Why a trade could be on the cards
Seattle’s best three personnel moves in 2019 involved a trade. They moved up for D.K. Metcalf in the draft. They dealt a third round pick to Houston for Jadeveon Clowney. Then they traded a fifth rounder for Quandre Diggs.
The previous big trade they made was the highly successful and underrated move to acquire Duane Brown.
If that isn’t motivation to re-enter the market, what is?
There are very clear benefits to making a trade. For starters, you inherit an existing contract. If the Seahawks wade into the free agent market as an aggressor, you run the risk of being exploited.
Take last year for example. Who expected Kwon Alexander to get a deal worth $13.5m a year? That in turn led to C.J. Mosley getting $17m a year from the Jets.
It doesn’t happen to every player of course. Dante Fowler — a potential Seahawks target this year — had to settle for a modest one-year prove-it deal.
There’s always a chance though that things quickly get out of control, your plans are torn up, you’re forced to look elsewhere or you end up overpaying.
All of this can be avoided if you make a deal for a player who is contracted for at least another year. The Brown trade is a classic example. He had a year and a bit to run on his Texans contract. He came to Seattle, played well and was rewarded with a handsome extension.
So what move could the Seahawks pull off that makes sense in terms of contract and fixing their enormous need on the D-line and the pass rush?
They badly need speed off the edge. They need the next Cliff Avril.
Why not put a call into Denver and see if there’s a deal to be done for Von Miller?
It’s possible the Broncos will just put the phone down. Miller is a Denver legend. They’re a team in transition with a young quarterback but they seem to feel like they’re making strides. They don’t have any cap issues and can easily retain Miller’s large salary in 2020.
That said, there has been some friction recently between team and player. Miller expressed concern after a week-15 loss to Kansas City about the team’s direction. He quickly rowed back on it but you could sense this was a relationship with issues.
As the Seahawks showed two years ago, sometimes you just need to part ways and move on. For both parties.
His 2019 performance wasn’t up to his usual standards. He only had eight sacks — his lowest total since 2013 when he only played nine games. He was working in a new defensive scheme. Some adjustment would be understandable. He did finish 12th for pressures (37), eighth for hurries (18) and 20th for knockdowns (10th).
It wasn’t a bad season, it just wasn’t peak-Miller.
The Broncos drafted Bradley Chubb with a high pick in 2018 so they’re not short of pass rushers. If they trade Miller and make a further cap saving, they’ll have more than enough to go into the market and sign a replacement.
I think it could be a move that suits both parties.
The Broncos receive Seattle’s top pick (#27). They move on from Miller with more than enough money and cap compensation to make up for his departure. The dead cap hit for Denver isn’t insignificant ($11.75m) — but they make a decent 2020 saving ($13.875m).
The Seahawks acquire a speed rusher to compliment the presumably re-signed Jadeveon Clowney. With the Broncos eating some of the contract, they would inherit quite a modest cap-hit in 2020 of approximately $14m. That’s much less than they’d end up paying for lesser players on the open market. He’s also contracted until the end of the 2021 season.
With book-end rushers of Clowney and Miller — the Seahawks’ four-man rush would actually threaten opponents in 2020. They would’ve solved their biggest need without even needing to dabble in the open market. He would provide the quality, experience, production and leadership they’ve lacked since Avril was forced to retire.
Spending the #27 pick would be a high price — but it’s a necessary price. Yes he’s 30-years-old. However, the Seahawks traded for 30-year-old Jimmy Graham in 2015. If they can get 3-4 years of production out of Miller, that’s good value for the pick. The Seahawks need impact this off-season. They need to add players who can produce now. It’s also a poor draft class for pass rusher’s.
With two second round picks, they also might be more willing to trade #27.
The cost would also be worth it to avoid having to shell out $18-22m for an edge rusher on the open market. With the saving, you could actually make some other moves to further improve the roster.
Again, it’s possible the Broncos would have no interest in such a move. It’s equally possible the Seahawks will prefer to stick to their youth movement and acquire someone like Fowler who, at 25, could be a feature for years to come. The Metcalf, Clowney and Diggs trades all provided enormous value. This would be a much more aggressive deal.
The Green Bay Packers fixed their pass rush by signing two free agents (Preston & Za’Darius Smith). They then used their top draft pick to add Rashan Gary. The Seahawks might prefer that kind of plan.
