Chris Jones commits to the Kansas City Chiefs

July 14th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Good teams don’t let top players leave. The Kansas City Chiefs might be the best run franchise in the NFL currently.

It’s easy to say that when you’re winning games with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. Yet this is the organisation that saw the talent in Mahomes that others (Chicago) didn’t and traded up to get a player who could, potentially, be the best quarterback we’ve ever seen. They had the foresight to sit him for a year behind a superb mentor in Alex Smith. They built around him with an arsenal of weapons.

They needed to improve the defense and were pro-active trading for Frank Clark and signing Tyrann Mathieu. The end result? A Super Bowl championship.

In recent articles we noted they easily had the cap space to retain Chris Jones. So it proved. Now, if nothing else, their defensive unit will include Jones and Clark for the foreseeable future. With a highly dynamic offense — that’ll always give them a chance.

This is why Colin Cowherd is suggesting Russell Wilson might be casting an envious eye in Mahomes’ direction.

The Seahawks, in comparison, do not base their entire offensive scheme around the quarterback. They clearly value Wilson extremely highly. Yet it’s understandable why Wilson would be slightly jealous of the power and control Mahomes has in KC.

Seattle’s biggest recent investments in terms of weapons are signing a 35-year-old tight end and drafting D.K. Metcalf in round two (after L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair, mind). Compare that to the multiple high draft picks and free agent signings the Chiefs have invested in.

The Seahawks revamped their offensive line this year but have done so with a cast of backups and projects.

On defense they haven’t made any significant trades like the Chiefs did with Clark. Neither have they retained their best defensive lineman. Kansas City paid up for Jones. The Seahawks didn’t for Clowney — which is fine. Nobody else paid up either. Yet they didn’t go after a viable alternative and now they’re relying on Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin to solve a major issue.

Wilson clearly wants them to sign Antonio Brown. Earlier this year he campaigned for Clowney to re-sign. He asked for stars. He wants to see this team being more like the Chiefs. He’s not blind to the issues. If you’re prepared to look critically at the situation, you’ll see the issues too. Seattle has not done a good enough job addressing their roster and improving their team this off-season.

The quarterback wants to win.

Are the Seahawks providing him with the best possible opportunity to win?

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Some thoughts on the Jamal Adams talk

July 10th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

The Jamal Adams trade talk has ramped up again this week

Three weeks ago I wrote about the remote possibility of Seattle trading for Jamal Adams. This week there’s been fresh talk about the Seahawks making a move.

Jake Heaps shared some information on 710 ESPN yesterday, igniting the discussion:

“I actually had a conversation with a friend of mine who works in a front office on the other side of the country for an NFL team, and we were talking and he actually said, ‘So your Seahawks are really into Jamal Adams.

“He said, yeah, the Seahawks are absolutely pursuing Jamal Adams… I think that trade conversations are heating up around Jamal Adams and that the Seahawks in particular are one of those teams that are continuing to pursue Jamal Adams.”

Others have since joined in to suggest this might be more than a cursory glance in Adams’ direction.

The thing is — there’s still a difference between reasonable interest and actually making a trade. The Seahawks constantly speak of being ‘in every deal’. And rightly so. They’ve pulled off some excellent trades over the years due to this approach. They’ve also had some misfires but that comes with the territory of being a pro-active franchise.

It’s not often a player as good as Adams becomes available. Thus, you’d be doing yourself a major disservice not to consider making a move. That process involves internal discussion and consultation. It involves contacting the Jets. You weigh up the cost and the impact.

Doing pretty standard work to have the best possible information for a potential deal can easily look like an aggressive pursuit. More often than not it’s just due diligence.

That’s not to say a trade won’t happen. It could — if everything matches up in a satisfactory manner and the Seahawks feel they want to pull the trigger.

Yet everything noted in the previous article on June 20th remains true:

— Safety is one of the few positions where they actually have some depth and talent

— Trading for Adams would all but write off the Marquise Blair pick one year into his career

— They have limited 2020 resources and still need to add at least one defensive tackle

— The pass rush needs major investment — much more than any other area of the defense

Some have suggested that the Seahawks are more comfortable paying big money at the safety position than the D-line and that could be a reason why they make this trade. Perhaps. It’s also important to remember that the two safeties they paid — Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor — were both legendary focal points who could easily end up in the Hall of Fame. Since both departed, the Seahawks have not invested heavily in the position.

Rather than preferring to pay safeties instead of defensive linemen, I think they just want to pay big money to players who truly deserve it. With the D-line market exploding since Olivier Vernon’s New York Giants contract, they’ve not indulged in the rapidly growing salaries for the top pass rushers. That feels like a weariness based on cost, rather than any philosophical approach to a specific position.

