Month: May 2019

What will the Seahawks do next?

As things stand the Seahawks have an estimated $18.75m in available cap space. A portion of that will be taken up by the unsigned draft picks and money saved for a practise squad and injured reserve. There’s still room, however, to do some business.

Furthermore, they’re currently projected to have the most available 2020 cap space in the NFL. That’s despite paying Russell Wilson his mega-deal. The +$70m they have for next year will reduce when they eventually get a deal done with Bobby Wagner and potentially Jarran Reed. They also have the room to tie down Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Ziggy Ansah and anyone else they might want to keep depending on 2019 performance.

This massive amount of cap space has come at a cost of course — the loss of Frank Clark and Doug Baldwin. Yet the Seahawks are in an enviable position with so much available spending money and 10 draft picks slated for 2020 (including five in the first two days).

So what’s next?

They don’t need to roll money into 2020 because they have more than enough already as things stand. They might as well keep building their 2019 roster.

So far they’ve added Ansah, Jamar Taylor and Al Woods in the third wave of free agency. Who else might they consider?

There are mixed reports on Ansah’s likely availability. Ian Rapoport says he should be fine for the start of the regular season. Adam Schefter suggested he could miss time. The Seahawks were in a unique position with their cap and a fierce need for a dynamic EDGE. They could afford to take a chance on Ansah’s health in a way others couldn’t. That’s why the deal got done. Securing themselves against Ansah being unavailable, however, seems like a smart move.

There are still pass rushers available on the market including Nick Perry and Shane Ray. Both players met with the Seahawks and it’s fair to wonder if either will get a shot on a modest contract to come in on a one-year prove-it deal. Even if Ansah is healthy for most of 2019 — the Seahawks have been at their best with a strong rotation on the D-line. Adding at least one more veteran to the competition seems viable.

Some have wondered whether the Seahawks would make a big trade for Gerald McCoy. I think it’s unlikely. His current contract means you’d be taking on cap hits of $13m in 2019 then $12.5m and $12.9m the following two years. Although you could cut him at any time, that’s a significant salary unless you get him for a cheap trade.

Tampa Bay currently has $182,036 in available cap space — the lowest amount in the league. At the moment they can’t pay their rookie class and save money for injured reserve and a practise squad. They have to make a move and parting with McCoy is inevitable given there’s no dead money tied to his contract.

The Bucs are in an unfortunate position though. They’ve just lost Jason Pierre-Paul potentially for the season. That’s likely leading to a delay in proceedings. Parting with McCoy is a formality though because the only other player on the roster they can make a significant saving on is Lavonte David ($9.75m salary, no dead money). Creating $13m in cap space frees up the potential to sign a Shane Ray or Nick Perry to cover the loss of JPP.

If/when McCoy is cut, Seattle could show some interest. Although you have to wonder if adding a 31-year-old defensive tackle who so far has earned $148,545,286 in his career fits the current blueprint.

McCoy plays to his own tune. He famously arrived at training camp wearing a kimono when the Bucs took part in ‘Hard Knocks’.

That doesn’t mean he necessarily wouldn’t fit in Seattle. The Seahawks have gone to great lengths though to start building through the draft — adding younger, hungry players who are buying into a competitive culture. It’s debatable whether McCoy would fit into that.

He is still producing though. His production on the stat sheet has been consistent for years. Here are his sack and TFL numbers:

2012: 5 – 9
2013: 9.5 – 15
2014: 8.5 – 13
2015: 8.5 – 8
2016: 7 – 5
2017: 6 – 13
2018: 6 – 6

If you could get that kind of production, it’d be a major positive. The Seahawks would have to be prepared to make him a focal point though. I’m not sure McCoy would want to be a rotational defensive tackle and if he becomes a free agent, you’re not going to get him on the cheap anyway. Having signed Al Woods and with Poona Ford showing well as a rookie — are you going to sideline both to feature McCoy and Reed as a starting duo? Maybe — but it seems more likely at this stage they have their defensive tackle rotation set on the roster with a sufficient number of inside/out compliments.

