Seahawks eyeing John Michael Schmitz… in round one?

March 15th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

John Michael Schmitz — destined for Seattle?

According to friend of the blog Tony Pauline at Pro Football Network, the Seahawks are very interested in drafting Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz:

The other center-needy team who really likes Schmitz is the Seattle Seahawks. The franchise has been eyeing Schmitz for the longest time and became enamored with him during the Senior Bowl. Would they pull the trigger on Schmitz with the 20th selection, their second pick in the first round? Ideally, they’d want to trade down, but you never can tell with Seattle.

Tony also reports interest from the Giants and Bills in Schmitz — believing there’s a legit chance he could go in the first round.

It’s a sentiment shared by others. Lance Zierlein has him graded as the 23rd best player in the draft. Jim Nagy called him a “two-contract, high-level starter” and one of the surest things in this class.

The Seahawks are going to draft a center. They stayed out of the relatively team-friendly veteran market, which is a big tell. After the combine I predicted they were certain to draft one of Schmitz or Luke Wypler.

Both players are perfect scheme fits. They have ideal size, wrestling backgrounds and they ran good short shuttles (Wypler — 4.53, Schmitz — 4.56).

I think both players are day two picks. The center position typically isn’t one that you see in round one. Neither player is an outstanding tester like Nick Mangold — the 29th pick in 2006 who ran a 4.36 short shuttle at 300lbs. However, Ryan Kelly ran a similar shuttle (4.59) and was the #18 pick — and the Seahawks were believed to be big admirers of Kelly in 2016.

It’s also worth noting that Schmitz and Wypler perfectly fit Seattle’s refocused approach to character. They are exactly the ‘type’ they are looking for.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Trading down from #20 feels plausible. Yet I fear the Seahawks might fall into the trap John Schneider says he’s keen to avoid. There could be some fantastic value at #20 and unless he agrees with Zierlein that Schmitz is one of the 25 best players in the class, it could end up being a slight reach to fill a need.

One scenario could be to trade down from #20 and trade up from #38 — hitting what might be seen as a sweet spot for value between #25-32. We know the Seahawks were open to trading up in that range last year. Dropping five spots would also keep Seattle ahead of New York and Buffalo — so it might be worth keeping an eye on a deal with Jacksonville who own the #25 pick, with Seattle potentially snagging Schmitz with their second selection.

I’d hope that having two viable centers might give the Seahawks confidence not to force anything. According to Tony’s extremely believable report though, it sounds like Schneider has locked on to his man. The lack of free agent additions at center speak to the distinct possibility Seattle will address the position early in this draft — making sure they land their top target.

If they continue to address the defense in free agency it could also be a sign that offensive picks in round one are very much on the agenda.

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Do you hear that?

March 15th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

… It’s the sound of a thousand pennies finally dropping.

Here’s an ESPN report on Jalen Carter’s pro-day performance:

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was nine pounds heavier than he was at the NFL combine about two weeks ago and couldn’t finish his position drills at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday.

Carter, who was once considered a potential No. 1 pick in April’s draft, weighed 323 pounds at the pro day. He opted to do only position drills and didn’t participate in other aspects of the workout, including the 40-yard dash, cone drills and other physical tests. Carter didn’t finish the position drills because he was cramping up and breathing heavily.

He is not being drafted with the fifth overall pick.


Free agency day three thoughts

March 15th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Can the Seahawks make it 3/3?

After consecutive days of defensive line additions, what will today bring? The Seahawks don’t have much cap space remaining but as we’ve seen over the last couple of days, you can make anything happen really.

Although some of the big names are still out there, we’re getting to the point where players will be coming to terms with their markets. It’s the opportunity, usually, the Seahawks wait for. Can they make further defensive additions now, as the market becomes more team-friendly?

I’d still like to see some more beef added to the D-line and perhaps another outside rusher — although I think everything is gearing towards Bobby Wagner’s inevitable return. I hope the Seahawks wait that one out for as long as possible though — Wagner appears to have a very limited market. There’s no chatter about him and prospective suitors such as Dallas have already moved on. The price has to come to Seattle for me — this can’t be a nostalgia-driven signing.

At the end of the day, you’re looking for someone to hold the fort until Jordyn Brooks is back. I still think a cheap veteran and a draft pick can get the job done. But we’ll see what happens.

What do they do at running back?

A few people are wondering this with Rashaad Penny and Travis Homer departing. It’s worth remembering that this is a loaded running back class.

I’m intrigued to see if the change in blocking scheme could lead to a shift in ‘type’ they are looking for. Ken Walker ran a 4.38 at an ideally sized 211lbs. Yet if they are more inclined to go for quickness these days — the likes of the incredibly dynamic Devon Achane could be on their radar. He’s small and diminutive but he runs like you’re playing NCAA on a PS3. He can cut and change direction with ease without losing any speed. It’s a thing to watch.

He ran a blistering 4.32 and while he won’t push the pile — you can well imagine him excelling in a zone scheme. When gets to the second level, watch out.

Jahmyr Gibbs also ran brilliantly (4.36) and while the thought of another high pick at running back will haunt some Seahawks fans — they’d have the most dynamic running duo in the league.

Zach Charbonnet, Tyjae Spears, Israel Abanikanda and Kenny McIntosh all have the potential to be immediate contributors. Then there’s the likes of Chris Rodriguez, Chase Brown, Tank Bigsby and Zach Evans in the mid-range, with Evan Hull, Roschon Johnson, Eric Gray, Deuce Vaughan, Kendre Miller and Sean Tucker likely to be on the board at the start of day three.

And let’s also not totally rule out Bijan Robinson at #20. It’d be an extreme luxury and I don’t think he’ll last that far. But he’s too good to ignore.

There are so many options — they could even draft two of these guys later on and feel good about their running back group.

Today is the Georgia pro-day

Stand by for hype galore — as everyone waits to see if Jalen Carter works out (and speaks to the media). Nolan Smith will presumably get another week of good press out of this event. Most of the teams (if not all) will be on campus. We’ll also hear loads of chatter about who’s interested in who.

Just give me some short shuttles.

Is that too much to ask?

