Month: August 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Reacting to the Minnesota Vikings trade for Yannick Ngakoue

Let’s get one thing straight — the Seahawks couldn’t make this deal. Having traded away their first and third round picks next year, plus their first rounder in 2022, they couldn’t afford to give up two more picks on what could be a one-year rental.

As much as the next draft is in flux due to the question marks surrounding college football, the Seahawks are still going to need to add young, cheap talent next year with so many players on one-year deals.

Ngakoue’s salary would also be a sticking point, given he’s unable to negotiate an extension until the 2021 league year begins per the terms of the franchise tag. The Vikings will have to cut someone (Riley Reiff is the only one who can provide relief) or trade a player such as Anthony Harris.

Either that or the Jaguars will split the difference on the salary.

It simply wasn’t realistic for the Seahawks to make this deal, however, having already made a move for Jamal Adams. And with their conservative approach to contract negotiations these days, the chances are they would’ve used that second rounder and conditional pick for one season of Ngakoue (just as they did with Sheldon Richardson and, possibly, Jadeveon Clowney).

That said, this is still a trade that warrants some discussion from a Seahawks perspective.

Having signalled their desire at the start of the off-season to ‘fix the pass rush’, they’ve so far — as we all know by now — only swapped Clowney for Benson Mayowa, added Bruce Irvin and then traded up in round two for a player who’s probably going to start the year on the PUP list. They’ve not done anything at defensive tackle short of retaining Jarran Reed.

Other teams, who perhaps didn’t state fixing the pass rush was their main aim, have been so much more aggressive and pro-active.

The Vikings can now partner Ngakoue with Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr — creating a dynamic triple-threat rush attack. Look at the following tweet:

Someone could write something similar for the Seahawks… only instead of Hunter and Ngakoue it’d be Mayowa and Rasheem Green. If that doesn’t put the situation into full focus, what will?

Ngakoue replaces Everson Griffen, who just signed with the Cowboys. The Ravens brought in Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, retained Matt Judon on the franchise tag and are now being linked with Clowney. The Bears went out and signed Robert Quinn to go with Khalil Mack and the Falcons, badly needing a serious edge threat, signed Dante Fowler.

Yet the Seahawks just sit waiting and waiting, seemingly, for Clowney. Without any sign of a breakthrough. Drifting into the season so ill-prepared on the defensive line that it could jeopardise their entire campaign.

Cha, a regular contributor in the comments section, posted the following yesterday. It’s funny and brutally real at the same time:

Hawks Fans 5 Stages of Grief For the Pass Rush

“PC knows there won’t be a season in 2020 because of COVID.”
“PC and JS know what they’re doing. They’ve won a Super Bowl. Have YOU ever been a coach or GM?”
“Hawks are saving cap space because future years could be bad.”

“Stop talking about the pass rush! That’s all you talk about!”

“A better back 7 will improve the pass rush.”
“We got Jamal Adams and he’s a pass rusher.”
“Our reformed OL is a bigger problem.”
“Maybe Benson Mayowa can do a Chris Clemons.”

“What’s the point of playing the season? We know how it’s going to go – It’s going to be 9-7 or 10-6 and a milquetoast playoff loss.”

“Let’s enjoy RW while we can and marvel at special talents like DK Metcalf and Jamal Adams.”

Cha’s intentions were to provide a bit of humour, so don’t take it too seriously or personally. Yet he’s right, isn’t he? Fans and media alike have been very willing to talk themselves into believing this situation will be fine — or that there are reasons why the team has failed to address it’s most glaring and obvious need.

There’s nothing wrong with that either. If you want to bury your head in the sand and hope for the best, that’s fine. That doesn’t change the reality of the situation though. It doesn’t stop it being the defining talking point of the off-season. It doesn’t mean the subject should be parked or left alone.

It needs to be talked about daily. Questions need to be asked. Answers need to be provided.

If nobody is held to account, things will just drift. We’ll all be sat here in March wondering how the Seahawks are going to fix their pass rush for a third off-season in a row — with a decreasing salary cap, barely any picks and the need to re-sign multiple players to new contracts.

