another mid-round pick, especially given the financial investment they’d have to make on a player in his thirties.
And yet, as mentioned, he’d be ideal for this offense. He’d be the red zone target this team has lacked for a long time — he’d be a huge boost on third downs. He can also make big plays downfield.
How about this angle — could he be Seattle’s answer to Anquan Boldin? A solid, veteran presence who is consistent and makes key plays. For the last season and a half Boldin has been a terrific addition for the 49ers. You can pretty much guarantee he’s Colin Kaepernick’s first (and sometimes only) read on third down. In the red zone he shares attention with Vernon Davis. Boldin is 34 and still playing at a very high level.
Seattle could get Jackson until the age of 34. He could end up being just as significant for the Seahawks. But he’d cost approximately twice as much per year on his current Tampa Bay contract. San Francisco spent a sixth round pick to acquire Boldin. It’ll cost more to get Jackson.
It might be that the stars simply won’t align for this deal. Seattle’s front office will be aware that they can’t keep plundering good draft stock on veteran receivers without getting a return. Have they got one more gamble in them?
Or is it a case of going with what they have after a much more productive second half performance in St. Louis? The Seahawks need a good 2015 draft where they hit on several players. Having as many picks as possible gives them the best possible opportunity to do that.
Alternatively, maybe acquiring Vincent Jackson gives them the best possible opportunity to move on from the Harvin fiasco and get back to the playoffs? And isn’t that the more pressing need? This is Seattle’s window, after all.
If it isn’t Jackson, it could be someone else. After all, they seem active — as the interest in Cameron, Thomas and Fleener indicates.
The NFL trade deadline is October 28th.