Pro-day notes

According to Tony Pauline, Bryan Bresee ran an excellent 4.43 short shuttle at 302lbs, plus a three-cone of 7.38. We already know that Moro Ojomo ran a 4.56 short shuttle at his pro-day, with Adetomiwa Adebawore running a 4.26.

Meanwhile, Myles Murphy didn’t do anything at Clemson’s pro-day and has arranged his own pro-day for April 4th as he recovers from an injury.

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Seahawks re-signing Jarran Reed

March 14th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Well, we did say it wouldn’t be a Seahawks off-season without some former players returning.

And while the fanbase waits patiently for Bobby Wagner’s inevitable return (I’ve already written my article reacting to that, I’m just waiting to publish it) — it’s actually a more unlikely player who returns first.

Jarran Reed left the Seahawks under a bit of a cloud in 2021. He was only a year removed from signing an extension. They wanted to work on his deal, get something sorted to lower his hit and extend his stay. Reed wasn’t happy and they parted with an air of bitterness lingering. He joined the Chiefs for a year and then spent 2022 in Green Bay.

I like this signing, on a reported two-year deal worth $10m (the reported price, so it’ll inevitably be lower in real money). He’s always been a very solid player. He only turned 30 in December so he’s not old. He had four sacks for the Packers in an active campaign. He hasn’t missed a game since 2019. You can trust him to be stout up front, play the run and deliver some pass rush. He has a warriors mentality.

He’ll be a lot cheaper than some of the alternative defensive linemen available and you know what you’re going to get from him. He’ll do a job.

Reed also plays with an attitude and an intensity which is always good to welcome back into the mix. He’s not a shrinking violet.

I think he’s the kind of piece Seattle needs to go with Dre’Mont Jones as they fix this defensive front. Now they have Reed, Jones and Al Woods as a front three — with the potential to draft someone to add to that. Maybe they’ll also find some money to bring another veteran in?

The only reason I didn’t consider Reed in my free agency piece was because I thought bridges had been burned. Evidently not — and kudos to all for coming together because this is a smart fit for both parties.

Either way — this is the kind of start Seattle needed to free agency. It’s also indicative of a team who I continue to think are likely to do one of two things at #5 — draft Will Anderson or one of the top-four quarterbacks. They’re focusing their intention on big-bodied defenders in free agency, which to me is telling.

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What I hope happens next for the Seahawks

March 14th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

The addition of Dre’Mont Jones was unquestionably a strong start to free agency for the Seahawks. They begin with a bang — addressing a huge need with a talented player at a great age.

Listening to some Broncos fans discuss Jones ahead of free agency, they clearly felt he was an ascending player — a key interior pass rusher capable of providing high-level disruption. They felt like his best football was to come — and now they’re going to watch him walk out the door as things reach a crescendo.

His 6.5 sacks in 2022 came in just 13 games. The Seahawks have needed an 8-10 sack interior rusher for some time and they may have found their man.

Still, there’s no getting away from the fact his run defense isn’t a strong point. You wouldn’t expect it to be — he’s 6-3 and 281lbs. The key for the Seahawks is to blend players with that kind of frame with some big brutes. It’s why in my last mock draft I had Seattle take Keion White at #20 (6-5, 285lbs) and then Mazi Smith at #38 (6-3, 323lbs).

The more they can do on the defensive line in free agency, the more things are free’d up for the draft. I’m not overly concerned about the linebacker position at the moment. I’ve taken a real liking to Tulane’s Dorian Williams and think he could be a hidden gem in this draft class. I also think there will be some options at the start of day three and that a big investment at linebacker isn’t entirely necessary.

So my preference over the coming days (or today, if, you know, they want to keep the celebratory mood going…) is to pad out the defensive front even more.

A’Shawn Robinson is big, solid run blocker. He isn’t going to win many defensive player of the week awards but he could dramatically improve Seattle’s run defense.

All of the Fangio-inspired schemes have trouble against the run. This video does a good job explaining why. You’re going to need some beef up front to properly execute this system.

Greg Gaines would be an ideal alternative but I suppose you could say — why not both? If the 49ers can finagle their cap to add Javon Hargrave, how challenging is it for Seattle to do something for these two?

They did just release Quinton Jefferson to free up cap space.

It’s probably wishful thinking and the draft could provide some options to add another player to pair with Robinson or Gaines.

The other name is all-time blog favourite Calais Campbell. He’s an ageless wonder and while his dominating days are in the past — he still managed 5.5 sacks a year ago and a PFF grade of 77.2.

Unless you’re keeping your linebackers clean, I’m not sure it’s going to really matter who’s playing back there. I would still be very interested in bringing in Cole Holcomb or Drue Tranquill — two players who fit the bill in terms of physical profile and attitude. Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner remain available too. They might take some time to determine their next destination.

I’m intrigued to see if the influence of Brandon Jordan will pay off. There was more than a whisper doing the rounds that he’s so well connected (and respected) in the league that he’ll be a great recruiting tool for the Seahawks. Perhaps that played a part in the Dre’Mont Jones signing? He’s worked with most of the top defenders in the league. Two prominent edge rushers — Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam — are former clients. It’s also worth noting that recently, before arriving in Seattle, he’d been training Will McDonald.

It could be the Jones signing is the peak of Seattle’s free agency. It would be energising, however, to think the Seahawks could make further moves and really inject some quality and experience into the unit — completely freeing up the draft for a BPA extravaganza.

That would put the Seahawks in the tier of ‘intriguing 2023 teams with potential to make some noise’. Let’s see what they can get done.

Finally, the center market hasn’t really taken off and Garrett Bradbury, Jake Brendel and Coleman Shelton remain available. A veteran hedge for the draft is needed and the options are very much there for Seattle.

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Thoughts on the Seahawks signing Dre’Mont Jones

March 13th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

Sometimes you’ve just got to go out there and get the job done.

The Seahawks have certainly done that here.

The defensive line, such an issue at times in 2022, threatened to undermine the blossoming positivity that emerged during last season. It needed to be addressed.

But how?

The Seahawks are typically not big spenders in free agency but they couldn’t stand around waiting for value to come to them this year. The cheap, $4-5m contracts of previous seasons wouldn’t take this team to where it needed to go. Neither could they rely on rookies to solve the problem — nor should they back themselves into a corner needing to take defensive linemen in the draft to fill a need.