They could also go down the same route as Kansas City a year ago and strike a deal for a franchise-tagged defender. Frank Clark has looked increasingly like a wise investment in recent weeks. Could the Seahawks assess the trade options if tagged players cannot agree long term deals with their clubs?
Pass rush is the defining off-season need but they could still trade for another position.
We know the Jets flirted with trading Jamal Adams before the deadline. I’m not sure the Seahawks would pay out to push Bradley McDougald and Marquise Blair off the field but there’s no denying the Seahawks were better for acquiring Diggs and more talent at safety would be welcome if possible.
Russell Wilson, quite rightly, is going to be pushing for more weapons. Reportedly he wanted them to consider adding Antonio Brown during the season and they eventually added Josh Gordon. With talk of Odell Beckham potentially being available, Stefon Diggs looking increasingly unhappy in Minnesota and tight end’s like O.J. Howard and David Njoku having uncertain futures — there will likely be offensive options too.
They have picks and cap space. We can’t be sat here in 12 months time wondering why they didn’t do more. They need an off-season like 2013 when they traded for Percy Harvin and signed Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. They’ll know that.
It should be a fun off-season.
Expect Jadeveon Clowney to be back
Pete Carroll says he loves Clowney and the feeling is mutual. Duane Brown said the same thing on 710 ESPN. Apparently Clowney paid a visit to John Schneider before leaving for the off-season yesterday.
Carroll doesn’t often gush about free agents publicly. Not in the way he did about Clowney yesterday. I think he appreciates this is going to be an expensive deal. However, they can’t start to repair their D-line by losing their top player as the first move.
It’d be understandable if Clowney tests the market first. With everyone talking at the combine, he will know what offers are out there long before free agency starts. That should be the catalyst for Seattle to make him the offer that gets this done.
Then it’s on to stage two — adding a partner in crime to rush from the other side.
The Justin Britt dilemma has layers
Ideally Britt would be back next year and everything carries on. Continuity does matter on the O-line. The group also performed better than I think most people, included any PFF graders, are willing to acknowledge.
Britt in particular has been very steady and a positive leader. He’s aggressive but in a controlled manner these days.
This is a big off-season though where bold moves are going to be required. Their cap space will shrink quickly when they start signing players. Britt’s cap hit of $11.4m looked in danger even before he tore his ACL.
They save nearly $9m by moving on. Building a roster is often about making a hard decision like this. Where is your money best served? Is it on a center returning from a serious injury — or a great pass rusher or weapon for your quarterback? Especially when you look at the draft and see a good looking collection of center’s plus the very realistic possibility that Alex Mack will be cut by the Falcons and could be available on a ‘Mike Iupati’ type deal.
One thing they could do is cut Britt and make it very clear to him they want him back just not at $11.4m. Then, down the line, he could be re-signed at a more realistic price unless he decides to move on or someone makes him a superior offer.
They’d need a hedge. That could be Ethan Pocic or the re-signing of Joey Hunt. It’s not improbable though that Britt is cut and then rejoins the team later.
Prediction — George Fant will stay
A lot has been made of Fant saying he wants a chance to start. You’d expect him to say that, surely? Who wouldn’t? Left tackle is a highly paid position and he’s spent the last two years as a sixth lineman or unorthodox tight end.
However, there’s a big difference between wanting an opportunity to start and actually getting an opportunity or offer to do so.
Carroll said he wants to keep the O-line together. He said that a year ago of course and they couldn’t retain J.R. Sweezy despite a desire to do so. I suspect they will make the moves to retain Fant. They like him and he’s versatile. I don’t think he will receive the offer he’s looking for and the Seahawks will keep him by offering a strong opportunity to start at right tackle and be the eventual heir apparent to Duane Brown.
It might even be a short term deal so he can re-enter the market in a year or two.
That doesn’t prevent them from re-signing Germain Ifedi either. I think that’s a situation they play by ear. Let him test the market and see where it goes. Experienced offensive linemen often get paid. The likes of Max Unger, James Carpenter and Mark Glowinski have all left Seattle and excelled elsewhere. Ifedi might get a shot to do the same on an expensive contract. If not, he could also return.
If neither comes back, there are some appealing right tackle’s set to be available in the draft. So it’s not a position of particular concern. They will have options.
You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.