It’s July 18th. In ten days time, training camp is scheduled to begin. There’s some doubt whether that’ll actually be the case, as the NFL and the NFLPA discuss a safe return. Reportedly, however, the NFL are wedded to their plan.
For those minded to push back against criticism of Seattle’s off-season, the case for the defense has been to suggest ‘they’re far from finished’. That’s a term used by both the media and the fans. Yet actually nothing has happened since the days after the draft when Carlos Hyde and Geno Smith were brought in.
The Seahawks still haven’t signed a replacement for Al Woods. There’s been no conclusion to the Jadeveon Clowney saga. Everson Griffen and several other familiar names also remain unsigned.
Russell Wilson has been working out with Antonio Brown. There have been rumours about Jamal Adams but I think it’s fair to suggest that Seattle’s interest is more due diligence than an aggressive courting.
At the moment the Seahawks haven’t signed many of their draft picks. They’re still operating with about $5-6m in actual cap space. There’s room for a move — maybe even two with a couple of choice cuts. Anything more will require manoeuvering.
If the Seahawks are going to do anything else, when’s it going to happen? If camp starts in ten days, is that a deadline of sorts to work towards? Are they waiting, perhaps like the rest of the league, to see what emerges from the talks with the NFLPA?
Either way, surely this year more than any other it’ll be necessary to have your players with you at the start of camp? You’re going to be far more limited in what you can do. There are going to be protocols to learn and adjust to.
Every day is going to be important.
Again, there’s not a great deal they can do.
Presumably they’ll want another body at defensive tackle even if it’s just for depth.
Other than that? It’s hard to imagine what possible deal the Seahawks and Clowney could work out to make a return remotely possible. Is he really going to hold out for this long simply to accept a $7m contract? Maybe, if it’s his best offer. I’m not sure from his perspective he’ll welcome a contract like that rather than simply sit out even longer. Maybe even into the season.
Antonio Brown or Josh Gordon could be added, as long as the financial package is cheap. They’d need to be cheap too.
The reality of the situation is that, as has been the case for some time, the Seahawks are pretty much done in terms of roster building for this year. They’ve spent their $60m, used their picks and what they have is, pretty much, going to be what they go with in 2020.
It is fair to question what they’ve done. This hasn’t felt like a ‘Championship off-season’. At least not in terms of adding players.
It’s possible, given everything that has happened in the world, that Pete Carroll’s enthusiasm for the way they’ve handled the lockdown of facilities is warranted. Some teams, especially those with inexperienced or new staff members, might struggle. Having established players who know what they’re doing in the scheme is a bonus.
They also have Russell Wilson. A quarterback of his caliber will make the Seahawks a good bet for the playoffs and a winning record.
Any further optimism feels like a stretch though. The enormous question marks about both the pass rush and defensive line in general, the changes to the O-line, the ways they’ve spent $60m, the use of $25m on two linebackers while simultaneously using their top draft pick on another linebacker and the overall lack of obvious improvement. All of this needs to be challenged.
If nothing else it was critical they fixed the pass rush this off-season and what they’ve done looks like a failure. Subtracting Jadeveon Clowney and relying on Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin is not in any way, shape or form an adequate addressing of the problem. It underpins what has been a fairly mundane few months, with little in the way of excitement.
Which is why, ultimately, you currently have the quarterback campaigning for Antonio Brown while his buddy on FS1 happily reveals what is probably a degree of quarterback dissatisfaction with the off-season — especially when he looks at several other rival teams and the way they’ve progressed.
As a franchise are they treading water? It’s six years since the last Super Bowl run and since then the 49ers and Rams have both won the NFC and the Cardinals have competed in the Championship game. Early playoff exits have stacked up and that was easier to accept as one era ended and a reset began.
Now the Seahawks are three off-seasons into their reset. The energy and vibrancy of 2018 is giving way to doubt. Unlike in previous years, the bold and adventurous Seahawks have become fairly conservative in the way they do business.
Everyone expects a competitive team. I’m not sure anyone expects to win the NFC West — something they’ve only done once in the last five years. That in turn means a long route through the playoffs and the increasing chances of another familiar playoff exit in the Wildcard or Divisional round.
The Carroll and Schneider era has always been very good at allowing you to dream. They’d make moves that highlighted an aggressive pursuit of Championships. Not all of their moves worked but at least you knew they were going for it. You could never accuse them of being complacent.
This off-season has been different. It’s been underwhelming. An expression to sum it up would be ‘meh’. Many held out hope that, in time, there would be some further moves to bring everything together. The key moves would come later in the summer. Well, the countdown is on now and the available money is limited.
It begs the question — how are they going to get back into serious contention? They’ve struggled to address a pass rush issue for two off-seasons now. Their drafts have been a mixed bag with more bad than good. There are question marks about the O-line again. Are they supporting Wilson enough — both with weapons, protection and a competent defense?
Currently a neutral observer will tune in to gaze at the brilliance of the quarterback in 2020. Nobody’s throwing down $20 on them winning the Super Bowl though. How are they going to change that?
It’s hard to imagine what they can realistically do between now and the season starting to generate some excitement and more importantly — generate reasons to think they can do more than make up the numbers if they make the post season.
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