They needed to do something like sign Dre’Mont Jones — one of the big ticket free agents in a thin class of talent.

Now the wind is in their sails. The off-season continues to gather momentum. Seattle’s two big moves so far seem like home-runs:

— Signing Geno Smith to such a team-friendly contract that basically allows the Seahawks to do anything they want at the position for the long-term future, while dangling an enormous financial carrot in front of Smith as an incentive to excel

— Landing a top defensive lineman at a good age (he’s only just turned 26) to address the biggest need on the team

The impact of the signing is huge.

Firstly, getting this done on day one means Seattle can quickly move on to other positions. There’s no waiting around like in the Jadeveon Clowney pursuit, then being left with the remaining free agents. They can be in attack mode now — looking for value where they can, looking for opportunities. There’s far less pressure on the team because the biggest need is ticked off, even if there’s more to be done.

Secondly, it’s an attention grabbing signing. The Seahawks mean business. They’re not sitting around. On the day that Javon Hargrave signed for the 49ers, Seattle didn’t sit on the sidelines. Both teams made good, quality additions. Could the positivity of this signging lead to other players being tempted to jump on board? It can’t do any harm.

Finally, it steers the Seahawks towards the draft. I firmly believe the options at #5 are limited to the four quarterbacks and Will Anderson. I don’t think Jalen Carter (character) and Tyree Wilson (scheme fit) are as likely as large sections of draft media are suggesting.

As we’ve noted a few times, it’s a stretch to think Schneider and Carroll would speak so passionately about the importance of character with the 2022 draft class — and the ‘no compromises’ approach they took — then draft Carter with a top-five pick weeks later. Equally — Jones is 6-3 and 281lbs. Are you really going to draft a 6-5, 271lbs defender in Wilson to play next to him? That would be an open-invitation to run on the Seahawks unless they steer away from the 3-4. It just seems extremely unlikely — and Wilson is an ill-fit as anything other than a power-end in a 4-3.

Putting Anderson on the field with Jones would be exciting. If he’s off the board, putting Jones on the field with Will McDonald or Keion White or Calijah Kancey or Mazi Smith or one of several other defenders will also be a real step in the right direction. They have options. Signings like this create options.

The Seahawks have had some difficult off-seasons in recent years but last year was a success with an A+ draft, getting great value from the Russell Wilson trade and landing a player like Uchenna Nwosu as a free agent. Now, with the Smith deal and the Jones signing, the Seahawks are off to a good start.

It’ll be interesting to see what their next move is. I’d be very interested in an A’Shawn Robinson or Greg Gaines signing, to add some power and run-stuffing force to complement the addition of Jones. Or perhaps old blog favourite, Calais Campbell?

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Some early thoughts on free agency…

March 13th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

It’s generally smart to stay out of the first flush of free agency, where good players get great salaries and average players get good contracts.

The Seahawks have taken this approach virtually throughout the Carroll and Schneider era. The only real exception was 2011 — when they added Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery in the closest thing to a ‘splurge’.

Big, bold, flashy signings when the market opens generally end up looking like bad deals very quickly.

However, I also think there are times when you have to be active. You can’t go into every free agency with a pre-existing mentality of ‘we are not going to spend’.

I think it’s obvious to say there have been big missed opportunities over the years, when the Seahawks have been closer to contention than they are now, to really ‘have a go’ and push towards success.

In 2023, the Seahawks have a critical need on the D-line. They know it, we know it. There’s a distinct lack of talent and quality up front. They have no true difference makers. Nobody who scares an opponent.

They’re not going to be able to nickel and the dime their way to glory with a Quinton Jefferson here and a Benson Mayowa there. Been there, tried that, got the T-shirt.

Right now, their defensive front is weaker than it was in 2022 because they’re releasing Shelby Harris to save money.

Therefore, it’s difficult to see your division rival, already sporting the best defense in the league, finding a way to land the best available defensive free agent on the market in Javon Hargrave.

It’s an aggressive, bold move by the 49ers. It’s hard to see what the downside is.

They’re going to be utilising a cheap quarterback contract in the coming years. They have limited cap space in 2023 but ample in the coming years. They are loading up their defensive front, while we sit and hope for the best.

That’s the type of quality signing needed to super-charge Seattle’s defense. And he’s going to the Niners? It’d be easy to accept if he’d followed the cap space in Chicago or Atlanta. But your biggest rivals?

How can you not look on with complete envy?

There’s nothing to say Hargrave would’ve ever come to Seattle. The 49ers are a glamour team at the moment. It’s an attractive destination. A contender.

Players like Hargrave are drawn to the opportunity to contend. Who wouldn’t want to play next to Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead?

I’m eager though, as I’m sure you all are, to see what Seattle’s plan is. They need to do something. They can’t just rely on the cheap dregs of free agency again — a thing they’ve become accustomed to doing. Rookies are not going to sort this out alone.

They have to step up to the plate here and get some quality in.

They deserve the opportunity to make moves without too much judgement in the first few days of free agency. I’ve had a prolonged concern, though, that ‘this is what the Seahawks always do’ is a statement we hear a lot. ‘Is it the right approach?’ is a question we hear far too infrequently.

They shouldn’t be beyond challenge. Free agency is vital to avoid having to draft for need. They have picks but you don’t want to be backed into a corner with them. That’s how they’ve made mistakes before.

I hope they are able to properly take steps forward with the defensive front seven and not put all their eggs in the draft basket. We need to feel like they can do anything at #5, #20, #38 and #53. The aim should be ‘add talent’ — not ‘fill needs’.

It’s much harder to get to that position if you wait around for the perfect deal in free agency and end up with lesser players as a consequence.

Other notes

— It was interesting to see Jimmy Garoppolo sign with the Raiders. I don’t think this rules out a trade into the top-four for a quarterback. What I do think it means, however, is Las Vegas bought leverage. Arizona at #3 can’t use desperation as a bargaining tool. The Raiders can walk away if the deal isn’t right. It’s also possible they’ve bought an opportunity to wait on the position — perhaps adding a Hendon Hooker or Stetson Bennett later on. So this probably isn’t good news for the Cardinals if they wanted to move down. I’m suspicious of Arizona’s interest in doing that anyway, unless they get an amazing offer (which I think is less likely now).