Any further additions could be mere competition — such as Corey Liuget on a basic deal trying to earn a job. We’ll see what happens if McCoy becomes available.

Another suggested trade target is tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings are in a similar position to the Buccs. They have $871,856 available in cap space (second lowest in the league) and need to make a saving. Moving Rudolph saves them $7.6m so a trade or simply cutting him is inevitable.

They’re also stuck in the same bind. Every team in the league knows they need to save money. So every team will lowball them in trade talks or simply wait them out. Rudolph will be cut if a trade isn’t forthcoming and teams probably believe they can then re-sign him for cheaper than the $7.5m he’s due in 2019.

Rudolph is a talented player capable of making key plays in the passing game. I haven’t studied his blocking enough to comment but you don’t often have an eight-year career at tight end in the NFL if you can’t block (with some, ahem, notable exceptions).

Rudolph might be a player of interest. He might be someone they look at if he becomes a free agent. They’re unlikely to spend a pick to acquire him though given it’d be a one-year rental and they’d be forced to commit $7.5m to him in 2019. If they can negotiate a cheaper contract without surrendering a 2020 pick — it becomes more viable.

Whatever they decide to do it certainly feels like the Seahawks aren’t done. They have the money and the motivation to keep improving. Even with the loss of Baldwin and Clark — this feels like a team trending upwards. Any additions will have to fit into the new mentality and refreshed culture. Yet they have the freedom to make more moves. Working out what they’ll actually do, however, is the hard part.

I think a bold, high-profile trade is unlikely. Yet this team is shaping into contention mode in the NFC West and if there’s a player out there that can further tip the balance in their favour — why would you rule anything out? They have the picks and the available money to be pro-active.

What seems more likely, however, is the continued collection of cheaper veterans on prove-it deals — filling out the middle-class and improving the competition on the roster.

I intend to do a Google Hangout Q&A this week plus we’ll finish up the thoughts on the draft class.

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Seahawks part ways with Doug Baldwin

Today’s news is upsetting but not totally unexpected.

At the end of the regular season certain members of the media were dropping hints. There was a movement of sorts to let people know it’d be a great opportunity to show appreciation to Doug Baldwin in the final home game.

The writing was on the wall.

It’s been a difficult few years for Seahawks fans. Having embraced and enjoyed the development and growth of a Super Bowl winning team, it’s hard to watch so many of that group move on and retire.

Where does the time go?

It doesn’t feel that long ago that Baldwin was a young UDFA creating an impression back in 2011. I remember him smashing his teeth in trying to catch a touchdown against Arizona in Russell Wilson’s first start in 2012. It was satisfying watching him score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. It was also fun to see Doug grow from his odd and slightly embarrassing touchdown celebration against the Patriots the following year and develop into such a mature force for good both within the team and for much greater causes.

The big moment for me, however, was a third-down catch against the Packers in the NFC Championship game. It’s easy to forget because the subsequent play was the downfield shot to Jermaine Kearse to win the game. On the previous down Seattle faced punting the ball to Aaron Rodgers if they couldn’t execute. Baldwin’s release — so fluid and dynamic — set up a relatively straight-forward conversion for big yardage. That play encapsulated the savvy, the dynamism and the athleticism Baldwin possessed.

Make no mistake — he was a fantastic talent. Had he played eight seasons for the Patriots he likely would’ve stacked major yardage. He had 6563 yards for Seattle and 49 touchdowns in the regular season (second only to Steve Largent in franchise history). He also threw a touchdown pass to Russell Wilson in 2016 — a moment I was privileged to witness in person.

There are countless plays and big moments fans will reflect on. As I’m writing this piece I’m recalling his significant return against the 49ers in the NFC Championship game that helped snare back momentum after Colin Kaepernick had led a scoring drive to retake the lead. There was his insane catch against the Vikings in the playoffs. The scoring-streak he had during the 2015 season and his huge catch-and-run against the Steelers that year. What about the impossible play he and Wilson combined to create against the Cardinals in 2017? And of course his final touchdown reception — suitably brilliant — against the Chiefs.