Adams is a terrific player and would provide a serious injection of quality. Playing next to Quandre Diggs would set up an excellent duo. With a seemingly top-heavy 2021 draft class and major question marks about the college football season, it might be a good idea to use your top pick on a proven veteran. Especially with the defense looking as mediocre as it currently does.

Yet you have to wonder whether such a move would even be worthwhile if Seattle’s front four can’t create pressure and if the secondary and linebackers are exposed. Trading for Adams and using the $60m you spent in free agency to fix the pass rush would’ve constituted a problem solving spring/summer. Trading for Adams and not addressing the pass rush properly could be putting the cart before the horse.

This feels like a classic case of doing due diligence and asking to be kept firmly updated by the Jets. Actually making a trade for Adams, however, still seems unlikely.

I’ve posted a few new articles this week so if you missed any, don’t forget to scroll down the homepage and join in the discussion in the comments section.

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Russell Wilson is letting you know what he thinks

July 9th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Colin Cowherd and Russell Wilson have a relationship. It could even be a friendship. Wilson has appeared on Cowherd’s show several times. He’s regularly promoted Seattle’s quarterback and even dabbled in a classic bit of ‘media negotiating’ a year ago by suggesting Wilson would be a good fit with the Giants in New York.

Days after Antonio Brown published a video showing he was working out with Wilson, we now have this. A new Cowherd take. This time he compares Wilson’s situation to that of Patrick Mahomes. He makes the reasonable case that everything is built around Mahomes in Kansas City. He’s consulted on draft picks, the scheme — everything.

In Seattle, Wilson is a highly valued member of the team. After all, they made him the highest paid player in the league. Yet it’s still very much Carroll’s vision, philosophy and approach to team building. Wilson fits within Carroll’s structure. That’s not to say he’s imprisoned in some kind of highly undesirable situation. Carroll and Wilson have been good for each other, even if that’s often forgotten these days.

Yet Cowherd suggests, again — quite fairly — that Wilson might look at Mahomes’ arsenal of weapons, input and focal point nature and be a little envious.

It’s also possible that this is another reveal into Wilson’s current feeling about the team. We’ve already had his call for superstars at the Pro Bowl and the very public display of interest in playing with Antonio Brown. Now this.

That’s not to say Wilson put Cowherd up to it. He might’ve done. Who knows? But it’s perfectly fair to wonder if Cowherd’s take is the result of a conversation or series of conversations with Wilson. This seems like more than an educated guess or projection. It’s very possible Cowherd knows exactly how Wilson feels and the quarterback is happy for his friend in the media to let us know about it.

And let’s be right here — Wilson is well within his rights to feel that way.

Park the scheme and philosophy stuff for a minute. Carroll has earned the benefit of the doubt that his approach to football works. He’s had a lot of success and deserves credit for that. Even if you wish for more of a Kansas City philosophy on the field — you can still respect that Carroll knows how to win. And if Wilson is the most important part of Seattle’s success — you can make a strong case for the culture Carroll cultivates being #2 on the list.

Let’s focus on team building instead. The Chiefs have invested heavily in their offense to provide Mahomes with an O-line and weapons. They even went out of their way to restructure Sammy Watkins’ contract this year rather than make an easy cut.

In comparison, what has Wilson got to work with? They’ve rebuilt the O-line with a career backup, a right tackle benched by the Jets and padded the depth with reclamation projects or younger players. They signed Greg Olsen — who turns 36 next year and has spent the last two years contemplating a broadcasting career. That was a positive move for Wilson but it’s fair to wonder how much juice Olsen has in what could be his final season.

His clamour for Antonio Brown is a cry for help. He wants more — and he deserves more. You only have to look at the 2020 draft. It was loaded with skill position talent and yet they were forced to use their first two picks on the defense because they didn’t address the problem in free agency. That can’t have gone unnoticed.

Supporting the quarterback isn’t just about an O-line and skill players either. It’s about a defense. The Chiefs have done a great job plugging holes and providing the kind of complimentary unit Mahomes needs. Kansas City doesn’t have a great defense — it’s simply good enough. They’ve been pro-active — adding players like Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu. Injections of quality. The kind of moves Seattle hasn’t made this off-season.

The Seahawks’ pass rush was inept in 2019 and could be even worse this year. There are question marks in the secondary too and yet they’re paying $25m for two linebackers and then spent their top draft pick on the same position.

They spent $60m in cap space this off-season and still their biggest and most glaring holes remain. Optimists keep insisting they’re far from finished but the money has practically run out and the options are thin to make serious improvements.

Wilson isn’t daft. He’ll be just as aware of all this as we are. He’s a winner and he wants to get back to the Super Bowl. The questions we ask about their off-season, he’s probably asking too.