— The Texans basically announced today they’re drafting a quarterback at #2. They reportedly missed out on Jimmy G and have instead signed obvious backup Case Keenum. We’re unlikely to see them draft Will Anderson.

— The fact that Dallas are also ‘checking in’ with Bobby Wagner and not rushing to do a deal, like Seattle, speaks volumes to me. If he is such a good player still, why — for the second year in a row — is nobody knocking down the door to sign him?

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Possible free agent targets for the Seahawks

March 12th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks don’t have a lot of money to spend. They arguably should have more — the Russell Wilson trade should’ve presented a bigger opportunity in the market this year. That said, this looks like a truly awful free agency class — so it probably doesn’t matter as much as it could’ve done.

So who might they target in free agency?

The Uchenna Nwosu model

This feels like the benchmark for any ‘key’ signing in 2023. Nwosu agreed a decent contract (two-years, $9.5m a year average) but it was far from a big splurge. He was a good age (25) and the length of the deal provided an incentive to earn an even bigger third contract. The Seahawks bet on development.

Nwosu had a career year with 9.5 sacks in 2022. I suspect they’ll have a similar player in mind, possibly two, who can be brought in for a similar value at a similar age and length of deal.

The only problem is — will those types of targets be priced out due to the lack of quality available? The 2023 version of Nwosu might get a much bigger offer this year because the alternatives aren’t there. It only takes one deal — Christian Kirk is a good example a year ago — and the market explodes.

Familiarity is important to the Seahawks

We’ve seen it so many times over the years. Former players returning to Seattle. Rightly or wrongly, Pete Carroll values familiarity and fit. He likes ‘his guys’. There are a number of ‘his guys’ on the market this year and it’ll be a surprise if at least one doesn’t come back. We saw it last season with Quinton Jefferson, Justin Coleman and eventually Bruce Irvin.

How good are the available options?

Even if the Seahawks had the money and the desire to make a big splash, the options simply aren’t there. Carroll and Schneider are doing a lot of media interviews at the moment. They are really pushing the culture, the fit and the vibes around the team. Geno Smith added to that during his press conference with a glowing reference for his employers.

It feels like the big recruitment job is on. I think they’re going to use Smith and Nwosu as examples of what can happen if you join this team and succeed. We’ll see if it pays dividends.

What should the priority be?

Defensive front seven, without doubt.

They can’t rely on just rookies to fix the defense. They need some grizzled veterans who can come in and deliver immediate results.

Plus — the more they get done here, the less pressure there is on the draft. You don’t want to be backed into a corner in April. There could be some very interesting non-defensive options at #5, #20, #38 and #53. You want to have as much flexibility as possible.

I do think they’ll have a ring around the names of Luke Wypler and John Michael Schmitz for the draft. However, they might also stick their toe in the veteran market at center — even if it’s just as a hedge. I think Austin Blythe was a hedge a year ago but Tyler Linderbaum never got into range to be selected. Adding a hedge makes sense, hopefully at a cheaper price than Blythe.

Can they create more cap space?

It seems Shelby Harris is on the way out. That would leave the Seahawks with $17.5m to spend in effective cap space. I suspect they might hold on to Quinton Jefferson for now and then if free agency and the draft goes their way, release him in May. They’ve done stuff like that in the past. If/when he goes, it saves another $4.5m.

I also think it’s time to just rip the band-aid off and move on from Jamal Adams. I don’t think there’s any reason to drag this out. It hasn’t worked, it’s been a bad trade and contract. Let’s just all move on. Designating him as a post-June 1st cut would save $8.4m this year — an amount worth having given Adams’ status for 2023 is unclear. You can reinvest that money in a contributing front-seven defender or center.

I think you can live with these numbers, especially when you can make money back with outs on Quandre Diggs, Will Dissly and Geno Smith next year:

2023 Dead Cap: $9,670,000
2024 Dead Cap: $14,220,000
2023 Cap Savings: $8,440,000

Defensive line targets

Zach Allen (DE, Arizona)
This could be the first player they turn to. Like Nwosu, he’s 25-years-old. He’s perfectly suited to play defensive end in Seattle’s scheme at 6-4, 281lbs with 35-inch arms. He ran a 4.34 short shuttle at his combine, which will appeal to the Seahawks. Allen’s coming off his best season with 5.5 sacks and he feels like an ascending talent. In many ways he’s the ideal target. However, the fact he’s being name-checked in this article suggests someone might be willing to pay him a lot more than Seattle can afford.

A’Shawn Robinson (DE, LA Rams)
He gets the job done in the running game and that’s what Seattle needs. Of course they also need game-wreckers but their run defense last year was appalling at times. They need some guys who understand the scheme and can just slow opponents down. He’s big, strong and long (+34 inch arms) and plays with attitude. He’s just turned 27-years-old. It wouldn’t be a glamorous signing but it could be an effective one.

Greg Gaines (DE, LA Rams)
I’ve always been a fan of Gaines’ dating back to his Washington days. The big issue was length. He only has 31 1/4 inch arms. He ran a reasonable shuttle (4.67) and he was plenty disruptive in college. He’s carried that on for the Rams, although obviously it helps playing next to Vita Vea (UW) and Aaron Donald (LA). Seattle might be willing to overlook the length to get someone with experience in the scheme who is tried and tested. The Rams probably can’t afford to keep both Robinson and Gaines, so we’ll see who they prioritise.

John Cominsky (DE, Detroit)
A great story for the Lions last season, Cominsky was claimed off waivers after being cut by the Falcons. He developed into an important player as the 2022 season progressed, recording four sacks. Detroit’s fans really took to him and he turned into a heart-and-soul type player. He’s 6-5 and 285lbs, 27-years-old and ran a 4.38 short shuttle. He’s another defender who is at a good age, has shown signs of ascension and he fits the scheme. Mike Garafolo thinks he might get $5m-a-year which isn’t extortionate if you believe he’s ascending.

Jihad Ward (DE, New York Giants)
A 28-year-old veteran who’s been around the block, Ward had three sacks for the Giants in 2022 and the fans in New York seem to value his place in the defensive rotation. He’s 6-5 and 287lbs and played for $1.1m last season. There’s scope to bring him in at a reasonable price.