There are so many more I could mention.

How many improbable catches did he make at the sideline? The ones on the road against Chicago (2012) and Houston (2013) stand out. So often he extended drives in a way that defied logic. He made it happen.

The #1 strength for a receiver is — and always will be — getting open. Baldwin was a master at getting open. He did everything else well too — had great hands, played with tenacity and a physicality somewhat similar to Steve Smith. He never publicly grumbled about his role or number of targets. But the greatest compliment you can give a receiver is to highlight how adept they were are getting open. Baldwin was truly one of the best. I’m not sure we’ll ever see a better release in Seattle.

It’ll be interesting to see how this changes Seattle. He’ll be a huge loss on key downs and in the red zone. It did also feel sometimes that he was one of Russell Wilson’s biggest critics. That’s not to say he wasn’t supportive or positive about Wilson. Doug still had his moments. I always cringed at this clip. It was difficult to work out the point where maintaining hight standards crossed into undermining.

Tyler Lockett’s excellent 2018 season will bring huge encouragement that he can pick up some of the slack. D.K. Metcalf is already creating an impression and Gary Jennings is an ideal fit for this offense. The Seahawks have depth and competition at receiver and could still add if they feel they need a bit more experience (Jermaine Kearse?). They’ll miss Baldwin but there’s at least some cause for optimism with this young, exciting group.

Next year is also shaping up to be a strong year for wide receivers in the draft. If they need to, they’ll have opportunities to make further additions in 2020.

The Kam Chancellor news isn’t a surprise and was expected considering he’d already retired. I wrote about that in more detail here. Two giants of Seattle sports depart.

Legends and icons.

Now it’s time for the new, younger core to try and make a name for themselves.

The Seahawks also have major cap room to spend now even after the addition of Ziggy Ansah and Jamar Taylor. And for that reason — it makes you wonder what other moves they have planned. Something big perhaps? We’ll find out soon.

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Signing Ziggy Ansah unlikely to be Seattle’s final move

I offered some thoughts on the Ziggy Ansah signing yesterday before the deal was confirmed. Since then it’s emerged he’ll be signing a one-year contract with the Seahawks worth about $5m up front with an extra $8m in incentives.

At first this felt like good news in terms of Ansah’s health and availability. One day after free agent signings no longer impacted comp picks — the Seahawks were signing the biggest name left on the market. With so much concern about his shoulder injury (and it’s the main reason he’s still available) this felt like a positive review of the situation. If the shoulder was a big problem, would they be signing him this early in the process?

As it turns out the shoulder might still be a problem. Adam Schefter’s tweet above claims he could miss the start of the season. That’s probably why the contract is worth only $5m with so much more tied into incentives. The $5m isn’t that much of a gamble for a player of Ansah’s quality. If he wants to make real money in 2019 he has to produce.

Even so — there’s a real possibility that for all the clamouring for Ansah among fans and media, health could seriously impact his ability to get on the field and impact games.

The good news is the contract. As noted, the Seahawks are not really on the hook for much up front. It’s not a big commitment. It’s a heavily incentivised deal and therefore well worth rolling the dice. You can’t seriously criticise the signing. Seattle is taking a calculated gamble where the rewards are big and the risks are only based in disappointment rather than impact.

It does mean they’ll need to sign more players as cover though. This isn’t a one-and-done situation in the third wave of free agency. Seattle’s pass rush was inadequate before the Ansah signing and if there’s doubt about his ability to start the season — they’re going to need to add more players.

Ansah’s incentive-loaded contract allows them to do that. So whether it’s Nick Perry, Allen Bailey or someone else — they have the room to add another EDGE. When this team was at its best they could rotate multiple quality pass rushers (Bennett, Avril, Clemons/Clark). They also need to add a defensive tackle. There’s more work to be done.