It might feel like it sometimes, but this blog isn’t the only place recognising the potential for a wasted season either. Deny it as much as you want but there’s a reason Russell Wilson has been more vocal this year and why his friends in the media have also been more critical of the franchise.

However they went about it — whether it was dealing for Ngakoue or Calais or signing one of the free agents or just getting Clowney done and dusted by now — they had to do more than hoping and praying that Benson Mayowa was going to elevate himself from career backup and replacement level player to DE1.

What comes next seems all too predictable and obvious. The Seahawks gave up 460 yards to Matt Schaub on their last visit to Atlanta to play a horrible 1-6 Falcons team riddled with injuries. How are they going to restrict Matt Ryan in week one with no pressure?

For all the talk of containing the perimeter run better (a major problem, admittedly) — the key to success against Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo is pressure and forcing mistakes. Otherwise they’ll both move the ball with ease, as we saw in weeks 14 & 17. What about the playoffs? Traditionally that’s where a good pass rush ends up being a huge factor.

As Jake Heaps noted this week:

“Your defense is designed — ‘four beat five’. Four rushers can beat five and we can play our coverage, our scheme behind it.”

The Seahawks aren’t a super-creative, blitzing, attacking defense. They rush with four, play coverage and everything is about doing your job. Discipline, gap control, staying on top, not giving up the post. If you don’t have good players on your D-line, you’re going to struggle. Badly. Receivers and tight ends will uncover without pressure. You won’t be able to contain the run. You will expose your unprotected (yet expensive) linebackers and safeties.

It’s a huge feather in Seattle’s cap that they can rely on an elite quarterback. Asking him to put +30 points on the board every week, however, to cover the fact you’ve botched fixing the defensive line is neither realistic or fair on Wilson. When you set out to play complementary football as your philosophy and spend all your picks and money on linebackers and safeties — how can you then turn to your QB with a straight face and ask for help? If you want him to lead a one-man show — invest in receivers and an O-line and design everything offensively around his ability. Otherwise, you need to actually build a team capable to play the way you prefer with a closed circle.

Time is running out now to get this sorted. Jadeveon Clowney, much to Seattle’s fortune, remains available. If they’re serious about competing and serious about winning Championship’s, they have to get something done. Pronto.

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The Seahawks have re-signed Paul Richardson

Paul Richardson is back in Seattle

It had been in the pipeline for a few days but the Seahawks have re-signed receiver Paul Richardson.

It’s felt for a while like Seattle was destined to add another receiver. First there were the links to Antonio Brown. Josh Gordon had been heavily touted to return.

With Brown’s suspension and still no word on Gordon’s status from the NFL — time has seemingly run out and they’ve added someone familiar with the team and the offense.

So what can we discern from this move?

It could be an indication that the younger players have not quite done enough in camp to warrant faith as contributors. The lack of pre-season games hasn’t helped. Yet the Seahawks have a superstar quarterback and only two proven receiver targets. An injury to Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf and you’re banking on Philip Dorsett or David Moore. They needed another player and someone they can trust.

Dorsett has actually missed a bit of time with an injury so it could also be insurance against his health and status.

The commitment to Richardson is minimal so it’s possible he could be cut again before week one to avoid guaranteeing his contract — then re-signed shortly after.

Before he signed with Washington as a free agent, he enjoyed a productive end to his Seahawks career. Injuries plagued him initially after being taken with their top-pick in a loaded 2014 receiver class. Yet by the end of his spell he was reliable, made spectacular grabs and was a trusted target for Russell Wilson.

This deal also suggests that Justin Britt could also be close to a return. He went through Covid-19 testing this week and if his knee injury has fully healed, it’d be a no-brainer to bring him back.

For starters, whatever their plan at center was initially it has become increasingly muddled. They signed B.J. Finney to an $8m contract over two-years, declaring he was a top target at the start of free agency. Yet he couldn’t even beat out Ethan Pocic for the center job.

Finney was a career backup in Pittsburgh and only a part-time center. It was a curious move and it’s possible they spent a decent chunk of their off-season dollars on what amounts to a backup guard.

Pocic is a draft bust from 2017 clinging to a roster spot merely due to the current situation at center. It would’ve been a gamble to proceed with him as the starter — even if he played the position reasonably well at LSU.

