This is a guest post written by Curtis Allen
Reviewing the Seahawks’ off-season to date: Offense
With the bulk of free agency done and the draft a couple of weeks away, it is an ideal time to take stock of what the Seahawks have done this offseason so far, discuss what conclusions we can draw and talk a bit about what lies ahead for the draft and the balance of the offseason.
We will be reviewing some of the issues discussed in the off-season position reviews posted in January and February:
Questions the Seahawks have addressed
QB: What kind of roster support will the team give Russ?
It seems clear that the Seahawks intend to provide him with run and short game passing support to supplement the deeper threats of Lockett and Metcalf. It would be a welcome respite from what we witnessed in 2020 – an offense with the lack of running game and near-constant seven-step drop plays that resulted in too many sacks conceded.
Re-signing Chris Carson at a reasonable rate is a smart move by the front office. He has an ability to take a drive over and give Wilson the occasional break.
It is noteworthy that the Seahawks threw to Carson far more frequently in 2020 than in the past. He had the same number of receptions in 2020 as he did in 2019 (37) in almost half the snaps. Look for Shane Waldron to continue to find ways to use him in this capacity and give the quarterback some ‘easy yards’ at times.
Gabe Jackson is a serious investment in the interior. The Seahawks apparently expressed interest in free agents but landed on trading a fifth round pick for Jackson and then signed him to an extension. The question of whether this move can be considered a response specifically to Russ expressing dissatisfaction with his protection is debatable. Pete Carroll directly mentioned that left guard was a position the Seahawks wanted to upgrade at his year-end press conference.
Gerald Everett offers an athletic outlet that is familiar with Waldron’s concepts. This should prove beneficial to assist getting Wilson integrated into the offense.
Supporting him also means giving him a defense who will give him the ball with regularity. The Seahawks did recognize how poorly their defensive line played in 2020 and added Kerry Hyder, Al Woods and brought Carlos Dunlap back after cutting him. So there is at least a try-hard level of support from the front office to keep the defense functional, if not improved.
OL: Who will start at center and left guard?
Gabe Jackson has been acquired and extended, Ethan Pocic re-signed with a modest raise, and Kyle Fuller was tendered to return to the team.
At this point it seems clear that the Seahawks have taken steps to fill the open positions on the offensive line but the exact placement of the positions is still a work in progress.
Logic points to Jackson slotting in at Left Guard and Ethan Pocic at Center, with Damien Lewis returning at Right Guard, all in between Brown and Shell.
So at this point, the Offensive Line could possibly be set. However, the draft is heavy with attractive options in the interior and that presumptive formation could be reshuffled by the time week one rolls around.
WR: Will they look at extending Tyler Lockett?
The reasons laid out in the original review all came to bear as the Seahawks moved up their timetable for extending veteran players, signing Lockett to a handsome extension. The extension accomplished many things:
— it rewards a fantastic player
— it opens up cap room in 2021
— it keeps a key weapon on the roster for Russ to work with
Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t cripple the Seahawks’ salary cap in the next two or three seasons. The deal includes a handsome bonus but only $5m in guaranteed salary. It is structured very smartly in that it gives the team flexibility. There is no guaranteed salary in 2023 (his age 31 season), just as the Seahawks will be feeling the cap hit of the first season of a DK Metcalf extension. Brilliant.
Whatever way the offense changes under Shane Waldron, the connection between Wilson and Lockett will remain a potent piece of the Seahawks’ offense.
TE: So what do the Seahawks do now?
Since that question was asked, the Seahawks have hired Shane Waldron and signed Gerald Everett.
Everett and Dissly are out of contract in 2022, and behind them is Colby Parkinson. All three should play roles in the offense this season, so the team is set for 2021. However, the position is in flux beyond that.
The Seahawks would be wise to work Parkinson into the offense as soon as possible to fully assess their options for the 2022 off-season.
The team could find a new level of effectiveness if the Seahawks can get the tight ends more involved. If only for the fact that they can be successful in converting more third downs. At times, the offense needed to protect the scoreboard by staying on the field in 2020 and could not get the tight ends involved to accomplish that goal. As a result, some games were tighter than they should have been.
RB: Will they bring Chris Carson back and what about the rest of the players on the roster?
In February I wrote:
It would appear the best option is to have Carson on the roster in 2021.
However, his health issues cannot be ignored. So if the Seahawks are going to invest in Carson, they will have to continue to invest in depth as well to protect the offense.
Can they afford to do that? This season in particular, they cannot. If they feel that Carson is the best option, they must be able to work out a reasonable contract. Giving Carson a big contract and then not having him available for large chunks of the season is not an option.
The Seahawks held firm on Carson and signed him to a very workable extension for two years with only $5.5million guaranteed. It also includes a void year that helps with their 2021 cap room.
This is a brilliant maneuver. Carson is not paid in the top 10 of AAV for running backs, yet the Seahawks get a player they know can be a big factor and set a tone on their offense for not much more than what they would pay a high draft pick.