Slowly but surely the curtain is being pulled back and we’re starting to learn about some of Wilson’s apparent dissatisfaction. It doesn’t mean he’s going to lead a mutiny or become a problem. This is the time to make a point though — before the season really begins. He should speak out too if he’s concerned. I doubt the team will have much of an issue with him doing so either.

That said, Wilson needs proof that the franchise is as ambitious as he is after a seriously underwhelming off-season. The next 12 months will be interesting.

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Trading for Chris Jones? The sad reality of the situation

July 8th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Chris Jones still hasn’t signed his franchise tender

In light of Patrick Mahomes’ record breaking contract, many have wondered what it means for Chris Jones’ future. He hasn’t signed his franchise tag tender and has even threatened to ‘do a Le’Veon Bell’ (presumably that means holding out, losing millions and ruining his career?).

Considering Seattle’s tragic need for defensive line reinforcements — predictably this has led some to question whether a trade is possible. After all — you can’t pay everyone and Kansas City is no longer a team benefiting from a quarterback on a rookie contract.

Even so — a trade is, unfortunately, highly unlikely for several reasons…

1. The Chiefs salary cap situation

Kansas City has done a remarkable job managing their salary cap over the last few years. Despite paying numerous big name players, trading for the likes of Frank Clark and keeping together their core group — they still have a healthy outlook for the future.

Following Mahomes’ extension they are now left with an estimated $22m in cap space for 2021. By 2022 they are projected to have $111m available — although this doesn’t include Mahomes’ salary. On top of this, they can create more cap space next year by cutting Tyrann Mathieu ($15m) and Alex Okafor ($6m).

If they want to sign Jones to a new contract, nothing is preventing them from doing so over the next few years. They have the cap space even with Mahomes’ big contract coming into effect. They have no pressure to trade him from a financial perspective.

2. The way they structure contracts

The Chiefs, unlike the Seahawks, were willing to make Frank Clark one of the highest paid defensive ends in the league. His contract is worth an average of $20.8m a year. The structure of the deal, however, gives them great flexibility and manageable control for the future.

Clark’s year-one cap hit in 2019 was just $6.5m. That was necessary given the cap pressure the Chiefs felt last year. His cap hit rises to $19.3m in 2020 and $25.8m in 2021. After that — they can easily get out of the contract if needed.

It’s basically only a three-year commitment to Clark. If he continues to perform at a high level — by 2022 a cap hit of $26.3m could present reasonable market value. If not, they can cut or trade him and save $13.4m as he turns 29 (and could still have some trade value).

Why is this important? If the Chiefs wanted to pay Chris Jones a similar salary, they would almost certainly structure the deal in the same way. They could lower his initial cap hit into the $6-10m range in 2021 and then back-load the deal. It could be a three year commitment, set up to be most expensive when Clark’s deal provides an out in 2022. By then they can make a call on Clark and it provides a very realistic opportunity for Kansas City to save money on their D-line if needed.

3. Why would the Chiefs trade him?

Because they are in relative cap health even with Mahomes’ new contract — all of the bargaining power lies with the Chiefs. All Jones can do is, as suggested, pull a Le’Veon Bell. I’m not sure using the worst negotiating tactic in the history of the NFL is going to sway a well run organisation.

Presumably Jones will not go down that route and the worst case scenario is he will play on the franchise tag. That would give the Chiefs an opportunity to try and win another Super Bowl in 2020 with the same core group that won a title in 2019.

After the season, the Chiefs can afford to franchise him again if needs be — even if it’s merely a precursor to a trade. Or they could just let him walk as a free agent. At the end of the day, trading him away arguably isn’t worth it if you’re harming your chances of winning a Super Bowl in 2020.

They’re not going to give him away like the Texans did with Jadeveon Clowney. We also know a lot more about Clowney now than we did a year ago. His free agency experience casts the trade in a completely different light. Nobody wants to pay him. The Texans, clearly, didn’t have a rich market for his services a year ago and took what they could. Whether that’s down to Clowney the person or his injury history — we can’t compare that situation to Jones.

In order to make a deal with the Chiefs you’d have to make it worth their while. What is the price of a major impact on your chances of winning a Championship this year?

4. Time is running out

July 15th is the deadline for a tagged player to sign a long term deal. After that date, he can’t discuss an extension until the end of the league year. That means if the Seahawks wanted to trade for him and extend his contract — they’d need to do it in the next seven days. Otherwise the best they could hope for is a rental situation.

You might argue that a rental would be fine. However, there are two big problems. Firstly, the Seahawks don’t have the cap space to absorb a $16m cap hit this year. That’s how much Jones is due on the franchise tag. If you rent him, you’d need the Chiefs to be willing to pay a decent chunk of his salary — just like the Texans did with Clowney. That doesn’t seem very realistic.