If Britt returns it gives Seattle a degree of continuity up front with Duane Brown and Mike Iupati also slated to start. With Damien Lewis having an impressive camp too, the only question mark could be Brandon Shell.

If both players sign cheap deals it shouldn’t impact their cap too much either. They’ll simply replace other low-level earners protecting the Seahawks’ remaining money so that they can address the one big fat glaring need on the roster.

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Are the Baltimore Ravens favourites to sign Jadeveon Clowney?

“Can I hitch a ride to Baltimore?”

Friend of the blog and leading NFL insider Tony Pauline is reporting for Pro Football Network that league sources believe Jadeveon Clowney will eventually sign with the Baltimore Ravens.

“A lot of people in the league believe that in end, he’s going to end up with the Baltimore Ravens… The Ravens need an upgrade with their pass rush. The belief from league insiders is don’t be surprised if he ends up with the Baltimore Ravens.”

According to Overthecap, the Ravens have approximately $16m to spend after parting with Earl Thomas. The Seahawks have about $15m available.

Simply put it will be unforgivable, having waited so long for Clowney, if the Seahawks allow him to join a team in a similar financial position.

Nobody can accuse the Seahawks of not being pro-active. Year after year they’ve been willing to make moves and be aggressive. The Jamal Adams trade is the biggest example of that but in the past they’ve completed various deals later in the year — from Clowney to Duane Brown and Sheldon Richardson.

However, it should be considered a stunning case of inactivity if Clowney ends up signing for another supposed contender for a financial package we know the Seahawks could afford.

The Ravens would be adding him to a line including Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Matt Judon, Brandon Williams and day-two draft pick Justin Madubuike. They further bolstered their front seven by spending a first round pick on Patrick Queen.

Those are the kind of names many thought the Seahawks might look at as they attempt to, in their own words, fix the pass rush and the defensive line.

Going into the season genuinely relying on Benson Mayowa as the primary early-down pass rusher shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone. You can hope for the best but you also need to face reality. He’s a career rotational pass rusher (or in other words, a backup). Even if he personally has a solid season — you’re also still relying on a supporting cast of players like Rasheem Green and paper thin depth at defensive tackle.

It’s quite incredible really that as August turns into September, this issue still hasn’t properly been addressed. They’re keeping a decent chunk of cap space available because they know as well as we do that this unit simply isn’t good enough. As noted on Wednesday, it’s really saying something when Jake Heaps feels obliged to be blunt and honest about just how dire this defensive line is.

Fast forward to January. Do you really want to be sat here again discussing another early-round playoff exit, then spending an entire off-season talking about the need to fix the pass rush? Déjà vu anyone?

Signing Clowney won’t be a cure-all to the problem. Many have settled on Mayowa and Bruce Irvin being enough as a compliment. I’m not sure it is. The Seahawks needed a major revamp of their D-line. Noting that Mayowa isn’t as bad as a semi-retired Ziggy Ansah isn’t really anything to write home about.

Even so — the situation will be critical without Clowney. At the very least he’d provide an X-factor that in key games (NFC West or playoff) could be the difference. We certainly saw evidence of that last year.

It’ll be a tough pill to swallow if he ends up in Baltimore. The Ravens didn’t actually perform that well with their pass rush last year. They had 37 sacks, a hurry percentage of 7.3% and 140 pressures. All are in the bottom half of the league. That’s despite being by far the most blitz-heavy defense. They blitzed 54.9% of the time, with Todd Bowles and Tampa Bay in second place with 43.4%. If you’re blitzing 10% more often than Bowles then that’s quite a statistic.

The response has been a concerted and intelligent reshaping of their line. They haven’t splurged. The trade for Campbell was a statement of intent and they retained their top rusher in Judon. They then added extra pieces and now, reportedly, could be set to add another.

That’s a stark contrast to the Seahawks who talked a good game early in the off-season and said all the right things but then delivered very little in terms of addressing their self-confessed top priority.

If the Ravens get Clowney and Seattle ends up having to settle for what isn’t even Plan B (that was presumably Everson Griffen) — that would warrant some criticism that so far the team has avoided under a Jamal Adams shaped cloud of positivity.