Yet it addresses the very real concerns with Carson’s durability. The contract does not overburden the team with any expectations. They can use Carson as a lead plow horse in some games and use him less in others without fear of wasting valuable resources.
Alex Collins was an easy choice to resign to the roster. He clearly has a role in the offense to play with some vision and toughness. He is a good addition as the Seahawks continue to collect running back depth.
Questions the Seahawks have yet to address
QB: Can Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson get on the same page? What does Russ want?
Those two questions remained unanswered and may continue to do so for some time, unfortunately.
It has been months since this drama started and there seems to be no end in sight.
We have heard word through sources like Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Marshall that Russ has compromised and is staying — but nothing concrete yet that can truly put this issue to bed and move on.
The draft seems like a reasonable date to know what the Seahawks plan on doing with their franchise quarterback in 2021.
Trade him before or during the draft and their intentions are known. Keep him through the draft and the questions remain unanswered likely through the rest of the offseason and into the regular season.
OL: The Seahawks need to address the future of the tackle position — soon
Duane Brown, Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi are signed for 2021 only. There has been no movement towards extensions but also no word that Brown is considering retirement.
It is possible this will be addressed in the draft. If not, the Seahawks are once again gambling that they may have a big hole at two critical positions come 2022. Their cap room is going to dry up very, very quickly if they do not have at least one prospect from this upcoming draft ready to step in.
More importantly — if they do not get this addressed, it will not matter how much they have spent to extend Tyler Lockett or what they are paying Gabe Jackson or who the offensive coordinator is. Their offense will not be able to properly function, and their franchise quarterback’s discontent will only grow.
WR: What do they do behind Lockett and Metcalf in 2021?
This is yet to be addressed. It is possible that with Lockett and Metcalf slotted securely on the roster for 2021, the need is not as great as other positions.
Gerald Everett has been added as a weapon at tight end and if the Seahawks re-focus on making that position group a bigger priority in the passing game, it is possible that adding another wide receiver will continue to take a back seat on the list of offseason needs.
Still, the offense would be hampered by an injury to either of the two starters that requires them to miss a significant amount of time. There is always that possibility and that likely is not too far back in the team’s mind. They would do well to address it.
RB: How can they field a healthier unit going forward?
This will be an ongoing concern. Penny and Carson will have injury question marks following them for the rest of their NFL careers.
Penny lost 2020 to injury and needs to prove he can be healthy enough to stay on the field. He is likely auditioning for a spot with his new team in 2021 – maybe even his future in the NFL. Playing the bulk of the season with a real contribution to the offense would be a godsend for the Seahawks and his career.
Carson had a very strange 2020. Banged up constantly, praised by Pete Carroll for his toughness and yet frequently given a very light workload immediately after being proclaimed healthy and ready to go. It is possible he was hurt more than we know and Carroll was just trying to run some interference.
As it is, Carson only eclipsed 20 touches in a game once in 2020, Week Two against New England where he had 17 runs and three catches. The Seahawks need more.
Keeping both of these guys on the roster will constitute a worthwhile endeavour only if both avoid missing significant stretches in 2021.
Carson may already be heading for trouble with this risky-looking workout posted online:
.@ccarson_32 is on another level 😳pic.twitter.com/WuEZcKY5UV
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 6, 2021
You are not helping, Chris. The Seahawks need you plowing through tackles and taking passes with those soft hands. Not potentially injuring yourself to get some internet buzz going.
Is the team taking Carson’s physical conditioning seriously? It is really hard to say. Posting that video complicates things.
Thoughts on the draft
The Seahawks could line up this offense tomorrow and have a solid group to work with — but not complete. Their immediate roster needs on offense are obvious:
— A legitimate threat at third wide receiver
— An interior offensive lineman with some ferocity to pair with Lewis and Jackson
The way this roster is constructed though, you could very well see the Seahawks targeting virtually any position on offense in this draft and it would be justified:
QB: The cloud surrounding Russell Wilson’s future will not go away until the Seahawks make it go away
RB: Chris Carson has no guaranteed money on his contract in 2022. Rashaad Penny is very unlikely to be tendered for his 5th year. Collins is a one-year rental and Deejay Dallas has yet to show much of anything
OL: They need a young tackle or two — now
WR: Somebody needs to take David Moore’s snaps without too big a drop-off in production
TE: Colby Parkinson is the only player under contract in 2022
The offensive roster situation seems negative but there is a silver lining.
Given all these long-term needs, the Seahawks will be free to pursue the best player available. If the team views things that way, they will be able to open their board and look at all the options rather than being pinpoint focused on a position group and/or a couple players they set their hearts on getting.
We saw what the Seahawks did last year when they reached for a position in the second round. The results were about as bad as you can imagine.
Not only are there continued question marks about Darrell Taylor’s availability in 2021 but the team also sacrificed two prime picks to get him. They could have a strong tackle prospect and a rising wide receiver on the roster right now ready to step into key spots this season.
Having only three draft picks at this point could steer the Seahawks toward success almost by default. They will be forced to maximize their returns in the draft, while simultaneously not expecting to find players who can contribute in Week One.
That is a formula for taking the best player available if there ever was one.
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