Edge rush targets

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (EDGE, Houston)
He’s a perfect physical fit with a similar frame to Uchenna Nwosu (6-2, 253lbs). He has nearly 34-inch arms. He had five-sacks a year ago in a rotational role, registering a 19% pass rush win rate. He’s 27 and could be a good option on a Nwosu-style deal.

Leonard Floyd (EDGE, LA Rams)
He terrorised Seattle plenty of times and although he turns 31 this year, could he provide some proven production in a scheme he perfectly fits? He has ideal size and length. He had nine sacks in 2022 and 30 in his last three seasons. The team that signs him all but guarantees a 10-sack season. The big question is whether his market is strong enough that he’s simply too expensive.

Anthony Nelson (OLB, Tampa Bay)
He’s been playing OLB for the Buccs and he replaced Shaquil Barrett after he injured his achilles tendon and was lost for the season. Nelson started the final six games and recorded 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s 26-years-old and ran a 4.23 short shuttle at his combine. He could be an interesting option at a good age. I’m just not convinced he’s quick enough and although he’s been playing OLB, he’s bigger than your typical player for that role.

Frank Clark (EDGE, Kansas City)
I suspect the Seahawks are already lighting up his phone simply because of familiarity. At 29-years-old and still making plays in the playoffs, Clark will likely command a lot of attention. He’s not an ideal scheme fit and it’s hard to work out exactly where he would play — but if his market is colder than expected, they could reconnect.

Center targets

Garrett Bradbury (C, Minnesota)
He’s 27, he’s a perfect scheme fit and he ran a 4.53 short shuttle at his combine. The only question is cost. Is there a big market for him? If not, the Seahawks could secure this position before the draft. It’s hard to tell what he can expect to get on the open market. I think the presence of Luke Wypler and John Michael Schmitz in the draft might mean they prefer to add a cheaper veteran and draft a center.

Jake Brendel (C, San Francisco)
He did a terrific job replacing Alex Mack for the 49ers and he’s another great scheme fit with his size. His agility testing — he ran a 4.27 short shuttle at 303lbs — will be very attractive. The Niners aren’t flush with cash and the Seahawks might be able to steal him away. He’s older (turns 31 in September) so might be cheaper.

Coleman Shelton (C, LA Rams)
Shelton had an option on his contract which means he had a choice on whether to become a free agent. Sean McVay confirmed he’s taken that option. He has experience in the scheme and he did a good job replacing Brian Allen in 2022. He’s a former Husky so he has roots in the PNW. His agility testing is strong (4.59 short shuttle). He’s a veteran option and could make for a useful draft hedge.


Cole Holcomb (LB, Cleveland)
Holcomb plays with his hair (a mullet, as it happens) on fire. He’s 240lbs and truly old-school in his approach. Even so, he’s very athletic — running a brilliant 4.14 short shuttle at his combine. He became a starter last year before an injury curtailed his season. He’s 26-years-old and would be a good addition as someone who can start in the middle while Jordyn Brooks recovers — then play next to him when he’s back.

Drue Tranquill (LB, LA Chargers)
Over the years we’ve noted the importance of the short shuttle at linebacker for Seattle. Tranquill, like Holcomb, ran a 4.14 at his combine. He’s 6-2, 234lbs and turns 28 in August. He graded well as a pass rusher (76.4) and in coverage (76.7) in 2022 according to PFF. He could be viewed as a player at a good age with an ascending performance level.

Lavonte David (LB, Tampa Bay)
He’s going to hit the market and he remains one of my favourite players in the league. David plays with so much speed and violence, even at 33-years-old. I would love to imagine it’s possible to get him but I’m guessing he’ll be too expensive.

Bobby Wagner (LB, LA Rams)
John Schneider confirmed on 710 Seattle Sports that a conversation has been had with Wagner. I’m sure the team is open to a return but it’ll have to be for the right price and by the sounds of it, the Seahawks have other priorities to address first (D-line). I can imagine this is a situation where should Wagner experience a market similar to a year ago, if the deal comes to Seattle they’ll welcome him back. If someone else steps up to the plate, they won’t get into a bidding war.

Erik Kendricks (LB, Minnesota)
His brother spent time in Seattle and while Kendricks is now 31-years-old, he could provide cheap cover for Jordyn Brooks. He ran a 4.14 short shuttle back in the day and if he’s retained some of his agility, he’ll appeal.

Other positions

Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle)
I think they’ll be keen to bring Penny back — as a draft hedge if nothing else. But his injury history will mean this has to be a team friendly deal.

Drew Lock (QB, Seattle)
The price would have to be right — and the fact they’re toying with drafting a quarterback probably means Lock will seek a destination where he has more of a future. However, if his market is cold — he’d be a welcome returnee to back-up Geno Smith.

Shaquill Griffin (CB, Jacksonville)
I have no real interest in bringing Griffin back unless it’s on a deal similar to Artie Burns’. If he can be had as cheap competition, that’s fine. It’s worth noting that Seattle made a push to keep him before he signed in Jacksonville — so he could be ‘one of their guys’ they’re comfortable bringing back.

Too expensive?

Javon Hargrave (DT, Philadelphia)
ESPN keeps writing what an ideal fit Hargrave would be but it’s not the kind of deal the Seahawks typically go for. His 17.2% pass rush win rate would be a great addition but he’s just turned 30 and is being projected to earn around $20m a year. I’m not sure they would’ve got into a bidding war on that price even if he was 26.

Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Denver)
He’s being touted as a big-money target for several teams and the chances are he’ll cost way more than his true value.

Germaine Pratt (LB, Cincinnati)
He received an 80.6 PFF grade in 2022 (and a 90.1 grade in coverage). He’s turned into one of the best linebacker’s few people talk about. Pratt turns 27 in May and is typically the kind of player who you’d expect to get a good pay-day, even with a lot of linebackers on the market.

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Curtis Allen’s Seahawks salary cap update

March 11th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

This is a guest post by Curtis Allen…

A Salary Cap Update as Free Agency Looms

We have been tracking and providing some insight on the Seahawks’ salary cap situation all season and that will continue as we cover a very exciting off-season for the team.  I’ll be popping in occasionally to provide some updates and analysis on the cap so we can stay abreast of the issues the team is facing.