And while the younger players like Jacob Martin, Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier will get their shot to contribute and develop — there’s a lot of development needed. Following the draft and now with the addition of Ansah, this team looks a lot deeper and more competitive. It already had talent at key positions. Further calculated moves in free agency to make this roster even more competitive are distinctly possible given the cap situation. They’re not stopping here and that’s something all fans can take encouragement from.

The Seahawks have also signed nickel cornerback Jamar Taylor today. He’s 5-11 and 192lbs with the quickness and agility to work in the slot. The signings keep coming.

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Report: Seahawks front runners for Ziggy Ansah

There’s been an air of inevitability about this.

The Seahawks’ pass rush in its current state is inadequate. They have to do something and that was acknowledged by both Pete Carroll and John Schneider following the draft.

The thing is, there’s a reason players are still available at this stage. In Ziggy Ansah’s case it’s an existing shoulder injury, age and inconsistency. Ansah has shown the ability to dominate games but he also has a two-sack season on his resume (in 2016 when he played 13 games).

For all the clamouring for the Seahawks to sign him from fans and media — the deal carries a decent element of risk because of the health of his shoulder. They ultimately need to make a call on whether the risk is worth it and based on Ian Rapoport’s tweet above they’ve come to a positive conclusion.

Yet they also need to leave enough cap room for further additions. Even by adding Ansah the D-line still needs more. All they’ve done so far is replace Dion Jordan with L.J. Collier and Shemar Stephen with Demarcus Christmas. Ansah would be a replacement for Frank Clark. They needed more going into the off-season — not simply to replace departing players. They need at least one more defensive tackle and maybe another (cheaper) EDGE.

Clearly there are some things to weigh up. That’s why Rapoport is saying ‘front runners’ and not ‘done deal’. It does seem inevitable though.

So what would they be getting?

Ansah had an outstanding combine running a 4.63 at 271lbs then adding a brilliant 4.26 short shuttle. He’s plenty explosive (34.5 inch vertical) and he has length (35 1/8 inch arms). Whether he’s quite as sharp as he was in 2013 after a few years in the league is a big question mark but clearly Ansah is one of the best athletes playing D-line in the league.

TFL’s are usually a better gauge of impact than sacks. Here’s Ansah’s numbers per season and NFL ranking in brackets:

2018 — 3 (#251)
2017 — 15 (#11)
2016 — 9 (#53)
2015 — 15 (#12)
2014 — 14 (#21)
2013 — 7 (unknown)

Here are his sack numbers:

2018 — 4
2017 — 12
2016 — 2
2015 — 14.5
2014 — 7.5
2013 — 8

How he went from having 14.5 sacks in 16 games in 2015 to two sacks in 13 games in 2016 is a mystery.

Here’s what PFF said about Ansah going into free agency:

Ansah played 80 games for the Lions (seven in 2018) and amassed 52 sacks and 271 total quarterback pressures. The BYU-alumnus has been linked to various teams but will be turning 30 before the 2019 season begins, bringing his long-term viability into question.

Ansah’s ability doesn’t stop with his pass-rushing prowess. He has displayed his run-stopping ability, as he’s earned a 69.0-plus run-defense grade in four of his six seasons. The edge defender’s most prolific season occurred in 2014 when he caused 64 quarterback pressures (T-8th) and earned an 82.5 overall grade (6th). Ansah will have to turn back the clock following an injury-riddled year where he earned a 74.5 defense grade, but there may not be a surplus of suitors with the pass-rusher-heavy class entering the NFL Draft this year.

It’s encouraging to read a positive review of his run defense. Aside from needing to upgrade their pass rush, the Seahawks need to be tougher against the run.

The Seahawks have done a good job of bringing out the best in pass rushers over the years. They turned journeyman Chris Clemons into a productive starter. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril both excelled. Raheem Brock had a nine-sack season in 2010. They’ve helped Frank Clark become of the best paid players in the league.

That has to appeal to Ansah — especially on a likely one-year deal and a chance to return to the market in 10 months.

If they sign him it’ll likely be the first of multiple moves. They’re not going from Bennett, Avril and Clarke to Collier, Martin and Green. Competition is required, plus a flash of proven quality.

