Archive for January, 2022

Senior Bowl measurements & notes

Monday, January 31st, 2022

The full list is available via the Senior Bowl twitter page.

I’ve noted some of the highlights below.

There are some key things to remember. The Seahawks are quite strict in their ‘types’. And while some of these rules have been relaxed recently (such as heigh/length with cornerbacks) they are still relatively consistent with others.

For example, the magic number for arm length with defensive linemen is 33-inches. Anything below that and it’s an issue. Offensive linemen with great length (+34 inches) are clear tackle prospects. When you’re in that 33-inch range, it’s considered not ideal to play the edge.

They like their running backs in the 220lbs range with explosive testing numbers. Quarterback hand-size is important. Anything less than 9′ is a problem — anything in the 10′ range is very good.

Ideally you want your tight ends to have plus length for blocking duties. Generally that means +33 inches. However, the bigger factor at the position is agility testing when it comes to the Seahawks.

I’ve added notes/reaction underneath each measurement…

Abraham Lucas (T)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 322
Arm Length: 34 5/8
Wingspan: 81 3/8
Hands: 10 3/8

Good tackle size/length. A very positive set of measurements for Abraham Lucas. Remember he ran a 4.30 short shuttle at SPARQ and he’s capable of running sub-5.00 in the forty. He could be set for a big week and eventually a home in round one.

Arnold Ebiketie (DE)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 250
Arm Length: 34
Wingspan: 82 1/8
Hands: 10 4/8

Nice length for Ebiketie and this will please teams. His speed and quickness off the edge is incredible so showing off plus arm length and size will be a terrific start to his draft season. He has legit first round potential.

Bernhard Raimann (T)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 304
Arm Length: 33
Wingspan: 80
Hands: 10 3/8

Ideally his arms would be longer. It will give teams a slight pause. There are starting tackles with 33-inch arms but you’d prefer them to be in that 34/35-inch range. The key thing for Raimann is he’s explosive and has been tested jumping in the 9-8 range in the broad, plus he’s been timed at 1.56 in the 10-yard split. So not ideal length but still plenty of momentum behind him.

Boye Mafe (DE)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 255
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 81 2/8
Hands: 9 6/8

Perfectly good size and length here for Mafe who could be on Seattle’s radar if they’re looking for another quick, highly athletic and explosive edge rusher at #41.

Brian Asamoah (LB)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 222
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 80
Hands: 9 6/8

Asamoah is a wonderfully put together, very athletic linebacker. These are solid ‘modern-day’ numbers for the position and his arm length stands-out in that it’ll help him work through traffic.

Brian Robinson Jr (RB)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 226
Arm Length: 32 1/8
Wingspan: 77 3/8
Hands: 9 6/8

He’s highly-cut and some teams won’t like that but he has the ideal weight for the position and we all saw how explosive he was for Alabama this season.

Cam Taylor-Britt (CB)
Height: 5-10
Weight: 200
Arm Length: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 76 1/8
Hands: 9 5/8

I expected him to be taller and longer but the reality is CTB plays with his hair on fire. He’s tough, physical and at times brutal. The Seahawks miss having a cornerback like this.

Cameron Thomas (DE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 264
Arm Length: 33 1/8
Wingspan: 79 2/8
Hands: 10

He’s played inside and out but this is very much a more orthodox ‘edge’ set of measurements. Nothing special in terms of size/length so how he performs and combine testing will be key for Thomas.

Carson Strong (QB)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 226
Arm Length: 31 5/8
Wingspan: 76 5/8
Hands: 9 2/8

With the way he throws the football with incredible velocity, I expected bigger hands. I think he has the best arm talent in the draft but his total lack of mobility is an issue.

Chad Muma (LB)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 241
Arm Length: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 75 6/8
Hands: 10

The size to go with his playing style — all action, physical. He’s an impressive player who flies around the field and makes plays. Not ideal length but he does a good job in space.

Channing Tindall (LB)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 223
Arm Length: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 77 2/8
Hands: 10 2/8

He’s a little lighter than I thought he would be and doesn’t have great length but on tape Tindall is a joy — a true run-and-hit dynamo with great quickness and intensity. A future captain.

Charlie Kolar (TE)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 256
Arm Length: 34 4/8
Wingspan: 82 1/8
Hands: 10

Keep an eye on Kolar as a potential mid-round TE option with these numbers. He’s ideally suited to transitioning into an all-round TE.

Dameon Pierce (RB)
Height: 5-9
Weight: 220
Arm Length: 30 6/8
Wingspan: 74
Hands: 9 3/8

An ideal Seahawks frame to go with an ideal Seahawks running style. He is a Seahawk, basically, it’s just a case of whether they take him. I hope they do. He runs with violence, creates yards after contact and he sets the tone.

Damone Clark (LB)
Height: 6-2
Weight: 240
Arm Length: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 78 1/8
Hands: 9 7/8

He looks like a Greek God on tape and these measurements are not unexpected. Terrific looking athlete. Tape a little inconsistent but it’s easy to imagine him at the next level.

Daniel Faalele (T)
Height: 6-8
Weight: 387
Arm Length: 35 3/8
Wingspan: 86 2/8
Hands: 11

Crazy numbers that’ll have Twitter talking away but the next player to succeed with these measurements will be the first. He’s intriguing and part of me would be interested to see how he gets on as a mauling right tackle. Yet how is he going to handle leverage at this height and weight?

Darian Kinnard (T)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 324
Arm Length: 34 5/8
Wingspan: 83
Hands: 11 4/8

Terrific measurements for Kinnard who is a good right tackle prospect. Nothing flashy about his tape but as a mid-round right tackle, you can do a lot worse. Testing will determine how high he goes. This is an intriguing week for him against some quality DE’s.

Darrian Beavers (LB)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 252
Arm Length: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 81
Hands: 9 5/8

Lacks length if the intention is to play him off the edge but if he’s a linebacker you can work with this frame.

Desmond Ridder (QB)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 207
Arm Length: 32 7/8
Wingspan: 78 7/8
Hands: 10

Paper-thin frame shows up in the weight but 10′ inch hands are a big positive. I’m not sure he’s capable of adding weight, he kind of is what he is. And the accuracy issues (inconsistent) are the big problem. Still — he has some very pretty throws on tape. He has arm talent.

Devonte Wyatt (DT)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 307
Arm Length: 33
Wingspan: 78
Hands: 9 7/8

Big sigh of relief that Wyatt — who is extremely explosive, super-fast and a potential interior game-wrecker — has 33 inch arms. He would be a tremendous addition for Seattle. He will run in the 4.8’s. His tape is outstanding. They need someone like this. He could easily go in the top-25.

Greg Dulcich (TE)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 248
Arm Length: 33 7/8
Wingspan: 81 2/8
Hands: 9 7/8

Keep an eye on Dulcich. Ticks a lot of boxes for Seattle. Nice combination of size and length — he was a playmaker for UCLA. He has drawn comparisons to Luke Willson but I think he has a lot more upside.

Logan Hall (DE/DT)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 278
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 80 2/8
Hands: 9 5/8

Good size for a player with legit inside/out potential and could be a high-ish first round pick. He has tremendous power and quickness. Quality prospect.

Haskell Garrett (DT)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 298
Arm Length: 32 3/8
Wingspan: 78
Hands: 9 7/8

Sadly, a player we can probably cross off the list with that arm length.

Isaiah Likely (TE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 241
Arm Length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 78
Hands: 10

Arm length and size makes him an unlikely fit but we need to wait for agility testing.

Jake Ferguson (TE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 244
Arm Length: 32 2/8
Wingspan: 77 3/8
Hands: 9 3/8

I’m peeved about this because I had high hopes for Ferguson and Ruckert in terms of length. Still — I know Ferguson has good agility testing so don’t rule him out yet. The Seahawks invest a lot in the agility testing at TE.

Jeremy Ruckert (TE)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 250
Arm Length: 32 6/8
Wingspan: 79 2/8
Hands: 10 1/8

Not great arm length but let’s see his short shuttle and three cone at the combine.

Jermaine Johnson (DE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 259
Arm Length: 34 3/8
Wingspan: 82 7/8
Hands: 9 5/8

Tremendous size and length. Legit first round talent. For me a complete pass rusher who can have an early impact in the league.

Travis Jones (DT)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 326
Arm Length: 34
Wingspan: 82 6/8
Hands: 10 2/8

Extremely powerful nose tackle who drives on contact and forces blockers into the backfield. He flashed some quickness on two swim moves vs Clemson — highlighting he can be more than just a big space-eater and bull-rusher.

Jerome Ford (RB)
Height: 5-10
Weight: 209
Arm Length: 30 7/8
Wingspan: 74 3/8
Hands: 8 5/8

Too small for Seattle, unless it’s at the end of the draft.

John Ridgeway (DT)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 327
Arm Length: 33 5/8
Wingspan: 81 3/8
Hands: 10 2/8

Bigger than I expected here — with a great combo of size and length. He had a good 2021 season. Nothing flashy but could be a very consistent next-level starter on early downs.

JoJo Domann (LB)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 226
Arm Length: 30 2/8
Wingspan: 74 3/8
Hands: 9 3/8

An ideal match for the Patriots, not so much for the Seahawks. Kyle Van Noy type.

Kenny Pickett (QB)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 217
Arm Length: 30 5/8
Wingspan: 72 6/8
Hands: Did not measure

He’s said to have 8 1/4 inch hands. Not measuring more or less confirms it. It will be a problem for a lot of teams. It has been noted he has a double-jointed thumb on his throwing hand but he still has to wear gloves every game.

Kingsley Enagbare (DE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 261
Arm Length: 35
Wingspan: 83 5/8
Hands: 10 2/8

Great size and length. He could be one to watch for Seattle depending on testing. His tape is reasonable — he lacks the quickness and burst of some others. This is a good opportunity for him in Mobile to show the difference isn’t that big between him and the other rushers. He’s a day-two prospect for me.

Luke Goedeke (T)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 318
Arm Length: 33 1/8
Wingspan: 80 3/8
Hands: 9 5/8

I think he ends up at guard and these numbers more or less confirm that. His tape was reasonably good at right tackle for Central Michigan.

Malik Willis (QB)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 220
Arm Length: 31 6/8
Wingspan: 77 3/8
Hands: 9 4/8

About what was expected. Willis has dynamic athleticism and arm talent but his throwing technique is all over the place and it will lead to turnovers.

Myjai Sanders (DE)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 242
Arm Length: 33 2/8
Wingspan: 79 4/8
Hands: 9 4/8

He’s long and lean. I was hoping for a bit more length. Still, he’s apparently a good tester and could be on Seattle’s radar in round two.

Marquise Hayes (G)
Height: 6-5
Weight: 318
Arm Length: 35 4/8
Wingspan: 83 4/8
Hands: 8 6/8

Fantastic length for a guard. The Seahawks love this type of profile (and his playing style) so keep his name on your radar.

Perrion Winfrey (DT)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 303
Arm Length: 35 4/8
Wingspan: 85 5/8
Hands: 10 2/8

His play is incredibly inconsistent but he shows in flashes. These numbers make you sit up and take notice. Wow. That is some great interior size and length. Now can he have a consistent week of practise and elevate his stock?

Phidarian Mathis (DT)
Height: 6-4
Weight: 313
Arm Length: 34 5/8
Wingspan: 83 4/8
Hands: 10 3/8

Fantastic length for a player who absolutely dominated at times for Alabama. A player who grabbed 2021 by the scruff of the neck and could’ve elevated himself into round two as a consequence. Quick, aggressive, explosive, ideally sized, great length. Love Mathis. One for Seattle potentially. A prospect you can’t help but admire.

Rachaad White (RB)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 210
Arm Length: 31
Wingspan: 75 5/8
Hands: 9 4/8

Maybe a bit light for Seattle but explosive testing is key.