I want to begin by telling you the team has no money to spend this offseason.  Zero.

Then we will talk about why that is not entirely true and what the Seahawks can do about it.

The team currently sits at $20.2 million of total cap space per OTC, with only $9.04 million of that as effective cap space.  

OTC arrives at that effective number by reducing the cap number by the estimated 2023 draft rookie class pool number of $9.66 million and taking another $750k to get to two more minimum-hit roster players to reach 51 total players.

Notes on the Geno Smith Contract

We just received the breakdown on the brilliant Geno Smith contract with the Seahawks.  John Schneider has knocked it out of the park by providing a contract that rewards Geno for a great 2022, incentivizes more great play going forward and allows the Seahawks room to choose whether to draft a quarterback of the future this year or to stick with Geno Smith as their main option for the future.

Based on the information we have we can project approximate cap hits for the years of the contract:

2023 — $10.1 million

2024 — $31.2 million ($46.2m if $15m of roster bonus escalators met in 2023)

2025 — $33.7 million ($48.7m if $15m of roster bonus escalators met in 2024)

It looks like there is about $27.3m initially guaranteed with the potential to get up to $40 million in 2024.

The structure and cap hits are eerily similar to the higher-end projection we made in November.

One key note to be aware of:  In Mike Florio’s post he noted that the Seahawks have almost no obligation to Smith in 2024:


The remaining $12.7 million becomes fully guaranteed in February 2024. And the Seahawks can cut him before then.


This does leave the Seahawks in a fantastic position to draft a quarterback and have relatively little dead cap space on the books if they choose to move on from Smith in 2024.  

However, it would appear that the Seahawks have structured the deal to become fully guaranteed a few days after the Super Bowl, which is standard practice for them.

What does that mean?  Barring a disastrous season, the Seahawks will very likely let the deadline to cut Smith pass and the salary become guaranteed and then assess their options in the trade market if they wish to move on from him in 2024.

You should also know that the injury guarantee assures that if Smith ends the year on Injured Reserve, that February $12.7m guarantee is practically set in stone.

So, while there is that option for the Seahawks to escape the contract relatively easily, the chances they will take it are not very high.  This lends itself to the idea that a trade before the roster bonus hits in March is the most likely path if the Seahawks want to turn the reins over to their second-year quarterback.

As an aside, last year the NFL rejected the first version of Geno’s contract with the Seahawks due to the incentives.  They reworked it and got it done quickly.

I wonder how the NFL will view a contract with $30m in “roster bonus escalators” this time?  We will see.

Back to the Cap Space

The Seahawks also need to keep a reserve in place for injury replacements and other in-season player transactions.  In our offseason opus we proposed setting aside $10m for this purpose but $9.04 million will do.

So, theoretically, they are tapped at the moment for free cap space.  With free agency coming next week and the team having needs at spots like defensive line, linebacker, center, wide receiver, backup quarterback and running back — that paints a bleak picture of how they can significantly improve their team apart from the draft.

Fortunately, there are two bits of good news.

The Seahawks can sign players next week even though they do not appear to have any cap room.  How?

Let’s Talk Timing and Effective Space

Cap hits derived from contracts are applied to the cap number not when players are drafted or free agent signings and trades are first reported by one of the league insiders but when they are officially signed on the dotted line and then filed with the NFL and the league puts their seal of approval on them.  The two dates are very rarely the same.

How does that help the Seahawks?  They have a large rookie pool number due to having four high draft picks and 10 total picks in the draft.  The draft is in late April.  Do most rookies sign a contract the minute they step off the stage after putting a Seahawks hat on and posing with the commissioner for pictures?  No.  It usually happens later in the summer.

So, while that $9.66 million of cap space is technically earmarked for the draft picks, the Seahawks can spend some of that room for free agents now and make a move to find that room later in the offseason (in a trade or a post-June 1 cut for instance).  The same goes with the injury fund of $9.04 million.  So, the Seahawks have approximately $18.7 million to spend right now.

Teams do this all the time.  In fact, it is not uncommon for a team very close to the cap limit to file a new contract for an acquired player that puts them over the cap and at the same time file a corresponding release or restructure of another player to keep them in compliance with the cap.

So, before we even talk about who is getting cut, traded or renegotiated, it is good to know that the Seahawks have some cap room available to them.

It can be confusing at times, particularly when the number OTC reports is not the ‘real’ number.  But we always do our best to make sure you have a solid grasp on what is happening.

Effective space is the other area that can demonstrate that cap hits are not as big as initially thought.  The Seahawks only must count their highest 51 cap hits toward their total salary cap number.

You will see the roster balloon up this summer to 90 players as they sign undrafted free agents, practice squad type players and others.

So, at some point this spring or summer the Seahawks will announce they have signed 15 new players and rightly your first thought is ‘what does this do to their cap?’  As long as they are signed for less than the 51st highest paid player, it does nothing to the cap.

What about new players that fall within the top 51?  Their full cap hit applies but it also bumps that 51st player off the cap rolls and that mitigates some of the cost.

So, as a hypothetical example, let’s say the Seahawks have $10m of cap room with 51 players signed and they re-sign Travis Homer to a one-year $1.25m deal.  His salary adds $1.25m to their cap charges but they also gain the bottom salary player’s cap hit back.  Say the current lowest cap hit player on the roster is slated to hit the cap for $750k.  The net effect on the cap of signing Homer in this example is to reduce their available cap to spend by only the difference between the two players – $500k.  

Their cap number after signing Homer would then be $9.5 million.

Despite having a tight cap situation, they do have some flexibility to build out their roster, assuming they are agreeable to making some corresponding moves to free up some cap room at some point later in the offseason.

Before the Seahawks go shopping though, they must take care of their own.  There is a deadline for that coming up quickly as well.

Restricted and Exclusive Rights Free Agents

The Seahawks must tender offers to those two groups by Wednesday March 15, when the league year officially opens or they enter the free agent market and can leave the Seahawks without any recourse.

The most likely candidate for a Restricted Free Agent tender is safety Ryan Neal.  Between his excellent play last year and the still-long road of recovery that Jamal Adams has, it seems like an obvious move to tender him and keep him on the roster.  