I’ll keep repeating this line because I think it’s a season-defining point at this stage. What is the bigger gamble? Committing money to Jadeveon Clowney that you’ve so far been reluctant to pay, or going into next season hoping that your current D-line won’t cost you a wasted year?

For me, the obvious answer is to sign Clowney and roll with the punches.

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Jake Heaps tells it like it is regarding Seattle’s D-line

Information has been limited from Seahawks training camp, with the team inviting the media to attend while simultaneously not allowing them to actually report anything.

Regardless, all we’ve really got are a few team-sanctioned tidbits such as ‘D.K. Metcalf is playing well’ and ‘Jamal Adams is good’.

Therefore it was refreshing to get a more revealing and honest report from Jake Heaps on the Brock and Salk podcast this week (see above).

He starts off by praising the impact of Adams and the new-look secondary. Certainly the thought of him being joined by Quandre Diggs and Marquise Blair is a tantalising thought for a defense that wants to be physical. He noted that last year it was Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill and Shalom Luani and the difference is definitely noticeable.

That’s the good news.

At the 42:50 mark in the podcast the conversation turns to the defensive line.

Heaps has close connections to the team. He’s a former player for a start but he also trains with Russell Wilson and receives plenty of access working for the flagship radio station.

Generally speaking, he’s positive about the Seahawks. He could never be accused of being deliberately negative.

So what he said about the D-line was alarming. It also confirmed all of the fears we’ve expressed on this website about the state of the unit and the consequences it could have for the Seahawks in 2020.

Here are some selected quotes:

“It’s still a problem. There’s nothing in my mind, as I look at this group, that has changed. In terms of the number one problem that the Seahawks have had all off-season — identified by Pete, identified by John — all throughout the off-season, has been pass rush. Has been defensive line. And that to me is still the glaring weakness of this equation.”

“Now, they can dress it up. They can try and hide it by unique skillsets of those three guys that I mentioned — Bobby Wagner, Jamal Adams and Marquise Blair — but those three guys can’t mask the overall problem of your defense.”

“Your defense is designed — ‘four beat five’. Four rushers can beat five and we can play our coverage, our scheme behind it. You’re asking guys to play positions or roles that they’ve never played in before. That to me is evident.”

“Benson Mayowa for example… he is a rotational pass rusher. If he was your third pass rusher… I’d be all for it. Now you’re asking him to be your starting LEO. You’re asking Bruce Irvin, who’s always been a consistent six-and-a-half-sacks type of player, you’re asking (him) to be your leading pass rusher in a role he’s never played before.”

“Those are things that you look at and it draws major concern. Outside of Jarran Reed and Poona Ford, your depth at the defensive tackle position is scary.”

“You look at this group and I’m telling you that unless this secondary is one of the best of all time, you can’t hide all the warts that you have across your defensive line.”

“This is going to be a gamble guys and that’s why I say, right now, on Tuesday August 25th, that this group cannot be done. Pete and John cannot be done addressing this issue, that they’re going to make some sort of late acquisition before the season starts.”

The simple fact is the D-line isn’t good enough. When it comes to the key NFC West games or a playoff game down the line — it will cost the Seahawks.

Something needs to be done or there’s a serious risk this unit will deliver a wasted season.

It’s why I keep coming back to this point. Which is worse? Spending $15-17m a year for Jadeveon Clowney on a two or three year deal and it not working out, or not spending that money and relying on Benson Mayowa as your primary rusher in 2020?

Even if it has to be a one-year deal. Get it done. Find a way. You’ve waited long enough.

You’ve gone all-in by trading away two future first round picks for Jamal Adams. You can’t waste that investment by trotting out an atrocious D-line.

The true gamble isn’t spending money on Clowney. The true gamble is not spending the money and hoping what you already have is good enough when it quite clearly isn’t.

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Everything I’m thinking about the Seahawks

Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs look like BAMF’s

With no pre-season games, no fans attending practise and the media severely limited in what they can report — it’s pretty hard to analyse anything that’s going on during Seattle’s training camp. That said, I’m going to offer a few thoughts on some topics as the season draws closer.

Let’s slow the hype on Alton Robinson

There’s been a lot of buzz about how well Robinson has performed. Pete Carroll has highlighted him and the local media have been suggesting he’s been a standout performer so far. This is all good news given the state of Seattle’s D-line.