Roger McCreary (CB)
Height: 5-10
Weight: 189
Arm Length: 29 2/8
Wingspan: 70 5/8
Hands: 8 7/8

No surprise here — he was always known as small and lacking length. For me he is a mid-rounder and was overrated by the national media.

Sam Howell (QB)
Height: 6-0
Weight: 221
Arm Length: 31 1/8
Wingspan: 75 5/8
Hands: 9 1/8

He looked small on tape and nothing here changes that. I think he’s a poor-man’s Baker Mayfield. He ran QB draws all the time at UNC and that won’t work in the NFL.

Tariq Woolen (CB)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 205
Arm Length: 33 4/8
Wingspan: 79
Hands: 8 5/8

A player who could go in round one. He’s said to be a candidate to tear up the combine. With these measurements, the sky’s the limit.

Trevor Penning (T)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 330
Arm Length: 34 6/8
Wingspan: 83 5/8
Hands: 10 2/8

Great size. No drama here. This is what was expected from a player who could easily be a top-10 pick.

Trey McBride (TE)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 249
Arm Length: 32 5/8
Wingspan: 78
Hands: 10 1/8

Length isn’t ideal but he’ll probably be long gone by the time Seattle thinks about drafting a tight end.

ZaQuandre White (RB)
Height: 5-11
Weight: 212
Arm Length: 30 6/8
Wingspan: 74
Hands: 9 1/8

I really like his cuts and his tape is fun — but this isn’t necessarily the profile of a Seahawks runner.

Zachary Carter (DE)
Height: 6-3
Weight: 287
Arm Length: 33 3/8
Wingspan: 81
Hands: 10 3/8

There’s something there with Carter. He has talent. Can he impress this week? He might be a later rounder but don’t write him off.

Max Mitchell (T)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 299
Arm Length: 33 5/8
Wingspan: 80 6/8
Hands: 9 5/8

His tape against Texas is seriously impressive. He’s a controlled, talented blocker who does the little things well across the board. The concern will be his size — he’ll need to add weight to stick at tackle.

Kerby Joseph (S)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 200
Arm Length: 33 1/4
Wingspan: 79 5/8
Hands: 10 1/2

Long, rangy safety who can sit high and sprint to the sideline but also has the physical nature needed to play further upfield. His arm-length is a difference maker — he’s adept at breaking up passes and he had five interceptions in 2021.

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Senior Bowl 2022 preview

Saturday, January 29th, 2022

Firstly, I’d like to thank the people who posted messages of support and concern this week. After two years of this pandemic, I started to think I would never test positive. After all, during the first lockdown I continued to work — including a self-shoot TV package from a Covid ward. I never once tested positive and figured, by this point, if I was going to get it I already would’ve done.

Last week I tested positive and became very sick. Despite the rest of my family being asymptomatic — I was bed-ridden. On Tuesday night my throat started closing up and I couldn’t even drink water. It was a scary process.

I’m feeling better now but I’d probably say I’m at 30-40%. I have no appetite. Walking is hard work. I have zero energy. I’m still testing positive.

I intend to provide as much coverage as physically possible during Senior Bowl week. I had previously booked a week off work to cover the event. I’ll start with this (less extensive than normal) review of the players I’m looking forward to seeing and the questions I’d like to answer…

Are three key tackles as good as I think they are?

I’ve talked up Trevor Penning, Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas a lot. Penning already gets a lot of attention to be fair but Raimann and Lucas less so.

Looking online, more people seem intrigued by Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele simply because he’s said to be 6-9 and 380lbs. That’s fun and all — but if he makes a success of it at that size, he’ll be the first. Penning, Raimann and Lucas are ideally sized to play tackle in the NFL. They are prototypes.

Lucas ran a 4.30 short shuttle at SPARQ and has shown well against the likes of Kayvon Thibodeaux. For me, he moves as well as any college right tackle since Tyron Smith. That doesn’t mean he’ll be as good but that kind of agility is rare. Raimann meanwhile has ideal explosive testing results and his own 1.56 10-yard split in the bag.

I think all three have the potential to become very high picks — with so many teams looking for the ideal size/length/profile to play tackle. At a time when the media is trying to push Ikem Ekonwu (come on) as a candidate to go first overall, I want to see if these three perform well in 1v1’s against an excellent looking pass rush group in Mobile.

Who shines among the defensive linemen?

With Pete Carroll already clearly stating that the priority this off-season is to improve the pass rush, the Senior Bowl should be seen as compulsive viewing for Seahawks fans.

If they don’t cut or trade Bobby Wagner and if they truly do try and retain most of their own free agents, there simply won’t be much room to add and improve. I hope that isn’t the road they go down — but here we are.

It could mean that Seattle’s most significant addition is the player they take with the #41 pick. In my article last week, I highlighted all of the potential pass rush options who could be on their radar. Rather than repeat everything here, I’d urge everyone to check out that piece as a proper, true preview of what to expect.

With Arnold Ebiketie, Boye Mafe, Myjai Sanders, Logan Hall, Devonte Wyatt and more on show — it’s at a time like this where not having the #10 pick is a real sickener. It’s not a great draft at the top end, we all know that by now. Yet there are still players available that really could’ve elevated Seattle’s pass rush.

I do think David Ojabo, George Karlaftis, Jermaine Johnson and Jordan Davis will be long gone by the time Seattle picks. Truth be told, so could Logan Hall, Devonte Wyatt, Arnold Ebiketie and Travon Walker.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on Boye Mafe in Mobile because he has some of the extreme physical attributes Seattle loves and could be available in their range. Phidarian Mathis also deserves a good look.

It’s staggering how deep this group is with Haskell Garrett, Kingsley Enagbare, Perrion Winfrey, John Ridgeway, Zachary Carter and Cameron Thomas all capable of making a scene too.

Such is the depth this year, Ole Miss’ Sam Williams is appearing at the NFLPA Game instead. He is another player worth keeping on your radar for Seattle.

This is a terrific linebacker class

What this draft lacks in top-tier blue-chip prospects, it makes up with excellent depth as the draft goes on. And it’s one of the reasons why this franchise should embrace making difficult decisions to move on from players like Bobby Wagner.

This isn’t a decent linebacker class. It’s a loaded class — with several star names set to appear in Mobile.

I haven’t talked much about Wyoming’s Chad Muma but I was seriously impressed with his tape. Quickness, intensity and he just flies to the ball. He has a physical nature and he looks every bit a prospect who can elevate his stock at the Senior Bowl and combine.

I briefly mentioned Nebraska’s JoJo Domann last week. He’s one of the most impactful, dynamic players I’ve seen in college from the 2021 season. Domann screams ‘Patriots’ and could easily fill the roll of a Kyle Van Noy type — capable of wearing different hats and providing game-changing impact.

Then there are the more orthodox linebackers who Seattle are more likely to show interest in. Georgia’s brilliant Channing Tindall — a team captain in the making who leads by example with his ability to seek-and-destroy ball-carriers, sprinting through traffic to deliver jolting hits. His team mate Quay Walker is rated equally highly — with a great blend of size and athleticism. Oklahoma’s Brian Anderson will be, at worst, a second round pick as another rangy, quick and violent modern-day prospect.

This is before even mentioning likely first round pick Devin Lloyd of Utah, LSU’s Greek God-like Damone Clark or potential projects Jeremiah Moon of Florida or Darrian Beavers at Cincinnati. Plus forgotten man — Colorado’s Nate Landman.

There’s never been a better time to get cheaper, athletic, physical brilliance at the position.

There are potential stars at other positions

Blog-favourite Dameon Pierce screams ‘Seahawks’ with his ideal size, explosive testing results and tough-running style. If they had a full quota of picks, I genuinely believe this would be a good class for Seattle to start restocking a roster that needs work. You could get an interior pass rusher, another edge, a linebacker and a runner like Pierce. That could be a foundation.

They’ll probably also really like UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen for his combination of size, length and incredible testing numbers. Jim Nagy told us he has first round potential due to his traits so let’s see how he handles the 1v1’s against wide receivers.

It’s a who’s-who of top class CFB tight end’s in Mobile. Greg Dulcich, Isaiah Likely, Trey McBride, Jake Ferguson, Jeremy Ruckert, Cole Turner, Charlie Kolar — what a group. Draft one of these guys and save money.

There isn’t a standout receiver who will pull a Deebo Samuel or Terry McLaurin this year but it’ll be interesting to see if Alec Pierce and/or Jahan Dotson can promote their stock with a good week.

Finally, the quarterbacks

The Senior Bowl has long been a ‘king maker’ at the position and that likely won’t be any different this year. Given it’s a class full of players with obvious flaws and strengths, little things like how they command the group and take on coaching will be significant. You’re going to have to convince yourself to take one of these players early.

Carson Strong is the most talented QB in this draft for me — yet the concerns over his knee issue won’t be addressed until after medical combine checks. His inability to move in the pocket to extend plays and avoid pressure, however, will likely significantly hamper his ability to go higher in the draft than his arm talent would suggest.

Kenny Pickett is well primed to succeed with his experience (he’s 24-years-old) and likeable personality. Some teams will be put off by the tiny hands and glove-wearing, others won’t. The Steelers feel like a very real prospect for him in round one.

Malik Willis’ key issues won’t be shown-up here or at the combine. His technique throwing the ball is all over the place and will lead to turnovers at the next level. It might be that he can never fix it so then you have a decision to make on how much of a risk you want to take. He has great arm talent, he throws some excellent passes with accuracy, touch and velocity. He can throw on the run with ease and he can make plays with his legs. Yet when you’re pressured and throwing the way he does, a mess of arms and legs everywhere, you’ll turn the ball over. Teams have a square to circle on that issue. You’ll likely have to adapt and shift your scheme to live with it — rather than re-work his fundamentals.

Desmond Ridder could have a very good week because he’s mature, talented and won’t face much pressure until the game. His accuracy is so up-and-down though that I think teams will have already settled on how they view him before this process.

Sam Howell to me just feels like a poor-man’s Baker Mayfield. I’m mostly interested to see how tall he is in measurements.

I will live-blog those measurements when they come in on Monday so stick to the blog for that, plus any notes or observations I have — I will write them up immediately.

Here are some quick pre-Senior Bowl grades I have. I will review these after the event, of course:

National team

Quarterbacks

Carson Strong — R2
Kenny Pickett — R2
Desmond Ridder — R3

Running backs

Jerome Ford — R3
Rachaad White — R3

Receivers

Jahan Dotson — R2
Alec Pierce — R3

Tight ends

Trey McBride — R2
Jeremy Ruckert — R2
Jake Ferguson — R2
Charlie Kolar — R3
Cole Turner — R3

O-line

Trevor Penning — R1
Bernhard Raimann — R1
Abraham Lucas — R1
Daniel Faalele — R3

D-line

Logan Hall — R1
Arnold Ebiketie — R1
Boye Mafe — R2
Myjai Sanders — R2
Haskell Garrett — R3

Linebacker

Devin Lloyd — R2
Chad Muma — R2
Brian Asamoah — R2

American team

Quarterbacks

Malik Willis — R2
Sam Howell — R3

Running backs

Dameon Pierce — R2
Brian Robinson — R3
James Cook — R3
ZaQuandre White — R3

Tight ends

Greg Dulcich — R2
Isaiah Likely — R3

O-line

Darian Kinnard — R3

D-line

Jermaine Johnson — R1
Devonte Wyatt — R1
Phidarian Mathis — R2
Cameron Thomas — R2
Kingsley Enagbare — R3
John Ridgeway — R3

Linebacker

Channing Tindall — R2
Quay Walker — R2
JoJo Domann — R2
Damone Clark — R3

Defensive backs

Tariq Woolen — R2
Cam Taylor-Britt — R2
Roger McCreary — R3

If you missed my interview with Jim Nagy, check it out here:

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More on the prospect of Kirk Cousins in Seattle

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Kirk Cousins could be set to leave Minnesota this off-season

I brought Kirk Cousins’ name up during Friday’s long piece on Russell Wilson’s future and grudgingly I wanted to spend a bit of time looking into this in more detail.