The Seahawks can tender him at the “Right of First Refusal” level of $2.627m (which means they can match any offer he gets from another team but get no compensation if they choose not to match) or the “Second Round” level of $4.304 million (which means they can match any offer he gets from another team and if they choose not to match, they get that team’s second round pick as compensation).

They have three Exclusive Rights Free Agents they can and likely will tender for $940k each – LB John Rhattigan, KR Godwin Igwebuike and CB Michael Jackson Sr.  The Seahawks can offer them this minimum number and lock the players out from negotiating with any other team.

Given the Seahawks’ needs at corner and linebacker (as well as special teams), it would not be a shock if they tendered both Rhattigan and Jackson.  Igwebuike would seem a lock as well given the bolt of lightning he injected into the Seahawks’ return game down the stretch last year.

Josh Onujiogu is also an ERFA.  With zero credited seasons, the Seahawks can tender him for the minimum $750k and basically have no cap hit.  They did promote him to the active roster and then immediately made him a healthy scratch for Week 18 last year, likely as a one-time atta-boy pay bump for his season with the team.  Maybe they like him more than people think.

That means there is some money to be spent there.

Do not be surprised if they tender Ryan Neal at the $4.304 million number (making their total commitment at safety for 2023 over $40 million.  Ack.).  

Or they could also forego all that and extend Neal, buying out the tender season.  Maybe a 3-year deal in the $14-18 million range would do the trick.  Neal gets some bonus money and the security of a deal and the Seahawks get a versatile player they can move forward with and a little bit of cap room.  They also put another feather in their quiver of rewarding undrafted, unwanted street free agent types.  

Maybe even a bit of a hedge too, if they decide to approach Jamal Adams about a contract reworking.

Anyway, if the Seahawks tender these players that will charge the cap at about $4.87m.

That leaves them with about $13.83m they can shop with in free agency next week.

But they would need to make some roster adjustments to reclaim nearly every dollar they spend just to have enough to pay their rookies and have that in-season cushion.

How can they do that?

Candidates to Reduce Their Cap Hit

The Seahawks have several players they could make some roster changes to in order to make the salary cap work for them.  We went into detail on most of them in this piece last fall.

I thought I would summarize the primary options in simple spreadsheet form.  I listed the players top to bottom in order of projected likeliness the Seahawks will make some kind of move with them.  I also highlighted the most likely moves in green.  Have a look:

As you can see, there is a chunk of money the team can make available.  At the high extreme end, they can pick up about $40m or so of cap room if they need.

Why is Shelby Harris at the top?  He is a big easy target with $8.9m available and at 32 is at a concerning age.  There is another reason the Seahawks will likely make a move with him sooner rather than later:  He has a $2 million roster bonus due March 19, set specifically for the Seahawks to make a decision on him.

EDIT:  It does appear that Harris will be cut — as he has alluded to it on social media — but nothing official has been announced or confirmed.  Perhaps they are putting a line in the water to feel out options for a trade?

Nwosu seems a lock for an extension if he is willing to bypass exploring the market in 2024.  The max they can pick up is $5.3m but it would be wise to probably count on about $3 million savings at most.

Why is Tyler Lockett’s name on this list?  He is not going anywhere in the trade market, unless some team absolutely bowled them over with an offer.  But that $5.69 million restructuring is a nice little chunk to have in the team’s back pocket.  They could convert some of Lockett’s salary to bonus and push some money out.  It could be extremely useful if they need to create some more injury replacement money, or if John Schneider swings a classic in-season trade for a disgruntled star veteran.

Why is Bryan Mone not on the list?  He endured a particularly harsh injury last year.  He likely will not play in 2023 and his NFL career might be over.  There is a very good chance he will be making use of the NFL Injury Benefit, which provides up to $2 million from the team with a $1.2 million cap hit if he is released with a failed physical designation and cannot catch on with another team.  There is little cap benefit to be had by considering cutting Mone until we know more about his injury.

Putting This All Together

What does all this mean?

Taking care of just their basic needs could seemingly soak up all of their available cap room once again.

If the Seahawks are determined to improve in a big way this offseason, they will need to be more aggressive this offseason.

That means restructuring players, cutting players you otherwise might not, or having a hard conversation with a player you have invested heavily in, like Jamal Adams.

It also means being aggressive with your salary cap strategy in regards to new contracts.  They can do what other teams do, acquire a big piece that helps them tremendously with very little cap room available and just manage the cap to make it work.  

I will make the same pitch I made in January.  Consider:  The Seahawks have bookend tackles, an incredibly talented running back, a limitless corner and more than one pass rusher on very low-cost contracts.  Come April they will likely add a few more extremely talented players.

Add to that, John Schneider has just painted a masterpiece with the Geno Smith contract.  He has flexibility, options and has not committed cap-wrecking amounts of money to the quarterback position.   But at the same time, he could get a very sizable return on the field in 2023 — and longer if they dare draft a quarterback high in the draft.  Maybe even more if he manages to trade Geno for a premium draft pick.

Those are all preambles to something much, much bigger.  The reason you acquire cheap talent that can produce well on the field is so you can spend on the top available talent to max out that cheap talent and take you deep into the playoffs.  

A top player or two does so much more than simply fill a hole on the roster.  He covers warts, draws attention and gives players who have yet to fulfill their true potential the opportunity to stretch out and play with abandon.

If they strike with purpose this offseason and display the same level of shrewdness we have seen since this time last year, they could be set up to consistently make deep playoff runs in the years to come.


Carolina has traded up to the #1 pick — reaction

March 10th, 2023 | Written by Rob Staton

The Bears are moving down to the #9 pick for the #61 pick this year, a first rounder in 2024 and a second rounder in 2025. They’re also acquiring receiver D.J. Moore.

Carolina gets the #1 pick. They also retain the #40 pick this year.

As noted in my updated mock draft this week, the Panthers trading up to #1 felt inevitable.

Owner David Tepper has been waiting to make an aggressive move at quarterback for some time. This is an aggressive move.

He tried and failed to trade for Matt Stafford. He wanted Deshaun Watson and couldn’t seal the deal. They’ve been muddling around since. Tepper was on the record saying he wanted ‘special’ at the position. Now, he and his franchise are going to get what they wanted.