However, there’s an important point to remember here. We’re only two years removed from Rasheem Green having a really productive pre-season. On debut against the Colts he finished with 1.5 sacks, three hurries and seven tackles. Carroll proudly stated after the game:

“He’s come to us with real good style, he’s got real good hands. I was just fired up it showed up in the game.”

Yet Green’s first season in the league was a flop. He had only one sack all year.

Frank Clark equally had a fantastic pre-season as a rookie. Against Oakland he forced a sack/fumble that was recovered for a touchdown.

Again though, when the season started, Clark struggled to make an impact. That wasn’t entirely his fault. He was playing behind Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril for a start, on a team that had just lost the Super Bowl. Even so — his great summer didn’t translate to an impactful rookie campaign where he finished with just three sacks.

None of this means Robinson can’t have a great rookie season but it’s worth noting that young Seattle pass rushers have a tendency to flash in camp and then go through a steep learning curve when the real games start.

Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs look the part

There’s something to be said about the visual nature of a team. I watched a bit of ‘Rain City Redemption’ last night. The Seahawks looked as physical as they played. Kam Chancellor, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Browner, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Breno Giacomini. There was a spine of the team that just embodied physicality and toughness.

That has to have an impact. I think there’s something to be said for the ‘get off the bus’ look to a team. You want an opponent to be wary of facing you. In this most physically and mentally demanding of games, any slight edge is crucial.

It has to go along with talent, of course. The LOB era Seahawks had plenty of that too. They had a nice blend overall.

During this reset the Seahawks haven’t really had enough of those physical players. They’ve been the ones pushed around by teams at times. Look at the way the Rams have handled them or the defeats to Baltimore and New Orleans last year. They didn’t have enough of a physical edge.

You can still levy that at the 2020 Seahawks. In particular on both lines — there’s a distinct chance several offensive and defensive linemen will have their lunch money stolen this season.

However, credit where credits due, Adams and Diggs look like a terrific, formidable force in the secondary. They look different to the other players on the roster. They embody the tough attitude the Seahawks have been missing for too long. Teams will not enjoy trying to attack Seattle’s secondary as a consequence of their presence. With Marquise Blair also known for his hitting, the defense could finally return to the punishing unit Carroll craves.

That said — and this will be the dynamic with this team until the problem is solved — you’ll never get the full benefit of this if opposing quarterbacks have all day in the pocket and you can’t create pressure up front.

Can Ethan Pocic be Justin Britt II?

Pocic was a surprise pick in 2017 for many reasons. He was a pure center at LSU and looked like a center too. Everything about his playing style suited the position. He wasn’t an amazing athlete or a power blocker. He was technically sound, contained opponents off the snap and held his ground.

When he was picked I remember thinking they were planning for life without Justin Britt — who was coming to the end of his contract. Yet later in the year Britt signed a whopping extension. Suddenly the Pocic pick made little sense. They tried him at right tackle to start his first camp, quickly moved him to guard and there he stayed.

His career has never really taken off. He’s struggled with strength and he simply didn’t fit at guard or tackle.

So why has it taken until year four to finally shift him back to center?

It was weird listening to Carroll explain that he’d ‘always thought it was his best position’ the other day. Really? So why not, you know, actually play him there? What was the thought process with the pick? Select a guy you felt could be versatile, leave him struggling without a set position and then reveal you saw him as a center all along?

Pocic must wonder what life would’ve been like had he landed somewhere else and actually been given a proper shot at center earlier in his career.

Hopefully, as was the case with Britt, this late shift will be the catalyst to a career revival. Britt looked like he was going to be cut and was given a chance to compete at center almost as a last act. Yet he excelled, won the job and was a pillar of consistency for a long time until injury ended his spell in Seattle.

If Pocic doesn’t perform well, however, this could become a big problem for the Seahawks. B.J. Finney was signed in the off-season presumably with the intention of winning this job. Yet, as was the case throughout his time in Pittsburgh, he seems to be settling into a backup role. It’s not a glowing review of the situation that he’s not separated from Pocic or indeed even ahead of him.