The prospect of a Wilson trade hinges, completely, on the Seahawks being able to find a viable replacement quarterback.

Pete Carroll has made it abundantly clear he isn’t interested in a major rebuild. Thus, there’s not going to be any ground-zero reset.

The intention will be to compete in 2022.

That should be no surprise for a coach who turns 71 this year and faces a degree of pressure coming off a 7-10 season.

I hadn’t seen it mentioned anywhere else — the prospect of Cousins in Seattle to replace Wilson — but I do think it’s something worth discussing, whatever your feeling is to the possibility.

Firstly, Carroll is said to be a long term admirer of Cousins.

It feels like a long time ago now (because it is) but prior to the 2012 draft, there was a fair amount of buzz about Carroll really liking Cousins:

There’s also this:

The Seahawks obviously selected (Russell) Wilson in the third round and it’s likely others in the organization shared (Scot) McCloughan’s thoughts. But if the Seahawks had not drafted Wilson, reports say they would have selected quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Indeed, there was a bit of chatter doing the rounds that Cousins was pretty pissed off that the Seahawks took Wilson instead of him.

It’s unclear whether Carroll’s view has changed in the subsequent 10 years but there are reasons to believe, if anything, his positive opinion might’ve hardened.

After all, Cousins put on a masterful performance to beat Seattle with Washington in 2017. I was at the game. It was a miserable, wet day and half of Washington’s roster was injured. The Seahawks were huge favourites. Cousins put in a near flawless display in difficult conditions to get the win.

Prior to Seattle’s game in Minnesota this season, Carroll offered a glowing review of Cousins’ start to the year:

Then in the game itself, Cousins completed 30/38 passing for 323 yards — throwing three touchdown passes. He had a QBR of 94.5.

It’s unlikely to have gone unnoticed.

For the season, Cousins graded especially well per PFF. He scored an 88.2 — his best ever season. It was good enough to rank sixth among QB’s overall — behind only Joe Burrow, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen.

He has consistently graded in the 80’s over the years.

The problem with Cousins has long been the way he’s performed in key moments — big games, primetime games and playoff games. Apart from one win against New Orleans in the post-season, he’s often been found wanting.

Nevertheless, he ticks several boxes for Seattle — an apparent long-standing admiration from Pete Carroll, experience and performing consistently at a good level.

It’s not being discussed that much outside of Minnesota but it’s worth acknowledging what the situation is with the Vikings.

They have just fired their long-standing GM and Head Coach. It’s a fresh start and that could potentially mean a bit of a reset.

The new staff will inherit a team that is $17.3m over the cap for 2022. So they’ll need to make savings.

The big reason they are in cap hell is due to Cousins’ contract. He has a staggering $45m cap hit this year. The Vikings restructured his deal in 2020 to create options for 2022 — but only via trade.

If they cut him, it would cost them every penny of his $45m cap hit. If they trade him, they save a whopping $35m.

The new GM and Head Coach are left with only two choices. Extend his contract to lower his cap hit or trade him.

It stands to reason that the new regime may wish to go in a new direction. After all, it could be quite difficult to lower Cousins’ cap hit this year given how much he is set to earn, wherever he plays.

They have an in-house option in Kellen Mond. They could add some veteran competition, or draft another quarterback.

Either way, the prospect of moving on seems relatively high.

They wouldn’t have much leverage due to his contract and age (34 in August). Plus anyone trading for him would be acquiring a $35m cap hit and could merely be renting him for a season.

It might be a situation where Minnesota are quite happy to take what they can to simply move on.

In this recent article in the Athletic — they compared his situation to that of Alex Smith during the final days of his spell with the Chiefs. The trade comp suggested is as little as two day three picks.

That is why this might appeal to the Seahawks.

Imagine, for example, a situation where the Giants offered you #5, #7 and their first round pick in 2023 for Wilson. You would have a haul of picks to spend and you could possibly use some later-round compensation to acquire Cousins.

Let me be clear — I am not advocating for this. Regulars to the blog know my position on retaining Wilson. I’m just raising a debate about something that might be plausible.

I can imagine a situation where the Seahawks see some appeal in this. Cousins behind center — with the ability to use two top-10 picks on an offensive lineman (Evan Neal, Trevor Penning, Charles Cross) a pass rusher (David Ojabo) or a cornerback with elite potential (Derek Stingley Jr).

What about the Eagles? They own #15, #16 and #19. That could land, finally, an answer at center (Taylor Linderbaum), a dynamic inside/out rusher (Logan Hall), a dynamic edge rusher (Arnold Ebiketie) or a sensational nose tackle (Jordan Davis).

We could keep this going. The Broncos can offer pick #9 and potentially a lot more. The Raiders could trade Derek Carr for two first rounders, then offer a package of three first round picks for Wilson.

Sure, it’s speculative rosterbation. Yet you start to see why it might appeal to the Seahawks if a viable alternative quarterback (at least in their eyes) is available.

Cousins threw for 33 touchdowns in 2021 with seven picks. Overall, he’s thrown 124 touchdowns for the Vikings compared to 36 interceptions.

He’s had some terrific weapons to throw to — but those are still good numbers. He’s also shown he can make the most of players like Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Justin Jefferson.

Again — let me be clear. I am not advocating for swapping Russell Wilson for Kirk Cousins. I am bringing a talking point to the table. It’s the off-season — this is where you throw around different possibilities.

Personally, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that:

1. Cousins is available

2. The trade compensation could be relatively cheap because of his contract

3. Pete Carroll would be more inclined to trade Wilson if he could replace him with Cousins and then have a haul of early picks to spend

If it is realistic, I suppose you can reduce the conversation to this simple question:

If it’s Wilson and no first round picks, or Cousins and potentially two or three first round picks in the 2022 draft, what would Pete Carroll think is better for the Seahawks?

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The Russell Wilson saga — an attempted explanation

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Russell Wilson’s future will be a big talking point this off-season… again

Is it a story? Is it clickbait?

Will he stay or go?

What does Russell Wilson want? What do Pete Carroll and John Schneider want?

Who are the possible suitors?

This piece is an attempt to sift through the nonsense, get to the heart of the matter and flesh things out.

What is actually going on?

Does Russell Wilson want to stay in Seattle?

The answer, unequivocally, is yes — but with a catch.

Wilson is an incredibly ambitious individual with lofty personal goals in his career, which include winning multiple Super Bowls.

Ideally, that happens in Seattle. Wilson has repeatedly stated that.

Yet if he doesn’t think it’s possible, whether it’s his preference to stay or not, he is going to assess his options.

Clearly, he is doing just that.

Jay Glazer and Greg Olsen made it very clear during the season what some of the issues were. You can add to their claims the way the team has been built, the squandered resources and all of the other much-discussed problems that have led to the Seahawks winning just one playoff game in five years.

With no substantial changes being made at the top of the organisation, this increases the likelihood that Wilson is once again seriously considering his future.

But hasn’t he said numerous times he doesn’t want to go?

No, this is something mentioned a lot by fans but it simply isn’t true.

Wilson’s language has always been very careful and couched. For example, in early December he was asked about whether he wanted to remain in Seattle:

“That’s my hope. My hope’s not to just fulfil it. Hopefully I get to play here for 20 years in my career.”

Then at the end of the month, before the Detroit game, he volunteered the following quote when answering a question about Bobby Wagner’s future:

“I know for me personally, I hope it’s not my last game (in Seattle). But at the same time, I know it won’t be my last game in the NFL.”

Then in his final pre-game press conference he was once more asked whether he’d be staying with the Seahawks:

“Will that happen? I don’t know, but that’s my prayer, that’s my hope.”

“We’ve always thought I would be here. That’s been always my goal, to win multiple Super Bowls, and my plan is to be here and do that. You take every day and you just enjoy the moment.

The word ‘hope’ is the key thing here. Wilson is under contract with the Seahawks and the next few years of his career are tied to the team. There’s no need for him to say he ‘hopes’ to be here. If there was no question he was staying, he would simply outright end these rumours by stating once and for all he isn’t going anywhere.

He deliberately isn’t doing this.

Equally, there was no reason for Wilson to question, unprovoked, whether it would be his last game in Seattle as a Seahawk.

Here’s how we should parse these comments…

Wilson wants to win. He wants to succeed. And he wants to do it in Seattle.

But if he doesn’t believe the Seahawks match his ambitions with their actions, he’s going to keep his options open about playing somewhere that will.

It really is as simple as that.

This is all a media clickbait story!

This is one of the easiest arguments to dismiss and it’s frankly incredible that so many people still lazily trot out this line.

The following tweet should be ample evidence:

Mark Rodgers is not an independent rogue agent. He works for Wilson. This story was put into the twittersphere for a reason.

Now, as it happens, I think the Seahawks organisation had already indulged in a bit of media chicanery when an Athletic article was released just before Schefter’s tweet, detailing some inside-info on relationships behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, this was as close to a trade request as you’ll get without actually handing one in.

Furthermore, when the likes of Glazer and one of Wilson’s former team-mates are discussing his dissatisfaction and interest in potentially moving on, the truth is staring you in the face.

Wilson has, in my opinion, extremely justified concerns with the way the team is being run, built and led.

He is 33-years-old. He wants to attack the second half of his career with gusto and have no regrets.

For that reason, he is open to going somewhere where he feels he’ll be in a better position to succeed.

It’s not a media generated story. It’s real. It’ll remain an issue if, ultimately, Wilson isn’t dealt for the second year in a row.

So what’s happening at the moment?

I get the sense Wilson is biding his time. Potential suitors such as the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders are going through the process of appointing Head Coaches. Until those moves are concluded, Wilson can’t really do or say anything.

The Seahawks telling Mike Garafolo that they have no interest in trading Wilson was telling. It could simply be leverage. Or it could be a true reflection on how they feel, particularly if Pete Carroll has retained ultimate power in decision making.

Carroll has made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he has no interest in a rebuild. By all accounts he intends to keep this current group together, improve the pass rush and ‘run it back’ in 2022.

I suspect Carroll would only entertain a trade if it somehow guaranteed the Seahawks a worthy replacement. There are none in the draft, so that means a proven veteran.

That is the main stumbling block.

It appears there are three individuals all uncomfortably placed together at the top of the organisation.

Carroll wants business as usual and probably won’t entertain a Wilson trade.

According to Adam Schefter, John Schneider is more open to the idea of a trade. This is a feeling that has been doing the rounds for some time — in part due to Schneider and Mark Rodgers being so opposed to each other. This is all validated by Schneider’s meeting with former Chicago GM Ryan Pace a year ago to discuss a trade. The deal presented was rejected by Carroll.

And then you have Wilson — who wants to see big changes at the top of the organisation and given they don’t appear to be happening, is open to being dealt.

It’s unhealthy for the organisation to have the three most important people in the franchise not aligned.

Yet because Carroll has had unchecked power, he has been able to pull rank on this issue. If he is prepared to live uncomfortably with the drama for another year — he will. And given certain members of the local media are still obliging to play this story down, defying logic, it seems Carroll will maintain his stance.

Ultimately Carroll is only viewing what he wants as the priority. Wilson’s trade value will not grow or even retain as he gets older. It’s no good trading him in a year or two if that’s an inevitability. Given the number of reports claiming Wilson has no interest in signing another contract in Seattle, it will be an inevitability.

Equally, if Wilson wants out — it’s going to be really difficult to avoid this becoming a year-long, major distraction.