So what does this mean?

Let’s run through it step-by-step…

Who are they going to take?

Tepper’s desire for ‘special’ is intriguing. I can’t imagine he’s making this move for a 5-10 quarterback, however highly rated Bryce Young is.

For me he’s moving up for C.J. Stroud or Anthony Richardson.

They are the two players who sparkled the brightest at the combine last weekend. They have the X-factor talent, charisma and personality.

My money’s on Stroud simply because he’s better placed to start immediately. Richardson needs time.

There were also enough moments in that game against Georgia to believe he has some Mahomes-esque quality to him. Stroud is a tremendous talent and he’d be joining a team with a good O-line and defense. Now, he needs some weapons.

The Panthers aren’t messing about. They hired an experienced offensive-minded coach. They’ve spent a fortune on their wider coaching staff. Now they’re going big for a quarterback.

Why didn’t the Colts move up?

With four good quarterbacks available, they had little reason to. GM Chris Ballard values picks. They were guaranteed a young signal caller, unlike Carolina. Reports earlier suggested they are ‘enamored’ with Will Levis, who could last to #4.

Unless there was one player they simply had to have, they weren’t going to sell the family silver to move up.

How does this impact the top-five?

Now that Chicago is out of the top-five, it’s extremely likely we’ll see three quarterbacks taken before Seattle’s pick.

The Panthers will take one and so will the Colts. The Texans are expected to — but I still think they’ll consider Will Anderson at #2. If not, Anderson will be taken at #3 by Arizona. If the top pass rusher isn’t available to the Cardinals, I think they’ll trade down with a team wanting to select the #2 quarterback.

How does this impact the Seahawks?

Sitting at #5 they are very likely to face a situation where three quarterbacks and Will Anderson are off the board.

As noted yesterday, I am very suspicious of Tyree Wilson’s fit in Seattle. He’s 6-5 and 271lbs. That’s not the size of an outside linebacker in the Seahawks’ scheme or a 3-4 defensive end. Wilson is perfect suited to play in a 4-3 defense as an edge rusher and I’m not convinced the Seahawks are going to take Wilson at #5.

Neither do I think they’ll consider Jalen Carter. When a team repeatedly says they focused on character a year ago ‘without compromise’ — and they attribute their successful class to that approach — it takes an enormous leap to think they’ll now renege on that and draft someone like Carter. The maturity and conditioning questions where bad enough. The legal trouble he now faces has upped the ante.

My prediction remains that the Seahawks are preparing for one of two things. Either an unlikely fall to #5 for Anderson, or they’ll take whichever quarterback is left of the golden four.

Geno Smith’s contract is almost tailor-made to select a QB at #5. His cap-hit is just $10.1m this year, with an out in 12 months time. It is perfectly designed. Smith himself is already embracing the possibility of Seattle taking a quarterback and is promising to help them as much as he can (while competing with them).

Unless Anderson falls, the defensive options at #5 simply don’t make sense. The options at #20 and #38 however, most certainly do. This is the range where plenty of defensive linemen are expected to go — Keion White, Calijah Kancey, Lukas Van Ness, Myles Murphy, Will McDonald, Adetomiwa Adebawore, Tuli Tuipulotu, Mazi Smith, Bryan Bresee, Drew Sanders and Nolan Smith. Possibly others too.

Taking whoever is left at #5 from the C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis group appears — to me at least — to be the most likely option. Or, if the Cardinals also trade out of the top-five, selecting Will Anderson instead.

So how will this play out?

In my latest mock I had Stroud, Anderson and Young going in the top-three, with Indianapolis and Seattle taking Levis and Richardson respectively.

In Mike Sando’s interesting ‘GM and Executives mock draft’ this week, he offered the following nugget:

Asked about Young and Stroud being the top two picks, an exec from a team picking lower in the top 10 hedged.

“I would say this: Will Anderson and the two quarterbacks in the top three,” he said.

I take this to mean there’s still a chance Anderson goes second overall, as noted in my mock. But the consensus seems to be that Stroud, Young and Anderson, one way or another, will be the first three picks.

I still wonder if Richardson has barged his way into that conversation post-combine, but we’ll see.

If it plays out that way, I would expect the Colts and Seahawks to divvy up Levis and Richardson between them.

And for all the talk of the flaws with each player, here’s a notable quote from John Schneider — appearing on 710 Seattle yesterday, being asked about how he scouts QB’s:

“You have to be able to project where they’re going. You just can’t look at here’s A, B and C and that’s part of their game, you have to be able to say here’s A, B and C — what’s it going to look like at X, Y and Z? Where are they going to be? That’s the study, that’s the art, that’s the projection that’s involved.”

Schneider has consistently shown he likes traits. The only player I can think of with similar traits to Levis and Richardson in the last 10 drafts is Josh Allen — a player Schneider was supposedly interested in.

If they take a quarterback at #5, they’ll have ample stock at #20, #38 and beyond to address defensive needs — where BPA and value could be strong.

This will be all the more telling if they focus on the defensive line early in free agency.

Will the Cardinals trade down?

Jason La Canfora is already suggesting so on Twitter. It’s funny — a lot of people want to hammer this excellent looking quarterback class. And yet the top-four could be the top-four quarterbacks. Funny that. It’s almost like they’re, you know, actually really talented.

I’ll believe this when I see it. Arizona needs two things badly. One — a pass rusher. Two — someone to change the culture of that team. Will Anderson addresses both issues emphatically.

Is the new Cardinals’ GM going to appoint Jonathan Gannon and then launch his tenure in Arizona slipping deeper into the top-10, waiting to see what’s left? Not giving his coach anything significant to work with on defense? I just don’t buy that. And it’ll be harder to get a haul dropping from #3 to #7, compared to Carolina jumping eight spots to #1.

I think they’ll take Anderson if he’s available and only trade down if Houston takes him at #2.

What will the Bears do at #9?

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility they convince themselves that taking Jalen Carter would be a good idea here. I think the addition of D.J. Moore, however, at least points to an acknowledgement that they can’t just ignore the offense as they rebuild their defense. Peter Skoronski and Darnell Wright would both be solid picks.

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