Seahawks add tight end Tony Moeaki

The Seahawks decided at some point during the season they needed to find a big target. We spent a lot of the off-season discussing it — and yet it was an issue never really addressed. We’ve all seen the reports regarding trade proposals for Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Coby Fleener. Seattle were supposedly one of the teams who asked about Vincent Jackson.

The need was further emphasized in the last game against Oakland. A week after bagging the game-winning touchdown against Carolina, Luke Willson had an off-day. They clearly want a mobile tight end who can make grabs over the middle and in the red zone. Pete Carroll made reference to the red zone issue during a radio slot today. Marshawn Lynch is essentially Seattle’s defining threat — either as a runner or receiver. Outside of that — who are you looking to? Seattle doesn’t even have a decent fade option.

Tony Moeaki (6-3, 250lbs) signed for the Seahawks today — a former third round pick in 2010 drafted by Kansas City. It’s interesting to note he was taken two picks before Jimmy Graham. The Chiefs thought very highly of him before the injury-bug struck. He was put on IR in 2011 and 2012. A fractured shoulder before the 2013 season ended his time in KC. He signed with the Bills in December that year but further injury trouble led to his release before the 2014 season began.

He’s best known for the catch in the video above, but that’s not necessarily the kind of spark Seattle needs. Russell Wilson has to have someone who can create a mismatch in the red zone. He needs to know he’s got a linebacker matched up against a big target. He needs that second or third read over the middle. Essentially they need someone who can do what Mychal Rivera did on Sunday.

The fact Rivera had two touchdowns and looked a threat against the Seahawks shows you don’t need Jimmy Graham or the Gronk to be effective. In certain games you can exploit the tight end. He then needs to make the play. Seattle needs someone like Moeaki to just make a play when the situation arises.

In all Carroll’s time here, they’ve never really found their version of the modern tight end. Anthony McCoy was flirting with a break-out during the 2012 season but injury has potentially ruined his career just as he was getting started. Zach Miller for all his production in Oakland has never been able to recreate that form in the passing game — mainly due to the scheme and his skill as a blocker.

They’ve given Willson more than enough of a chance to nail the role but he’s just too inconsistent. They’ve had a chance to draft other tight ends who’ve prospered at the next level. For some reason it’s an area they’ve never really been able to get right — despite a clear desire to find that elusive chess piece.

In 2010 they took Walter Thurmond two picks before injury-plagued (but talented) Dennis Pitta — who ran a 4.63 at his combine. In 2011 Jordan Cameron dissected the two fourth round picks they spent on K.J. Wright and Kris Durham. Julius Thomas also went in the fourth round that year. Ladarius Green — a hot prospect for San Diego — was drafted a few picks after Robert Turbin in 2012. The pick used on Percy Harvin could’ve brought in Zach Ertz — while Travis Kelce left the board one pick after Seattle drafted Christine Michael in 2013. This year the Seahawks traded out of range for Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The third rounder spent in the Harvin trade could’ve allowed the team to take a punt on Green Bay’s Richard Rodgers.

Now it’s easy to sit here and point at players and say, “look what you could’ve won”. The Thurmond and Wright picks paid off. Nobody can say taking Turbin has been poor use of a fourth rounder. The Harvin trade was clearly a major own goal but they took a swing and missed. We don’t know if they ever had any interest in ASJ, Kelce or any of the others anyway.

However — you do wonder if this is an area they’ll be aggressive with next year. It’s not a good draft at all for TE’s, but maybe they’ll identify that big rangy difference maker and make sure they don’t miss out? They could look at free agency — although the cost of keeping Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron in Denver and Cleveland respectively should secure both players for at least another year.

For now Moeaki gets his shot to prove he’s past the injuries and can still make a play at a career in the NFL.


  1. Joblot

    The Seahawks’ approach to their receiving corps has been mystifying, at best. At USC Carroll was probably one of the best known college coaches for recruiting very big receivers. But at the Seahawks, he hasn’t showed the same urgency, especially in the last couple of years.

    I haven’t quite understood it, as one the strategies with Russell Wilson does appear to target his receivers high, where interceptions are less likely to happen.

    If he’s 6-3, even Moeaki is not that big. Norwood is listed at 6-2. The other big, difference-making tight ends in the league start at 6-5 and go up to 6-8. I’m not sure that 6-3 will really get it done anyway. We need bigger.

    • CC

      I agree with you – but if this guy has a wing span and can catch, I’ll take if for now!