Carroll loves a challenge and has dealt with a lot of drama in Seattle. You can kid yourself into believing you’re invincible — always having the answer or solution. Very few teams thrive with dysfunction and the 2021 season was indicative of the Seahawks no longer being immune to such issues.

Why doesn’t Wilson just hand in a trade request then?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I don’t think it’s plausible, even if he prefers to be dealt.

You can’t force Pete Carroll into accepting a trade. Thus, if Wilson’s suspicion is Carroll will resist any offers for his quarterback, there’s little to be gained by requesting a trade.

You simply end up isolating yourself and putting the team in a state of disarray. That doesn’t suit anyone — especially the quarterback if he’s forced, ultimately, to rock up to training camp having stated his desire to leave.

Implying he wants a trade or agitating for one in the media plants the seed without creating chaos. You can’t row back from a trade request. You can, as silly as it feels sometimes, blame the media and say everything was overblown if you try and plant the seed instead.

This tactic puts potential suitors on standby and allows the Seahawks to discuss the situation internally. If nothing happens, you can do what you did last year and act like it was all a big fuss over nothing.

It might be frustrating for fans but its probably best for all concerned that it’s done this way.

The simple fact is that unless Carroll can be persuaded or forced to accept a trade, Wilson’s best bet is to keep all options on the table.

Is there no way he’ll ramp things up?

This tweet from Garafolo implied he might:

“Less passive and more aggressive” could be on the cards once teams have settled on their Head Coaching searches.

If Wilson does request a trade, it would be interesting to see how the Seahawks deal with that. If nothing else, they couldn’t claim this is a ‘non-story’ like they did a year ago. It would be risky by Wilson, though.

So what’s a summary of the current position?

— Pete Carroll is 71 this year and isn’t in a rebuilding mood. Any prospective deal needs to include a pathway to acquiring a viable QB1 who Carroll believes in

— I think John Schneider would’ve dealt Wilson a year ago, to Chicago, for three first round picks. I think he probably still holds that view. So this will be about presenting an offer to Carroll that he can buy into

— Russell Wilson is determined to make the most of the second half of his career so while his ideal situation is to succeed in Seattle, increasingly he feels like he might need to go somewhere else to make it happen

— There are going to be no fixes in the draft when it comes to quarterbacks so any prospective trade, if it’s ever going to happen, will need to create a situation where Seattle can replace Wilson — and therein lies the roadblock

What is a reasonable price in a trade?

Matt Stafford cost two first round picks and a quarterback. He has nowhere near Wilson’s résumé.

The San Francisco 49ers essentially paid three first round picks for Trey Lance. An unproven rookie.

Jamal Adams cost two first rounders and a third.

The Seahawks turned down an offer of three first round picks from the Bears.

Whatever your views on Wilson’s play in 2021, or the back end of 2020, the starting point in negotiations will be three first round picks.

Anyone offering less, will simply end up having to look elsewhere.

Who are the potential suitors?

Denver Broncos

Mike Klis is well connected to the Broncos inner sanctum. Last weekend he revealed on local TV that Denver’s Plan A is Aaron Rodgers and Plan B is Russell Wilson.

It seems the Broncos see themselves in a similar position to 2012. That year they had a lot pieces, they signed Payton Manning and then ultimately went to two Super Bowls.

They have a lot of pieces again now, they just don’t have a quarterback. They are set to be very aggressive this off-season to acquire one.

Plan A might be a lot harder to achieve since Rodgers’ spat with the Packers has cooled significantly.

There was talk among Denver’s media during the season about offering their entire draft to Seattle for Wilson. They are in a strong position — with a young roster, few holes and $34m in cap space.

They can afford to pay out a lot of picks. You can’t go beyond the next three drafts — so the maximum they can offer is three firsts and some other selections if necessary. Denver, perhaps more than any other team, appears primed to do that.

The problem is — they can’t offer a quarterback. And they’re unlikely to sacrifice quality players that weaken their impressive roster.

Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday’s wildcard beatdown in Tampa Bay was the type of game where an ambitious, aggressive owner and GM look at each other and say they need a better quarterback.

Jalen Hurts is fine. He’s done a better than expected job as the starter. Yet it’s hard to watch that playoff game and believe he’s destined to lead anyone to the promise land.

The Eagles aren’t as loaded as Denver and have some significant roster holes. However, they have the benefit of owning three first round picks this year.

They could offer #15, #16 and #19 and solve a major issue at quarterback — without it impacting future draft classes. That’s a rare situation, obviously, because it’s so unusual for a team to own three first round picks.

They could also trade Hurts to Seattle. I’m just not sure the Seahawks will view that in any way, shape or form as an adequate replacement.

You could argue he’s cheap, he’s athletic, he has big hands (9 3/4 inches) and he excelled at the Senior Bowl and combine. Hurts has won a lot of big football games in his career. He does tick some boxes for Seattle.

If the Eagles were prepared to trade three first round picks to replace him though, for your starter, doesn’t that say something?

New York Giants

Having appointed Buffalo’s Joe Schoen as GM today, the expectation is he might target Bills offensive guru Brian Daboll as Head Coach.

That would likely appeal to Wilson, given the way Daboll has helped take Josh Allen to new heights.

It’s also worth noting how aggressive Buffalo have been in their front office — trading up for Allen and trading for Stefon Diggs.

Equally, owner John Mara is under a lot of pressure. Giants fans are rapidly losing faith and the franchise has become a shambles.

A big splash addition that turns the jeers into cheers would be a sure-fire way to get people back on-side.

The New York media is already calling for the Giants to bring Wilson to the east coast. That’s a campaign that will grow and grow. And while it’s true their O-line needs work, they have enough wiggle room financially to address that in free agency. The Giants have weapons, some defensive pieces and a legit franchise left tackle.

Leading NYG out of the doom and gloom would likely appeal to Wilson.

The Giants own picks #5, #7 and #36 so they have fantastic stock to offer Seattle.

Again though, there’s no solution at quarterback. And that’s the problem.

Las Vegas Raiders

Last week Ian Rapoport mentioned that Mark Davis was smitten with the idea of trading for Wilson a year ago. It seems Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden pushed back — but both are no longer in the building.

Rapoport added that Davis is keen for the Raiders to have a ‘rock star’ coach and a ‘rock star’ quarterback. He is lukewarm on Derek Carr and appears ready to make a change, depending on the coach he eventually hires and what their preference is.

This is a situation to watch because Las Vegas was on Wilson’s list of potential trade destinations a year ago.

There’s also the prospect of Seattle receiving Carr in the deal — addressing the replacement quarterback issue.

I’m not a big fan of Carr (I think he’s average) but I can imagine the Seahawks feeling comfortable with him. He would be in a contract year with a point to prove. There’d be no long term commitment.

The problem is the compensation. In the first two days of the draft, the Raiders own picks #22, #53 and #86. Given they’d be including Carr in the deal — whose value could match that of Matt Stafford (traded for two first rounders a year ago), the potential draft returns could be minimal.

Even if the Raiders offered their first round picks in the next two drafts, is that really enough to swap Wilson for Carr?

Remember — Carr has only thrown for +30 touchdowns in a season once — seven years ago. Wilson has done it five times and would’ve done it again this year if he didn’t miss three and a half games.

Wilson’s career quarterback rating is 101.8. Carr’s is 92.4. He has vastly superior numbers in terms of touchdowns, turnover percentage and wins.

So the Raiders can offer a replacement quarterback — but can they create a worthy package to entice Carroll?

Why are other teams not included?

New Orleans — this would be an ideal fit but the Saints are in cap hell, they only own the #18 pick and there’s continued speculation about the future of Sean Payton

Cleveland — I just don’t see this as a very likely proposition. In fact, I think the main reason Wilson wanted a no-trade clause inserted into his current contract is because he was linked to the Browns in 2018

Pittsburgh — they own the #20 pick, they have cap issues and it’s not really their style to go big in a trade like this. The GM is also retiring after the draft — it’s hardly right he bows out by leaving his successor with an empty cupboard

Chicago — quite aside from the fact they’re more likely to give Justin Fields a chance with a new coaching setup — they don’t own a 2022 first round pick and Fields didn’t show anywhere near enough this season to warrant ‘straight swap’ consideration. Plus he’s a turnover machine due to his technique — which Carroll won’t like

When will things heat up?

Potentially, as soon as the coaching hires are completed. The Matt Stafford trade was agreed on January 30th a year ago. It should be noted, though, that the coaching searches are taking longer than they did a year ago.

Could the Seahawks trade Wilson, then deal for someone else?

The one name that stands out is Deshaun Watson.

I don’t think it’s very likely though.

Knowing the city, I don’t think Watson would be well received in Seattle, or by a large portion of Seahawks fans, due to the allegations made against him over the last 12 months.

For some teams and cities, it would be different. For example, he remains extremely popular in Carolina due to his time at Clemson. For a desperate franchise that has spent years looking for a true starting quarterback, they might be prepared to welcome him in.

The Seahawks aren’t in that position. For some fans, it’d be a tough pill to swallow going from a big family man who is a homegrown star, to someone with Watson’s skeletons.

It’s incredibly unlikely that the 49ers would trade Jimmy Garoppolo to Seattle.

You could trade for Kirk Cousins. I suspect the Vikings would be very appreciative of a call. If they trade him before June 1st, it saves them $35m. However, you would also need to pay Cousins his base salary of… $35m. So unless he restructured his deal, you’d be paying a fortune.

It is worth noting that Carroll was reportedly very interested in Cousins going into the 2012 draft. So much so, Cousins was apparently quite agitated that Seattle selected Wilson instead of him.

Minnesota might be prepared to take a discount to get Cousins off the books — especially as they embrace a complete refresh with a new GM and Head Coach. It wouldn’t be quite like the Rams paying Goff to go to Detroit but it wouldn’t be far off.

The new Vikings regime will inherit a team that is currently $17m over the cap. It seems incredibly unlikely they will stick by Cousins’ $45m cap hit. They can’t cut him, or they’ll absorb the full amount. It has to be a trade to save $35m. Thus, they have no leverage in negotiations. They could roll with Kellen Mond next year or draft a replacement. It seems very unlikely, however, that Cousins remains in Minnesota unless he’s willing to sign yet another extension and significantly lower his cap hit.

This is one to consider. If the Vikings were willing to play ball — the Seahawks might be more inclined to trade Wilson and then strike a deal for Cousins. Like it or loathe it, that seems plausible.

I don’t think the Falcons will be realistic in any trade talks for 37-year-old Matt Ryan, especially as they have no obvious means to replace him.

The other name worth bringing up is Tyler Huntley in Baltimore. I’m not sure he’s shown enough for Carroll to feel comfortable trading Wilson. There were flashes of ability in a system that used three similarly skilled quarterbacks in Baltimore this season (and all had production). Can he replicate that same production when he’s not playing for Greg Roman? That’s a question mark.

Are there really no options in the draft?

No, it’s the worst year since 2013 to go shopping for a rookie.

There are things to like about each individual quarterback. Kenny Pickett is more athletic than people realise and he manipulates the pocket well to extend plays. Carson Strong has a dynamite arm and is capable of ‘wow’ throws. Matt Corral has some talent as a passer and Malik Willis is a big-time athlete and a strong runner. Desmond Ridder has led Cincinnati to a new level.

The problem is, each have glaring flaws too. Pickett reportedly has 8 1/4 inch hands and has to throw in gloves. We know Schneider puts a lot of stock in hand size. Strong has a lingering knee issue that could shorten his career and he has no mobility, improv or escapability in the pocket. Corral is 6-0 and 200lbs and got injured in his last game for Ole Miss. Willis’ technique is all over the place and it creates significant issues, especially with turnovers. Ridder is rail-thin, has major inconsistencies with his accuracy and endured a humbling experience against Alabama in the playoffs.

The situation might not be much better in 2023 either, although Kentucky’s Will Levis is one to watch.

