This is the sixth part of a guest-post series written by Curtis Allen
#6 special teams
Players under contract for 2021: Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott
Players under contract for 2022: Jason Myers, Tyler Ott
Restricted Free Agents: none
Unrestricted Free Agents: Nick Bellore
Exclusive Rights Free Agents: none
Futures Contract signings Candidates: none
Salary Cap Notes
2021 Cap Commitment: $8.92 million (5% of $178m cap)
Michael Dickson is an unrestricted free agent in 2022
2020 Season Overview
The Seahawks’ special teams unit was one of the NFL’s best in 2020.
It started out in a precarious position, with a brief announcement by Pete Carroll that Special Teams coach Brian Schneider was taking an extended leave of absence and that Larry Izzo was taking his duties over.
But the team responded with a consistently fantastic effort.
Jason Myers trolled Seahawks fans by being a perfect 24 for 24 on field goal tries but missing 4 PAT attempts. If you can figure out how that happened, more power to you.
Michael Dickson had a tremendous year. He was second overall in average punt yardage but kicked 50% more punts than the top overall punter. He also placed 32 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Pete Carroll frequently deployed Dickson as a weapon to give his defense as much help as possible and he didn’t disappoint. Dickson answered the bell every time the defense needed a short punt accurately placed to pin the offense deep in their own zone. When they also needed Dickson to deliver a blast in key times he did it.
The number of times he did something amazing during the season is truly impressive:
– A 63 yard punt vs San Francisco Week 17 that was fair caught by the returner
– A 51 yard punt vs Los Angeles in Week 16 from the back of his own end zone
– Pinning Minnesota inside their own five-yard line twice in Week 5
-A 65-yard punt vs San Francisco in Week 8 that pinned the Niners at their three-yard line and led them to take a knee and concede the drive to run the clock out at the half
How Dickson got neither a Pro Bowl nor an All-Pro selection defies explanation.
The coverage units also performed extremely well this season. They allowed no blocked punts or field goal tries, nor did they allow any return touchdowns.
Cody Barton and Nick Bellore proved to be special teams demons, frequently making coverage tackles and occasionally forcing a fumble.
The also blocked a punt in the Giants game that resulted in a safety.
The returners were very middling. DJ Reed brought a spark at times with some good kickoff returns.
Offseason Questions to Address
1. Will they extend Michael Dickson?
He is in the last year of his contract in 2021. He has returned to top form to be a force and a key part of the special teams unit. He gave the defense every chance a punter could to be effective in 2020.
A top punter makes about $3.5m per season and they should be able to settle on a three or four year extension for Dickson in that range.
2. Who handles the return duties in 2021?
The Seahawks seemed to not have placed a real priority on kick and punt returners in recent years. Perhaps that is a response to the league rules making kickoffs a lower-impact event in the modern NFL game.
It is always strange the way the Seahawks operate in this area.
They seemingly refuse to allow key offensive players like Tyler Lockett and Rashaad Penny – players who have effective histories in the return game – chances to practice their craft. This is presumably out of fear of injury.
DJ Reed will probably be 2021’s victim to this mode of thinking. He has emerged as a candidate to take over one of the starting cornerback spots. So despite his ability to occasionally send a charge into the team with a nice return, he might be kept out of the return game to keep him healthy and focused on his defensive responsibility.
The Seahawks do draft players who have return histories on their resume, like Travis Homer and Freddie Swain, but they have been unable to have a substantive effect at the pro level.
They’ve had David Moore return punts but it seems at times that his mandate is ‘for God’s sake don’t cough up the ball’ rather than being encouraged to advance the ball and give the offense some field position.
3. Will Nick Bellore be brought back?
Nick Bellore has been on one-year contracts the past two seasons for about $1m per season. He is every fan’s first cut when speculating on the final 53-man roster but always makes ends up on the roster, even if he is let go on cut down day.
He had a fantastic year on special teams in 2020. I suspect that if he keeps playing like this he will always have a job in Seattle as long as Pete Carroll is coach.
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