Solidity at center is key. The Seahawks obviously have the potential to simply re-sign Britt when he’s healthy again if needed. They’ll hope that isn’t necessary.

Greg Olsen could be a god send

The Seahawks have always looked a better team with a tight end who can consistently make plays. They don’t need a player you need to feed the ball to (Jimmy Graham). The offense calls for a playmaker and safety net though. Zach Miller played that role beautifully as has Will Dissly when healthy.

Dissly’s injuries the last two years set back the offense. They lost a limb and had to make do afterwards. He’s back and hopefully won’t suffer another gut-wrenching injury in 2020. Having Olsen as a partner in crime, however, gives the Seahawks the kind of security they’ve never had before.

Olsen’s experience, savviness and blossoming connection with Russell Wilson (per reports) could be a big plus. You need a lot of weapons on offense in the modern NFL. Olsen might be in the twilight of his career but he’s always been the consummate pro.

He’s not going to be Travis Kelce or George Kittle but he doesn’t need to be. He just needs to make some third downs, score a few touchdowns, provide some leadership and allow this offense to function to the best of its abilities.

The Carlos Hyde signing is also important

I think everyone feels sympathy with Chris Carson currently. He’s dealing with a family issue and hasn’t been practising much during training camp as a consequence.

That said, he’s a player coming off a fairly serious injury and the missed time might not be entirely conducive with him hitting the ground running this season. Carson has had an injury plagued career too.

The wheels fell off Seattle’s offense when Carson and Rashaad Penny both got hurt at the end of last season, leading to the dramatic return of Marshawn Lynch. It seems plausible even at this early stage that Carson might not be 100% immediately or could get hurt as he tries to reach 100%.

Hyde is an above average running back who can carry the load for a team. To have him as insurance on the roster increasingly looks like a wise move. I’m not sure what the odds are on him finishing as Seattle’s leading rusher in 2020 but it’s probably worth five bucks.

The Seahawks still need another receiver

This is a brutal pre-season for young players and many are going to need to hope they get another shot next season to show what they can do. That said, teams like the Seahawks — with ambitions of being a contender — are going to equally have to accept the situation.

They can’t really afford to ‘find out’ what the likes of Freddie Swain and Cody Thompson can do. David Moore can be inconsistent but at least he’s familiar with the quarterback, the offense and he’s made plays in the league.

They’ve brought in Phillip Dorsett and talked up his speed and potential and there’s also a chance John Ursua gets a bigger opportunity in 2020. However, it feels like the Seahawks need to add another proven, reliable receiver.

One injury to Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf and you’re basically relying far too much on younger players and your tight ends. They need a third wheel, someone who can realistically fill the void if one of the top two go out.

That’s why I think they were linked with Antonio Brown until confirmation of his suspension (and they might return to that weeks down the line). It’s why I think they’d still like to add Josh Gordon if that’s possible. Bob Condotta brought up the name of Paul Richardson today as another option.

Don’t be surprised if they add Richardson just to give themselves that little bit more security going into the season.

Damien Lewis is getting a lot of praise

If you missed it in April, here’s my interview with Lewis:

I found him to be humble, passionate for the game and full of the grit the Seahawks seek. I thought he was a top-50 prospect in the draft and the Seahawks got a steal getting him in round three. He was superb for LSU and terrific at the Senior Bowl too.

He’s earned rave reviews so far from his team mates and that’s a big plus. The Seahawks need some long term pieces on their O-line. Bruce Irvin singled him out for praise during his press conference yesterday.

He’ll have a big test against Atlanta’s D-line in his first game — but it’s going to be fun to see how his career develops in Seattle.

The Jordyn Brooks pick still feels like a head scratcher

Like Adams and Diggs, there’s something about Brooks in the way of intensity, thick frame and attitude. I can see why NFL teams were attracted to him as a high-ish pick for that alone.

Yet as we sit here today with virtually zero chance of him starting as a rookie, I can’t help but wonder what the thought process was? Did they really draft a WILL linebacker of the future in round one?

K.J. Wright is going to start. They’ve pretty much spelled that out. Bruce Irvin is the SAM. So barring injuries, this is basically going to be a redshirt season for Brooks.

Is the WILL spot really that important?