Secondly, it again comes down to Kansas City’s motivation to move him. The Texans clearly had a better grasp on Clowney’s situation than most gave them credit for. Had Clowney not been traded a year ago, the Texans wouldn’t have received a third round comp pick like everyone expected. By dealing him, they got something instead of nothing for a player the league isn’t that high on (for whatever reason).

Jones’ situation is different. There’s no reason to think he would also face a similar market next year. Thus the worst case scenario for the Chiefs is a decent comp pick down the line. Again — if you want to rent Chris Jones for a season it’s probably going to cost a higher pick. Otherwise, why would the Chiefs dent their chances of another Championship?

The most likely scenario for a trade was a deal that enabled another team to pay a high price in terms of picks, then extend his contract. You’ve only got seven days to sort that out.

The only other possible situation would be to make a trade after July 15th and then convince Jones to play on the tag in 2020 without having to guarantee you won’t tag him again next year. That seems implausible. Jones would surely threaten to hold out, scuppering any trade. Franchising him a second time would cost $19m — a not unreasonable amount compared to his peers. Yet he’s unlikely to go along with that arrangement ($16m in 2020, $19m in 2021) when he will be seeking a salary worth $23m a year.

5. Jones will want a mega contract

The Seahawks have so far refused to pay Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney. Is it realistic that they’d be willing to pay Chris Jones the kind of money he will want?

He’s well within his rights to ask for Aaron Donald money ($22.5m a year). Are the Seahawks really going to turn over high draft picks and a contract like that?

Furthermore — the likes of Donald and Khalil Mack were blue-chip players taken very early in the draft. Their physical profiles were elite. So was their production.

Jones has done a superb job producing consistently in the NFL despite a so-so college career. Yet he was also an early second round pick for a reason. He doesn’t possess the kind of physical profile of Donald or Mack. The light turned on in the NFL — but we’ve also seen him coast through a spell at Mississippi State.

Can you say with any great confidence that his production will continue if he’s earning $22.5m a year (or more)? Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Chiefs have so far been reluctant to commit that much money to him on a long term extension?

It’s a nice thought to consider the Seahawks adding the kind of dynamic interior pass rusher they desperately need. If the Chiefs were willing to make a trade that included Seattle’s 2021 first round pick — it should be considered (provided a long term deal could be agreed). Next years draft class looks top heavy and light on D-line talent. The pass rush appears set to hold this team back from being a serious contender next season. Any opportunity to rectify that situation should be acted on.

There’s just too many obstacles — the price, the lack of motivation to deal him, the cost to the Chiefs in 2020. Seattle has essentially made its bed this year and short of being able to add a cheap defensive tackle or one of the two troubled receivers everyone’s talking about — they really don’t have the scope to do much more.

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Memphis tackle Obinna Eze has potential

July 6th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Eze is switching to left tackle in 2020

The Seahawks didn’t invest an early pick on an offensive tackle this year, increasing the likelihood that they’ll need to in 2021. Duane Brown turns 35 in August and even if he plays on beyond this season — the future at left tackle warrants some consideration.

In recent years Seattle has preferred the veteran option. The top offensive tackles always go early and the ones available later on often require significant development. It’s possible, as we saw with the 49ers and Joe Staley/Trent Williams, that the Seahawks will eventually replace Brown with another veteran. That might be the best move, especially with Russell Wilson very much in the peak of his career. Whether it’s via trade or free agency — there’s a fairly good chance the Seahawks won’t leave Wilson’s blindside to an unproven younger player.

The other option of course is to draft and develop. That would require Brown to play for at least two more seasons realistically. It also means trying to identify a tackle likely to be available (assuming the Seahawks aren’t suddenly picking in the top-10).

One player to keep an eye on is Memphis’ Obinna Eze.

He’s switching to left tackle this year and it’ll be really interesting to see how he adjusts. His physical skill set is far more suited to the left side than the right, where he’s played previously. Eze is listed at 6-8 and 303lbs. He’s not a powerful drive blocker though — he’s very much an athlete.

Eze is a former four star recruit and was quite the get for Memphis when he opted to stay in Tennessee. The likes of Alabama, Florida, LSU and Auburn all showed interest. When he trained at a LSU camp in High School — he looked like a tight end playing tackle. He was tall, long and athletic but handled his three-star opponent with ease.

He only moved to the United States from Nigeria in 2015. After just a year of football on the junior varsity squad at Davidson Academy in Nashville, he received a scholarship offer from Lane Kiffin (who was the Alabama offensive coordinator at the time).

His story is very similar to Prince Tega Wanogho’s. He moved to America to play basketball but had the frame and athleticism suited to playing O-line.