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Bobby Wagner’s contract? There’s nothing to worry about

Maybe it’s because it’s a quiet time in the NFL calendar but for some reason Bobby Wagner’s contract situation has become a ‘thing’.

It isn’t.

The Seahawks had a serious problem on their hands a few weeks ago. They had four key players all out of contract after the 2019 season — Wagner, Russell Wilson, Frank Clark and Jarran Reed.

By paying Wilson and trading Clark they’ve all but solved the problem. The franchise tag is free and available next year if needs be. If they can’t agree terms on a new deal with Wagner, they will undoubtedly tag him. They’re unlikely to use the tag on Reed.

In fact it’s somewhat likely, whatever happens with Wagner, that they allow Reed to set his own market in free agency before making a call on whether to retain him. They did that with Michael Bennett in 2014. It’s hard to gauge Reed’s value coming off the most productive year in his career for sacks. The Seahawks probably need to see if he can do it again in 2019. Reed in turn could make a lot more money if he goes into free agency off the back of two 10-sack seasons.

None of this really matters at the moment though. The fact is there’s no drama here. One way or another Wagner is staying in Seattle. There’s a decent chance he and the Seahawks will come to an agreement on an extension this summer. If not — he gets tagged. And they can tag him for two years if needs be — tying him to Seattle for three more seasons. By that point he’d be approaching 32.

This is all very different to the Russell Wilson situation. There’s not four players to try and keep. There’s nobody like Mark Rodgers playing silly games in the media. The franchise isn’t going to be in limbo over uncertainty over the middle linebacker like it would be over the quarterback. That’s no review of Wagner’s importance to Seattle either. It’s simply a reality. He’s a sensational player and by far the best at his position. But nobody’s questioning the future of the franchise if the Seahawks choose to tag him in 2020.

The tag actually makes a lot of sense for the team.

Thanks to the Jets, the linebacker market is in a weird place. Before free agency the highest paid players at inside linebacker were Luke Kuechly ($12.3m APY) and Wagner ($10.75m APY). Kwon Alexander, coming off a serious knee injury, surprisingly reset the market at $13.5m a year. Then, for no apparent reason other than major competition for his signature, the Jets decided to give C.J. Mosley $17m a year.

Presumably Mosley’s market was red-hot. There’s no other explanation for topping Alexander’s contract by $3.5m per season. Paying an inside linebacker $17m a year is quite preposterous. Especially for a player who is very much in the ‘good not great’ category like Mosley.

It leaves the Seahawks needing to argue their case to a player representing himself. Just because the Jets made a daft decision doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be a slave to the market. The franchise tag number for a linebacker in 2019 is $15.443m. The Seahawks could keep Wagner for a similar amount next year on the tag. Then, if no extension was agreed, they’d have to pay 120% of Wagner’s salary to tag him again in 2021.

So there’s no real incentive for the Seahawks to blow New York’s market-changing decision out of the water. Therefore the onus is on Wagner to either insist on topping Mosley’s salary or come to a reasonable agreement that works for both parties.

You might argue — but why go down this road? Won’t it create drama with Wagner? A popular player on the team?

It’s simple business. I sometimes wonder if fans and media make a bigger deal of the franchise tag than players. The tag this year led to mega-contracts for Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark. Lawrence was tagged twice and it never had a negative impact in Dallas. Now he’s one of the richest men in NFL history.

Indeed the only real noise we’ll hear about this will be on social media with the numerous calls of ‘pay the man’ if indeed it ever gets as far as the tag for Wagner. That’s despite the fact the Seahawks would actually be paying him extremely handsomely if they tagged him twice ($34m fully guaranteed over two years having already invested $47m in him previously).

We don’t need to overthink this. Wagner will be in Seattle one way or another for at least the next three seasons. No drama. No concern.

There’s one other thing to address — Seattle’s decision to draft two linebackers this year. Are they hedging against Wagner’s future?

No, they are not.