So what’s a viable prediction for the coming weeks?

I think Carroll, as we sit here today on the 22nd January, has no intention of trading Wilson because he has no interest in a rebuild.

The only way that will change is due to one of the following:

1. Last week’s meeting with Jody Allen led to a shift in decision making and John Schneider now has a stronger authority on team building

2. Carroll is presented with a plan which enables the Seahawks to replace Wilson with an alternative proven starting quarterback

3. Wilson takes on a more aggressive stance that forces Seattle’s hand — and rather than Carroll opting to put his fingers in his ears as he did last year, they make a move

I think several teams are positioning themselves to make a big offer for Wilson. Denver certainly. The Giants almost certainly. I’d say the Raiders and Eagles are TBD but will consider it.

I expect, in some cases, the offers will be extremely tempting. After all, getting #5 and #7 would be very appealing — with an opportunity to draft a young offensive lineman, pass rusher or potential star cornerback in Derek Stingley Jr.

Be careful what you wish for though. This is still a quarterback league. You don’t want to replace another franchise in purgatory. That is why I am opposed to trading Wilson.

I think Wilson is realistic, sensible and very conscious of how he needs to play his hand. As noted earlier, the best tactic is going to be keeping his options open. I think we’ll see some media encouragement to flesh out potential suitors. We could see some talk and speculation about his dissatisfaction.

I don’t think he’ll come out publicly and say ‘trade me’ though, because the consequences are too severe (for team and player) if Carroll has retained his power and control and doesn’t want to make a deal.

So all in all — my prediction is a lot of speculation, a lot of talk in the media, a quarterback who likely sees his future elsewhere and one man, who has become so powerful within the organisation, continuing to do what he wants to do unchecked.

Which, funnily enough, is a big part of the problem.

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Why Seattle is primed to fill their key need in the draft

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

Ole Miss’ Sam Williams — very much one to watch

I wrote my off-season plan a few days ago and it included the kind of splashy moves the Seahawks typically don’t make.

Truth be told, I don’t expect a big eye-catching addition that generates excitement. I hope it happens. I think if you’re serious about ‘running it back’ and trying to take a step forward, you have to be aggressive.

If you’re prepared to make the Jamal Adams trade — you should equally be willing to ‘go for it’ in free agency for the right player.

There are always risks. Yet spreading their cap on journeymen hasn’t worked. It’s time to add some genuine talent.

I appreciate, though, that we’ve seen how they operate. They’re much more inclined to simply retain their own players, wait for the market to cool and then add second or third tier free agents.

I hope that after years of being a mile away from contention they might do things differently.

Perhaps even a compromise?

If it’s not a big splash for Chandler Jones, maybe they can go and land Akiem Hicks to provide some interior pressure? After all — defensive coordinator candidates Clint Hurtt, Ed Donatell and Sean Desai (more on them later) have all worked with Hicks during his time in Chicago.

Having identified pass rush as a key need, it’d be nice to see them truly address this rather than the lip-service they’ve paid to it over the last three seasons. We’ve been talking about this issue for too long.

It might be the draft, rather than free agency, where they make their biggest move.

I think there’s a very real chance they’ll look at the 2022 class and feel like they’re well placed to add a pass rusher with their top pick, which is currently #41 overall.

This draft remains very difficult to project and we need the Senior Bowl and combine to provide a bit more clarity. However, I do think we’re starting to see which positions might be strong in the first two frames.

Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will both go very early. After that, there’s a handful of players who will also go in round one.

David Ojabo has done enough to secure that projection. George Karlaftis’ production and frame are a bit of a concern but he’s expected to test very well.

Jermaine Johnson has everything you look for in a pass rusher and had a great year for Florida State. Houston’s Logan Hall is an absolute terror with true flexibility to play across the line.

I think those four are very likely to go in round one. If they test well, we could be talking top-20 for each.

Nose tackle Jordan Davis should also go in that range.

Then you have a whole bunch of players who could come off the board in the late first or early second round. That is where the Seahawks are based.

Some of these prospects are raw but the Seahawks like super-charged athletic, explosive players. They might feel pretty comfortable about their options.

It really just depends what they’re after.

I’ve found it curious that they almost over-pursued an interior pass rusher in 2017 by drafting Malik McDowell and then trading for Sheldon Richardson — but have otherwise generally shown little interest in adding a dynamic inside threat.

Could they now settle on Carlos Dunlap and Darrell Taylor as starters off the edge and go for a defensive tackle?

Or will they look for another player to add to the EDGE rotation? Perhaps even more of an inside/out rusher?

I wanted to note the long list of players who could come off the board in Seattle’s range — to emphasise why they might lean on their top pick to fix their self-confessed biggest need and look at potential targets.

Arnold Ebiketie (DE, Penn State)
Ebiketie has an opportunity to launch his stock into round one if he tests well. He could also be an ideal addition for the Seahawks at #41 if available. He had 18 TFL’s and 9.5 sacks in 2021 and flies off the edge with frightening speed. He can engage, absorb contact and fight to the QB. He uses subtle hand-use to swipe away blockers and then accelerate and finish. There’s evidence of a swim/rip. He is afforded a wide, long-run up by Penn State and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares 1v1 in a more narrow alignment at the Senior Bowl. Opponents are visibly wary of his speed and are hesitant to engage. Has he got the size to play early downs and defend the run? Either way he has a terrific motor. He’s a big combine and Senior Bowl away from elevating himself into a high range (after I wrote this review, I noticed Mel Kiper had him at #16 in his first mock draft — that is a very real possibility).

Sam Williams (DE, Ole Miss)
Right off the bat he looks the part. He had 16 TFL’s and 12.5 sacks in 2021. His body is sturdier than some of the leaner edge rushers in this class and he appears more filled out. He has taken a few reps inside. He perhaps doesn’t attack the edge with the same refinement as others and he’s a bit stiff in his motion. Yet his change of direction is good (expect a good three cone) and there’s evidence of winning with bend. Williams has a great motor and plays to the whistle — chasing around the field to get to the ball-carrier. He’s tough to stop when he attacks the edge and has a ‘bull in a china shop’ style of play. He has something about him where you feel like his best football might still be ahead. Reportedly he has run a 4.4 forty at Ole Miss’ facility and jumped a 40-inch vertical.

Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)
He’s extremely powerful and can manhandle opponents at the LOS — delivering a jolting punch or driving at contact to force blockers backwards. His production was lower than others in 2021 with 7.5 TFL’s and six sacks. He’s capable of absorbing double teams and still working across the line in the running game. Walker keeps his eyes on the ball-carrier and combines his power with a slippery elusiveness. He’s difficult to control and looks very explosive. He flashes great quickness when he slips gaps lining up inside. He seems to do his best work when he’s in the trenches, battling it out with a lot of bodies and traffic. Thus, you kind of wonder what his best position is. He’s 6-4 and 275lbs. He’s not a natural twitchy edge rusher and he’s not a big guy who plays inside. Yet it still, for the most part, works — and he’s a very explosive street-fighter who plays across the line and he’s shown an ability to work in space.

Myjai Sanders (DE, Cincinnati)
He’s long limbed and leaner than a lot of other players. He’s all arms and legs. His production was disappointing in 2021 but he did draw a lot of attention — he finished with 7.5 TFL’s and just 2.5 sacks. He uses his length well to keep his frame clean. The rip/swim move is there. He can absorb contact and finish. Sanders has a nice fake inside move before countering to the outside. He’s got smooth, quick feet and good athleticism/quickness. He can round the edge but doesn’t have the lean/balance of the elite rushers. He might find it tough-sledding vs the run in a 4-3 system if he works the edge on early downs. He’s reportedly capable of running a 4.56 forty and a 4.10 short shuttle. He’s also broad jumped 10-2 and has a vertical jump of 35 inches. That kind of testing, along with a strong Senior Bowl, will get him noticed.

Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
Great initial hand placement and can jolt offensive tackles off balance using one arm, freeing his other arm to rip and disengage. Has a tremendous amount of power in his one-arm bull rush. Mafe had 10 TFL’s and seven sacks in 2021. He’s very good at initiating contact, disengaging and then exploding to the QB. Loves contact and likes a battle — he doesn’t lose many 1v1’s and his power and agility show up on tape. Has shown an ability to stack vs the run and keep himself free to make the tackle. Is more ideally suited to handle the run game compared to other edge defenders in this class. Can bend and straighten against flat-footed right tackles. He can chop down hands to round the arc, drive into your chest or attack the edge with speed. Not sure he has the sudden get-off some others have but he is easily the best with his hands and his combination of length, size and hand-use make him a very intriguing prospect. He can reportedly run a 4.57 plus jump a 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-6 broad.

DeMarvin Leal (DT, Texas A&M)
He is a somewhat overrated versatile rusher who still generated reasonable production in 2021 with 12.5 TFL’s and 8.5 sacks. He’s regularly mocked in the first but is much more likely to be a second day pick. He has a lot of the tools and it’ll be interesting to see how he tests at the combine. Yet he lingers on blocks too long and needs to learn how to disengage. If he wants to make a permanent shift to defensive tackle he could do with getting closer to 300lbs. There’s often not much of a plan with the way he pressures and he seems like a player who relies a lot on physical qualities rather than technique. That said, Chris Jones was a similar type of player in 2016. He had a lot of qualities but teams didn’t know whether he could put it together. Thus, he lasted to pick #37 and ended up being a steal for the Chiefs. Leal could end up being a similar type of value prospect who needs a fair bit of work but there’s risk/reward on offer. For the Seahawks he’d offer something they just don’t have at the moment.

Phidarian Mathis (DT, Alabama)
People are really underestimating Mathis. It’s possibly due to his climb from little-known day-three project to star for the Crimson Tide and the fact that he doesn’t look like the best athlete in terms of body shape. Yet his tape in 2021 was exceptional. He had 12 TFL’s and nine sacks. He has ideal size — 34 inch arms, 6-4, 312lbs. It’s hard to pick floors in his game and he deserves a lot more attention. Firstly, he’s incredibly powerful. He drives back interior linemen with one hand, keeps his head up and reads the backfield. He overwhelmed several blockers this season and he makes your life a misery. He’s an absolute war-horse in the trenches — his feet don’t stop and even when you engage and maybe even gain initial leverage, there’s a counter-punch to the chest, a swipe with his free arm and suddenly you’re on your backside and he’s pressuring the QB. Yet you also see clips where he flashes incredible agility and quickness. There was one snap against LSU where the guard doesn’t engage and Mathis just danced round him, straight into the backfield, with choppy, quick feet before hammering the quarterback. He’s disciplined versus the run. He has a swim/rip to slip into the backfield. This is a player you want to go to war with.

Drake Jackson (DE, USC)
He is raw compared to some of the other prospects listed and will need technical refinement in order to show better hands and the ability to make the most of his potential. Yet in terms of physical tools — he’s a very appealing prospect. His production in 2021 was so-so (eight TFL’s, five sacks) but he attacks the edge with a real bursts and rounds the tackle with ease. He threatens offensive tackles the way teams love — he has that natural bend and suddenness that you can’t teach. There’s one rep he had against Arizona State last season where he dips under the tackle’s attempted block which has to be seen to believe. I’m not sure I’ve seen a player get so low, round with such balance and basically not lose a step of momentum — it’s all in one motion, direct to the QB. Getting him to put it together consistently is the key but the potential is there.

Cameron Thomas (DE, San Diego State)
He had big-time production in 2021 with 20.5 TFL’s and 11.5 sacks. When I watched him for the first time a few weeks ago — he blew up the first two plays in the game. On another snap he started at left end, looped around to the right side of the line on an elongated stunt, then when the QB scrambled to the opposite side of the field — he continued his pursuit right to the sideline, hammering the passer as he tried to throw. It’s one of the best ‘effort’ plays I’ve ever seen. He lines up off the edge and inside. He can win inside with his agility and feet and he has the length to engage and compete. Sometimes he just bullies his way through blocks. There are some cheap inside stunts (they dominate college these days) so I want to see how he tests. If he performs well at the combine he could have legit inside/out potential.