The Athletic’s Chris Vannini profiled Eze last August:

Eze hasn’t seen his family in more than four years. It’s a sacrifice he’s had to make.

At 16 years old, he attended an open basketball camp in Nigeria, a year after picking up the sport. He impressed so much that he was invited to a closed camp for 50 players. From there, he made a team that traveled to the United States to play an AAU circuit. American interest in him blew up from that tour, with high schools in Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee offering scholarships.

Eze’s mother has a master’s degree in English, and the opportunity to get an education in the U.S. was something Eze’s family felt he shouldn’t pass up. He opted for Davidson Academy in Nashville and was paired with Maurice and Jennifer Fitzgerald as his guardians. He left Nigeria, uncertain of his future, unsure of when he’d see his family again. It’s too expensive for them to visit him or for him to go back right now.

“Certain sacrifices are necessary,” Eze says. “I’m glad they understand it, even though it’s hard for them and me too. We chose a path.”

The first thing that stands out on tape is his really light feet. In terms of pure agility and mobility — there aren’t many college tackles who can move like this. He drops with ease, there’s no labouring in his movement and his feet are so smooth he wouldn’t wake a baby with his kick-slide.

When he’s asked to defend a speed rush he drops with suddenness to wall off a route to the quarterback. He surprises defensive ends with his ability to mirror and often they’re forced too wide and deep — making it really hard to work back to the quarterback. He’s not troubled or fazed by speed in the slightest and that’s a good start for any prospective left tackle.

That alone makes him a really intriguing prospect with high potential. However, like most college offensive tackles, there are so many things to work on too.

For starters his frame is unrefined and a little sloppy. Duane Brown looks like a Terminator. Eze is going to need time working with a nutritionist and with a proper pro set-up in order to bulk up, get stronger and look like a NFL lineman. It shows in his play. He just can’t drop the anchor at the moment and defend from his core base. On the move he’s fine. When he needs to latch-on and drive defenders off the LOS, you don’t see it.

He’s much more comfortable dropping into space and operating with a one or two-armed shove. He’s playing to his strengths and that’s fine. What you want to see at the next level though is the ability to wall-off against speed and play inside/out but also an ability to connect with proper hand-placement, control a defender and drive him backwards. Eze does an excellent job in college keeping his frame clean but you’re playing a whole different level of opponent in the NFL. He’s going to need to win with power and battle. That means he needs to be stronger and bigger. With his frame — there’s definitely room to add another 10-15lbs. He needs to because against Penn State he was beaten by a one-armed bull rush by a lighter pass rusher.

This is the difference between a top-five pick in Andrew Thomas and more of a project. Thomas had an ideal NFL frame already and combined quick feet and balance with the ability to control.

There are also needed technical improvements. His kick slide, while impressive in terms of athleticism, is choppy and sometimes he gets ahead of himself in the drop and loses balance. He gets into awkward positions sometimes and the blocking angle means he has to contort his body. This is a sign of relying too much on the drop and not enough on being willing to get your hands on a pass rusher and control. He plays a lot of ‘defense’ as a blocker and when he’s bigger and stronger he’ll be able to go after his opponent instead.

He does a reasonable job extending his arms to keep his frame clean but again — he needs to latch-on rather than relying on his feet and shoving opponents off balance.

Shifting over to left tackle should help because his athleticism and ability to win vs speed is more suited to the blind side. If there’s a full college season in 2020 — he’s a player who could make enough of an impression to move up boards quickly. Coaches will salivate at the potential but he’s a player who, in all likelihood, will need time and maybe a redshirt season to develop his body and work on technique. The end result could be a top-level pass blocker. With the league constantly looking for those types — he has a chance to be an early pick.

Mike Norvell coached Eze at Memphis prior to taking the Florida State job. His view on his potential?

“Obinna is going to be successful no matter what he does… He can play this game for a long time. Whenever the last day of football comes, he’ll continue to have success, because of the drive he has in every aspect of his life.”

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The reason Antonio Brown might be available sooner than we think

July 3rd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

We’ve talked a lot about Russell Wilson’s apparent interest in playing with Antonio Brown this season. The workout video this week felt like Wilson was making a point. He wants that story in the media and he wants Brown on the Seahawks — months after calling for the team to land some superstars.

I’ve often highlighted the caveat that Brown is likely to face a lengthy suspension. Thus, any move to sign him seemed like a ways off.

However, Mike Florio raised an interesting point in the video above.

Brown was cut by the Patriots after week two when allegations of sexual and personal misconduct were levied against him and then he allegedly sent intimidating text messages sent to one of his accusers. He was never placed on the commissioners exempt list but that was inevitable the minute anyone signed him. Thus, nobody did.