Here’s what Pete Carroll said in his end-of-season press conference immediately after the 2016 season:

“We need some youth at the linebacker spot now. Bobby and K.J. played 1000’s of plays this year between the two of them and were extremely successful but we need to address that. We didn’t really get anybody that made a difference in the last couple of years that can really fight to take those guys job. Think if somebody could battle K.J. and Bobby for their starting jobs? That’s what we need to draft towards, so we’ll be looking there.”

In 2016 Wagner played 99.35% of the defensive snaps. Wright played 97.41%.

There’s a very good reason why Carroll identified youth at linebacker as a vital need. He knew he couldn’t ask Wagner and Wright to keep playing practically every defensive snap.

However, the 2017 draft came and went and despite spending 11 picks none were used on a linebacker. In the 2018 draft they only added Shaquem Griffin (who was more of a blitzing nickel-LB than an orthodox MIKE or WILL).

The Seahawks have been seeking youth at this position for two years and three drafts. Simply put, none of their ‘type’ of linebackers were available until this year (this article describes their type in more detail).

That’s why they drafted Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. They ‘fit’ what the Seahawks want at the position. They finally have their youth and depth at linebacker.

Now they can spell Wagner, Wright and Mychal Kendricks. They have cover against injuries. They have special teams value. Kendricks is also out of contract in 2020 and Wright’s two-year deal has an out after one year. If they’re hedging against anyone it’s Wright and Kendricks, not Wagner.

I’ll say it again — there’s no drama here. The Seahawks love Bobby Wagner. He will either receive a contract extension or be tagged. It’s all good.

And tomorrow the Seahawks can start signing pass rushers. It should be an interesting week.

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Thoughts on Ugo Amadi, Travis Homer and John Ursua

I’m starting to look through the rookie class and here are some of the notes I made on three of Seattle’s day-three picks.

Ugo Amadi (S, Oregon)

It was a really pleasant surprise watching Amadi. His testing numbers were only OK. He ran a 4.51 at 5-9 and 199lbs plus a 4.19 short shuttle and a strangely poor 7.21 three cone. He only jumped a 32.5 inch vertical. That’s probably why he lasted as long as he did because on tape you don’t see any of this. He’s incredibly sudden and quick. You see genuine dynamism when he blitzes and he covers ground very quickly. He has an excellent feel for sitting in coverage then reading/reacting.

I came away believing he could play free safety. Initially you look at his make-up, projection and some of the tape and you assume nickel. There’s no doubt he has the capability to move closer to the LOS and play as a big nickel type. His tackling appeared fine overall with some room for improvement. He has some versatility.

Yet I came away really intrigued by his free safety potential. Look — he isn’t Earl Thomas. He’s not that rangy, cover-every-blade type of defensive back. You see his quickness on tape though and combined with his awareness and ability to cover ground quickly — it’ll be intriguing to see how he handles a more orthodox safety role.

Amadi is a bundle of energy on the field. He celebrates every hit, tackle or big play. He’ll energise his team mates if he plays with the same confidence you see at Oregon. He was voted a permanent team captain. Importantly he’s been able to make big plays — including 25 career PBU’s and nine interceptions with four touchdowns. The Seahawks need playmakers at the back end. Whether he’ll earn a starting role in 2019 remains to be seen but don’t be shocked if Amadi inserts himself as a long term feature in the secondary. I liked him a lot more than I expected and he has a lot of potential.

Travis Homer (RB, Miami)

He’s smaller than they usually draft at 5-10 and 201lbs but there’s absolutely no doubt Homer is a Seahawks style running back. He finishes, he runs people over and never volunteers to dip out of bounds. He brings physicality to the position but also has an excellent ability to cut-back against the grain to exploit holes and provide misdirection. He has a very fluid weaving style to find a crease and run into daylight. He’s tough to bring down and runs with a purpose.

His physical profile backs this up. He jumped a 39.5 inch vertical. Explosive traits are a lot more important than pure speed at the running back position. Although he ran a very decent 4.48 at the combine he doesn’t have a second gear when he breaks free and is often tackled from behind by a chasing defender.