When you look at the alternatives in the draft, the picture becomes even murkier. They said they liked Darrell Taylor so much they almost took him in round one. Yet by not doing so, they then had to trade up in round two. All for the benefit of acquiring a WILL of the future.

There was a supreme collection of talented running backs available. That would’ve saved money because they wouldn’t need Carlos Hyde and they’d have greater flexibility in terms of what to do regarding Chris Carson’s contract next year.

There were a cluster of good offensive lineman available. Imagine pairing Damien Lewis with either the brilliantly physical Robert Hunt or his LSU team mate Lloyd Cushenberry. Or they could’ve moved up a handful of spots to get Cesar Ruiz.

If Brooks goes on to become a fantastic player in the future nobody will question the pick. That kind of has to happen though — otherwise what possible justification is there for taking a WILL of the future when there are so many long term question marks at other positions on the roster?

And let’s not forget — they’re already paying Wright and Bobby Wagner nearly $25m combined this year. In the 2019 draft, they also traded up for Cody Barton.

Second and third tier players need to step up

The Seahawks clearly have good players but for too long now the second and third tier guys haven’t added anything. There’s been a distinct lack of development and progress year-in, year-out.

A winning team always needs a handful of people to step forward. In 2013 for example, the Seahawks had Malcolm Smith, Clinton McDonald, Jermaine Kearse and Byron Maxwell.

They’ve found players who contributed as rookies — D.K. Metcalf and Will Dissly for example. So it’s not that they can’t find talent that is ready to play. Yet they’ve not managed to polish the raw diamonds and find guys that can take a big step and elevate their performance after some seasoning.

They desperately need that in 2020 especially if they don’t do anything else to the D-line. The problem is they’re practically relying on the likes of Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair. They have to perform or else. They are no longer second or third tier hopefuls. They’re starters. Slow progress isn’t an option.

They still need to sign Jadeveon Clowney

Look — you might find this repetitive. It is repetitive. Yet it’s simply a fact that the Seahawks run the serious risk of wasting a lot of potential on this roster by trotting out a wretched D-line.

They have a quarterback in his prime, they’ve invested massive amounts into their linebackers and safeties. They just traded their life savings away in an attempt to win now. Not next year — right now.

And yet it’s a massive contradiction for all of these things to be true and the Seahawks D-line to remain in the state it’s in.

Clowney won’t fix an entire line by himself. He’s an impact player though capable of providing an X-factor up front. Those types matter come playoff time or come NFC West time. We saw that against San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Everyone has been entrenched for months. Clowney won’t take anything less than the figure he has in his mind. The Seahawks and the rest of the NFL aren’t going up to that number.

Yet it’s nearly September now and all parties have exhausted this saga to the maximum. Seattle needs Clowney more than he probably needs a one-year contract to play this season. If you’re going to roll the dice on a safety in a big trade it’s time to roll the dice on a contract for the one dynamic D-liner available on the market.

Clay Matthews isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid.

The Seahawks with Clowney have a shot. The Seahawks without Clowney look like a team who will make the playoffs as a wildcard, lose in the first couple of rounds and we’ll point the finger at one of the worst pass rushing units in the league and have the same off-season conversation we’ve had for the last two years.

If it takes a 2-3 year deal that carries some risk to get this done, wouldn’t you rather roll that dice than take a punt on the current D-line not costing you a season?

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The Seahawks finally sign a defensive tackle

P.J. Johnson was drafted in the seventh round in 2019

The Seahawks have needed a defensive tackle all off-season. Until today, they had only added undrafted free agent Cedrick Lattimore.

Finally, the position has temporarily been addressed.

P.J. Johnson recently had a workout for the team and today he’s been signed to a contract. He fits the bill in terms of size with a 6-3, 335lbs frame. The Seahawks needed a big guy to anchor the middle of the D-line following Al Woods’ departure. It’s taken until August 18th but at least now someone has been added who could potentially fill the role.

He was a seventh round pick by the Lions in 2019 before being cut and ending up on the Chargers’ practise squad. That’s not a great résumé admittedly but the Seahawks needed to bring someone in. This move gives them a chance to have an extended look at Johnson.