We know teams were interested. Heck, the Seahawks were linked to him on multiple occasions during the 2019 season. Yet teams knew it would be a waste of time. The minute he penned a contract, he was going on the exempt list due to the allegations. He wasn’t officially suspended but he was essentially frozen out of the NFL.

So while we assume Brown will likely receive a significant suspension were he to sign with a team now, Florio notes it could be argued he’s already served a 14 game ban. If the league wished to suspend him for 16 games — a full season — it’s possible that he might actually only miss two games in 2020. It would certainly be difficult for the league to argue he hadn’t already been prevented from signing for a team and playing in 14 games last season while the allegations remained unaddressed.

That’s something to consider as talk of Brown signing with a team ramps up. If he’s going to miss between 0-2 games in 2020, his signing is a lot more likely than if he was going to miss half the season or more. Presumably when there’s clarity on how much time, if any, he will miss in 2020 — that’s the moment he will sign somewhere.

It’s also worth noting that Wilson isn’t the only quarterback willing to petition for his team signing Brown. Deshaun Watson wants him in Houston and Lamar Jackson has also worked out with him. Tom Brady seems determined to work with him again. Mike Garafolo reported this week that many quarterbacks are ‘enamoured’ with the idea of playing with him. Garofolo also suggested Brown’s preferred destination is Seattle.

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Russell Wilson is making a point

July 2nd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Yesterday a couple of videos emerged on Antonio Brown’s instagram, including this:

It shows Brown clearly working out with Russell Wilson on the quarterbacks property (note the large ‘RW’ logo at midfield). A second video clearly identified Wilson was the person throwing the ball to Brown.

In May John Clayton wrote an article revealing that Wilson ‘would love to add Antonio Brown’. A week ago, Mike Silver connected the Seahawks to Brown by reporting they’d had internal discussions about signing him.

Now, this workout.

So what’s going on?

At the Pro Bowl Seattle’s quarterback made it very clear that he wanted the team to add superstars. None were forthcoming in free agency as the Seahawks failed to bring back Jadeveon Clowney (despite an online appeal by Wilson) and didn’t add any other significant names either — preferring to pad the roster with O-line depth.

This hasn’t been the kind of proactive off-season many expected. The pass rush remains a major issue and there are serious questions over whether the roster has actually improved despite $60m being spent. Many fans are anxious for the Seahawks not to squander Wilson’s prime years. It’s possible the quarterback feels that way too.

By working out with Brown and then allowing the footage to appear on Instagram, Wilson seems to be making a point. He wants this player signed — or at the very least he wants the Seahawks to make a move. He wants this story in the media.

Let’s not be naive and pretend this wasn’t deliberate. The question now is whether the Seahawks will placate their quarterback and if they don’t — is it possible Wilson will start to question how ‘all-in’ the franchise is to get back to the Super Bowl, after an underwhelming off-season.

Regardless, as we noted last week, Brown could face a lengthy suspension which makes an immediate signing unlikely. According to Mike Garofolo, Seattle is Brown’s preferred destination if and when he’s able to continue his career.

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Michigan’s Nico Collins is another talented 2021 receiver

June 28th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Nico Collins has second round potential

The 2021 draft promises to be another year dominated by talented receivers. Nico Collins has every opportunity to be a high pick.

The first thing that stands out is his natural ability. You can see why he was a highly touted, four-star talent. He’s actually from Alabama and was recruited heavily by the Crimson Tide. He took visits to Georgia and Florida State along with Alabama and Michigan. He claims he just fell in love with the idea of playing for Jim Harbaugh and opted, surprisingly, to head North.

Unfortunately the Harbaugh project hasn’t worked as well as hoped for the Wolverines and he’ll go into the 2020 season (if it happens) under pressure to be more competitive — especially against Ohio State. The offensive production in particular hasn’t reached the expected levels, quarterback play has been disjointed and poor and a number of highly touted recruits haven’t played to their potential.

Collins’ production has been decent but has been somewhat limited within an underwhelming offense. He had 729 yards last season with seven scores and in 2018 managed 632 yards and six touchdowns. If there’s a full season this year, that’s about the ballpark expectation unless there’s a major improvement at quarterback.

When you watch him on tape it’s very easy to think his better days may come in the NFL. He’s wonderfully sized at 6-4 and 222lbs and he does two things very well.

Firstly, his ball-tracking is superb. If you chuck a fade in his direction he’s adept at locating the ball then positioning his body to make the completion. It’s not an easy skill — and it’s something D.K. Metcalf, for all his upside, is yet to master. Collins knows when to box out a defender but he also contorts his body to make contested grabs too and it all stems from his ability to quickly locate, gain position and finish. He undercuts defenders running across the middle and fights to the ball too.