As a pass protector he’s very good. Not Damien Harris level but not far off. That’ll help him compete for the third down back role. As a catcher there isn’t much to see on tape. Homer was mainly used on dump-offs and passes into the flat. His hands seem fine and he can chip away in the passing game even if he’s not an X-factor.

Strangely enough his running style is very similar to Doug Baldwin. Watch his body when he accelerates — they just have very similar body language as runners.

Pete Carroll said Homer was the top special teams player on their board and he’ll have a big role there and for that reason he has a legit shot to make the roster. He needs to improve his ball security though. He fumbled four times — once every 42 carries — at Miami. Even so I’m surprised he lasted into round six.

John Ursua (WR, Hawaii)

The thing I really like about Ursua is NO wasted movement. He gets into his routes quickly and gets on with the job. It’s why I never rated Andy Isabella (the now Cardinals receiver). Watching Isabella at times was akin to watching a break-dancing competition. Ursua is the complete opposite. The Hawaii offense asked him to line up in the slot and get into a route quickly then settle into a soft zone in the defense. He was very good at sensing the right place to be and he made it count with 1343 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2018 alone.

I really like the way he reads a secondary to find ways to get open. On multiple occasions he would read the two deep safeties and if they split to the outside in coverage he’d get beyond the linebacker and settle. If the safeties stayed home he’d break off to the sideline knowing it’d be very difficult for a bigger defender to stick. Hawaii did a very good job too of putting him in favourable coverage situations and he often gained decent mismatches against the LB or safety.

I like how he was able to keep on the move and uncover in the red zone. You can see why the Seahawks like him for a scrambling quarterback. Ursua isn’t a dynamic athlete but he’s savvy. He’s not Doug Baldwin physically. He only runs a 4.58 and his three-cone of 6.78 is about two tenths slower than Baldwin’s. I’d forget about any comparison to Baldwin. He’s a pure slot who gets open with no-nonsense routes and awareness. He is limited to the slot though with his size and the only real plays he made by the sideline were outs and wheel routes.

Ursua competes for the ball and he’s a reliable target. He’s competing with a very crowded receiver room and will need to make every opportunity count. His intelligence and ability to get open without relying on quickness and athleticism makes him an interesting test case for whether that translate to the next level.

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The Seahawks might be aggressive in search for pass rush

The Seahawks might have to call a few teams, including the Bills

The Seahawks met with Ziggy Ansah this week and previously met with Nick Perry, Allen Bailey, Corey Liuget and Al Woods.

Given four of those meetings happened right before the draft — there’s a good chance they anticipated not being able to load up their defensive line depth.

Pete Carroll has already admitted this will be a busy couple of weeks. They have to do something. They won’t start the season with a starting line of L.J. Collier, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Rasheem Green (with Jacob Martin in support).

For starters, where’s the competition? They’re deep at several positions apart from defensive line. More importantly they lack any kind of proven experience and quality outside of Reed.

They used to have Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark.

The Seahawks need to acquire someone with proven ability to come in and provide consistent pressure. Thus, the meeting with Ansah. He’s a collectors item as a legit pass rusher still available on the open market in May.

I’ve seen fans calling for the Seahawks to sign him now. They’re saying ‘forget the comp pick you’d lose. Just make sure you get him’.

That’s not a decision you can make lightly.

Ansah has a legit shoulder injury. It’s so legit his agent had to come out and admit he’s in rehab and will be in a better position to sign a contract later in the off-season.

The Seahawks and other potential suitors can’t sign him without a full medical check. If it’s bad news, he won’t be coming to Seattle. As desperate as they might be for a pass rusher, they’re not going to waste $10-12m (or more) on a player who won’t play.

Hopefully there’s good news on his shoulder and the Seahawks can land him next week on a one year deal. It’d solve a big problem and in 12 months time open up the possibility for a comp pick if he signs elsewhere or he could even extend his stay in Seattle if all goes well.

If it’s bad news on Ansah (or if he goes elsewhere with the Bills and Ravens reportedly showing interest) — they need alternatives.