Dante Stills (DT, West Virginia)
He’s extremely athletic with NFL bloodlines and a lot of potential. He had 15 TFL’s in 2021 and seven sacks. He shoots gaps with quickness and directness. There’s evidence of a swim move and he plays with a great motor to chase down ball-carriers. Stills has good, strong hands and combines it well with agility — he ran a 4.24 short shuttle at SPARQ. The problem is he’s a bit of a tweener. He’s 6-4 and 280lbs and might have an issue with arm length. That said, there’s talent on offer here and while the second day might prove a bit early — he’s shown to be a dynamic, pressure-creating force for WVU.

All of these players could be considered in Seattle’s range, with perhaps the exception of Stills (who could provide value later on).

It’s a nice thought that they could add a Jordan Davis (a monster who will stun people with his athleticism at the combine), Jermaine Johnson (the ultimate edge rusher — he does everything well), Logan Hall (a dominating force when he lines up inside, capable of winning with brute strength and quickness) or Devonte Wyatt (who’s expected to run a 4.8 forty at +300lbs and could elevate himself into the top-25).

They would all be great options but are less likely to last.

As we can see, though, #41 might be a sweet-spot for a defensive lineman/pass rusher. For that reason, the safe money could be on that being Seattle’s pick.

If they do address this area with gusto in free agency — they could turn their attention to linebacker (if they move on from Bobby Wagner) with Channing Tindall, Brian Asamoah, JoJo Domann and Quay Walker all worthy of attention.

I only watched Domann for the first time yesterday and he’s got ‘Patriots’ written all over him. He plays with his hair on fire, can jump a 36.5 inch vertical and he’s run a (probably assisted) 3.97 short shuttle.

They could also take a long look at Florida running back Dameon Pierce — who will likely go earlier than a lot of people realise. It’s also possible — maybe not likely, but possible — that tackles Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas last into range.

Yet having clearly stated what their off-season aim is — pass rush — it aligns with their draft position nicely. It’s worth keeping an eye on the D-liners in Mobile during the Senior Bowl.

Other notes

The good and bad of the D-coordinator search

I can’t decide whether I’m encouraged or sceptical about Seattle’s desire to interview some highly regarded outside candidates for the defensive coordinator job.

On the one hand, it’s been quite interesting to see fans of the Bears and Cowboys react with fear that they might lose Sean Desai or Joe Whitt Jr.

Both have enjoyed success in their respective roles and Desai in particular has led a defense, rather than working for a defensive minded Head Coach.

On the other hand, I wonder why either would take this job? Why would they want to come and run Pete Carroll’s defense, rather than their own? And is this window-dressing before the inevitable appointment of Ed Donatell and Clint Hurtt as co-coordinators? Are these interviews really only to enable the Seahawks to say, ‘see — this was a thorough search’.

They did appoint Shane Waldron, an outsider, a year ago. I hope that is a trend, not a one-off. This defense needs new ideas and a fresh set of eyes.

For too long Carroll has appointed yes-men and family members. It’s time for the Seahawks to try and build the best staff money can buy — not the staff most willing to follow along like loyal disciples.

Be creative with the center position

It’s not a good draft at center and they need an answer here.

The Seahawks have tended, in recent years, to invest in veteran O-liners. That market isn’t flush with options either.

I mentioned this in my off-season plan and increasingly I think they should call New Orleans about Cesar Ruiz.

We know they like length and size. We know they like explosive traits. Ruiz is the complete package for them physically.

He has struggled after moving to guard. The Saints drafted Erik McCoy and he’s retained the center spot. Fans have started to get on Ruiz’s back and increasingly it feels like he needs a fresh start.

I don’t know what kind of price it would take but I’d pick up the phone and ask the question. Saints fans certainly seem ready to move on so it might be a cheap deal.

DK Metcalf trade rumours?

Who knows whether this is legit — but this tweet emerged a week ago:

I’ve never heard of ‘uSTADIUM’ before. They have 36,700 Twitter followers (a fair amount) but they also follow 15,400 accounts (which makes the 36,700 more manufactured).

Nevertheless, this could end up being a story that pops up this off-season.

It will cost a minimum of $20m a year to sign Metcalf to a new contract. That’s where the market is. The franchise tag this year was just over $19m. He could realistically ask for $23-25m and it wouldn’t be unfair.

Seattle has to decide whether it wants to do that.

Trading him now would probably be peak value. A buyer would get one last year on his rookie deal and a franchise tag. That’s a decent position to negotiate a new contract.

For a team like the Jets — with no weapons and a young quarterback needing an outlet — it would make sense. They have loads of cap space and they have, as we know, two first round picks this year.

Metcalf should command a deal similar to the Jamal Adams trade. If the Seahawks don’t want to pay him and feel it’d be worthwhile to get their #10 pick back — plus another first in 2023 — that could be tempting. Especially if they think the Jets are unlikely to take a big step forward next year. It could be another high pick.

It was a strange year for Metcalf in 2021. The Seahawks struggled to feature him in some games. He actively looked frustrated and angry at times. Against Washington, he was visibly gesturing to Geno Smith after one failed drive — as if to say ‘this guy should be starting’.

He might find life even more irritating in New York but money talks — and the Jets can buy his favour by offering a record-breaking contract, given their favourable cap situation.

Certainly the Jets need an injection of proven quality from somewhere.

Seattle found themselves in a very similar situation with Frank Clark where they felt priced out. That deal didn’t secure a top-10 pick, rather a late first.

The only thing is — if they are very much in ‘win now’ mode, can you justify a trade that could easily make you worse?

It’s an interesting topic. Especially because you could easily argue they spent a second round pick on Dee Eskridge a year ago, they’ve chosen to pay Tyler Lockett big money already, there are some good veteran receivers reaching free agency and there are players like Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson available in the draft. So they wouldn’t be short at receiver.

A top-10 pick could give you a chance to secure a pass rusher or offensive tackle.

One final note though — Carroll loves big, athletic receivers. He finally found one in 2019. I’m not sure he’ll give that up easily. The Clark trade does provide some precedent though.

Still, it might be more one for next year rather than this year. And the Seahawks have never been particularly pro-active on trading their own until the last minute.

If you missed my interview with Jim Nagy yesterday, please check it out here:

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An interview with Jim Nagy (Ex. Dir. Reese’s Senior Bowl)

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Today I had the great pleasure of interviewing Jim Nagy again, discussing the prospects set to attend the Senior Bowl this year. As ever Jim is incredibly generous with his time and produces the ideal primer for the week in Mobile.

Check out our conversation where we cover a number of prospects. Please also like the video, share it around and check out the prospects we discuss.

Thoughts on Ken Norton Jr’s departure & replacement

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Ken Norton Jr is out as Seattle’s D-coordinator

Ken Norton Jr seems like a likeable person (at least from afar, I’ve never met him). I also think his influence and impact on the Seahawks deserves to be acknowledged. He felt like a big part of the creation of the LOB defense — if not schematically then certainly in terms of guidance, leadership, experience and attitude.

I’ll never forget the clip of Norton Jr barking out to his linebackers during the 2013 NFC Championship game. A few moments later, ‘the tip’ happened.

That said, it’s pretty clear he isn’t much of a defensive coordinator. We’ve seen enough evidence to make that judgement based on two spells in Oakland and now in Seattle.

The last couple of years have been a chore. The Seahawks have started each year a disorganised, mistake-prone mess. They were giving up a ton of yards and points. They were the opposite of a well oiled machine. They were so poorly oiled, in fact, it made you wonder what on earth they do during training camp.

Adding to that was a lack of consistent pressure and pass rush, plus a total inability to turn the ball over.

A case has been made regarding Seattle’s points per game as a justification for the unit. They conceded 21.5 PPG in 2021 — good for the ninth best record in the NFL.

In isolation it’s relatively impressive. But you have to consider a whole bunch of other aspects.

The Seahawks’ sack percentage was just 4.9% — despite their late season flourish — the fourth worst in the league. They had the 11th fewest sacks. Their pressure percentage (22.2%) was the seventh worst. They had just 18 takeaways — eighth fewest.

Per DVOA they had only the 21st ranked defense.

Game after game they simply couldn’t get off the field, relying on a ‘bend but don’t break’ formula that is always open to fluctuating form.

This is despite all of the investment pumped into the unit — the top two picks in 2019, the top two picks in 2020, the Jamal Adams trade and the Bobby Wagner contract extension.

It simply wasn’t good enough.

A failed bear-front experiment, pass rushers dropping into coverage, the big-ticket player you traded for failing to make much of an impact.

Thus, Norton Jr had to go. This change had to be made.

After a 7-10 season it shouldn’t have been acceptable for the same staff and mostly the same personnel to go unscathed. Something had to give.

That said — at what point are we actually going to look at the man making these coaching hires?

Norton Jr was Carroll’s guy, hand-picked in 2018. Brian Schottenheimer was his guy too. Both fired.

It wasn’t exactly unpredictable either, was it? They were two underwhelming hires when they happened as Carroll battened down the hatches and decided he was going to do things his way once again as the reset began.

There is a danger sometimes of coordinators becoming convenient scapegoats. Norton Jr was never qualified for this gig. Carroll appointed him. Just as he’s had ultimate control over personnel, philosophy and scheming and simply not done a good enough job over the last 4-5 years.

He now gets another chance to appoint a new coordinator and have another off-season with millions to spend and a draft to follow in April.

When will the buck eventually stop with the man at the top?

To me, this is a crucial opportunity for Carroll to show he’s willing to change and make amends for previous bad hires and some iffy personnel decisions.

As I’ve noted numerous times in the past — I think he can be a tremendous Head Coach for the Seahawks. I just think he has to be willing to delegate a bit more, install the best staff money can buy and take on a Nick Saban-esque ‘figurehead’ role rather than trying to control absolutely everything.

If he went out and landed Vic Fangio, for example, what a coup that would be. A proven, established, brilliant defensive coordinator who’s had success wherever he goes.

The problem is — Fangio will want to run his defense. Is Carroll willing to cede some control to a man with a brilliant track record? Or is it more important for Carroll to have the final say on everything?

And what’s better for the Seahawks? Getting possibly the best defensive coordinator in the NFL or ploughing on with Carroll running the show?

Seattle should be asking Fangio to name his price. Instead, predictably, two other names are being linked.

One is Clint Hurtt, the current Assistant Head Coach and D-line coach in Seattle. The other is Ed Donatell — a vastly experienced defensive veteran who worked with Carroll during his time with the New York Jets.

Essentially, two of Carroll’s guys.

I do think it could be a lot worse.

After all, Donatell has been Fangio’s defensive coordinator for the last few years in Chicago and Denver. So if you can’t get the man himself, this might be the next best thing. But Shane Waldron isn’t Sean McVay and Donatell isn’t Fangio.

Hurtt is immensely likeable and has, admittedly, done a good job with the likes of Poona Ford, Al Woods and Bryan Mone.

As you’ll see in this podcast, he’s also willing to be honest. He admitted Irvin and Mayowa were rotational pass rushers and it wasn’t sustainable to have them play as many snaps as they did early in 2020. He said he was ‘pissed off’ with the pass rush last season. He acknowledged the loss of Jarran Reed.

He sounds like someone who tells it as it is. That’s needed.

The idea of the two working together is quite appealing, given Donatell is a defensive backs coach predominantly and Hurtt deals with the D-line. Could they be co-coordinators? Maybe that would work?

Yet it all comes back to Carroll seeking comfort in his old pals act. Don’t we want to see a few new voices added — just as he did in 2011 when he went out of his bubble to bring in Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell?