Secondly, he has superb body control. There’s very little wasted movement in his catching process. No choppy steps, no dancing at the start of the route. He has an opportunity to become quite a trusted receiver early in his career because he gets to where he needs to go and even if he’s covered, you can throw the ball imperfectly into an area where he can still make things happen.

Size, control, instincts — these are factors that play into the natural talent he has.

There is another side to his game though that will cause some concern. Speed.

Running a great forty isn’t everything. Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins and others are a good example of that. Yet you do need to have some ability to win quickly and suddenly — or have the rare special qualities that enable openings deeper in the route. There aren’t many who can do that at the highest level. As the league has become faster paced and more user friendly for passing — suddenness is key. And more often than not, a good forty is a strong indicator of an ability to get open.

That’s likely one of the reasons the Seahawks haven’t drafted receivers early without running at least a 4.4. They value speed and quickness even in their bigger receivers — as seen recently with Metcalf and previously with players like Kris Durham.

Collins isn’t quick. That’s not his game. You don’t see him exploding off the snap, snaking by a defender and providing that easy throw to the quarterback on a slant. He’s not going to drive to the post and get open. He’s not going to boss go-routes and give opponents a headache downfield. He’s not a YAC-threat. If you want a receiver who does those things you’re going to look at a player such as DeVonta Smith.

A lot of Collins’ catches are contested and at the end of the day, he’s 6-4 and 222lbs. He’s not Antonio Brown or Tyler Lockett.

He didn’t test at SPARQ so we don’t have any indicators on what his forty might be but if I had to guess, I think even a 4.5 might be optimistic. He’s the opposite of sudden. As he builds speed his acceleration is actually quite leggy and sluggish.

Collins is still talented though. As noted before, he has a natural ability that you can work with. He’s probably not going to be a Seahawks target because he’s unlikely to run a 4.4. However — for the teams who like to scheme receivers open, find ways to pick holes in a defensive system and manufacture opportunities for their players — he could be a major value addition in the second round. He could be a good pick for a team like New Orleans or the LA Rams and he has second round potential for GM’s and coaches who can work out a plan to make the most of his physical ability.

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Seahawks linked to Antonio Brown again

June 23rd, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

In the video above Michael Silver connects the Seahawks and Ravens to Antonio Brown. He notes Brown has been working out with Geno Smith recently.

Brown hinted on social media earlier this month that he could be joining a new team soon. Shortly after, he resolved a January arrest by pleading no contest to multiple charges arising from an altercation with a moving truck driver whom Brown didn’t want to pay.

There are still plenty of hurdles in the way in terms of returning to the NFL.

For starters, he will be disciplined by the league for the January incident. He remains subject to NFL policies despite not being contracted by any team and pleaded no contest to two felonies (burglary and battery) that entail a minimum prison sentence of one year.

He won’t go to prison because he negotiated a different outcome. Yet the league will have to act as part of any reinstatement and that could mean a suspension.

The NFL also continues to investigate Brown for a civil allegation of sexual assault and rape. He also remains under investigation for allegedly harassing via text message a woman who spoke out about him to the media.

If and when he’s cleared to return to play, there’s every chance he’s going to miss significant time. Not to mention the aesthetics of signing him. Brown has trashed his reputation in the last 12 months and some of the allegations made against him are extremely serious and unsettling.

The Seahawks are well known for looking into every opportunity. Silver’s report merely states they’ve had internal discussions. Keeping the door open isn’t a problem. Signing him isn’t even a problem — as long as he’s cleared of those allegations and your own internal homework is thorough and comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

How viable is it, however, to return a satisfactory outcome? Brown has been a whirlwind of drama for a long time. Even if the allegations prove to be false — he’s provided so many other reasons to steer clear.

Yet Jake Heaps, who is close to Russell Wilson, validates the possibility of Brown being added by stating on twitter that the discussions are serious.

Earlier this summer John Clayton suggested Wilson has been pushing for the team to sign Brown. Even Brown himself posted a ‘jersey swap’ on social media — a picture of him wearing a Seahawks uniform.

Wilson pushed for superstars at the Pro Bowl and none were forthcoming (unless you want to include Greg Olsen). The Seahawks know they need to help Wilson as much as possible because currently, the roster isn’t good enough to win a Championship — even though their quarterback most certainly is.

It’ll be interesting to see what the consequences of Brown’s inevitable reinstatement are — and if it creates a plausible opportunity for Seattle to bring him in.

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Some thoughts on the Jamal Adams trade situation

June 20th, 2020 | Written by Rob Staton

Jamal Adams has asked to be traded by the Jets

There’s been a lot of talk over the last 48 hours about Jamal Adams — and understandably so. He’s a quality player at a good age (turns 25 in October). Aside from his obvious qualities on the field he’s also considered an emotional leader.