Are Perry and Bailey enough to make you feel comfortable? Bailey had his most productive season for sacks in 2018 with six. Perry is only a year removed from a seven-sack season.

It’s not great but it might be a band-aid for a year. There’s nothing particularly scary though. Not like Ansah. Not like Frank Clark.

They might want more. And while this is a team still in the midst of a re-set — they’re also intent on competing. We saw that last year. They will be targeting a deep playoff run in 2019. They’ve improved their depth (a big need) and they’ve paid their quarterback. There’s no ‘wait until next year’ here.

With 10 draft picks in 2020 including two second rounders, two thirds and two fourths — they have some options.

Don’t rule out some veteran trades.

We’ve already talked about Jadeveon Clowney. The Frank Clark trade likely sets a precedent on price and it might be difficult to haggle with the Texans. That said — Clark went for a first and second rounder simply because a team (Kansas City) was willing to pay the price. If nobody is willing to give that up for Clowney, the Texans have a call to make. Keep him for one more year or let him go now and get a better pick a year earlier.

They have until July 15th to get a long term deal done. That’s the deadline. If we get close to that date and no extension nears, could the Texans make a deal? We’ll see. It’s still more unlikely than likely at this stage.

However, if they were willing to accept a package with a high point of one of Seattle’s second round picks — it could become an option.

You might ask — why would they pay Clowney and not Clark?

It’s a fair point to raise. I think the best answer is they don’t have to pay Clowney. The one-year rental with Sheldon Richardson backfired because he didn’t get paid big money and the Seahawks signed too many free agents to get a comp pick anyway.

Clowney is different. There’s a strong chance he would get paid next year. In the last three seasons he’s accumulated 54 TFL’s (considered a better statistic for production than mere sacks but perhaps not as strong as TFL’s + pressures combined). In 2017 his 21 TFL’s was #2 in the league and in 2016 he led the NFL with 17. Last year he had 16 but only ranked at #11.

In comparison, Frank Clark had only 11 TFL’s in 2018 and had 32 over the last three seasons. So there’s a considerable difference.

Furthermore, the Seahawks were very conscious this year not to impact their comp picks with outside free agents. If they retain that approach next year — and assuming Clowney gets paid — they’d be essentially swapping a second rounder for a third and a year of quality edge rush.

That’s if they don’t re-sign or extend him — which they could do.

It’s a mildly risky strategy as we saw with the Richardson trade. Yet the Rams received no criticism for their one-year rental of Sammy Watkins because they did get the third round comp pick.

I’ll say again — it’s probably not likely to happen. Yet the Texans are reportedly open to dealing him with an extension unlikely. Clowney is the type of impact, game-wrecking talent the Seahawks like. He’d immediately upgrade the D-line and improve their greatest weakness.

For more on Clowney’s effectiveness and development, watch this video by Brett Kollmann:

There are other options too. Gerald McCoy is seemingly destined to leave Tampa Bay. He’s perhaps not quite the player he once was aged 31. It feels like the Seahawks need an EDGE more than anything. Someone who can threaten with speed and has years on their side and something to prove rather than a heavy wallet.

If Ansah signed with the Bills it could make Jerry Hughes expendable. He’s always been more of a 3-4 rusher anyway and the Bills are very much a 4-3 team these days. Seattle’s 4-3 under might be a better fit for him. Hughes turns 31 this year but he had 13 TFL’s in 2018 (two more than Frank Clark) and 12 in 2017. At his age, $10.4m cap hit and the fact he’s out of contract next year — there could be a deal there.

Another option could be Kyler Fackrell. He had 12 TFL’s in 2018 and 10.5 sacks in a breakout year. The Packers have added Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary this off-season. Fackrell is nowhere near as established as the other names suggested but he might have more upside and more to play for.

Aside from that the options appear limited. That’s why the Seahawks could be more aggressive than you might think — either with Ansah or via trade with someone like Clowney or Hughes. While they are rebuilding through the draft they still want to compete. The lack of an established pass rusher is a major hole on the roster.

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