That’s very much the context people should judge this move. The Seahawks had a couple of spare roster spots. They can now check out Johnson, see what he has to offer in practise and it eases the burden on the position with both Jarran Reed and Poona Ford nursing injuries. Ford sat out practise today and so did Demarcus Christmas.

They could cut him again in a few days. They could sign another defensive tackle. Or they could keep him as cheap filler.

The fact that they’ve gone down this route while the likes of Timmy Jernigan (Jacksonville) and Mike Daniels (Cincinnati) sign elsewhere is a further suggestion, it has to be said, of the Seahawks protecting their available cap room.

And yes, that’s clearly in case re-signing Jadeveon Clowney becomes a possibility.

Despite numerous reports suggesting the Seahawks had ‘moved on’, Charles Robinson reported today that they are one of a small handful of teams retaining interest:

“…you basically have a three-team picture between the Seahawks, Titans and Raiders. And of that trio, the Titans and Seahawks make the most sense in terms of being able to add Clowney late in the preseason, because of his familiarity with the schemes and/or coaching staffs.”

It’s nearly two weeks since Michael Silver mentioned that the Seahawks “appear to have moved on” and that “a deal could happen soon” with Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews. I wrote at the time that the tweets felt like a final call to Clowney and to be fair, so it has proved. The Seahawks didn’t sign Griffen and they haven’t signed Matthews.

Signing P.J. Johnson instead of a Jernigan, Daniels or Marcell Dareus keeps the spending to an absolute minimum with no firm commitment. The Seahawks have a defensive tackle in the building on what amounts to an extended trial. They’ve also kept virtually all of their remaining cap available on the off-chance that as the season draws gradually closer — they might be re-united with the player they labelled an off-season priority.

The Seahawks rounded out their 80 man roster by claiming quarterback Danny Etling off waivers. He was recently cut by Atlanta. Again, this is basically an extended try out. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 draft by New England. He ended up on the practise squad and in year two actually transitioned to receiver before being cut. He switched back to quarterback when Atlanta claimed him.

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Jarran Reed injury highlights glaring problem for Seattle

Poona Ford and Jarran Reed picked up injuries on Friday

According to media members at Friday’s training camp session, Jarran Reed left the field with a lower leg injury and didn’t return to practise.

It was also reported that Poona Ford picked up a calf injury but stayed on the field.

If the season started tomorrow, which thankfully it doesn’t, the Seahawks would presumably be starting Demarcus Christmas and Bryan Mone at defensive tackle with only undrafted free agent rookie Cedrick Lattimore for depth.

It’s an incredible situation.

Why the Seahawks haven’t added a defensive tackle so far is a mystery with only one reasonable answer. They cannot go into the off-season with such weak depth at the position. The only plausible explanation is they are saving their remaining cap money for something more important — such as a hope that Jadeveon Clowney will eventually re-sign. There can be no other explanation.

Players are available. Only last week they were said to be interested in Marcell Dareus. They could sign him at any moment. So why wouldn’t you bring him in? Training camp has started now. New additions need every second possible to adjust during this strange, Covid-impacted pre-season. Aside from all the testing you have to do first before even taking the field — you need to learn the scheme, get in shape and work through any issues without pre-season games.

There’s just no logic to not having another veteran defensive tackle on the roster right now unless they’re saving their remaining money for a potential Clowney return.

Such an approach has arguably already cost them primary Plan B in Everson Griffen. If they don’t land Clowney and ultimately miss out on Griffen, Dareus and others who could’ve boosted their D-line — it’ll be a huge own goal for a team that has already done a poor job handling its self-confessed biggest off-season priority.

The injury to Reed (and also Ford) could easily happen early in the season. A defensive line that has already been ranked by PFF as the worst in the league would then be in an absolutely desperate state.

The problem is Clowney, seemingly, isn’t budging:

They’ve made their bed and are sleeping in it until the bitter end. Despite reports that a Griffen or Clay Matthews signing was ‘close’ (that was 10 days ago now) or that they had interest in Dareus — nothing has happened.

It’s quite strange really. This whole situation regarding the D-line feels like it’s being papered over. Most people recognise the need for more up front — but nobody’s really being pushed on it. And if they aren’t waiting for Clowney, what’s the hold up?

This is a season-undermining problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

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