It does warrant asking why we’re on chapter seven of ‘will he or won’t he leave the Jets’. It’s possible that the constant drama that surrounds his future is self inflicted. After all, there’s little reason for the Jets to part with a player everyone considers one of their best. Nevertheless here we are — with Adams unsatisfied on contract talks and trying to force his way out of New York.

Adam Schefter tweeted a list of the best teams in the NFL, stating Adams would be willing to be traded to any of them. The Seahawks were on the list. This is all part of the ‘come and get me’ plea that the player is initiating through the media. The Seahawks are listed not so much for any specific reason other than they’re a competent franchise who regularly qualifies for the playoffs with a top quarterback.

Even so, it’s got people talking and even creating wild and wonderful trade scenarios — including players and picks.

The chances of the Seahawks actually making the trade however are remote.

The reality is that safety is one of the few positions where they actually have some depth and talent. The Quandre Diggs acquisition during the 2019 season was a masterstroke. Already he looks like Seattle’s second best player on defense. He’s charismatic and respected. As long as he can stay healthy, a contract extension at the end of the season could be on the cards. Diggs is only 27 and has an opportunity to become a longer term core member of the roster.

At strong safety, they’re only a year removed from spending a second round pick on Marquise Blair. While it’s no precursor to success, it’s worth noting that they took Blair 17 spots earlier than D.K. Metcalf in the 2019 draft. The only defensive back they’ve drafted earlier than Blair is Earl Thomas. That’s how much potential they think he has. He’s also not the first safety to require some time to learn the scheme. Kam Chancellor was redshirted. Earl Thomas had growing pains and simply played anyway because he joined what amounted to an expansion-level roster in 2010.

Trading for Adams would all but write off the Blair pick one year into his career.

They also have Bradley McDougald, who people are already happy to write off and propel off the roster — presumably because he’s not a former high pick or a flashy big name. Yet McDougald has long been underrated. His passer rating when thrown to in 2019 was 58.8 — among the top-15 for all defensive backs in the league. That’s comparable to Tyrann Mathieu (57.8) and Eddie Jackson (57.6). That’s despite being targeted 14 more times than Jackson in coverage.

He actually had a relatively poor end to last season which impacted his statistics. For most of the year he was graded in a similar range to Earl Thomas, who ended up leading all defensive backs in passer rating.

McDougald has also contributed with turnovers — including five interceptions in the last two seasons, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Nobody would argue he’s a better player than Adams. He isn’t. Given the choice of the two players to build around, you’d clearly choose the younger former top-10 pick. Yet McDougald is the ideal player to have in place while you bring along Blair. He’s a competent, productive starter with leadership qualities. If the aim is for Blair to take over the starting role in the next 12 months, this is actually a good situation. He has to earn the job but he has a pathway to achieve that.

By trading for Adams you’re completely blocking his route to start. It’d be the end of his Seattle career. You’d have to pay a first round pick for the privilege plus other picks too — on top of the selection already used on Blair.

It really comes down to this — the strong safety position is not a problem for Seattle. They have a reasonable transition plan in place. As good as Adams is — it’s not a situation that warrants the extreme investment (picks and a massive new salary) it would cost to bring him in.

Diggs, McDougald and Blair — supported by Ugo Amadi — isn’t a glaring weakness. If the Seahawks are going to spend a first round pick in a trade, it should be on the defensive line. That’s the real area that’s going to hold them back in a title run.

The dire situation is highlighted by the fact they still haven’t replaced Al Woods at defensive tackle. At the moment they’re prepared to enter the season with only Bryan Mone and Demarcus Christmas backing up Jarran Reed and Poona Ford.

At defensive end, they’re going to be relying on Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin — plus anything they can get from rookie Darrell Taylor — to try and fix the pass rush problem and make up for the loss of Jadeveon Clowney. Nobody would’ve accepted that situation the day after the Green Bay playoff game. Yet here we are.

Had the Seahawks invested in their D-line in free agency and not acquired Quandre Diggs or Marquise Blair in the last 12 months — trading for Adams would’ve been a smart move. As it is they’ve just got other priorities at the moment.

And before anyone points out that Adams had 6.5 sacks for the Jets last year — remember who he was playing for. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams embarrassingly calls himself ‘Doctor Blitz’. Adams blitzed 90 times during the 2019 season, ninth most in the entire NFL at any position. Baltimore’s Chuck Clark, in a similar scheme, was the only safety who blitzed at a similar rate.

In comparison, Bradley McDougald blitzed 21 times. Even Bobby Wagner only blitzed 71 times last season.

In Seattle’s scheme, Earl Thomas recorded the grand total of zero sacks and Kam Chancellor had two. So Adams’ sack total is unlikely to translate.

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