People can quibble about that pair. They had Head Coaching interviews during their stints in Seattle and were outsiders. Cable, in particular, was always credited by Marshawn Lynch for what he added to the offensive scheming.

It’d be refreshing to see a Fangio type come in — with his fresh set of eyes. It would equally be reassuring to know that Carroll is willing to adapt and try new things in 2022. Isn’t it worth a shot, at this stage?

This feels like a legit chance to finally sort out the pass rush, particularly given Carroll has already stated it’s a priority for the personnel department. Fangio has enjoyed a ton of success developing safeties. Could his presence relaunch Jamal Adams’ career?

It’d be exciting. It’d give many fans, not just me, an enormous jolt of confidence to begin the off-season.

I’m afraid just resorting to another ‘friend of Carroll’ won’t do that — despite the way I’ve talked positively about Hurtt and Donatell.

I hope the Seahawks are willing to throw money at this. There’s no salary cap for coaches. Go big, don’t go home. Embrace change, don’t go with familiarity. Deliver proven quality, don’t gamble with untried and untested.

There aren’t many instances where a 63-year-old, grizzled football coach with a reputation for being a bit of a misery guts can re-ignite your passion for a football team. Yet here we are.

Will Fangio to Seattle happen? Almost certainly not.

It’d be one heck of a move, though. The Seahawks need this.

If you want an outside bet who is worth an interview I’d pitch Philadelphia Eagles DB coach Dennard Wilson. He’s done an excellent job in Philly, speaks well and is very much seen as an up-and-comer.

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My off-season plan for the Seahawks

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Chandler Jones should be a priority target they aggressively pursue

Make difficult decisions with existing players

Pete Carroll has already spoken of his desire to ‘keep the band together’ but it’s time for a refresh and for some tough choices to be made.

According to Over the Cap, the Seahawks have $40,686,269 to spend in 2022. It’s the sixth most in the league — but they need more to take a serious step forward.

One of the big issues in recent years has been the way they’ve spent their resources. They’ve used three first round picks on the linebacker and safety positions since 2020. They’ve paid an absolute fortune to Bobby Wagner. They’ve given Jamal Adams a $17.5m-a-year extension.

It’s finally time to shift resources to the trenches.

Cutting or trading Bobby Wagner saves $16,600,000. That has to be the first move. Wagner deserves to be remembered as a legendary Seahawk but nothing lasts forever. The team can’t be sentimental as they try to return to contention.

It’s time to put Jordyn Brooks at middle linebacker and simply draft or sign a cheaper alternative to Wagner.

Georgia’s Channing Tindall has been a blog favourite for a while. There isn’t a better run-and-chase linebacker in this class for me — and he has an outstanding physical profile. He ran a 4.19 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 40-inch vertical.

He might rise out of contention for Seattle but on day two, if available, he should be considered.

Alternatively they could look at free agent Jarrad Davis. Despite being a much heralded first round pick in 2017, Davis has failed to live up to his potential so far in stints with Detroit and the New York Jets.

That said, there’s a player in there. If you’re going to chance your arm on a reclamation project or cheap ‘prove-it’ player — I’d rather do that at linebacker than the O-line or D-line in 2022.

Of course the Seahawks will lose something by parting with Wagner. You could even argue it’d be like losing a limb — that’s how integral Wagner has felt to the team in his 10-year career. His performances are fading though and so is his impact.

On Quandre Diggs — his unfortunate injury probably gives the Seahawks a chance to get him back at a modest price, such is the business of the NFL. However — this is a good draft at safety with options likely stretching into the third day.

Seattle made their bed when they paid Jamal Adams. They can’t justify paying $25-30m a year at safety — even if, in an ideal, world, you’d keep Diggs. That has to be a situation where you need to be prepared to walk away if the price isn’t right.

After a 7-10 season, there has to be a serious review of where the financial priorities lie. For me — that means pumping money into the trenches and making savings at the likes of linebacker and safety. They’ve tried investing in those positions and it hasn’t delivered the required results.

Re-sign your cornerbacks

Sidney Jones should be retained. I don’t think he did enough to launch himself into an expensive free agent which means it should be relatively straight forward to get something done. He played well, he’s a reasonable if unspectacular starter and he’s had a year in the system.

D.J. Reed will be a tougher re-sign. However, I’m also not sure if his market will be out of this world as was the case with Shaquill Griffin. I think Reed is a better player but for whatever reason — probably publicity and awareness — Griffin got a lot more attention.

Securing the position by signing him to a good deal that will allow him to reach free agency again in 2023 or 2024 might work for all parties.

I think this is a premium position where you spend a bit of money, unlike linebacker and safety (where you’ve already ploughed resources into Adams and Brooks).

Keeping Jones and Reed allows you to focus on strengthening rather than replacing.

Add a quality pass rusher

Pete Carroll has already stated that fixing the pass rush is a priority this off-season. He has to do a better job than 2020, where he made a similar statement.

In that instance, ‘fixing the pass rush’ equated to failing to convince Jadeveon Clowney to return, then signing Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin instead.

If the Seahawks want to be a serious contender, they need a difference maker.

They should take their savings on a player like Wagner and give it to Chandler Jones.

Imagine him lining up across from Darrell Taylor? That would be a terrifying proposition for opponents and would legitimately give the Seahawks their best pass-rushing duo since Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.

That equates to fixing the pass rush.

They need to make a splash, not spread their cap across a number of average journeymen. They need to add a blue-chip stud.

Harold Landry could be an alternative. The Rams are unlikely to let Von Miller get away after spending so much — but he’s an option too. It’s not implausible that the Chiefs cut Frank Clark to save $12.7m.

Nevertheless, Jones is the standout name and should be targeted with aggression and gusto when the market opens. The Seahawks need to make a statement of intent with their pass rush and this is the opportunity to do so.

Keep Carlos Dunlap

Don’t have him dropping into coverage. Get rid of the bear front. Just let Dunlap get after the quarterback.

His late-season flurry shows what he’s capable of. Adding Chandler Jones to Taylor and Dunlap would be a legit trio.

You only save $900,000 by cutting or trading Dunlap. You might as well keep him. I only bring this up because in a 710 ESPN interview recently, he hinted this would be his final year in Seattle.

There are better options where you can make savings.

Cutting LJ Collier saves $986,323. You might as well just rip that band aid off. Jason Myers would save $4m and he’s not done enough to warrant that salary.

Moving Chris Carson saves you $3.4m. It’s time to move on.

Cutting Benson Mayowa saves $1.5m and Kerry Hyder saves $2m. They’re two journeymen. Move on.

I enjoy Nick Bellore’s videos and he’s a key special teamer. His departure saves $2.1m. We need to consider whether that’s genuinely money well spent.

There’s plenty there to ensure Dunlap stays — and you might even have enough to bring back Rasheem Green and Al Woods.

Add an interior pass rusher

The Seahawks have badly lacked any kind of dynamic interior pass rush threat in the Carroll era. That should change this year as a priority.

Akiem Hicks is a free agent. He would be an ideal addition. If the Seahawks start the 2022 season with Hicks and Jones added to the D-line, that would be an exciting proposition that would energise the team and fanbase.

I’ve long wanted to see Calais Campbell in Seattle. He’s not the player he was 2-3 years ago but as Woods has shown, you can still have an impact deep into your 30’s. He could be a cheaper alternative.

The draft could also provide a solution here.

I suspect Georgia’s Jordan Davis will be a top-20 pick. However, his team-mate Devonte Wyatt is a dynamic athlete with outstanding talent and rush ability. He could be available in the early second round — or the late first via a modest trade-up.

Wyatt can reportedly run a 4.87 and jump a 9-3 broad and 31-inch vertical. The Seahawks need that kind of quickness and explosive power.

Houston’s superb Logan Hall would be a strong alternative.

There aren’t a ton of options but this is why the Seahawks need to be more aggressive this year to add players at key positions — not let things linger, as they did with the pass rush in 2020 and with center/cornerback in 2021.

It’s a shame they don’t own the #10 pick. Not only would they save the $17.5m they’ve committed to Jamal Adams (who’s suffered his second serious shoulder injury in 12 months) but we could legitimately discuss the possibility of adding Jordan Davis, David Ojabo, Jermaine Johnson or George Karlaftis. Or you could go the veteran route on the D-line and draft a good, young offensive linemen.

Reinforce the O-line

In an ideal world you’d make a big splash move on the offensive line. Last year there was Corey Linsley and Joe Thuney. This year, there are far fewer options.

Unless you want to spend a fortune on Terron Armstead — who might be tagged — the best bet is probably to re-sign Duane Brown and kick the can down the road.

Brandon Scherff would be great but he’s another right guard and what the Seahawks really need is an addition at center and/or right tackle.

Ryan Jensen is the best available free agent. Jason Kelce would be great but he’s practically Philadelphia’s favourite son and I can’t see him leaving the Eagles.

James Daniels shifted to guard from center in Chicago. He could move back and is worth considering if he reaches the market. He has a terrific physical profile and is a former high-draft pick.

The Bills are $2m over the cap for 2022. Would they consider trading Mitch Morse?

It hasn’t worked out for Cesar Ruiz in New Orleans and he’s become a target for fans. However, he has immense potential. Could you work a trade with the Saints to bring him to Seattle for a fresh start?

I think Trevor Penning, Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas will be high picks. If not, the Seahawks should give them a serious look in the draft. All three are excellent players with tremendous physical potential to start at left or right tackle at the next level.

It’s going to be harder to address the O-line than D-line this off-season. The opposite was true a year ago.

Set a limit for Rashaad Penny and stick to it

I sympathise with the Seahawks on this one. I’ve no idea how you judge Penny’s end to the season or the value you place on him.

If they let him go somewhere else, they could watch him go and set the league alight (maybe even with a NFC West rival). If they commit to him — who’s to say he’ll be able to stay healthy?

After all — he was even limping off the field against Arizona after one big run.

This is a major quandary and short of him having a lukewarm market and coming back on a team-friendly deal — there’s a lot of risk involved.

However, the running back market is sufficiently quiet in free agency and it might play into Seattle’s hands to let him discover his true value then make a decision. Homegrown runners get paid — as we’ve seen with the big names over the last few years. Very few reach free agency and hit the jackpot.

I can’t personally project a dollar value for him. It’s too difficult to predict. You’ve almost got to let everyone else set it for you.

I do think, given the state of the team currently, you have to exert some effort to retain him. He played well enough to create an intriguing ‘what if?’ scenario. The injuries are a major concern. Yet his production at the end of the year went beyond ‘good’. It was ‘great’. Thus, you’re put in a situation where you have to determine how much is too much financially.

Either way I think you need to draft a running back. Personally I think they should cut Carson and make it a reasonable priority to draft Florida’s BAMF Dameon Pierce.

What about Gerald Everett?

He’s looked very good at times in Seattle and he’s a potential X-factor. It’s also hard to forget his nightmarish performance against the Niners with multiple turnovers or his horrible dropped touchdown against the Cardinals.

It’s a strong draft at tight end, which has to be factored in.

UCLA’s Greg Dulcich, Colorado State’s Trey McBride, Nevada’s Cole Turner, Iowa’s Sam LaPorta, San Jose State’s Derrick Deese Jr, Washington’s Cade Otton, Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, Iowa State’s Charles Kolar and Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson should all be available in a range for Seattle.

I wouldn’t rule out Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer being there either.

Everett at his best is an ideal complementary weapon to the receivers on the roster. Yet his best is often only present in fits and starts. In five years he’s never had more than the 478 yards and four touchdowns he had in Seattle this season. Is he capable of being more consistent, to justify the $6m he cost in 2021?

That said, he’s clearly talented, athletic and plays with a level of intensity.

It’s another difficult one to work out. I’d be very tempted to take a long look at the Senior Bowl and combine before making a decision. It could be that he’ll need to settle for less than $6m to return.

Stand-pat with D.K. Metcalf for another year

This off-season presents the first opportunity for the Seahawks to pay and extend Metcalf. However, it’s yet another difficult problem to solve.

On the one hand, the possibility of a ‘hold-in’ is strong. He’s due just $1,459,198 in 2022. Not having him in camp — as was the case last year with Jamal Adams, Duane Brown and then Quandre Diggs — isn’t helpful.

That said, the receiver market is in a horrible place — making life very difficult for the Seahawks.

DeAndre Hopkins earns a ridiculous $27.25m-a-year with the Cardinals. They structured it to be short-term, making the most of Kyler Murray’s rookie deal. Yet Julio Jones ($22m), Keenan Allen ($20m), Amari Cooper ($20m), Michael Thomas ($19.25m) and Kenny Golliday ($18m) are not far behind.

None of these players are providing value for money.

Making things even trickier is the direction of the market over the next 12 months. What contract will Davante Adams sign? What about Deebo Samuel?

Things could get even harder.

I’m not sure bailing on Metcalf and this contract dilemma is the best idea but I can see why some people come to that conclusion. It would remove a financial headache, especially if you can get a bunch of picks. With players like Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky) declaring for the draft, talent will be readily available.

Robinson is a terrific player who is flying under the radar. I’d highly recommend checking him out.

A cluster of free agents are also intriguing — Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Zay Jones, Odell Beckham Jr and Christian Kirk to name a few. The Seahawks are also only a year removed from spending a second round pick on Dee Eskridge.

That said, I’m not a big fan of trading away your homegrown talent. So here’s how I would try to work this situation.

Offer Metcalf a reasonable market-value contract in the $20m a year range. It’s expensive now but if you get that in before the Adams extension in Green Bay — it might look very reasonable within 2-3 years.

Too often the Seahawks have extended players too late (Wagner, Adams) and let other players re-set markets, costing Seattle money. If the Seahawks can get ahead of the game here, it might benefit them in the long-run.

The franchise tag provides some protection if you can’t get a deal done. The tag in 2021 was worth $19.1m.

If you have to tag him in 2023, that might be the point to consider a trade — much like the Frank Clark situation.

For now though, I would keep Metcalf. He along with Lockett are assets and the Seahawks don’t have enough of those. Removing talent on the off-chance of finding others who are good enough to compensate isn’t easy. They found that out with Clark three years ago.

Closing thoughts

Of course, there are other changes I’d like to see too. I’d rather see bold, new additions to the coaching staff — especially on defense — to provide fresh ideas. I’d like to see Pete Carroll delegate more and not feel like he has to control everything — even if ultimately it’s his vision and he is the man at the top.

This is a plan strictly for the draft and free agency as the roster stands today.

To be fair — make the changes in the paragraph above (and follow some of the suggestions re:personnel) and we might be able to avoid another off-season of drama.

The key to future success is going to be built around the trenches. That’s where they need to commit their resources — not positions like linebacker and safety.

If they do that and fail, there won’t be any complaints from me. I said the same when they failed to address the pass rush in 2020. I can live with trying and failing. What I can’t live with is having $58.25m to spend and coming away with Mayowa and Irvin.

Make the O-line and D-line a strength, have plenty of weapons for a good quarterback and don’t be a liability at cornerback and that, really, is a fairly obvious blueprint to success in the modern NFL.

The Seahawks have wasted $100m in free agency the last two years and squandered draft picks. Not having a first rounder this year is a killer, even in an average looking class.

Lessons need to be learned from prior mistakes, not brushed under the carpet. Do that and they can take a step forward.

I don’t think any of this is unrealistic. Focus on investing in the right areas and the Seahawks can improve quickly.

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And so it begins…

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

Today, Ian Rapoport is reporting that Russell Wilson, “wants to explore his options to see what else might be out there for him.”

We’re a fortnight removed from Adam Schefter reporting, “There is a leaguewide feeling, according to sources, that Carroll and Wilson will not be together again next season.”

If the intention really is to ‘run it back’ — the chances are we’re about to embark on another off-season of drama, negotiation played out through the media and we could realistically see the quarterback traded.

How does this benefit the franchise? We can’t have annual drama of the quarterback thinking about wanting out and the front office saying ‘no’. It isn’t conducive to success. Eventually, a decision needs to be made.

How are the Seahawks going to be serious players in free agency — either to retain their own or add new players — if there’s a cloud over Wilson’s future? Especially in a competitive market for the top names?

The fans also deserve better than weeks and months of uncertainty about the quarterback, as they argue, bicker and war on social media about the whole situation.

Per Rapoport:

“Wilson has not demanded a trade, and it’s not clear if he will. But at the least, those close to Wilson say he wants to investigate other destinations to see if those would put him in a better position to win another championship and create the legacy he sees for himself.”

I think, at this stage, Wilson should just get it over and done with. Request a trade. There’s no face-saving exercise to be had by flirting with it constantly. The Seahawks can’t be in limbo every off-season. You either want a move or you don’t.

This can’t keep going on, year after year.

It impacts fans’ enjoyment of the team. It’s a talking point that never goes away.

Mike Garafolo chimed in:

“Wilson was adamant that last offseason he didn’t request a trade from the Seahawks, just merely provided a list of teams he preferred. Have to figure it’ll be less passive and more aggressive this time around if his ideal conditions for staying in Seattle aren’t met.”

A few months ago, Wilson’s injury provided a distraction for the distraction — if that makes sense.

After just four games, Wilson’s future was being discussed as a Fox lead-in to Thursday Night Football. He injured his finger in that very game and that dominated the headlines instead.

Personally, I don’t think it’s reasonable to have this hanging over the team for two years and there not be consequences. Either in the locker room, in terms of your team-building or ultimately your performance on the field.

It needs addressing.

I said a year ago that the only serious way to put this all to bed and have Wilson remain is a new contract. I stand by that. Trade him or extend him. That’s the only way to draw a line under it.

Another off-season of Pete Carroll and John Schneider pretending it doesn’t exist, while every media outlet reports on it constantly, shouldn’t be an option.

Last week Rapoport spoke of Mark Davis’ interest in Wilson a year ago. Apparently Davis has a vision for the Raiders that is pure ‘rockstar’ — he wants a rockstar coach and a rockstar franchise figurehead.

Yesterday he reiterated that Derek Carr’s future in Las Vegas is uncertain.

Let’s not forget that a year ago, Wilson listed the Raiders as a destination he would be willing to be dealt to.

If they land an impressive offensive-minded Head Coach, it could set the table for a trade.

The Raiders don’t have a lot of draft stock to offer. They don’t have any extra picks. Their selection in round one will be between #20-23 overall. They do have a quarterback though. And if the Seahawks really want to try and maintain a somewhat competitive presence, they might feel granting Wilson his wish and acquiring Carr is a way to do that.

For me it would be a thoroughly underwhelming move. You wouldn’t be adding significant draft stock and Carr is unexciting as a potential starter. I doubt the Seahawks would be on a pathway to glory.

His contract expires after the 2022 season. So you’d be paying him a reasonable $19.7m this year and then, if he performs well, you’re looking at the need to pay him significantly more.

A lot of people like Carr and would likely welcome such a situation. I just feel he’s average. I think the playoffs are already showing that you need better than average at quarterback to succeed.

Plus, for all the complaining about Wilson, look at his stats compared to Carr’s. In a season where Wilson endured injury and horrendous spells of form (his worst ever season?) — he finished with a touchdown/interception ratio of 27/6 and a QBR of 53.9. In comparison, Carr finished with a 23/14 ratio and a 52.8 QBR.

Carr has only thrown for +30 touchdowns in a season once — seven years ago. Wilson has done it five times and would’ve done it again this year if he didn’t miss three and a half games.

Wilson’s career quarterback rating is 101.8. Carr’s is 92.4.

It’s pretty clear to me this would be a significant downgrade.

Let’s go a step further. Even Carson Wentz had a superior TD/INT ratio (28/7), QBR (54.4) and quarterback rating (90.1) in 2021. That’s the kind of quarterback you’d be acquiring. The type that is well known and viewed as competent — but isn’t a difference maker.

It would be a tough pill to swallow, swapping Wilson for Carr. I fear if Wilson agitates to leave, however, the front office that dealt for Charlie Whitehurst, made Tarvaris Jackson a starter and then paid Matt Flynn generous money, might convince themselves Carr is a great option that enables them to contend in 2022.

A final point. It’s pretty remarkable that after everything that has happened — many Seahawks fans are still in total denial that this is a story with Wilson. Many of the replies to Rapoport’s article were insisting Wilson had already committed his future to Seattle — which is complete bunkum.

The denial of reality on this story has to be seen to be believed. I’m not sure I’ve come across anything like it before.

It alone is reason enough for a resolution to this as soon as physically possible, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s get one thing straight — this isn’t some zany media creation. Wilson’s dissatisfaction is real and has been for some time. It’s not a question in the slightest of whether he’s open to a trade. The only question is how this gets sorted out over the coming months.

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to know what’s going on

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Why does everything have to be a war?

Seahawks fans are particularly tetchy at the moment. It feels like we’re destined to live in perpetual disagreement over something. Let Russ Cook. Running Backs Don’t Matter. Carroll Out.

Some of the discourse has been pretty obnoxious. At times, it’s almost felt cultish.

Personally, I appreciate how and why some fans are content with no change. Pete Carroll and John Schneider brought the first Championship to the franchise. They are popular and likeable.

I also think plenty of strong arguments have been made in support of change. The Seahawks ended the 2020 season with many acknowledging that playoff progress was vital this season. Instead, the Seahawks didn’t even qualify for the post-season. They finished 7-10.

People cite the Russell Wilson injury as an excuse but fail to note that San Francisco, Arizona and Philadelphia also needed to field a backup. New Orleans started four different quarterbacks and still finished with a better record than Seattle.

The future of Wilson remains a big question mark. Again, we’re only 12 days removed from this article by Adam Schefter.

I think change is important and reasonable. If nothing else though, I think if the status quo remains the fanbase is owed a bit more of an explanation on how this team intends to return to contention.

Just going along, bringing every staff member back, not shifting anything in the front office, cracking on with perhaps a few minor tweaks doesn’t feel adequate.

And therefore, given the well publicised meetings this week reported by some members of the national media — it’s not unreasonable to expect some kind of communication from the team.

We don’t need to know any state secrets. Yet bringing the fans — all of the fans — on a journey in 2022 is still important.

Those pushing back against the need to do this might be content. But they aren’t the entire fan base. And it’s not a tiny minority, I’d suggest, who want some answers. Certainly none were provided by Carroll in his ‘everything’s just peachy’ press conference on Monday.

If nothing else — the mystery surrounding the team isn’t healthy. It wasn’t last year either, when the Seahawks refused to address the Wilson saga. It just left everything hanging, created anxiety in some cases and had the fans warring against each other on Twitter.

That’s happening again already. Where’s the benefit in that?

Would it really hurt the Seahawks to release a statement, if the status quo is remaining, saying that all parties look forward to working together to return the team to the playoffs next season?

Just let everyone get on with their lives.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with that.

Yet I see a tweet like this:

And it embodies the snarky, unnecessarily dismissive tone that just creates tension.

Why does it have to be this way?

The simple answer is — it doesn’t.

Communicating with your fans is par for the course. Putting minds at ease, getting everyone on board — that’s what everyone wants.

I’d rather know, than assume, it’s business as usual. Unless, of course it isn’t. And in that case, maybe certain people could just pipe down acting like that’s the case when in truth — none of us really know anything.

This week I was invited onto the Pedestrian Podcast with Stu and Adam to discuss the future of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

It’s a good conversation so be sure to check it out below…

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