  2. Matt

    Hey Rob,

    What do you think the odds are Seattle picks up one of the two marquee FA TE’s (Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron) in this year’s free agent class? Thomas seems doubtful given Denver’s desire to have as many weapons around Peyton Manning as possible. Cameron seems a little more plausible given his history with Pete Carroll at USC. It will be interesting to see how Cleveland finishes out the season. They have to keep him on that team as the only reliable receiving threat, but if Cleveland finishes poorly, perhaps he’ll look to sign with a contender. This year’s TE draft class looks to be pretty weak as well (Devin Funchess maybe). With Russell Wilson’s incoming pay day, we have to give him the red zone target he needs for this contract to be worth it.

    • Arias

      He won’t be the only reliable receiving threat when Josh Gordon starts playing again two weeks from now. At that point Gordon will be Hoyer’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd reads in the passing game.

  3. Benjamin Ramm

    Moeaki’s draft profiles cite three years of constant injuries in college as a concern coming into the pros. Let’s hope to get a few good games out of him before Miller returns.

  4. Ealafa

    If Dorial Green-Beckham jump to the NFL. would the Seahawks pull the trigger?
    6-foot-6, 225-pound. Fox has him @ 24 overall in 2015 Draft.

  5. JeffC

    I’d be surprised it they don’t give this guy a solid shot. They can’t be happy with how Willson and Helfert have performed.

    I expect them to heavily address the position in the offseason and chase Cameron.

  6. Vin

    I couldn’t agree with this more. Sometimes I believe the hawks don’t even know what they want. But they sure like the smaller receivers. While I hope Richardson pans out, I’ll never understand why they drafted him unless they knew then that Harvin was on the chopping block. Maybe we need a new WR coach. They have coaches that can develop OL, LB and DB, but not WR.

    • Arias

      Seeing how Baldwin called the PRich pick a few days before the draft when asked for his prediction on one of the sports talk radio shows, I think that’s a strong indication that there is a coherent philosophy behind the offensive passing game that Baldwin understands and is tapped into. I don’t think Carroll or anyone else tipped him off to the names on their draft board.

  7. CC

    The Seahawks have been successful drafting LBs and CB/safeties, but have struggled on the offensive side of the ball. I’d say except for RW.

    Last year looking at draft prospects there were several TEs who might have been worth a pick. There were tall WRs – Bryant was a guy I liked a lot, but they went for speed. Had Sid retired by the draft? I don’t think so – maybe they were figuring they’d have him back and didn’t need to draft a taller receiver. I get it – but the red zone has been tough for us for several years – I’m hoping Moeaki can help out.

    • John_S

      I think the Seahawks anticipated that their trend of playing bigger, more physical corners would catch on around the league and the league would move towards that way. You can see evidence of that by how high Stanley Jean Baptiste was drafted and how Keith McGill was closely followed leading up to the draft.

      What type of receiver has usually given the Seahawks fits? The smaller, quicker receivers. The guys who make the DB’s turn their hips and make the DB’s change their direction.

      I think the Seahawks tried to stay ahead of the curve by going with smaller receivers to combat the bigger DB’s.

      • Arias

        If that’s what the Seahawks were doing to stay ‘ahead of the curve’ then it’s clear they out thought themselves and are eating crow at the moment judging by how they tried to trade for Fleener, Cameron, and Julius Thomas. They

  8. Jeff M.

    Moeaki always seemed like he had decent upside if he could stay healthy (a lot like McCoy in that regard). In 2010 he caught 65% of targets for 7.7 YPA and was 16th in both DYAR and DVOA for TEs. 2012 it was 59% of targets for 8.1 YPA (so used on slightly longer/field-stretching routes) and again 16th in DVOA (23rd in DYAR due to low target volume).

    Those don’t compare particularly well to 2013 Luke Willson (71% catch rate, 9.7 YPA in small sample, 11th in DVOA) but they sure look better than his 2014 (40% catch rate, 4.0 YPA, 39th in DVOA).

    One question is whether Moeaki can take over that in-line Y TE role that Miller plays (that’s where a healthy McCoy backing Miller up would have been a real game changer since we know he can handle the blocking there…) and whether Willson can return to his former effectiveness in his better-suited “flex” TE position.

  9. Ely

    This miss is starting to really sting already. I wish you had more input with the front office Rob!

    • Cysco

      ugh. Dude should have been a Hawk

  10. Arias

    To be fair, the Seahawks D was exploited by Rivera because DeShawn Shead, covering for the injured Kam, was responsible for covering him and gave up both touchdowns. I really don’t think that happens with a healthy Kam in there.

  11. KyleT

    I’m glad to see us coming around to this conclusion of need vs being obsessed with the #1 receiver type. Give me Boldin, Thomas, Cameron, etc and this offense gets into the top 5 instantly.

  12. CC

    I thought McCoy had a chance to shine this year until he was injured. For these last 2 years, I think he could have been a piece in the red zone passing game, but being hurt it never materialized. So while I wish we were getting more from Luke, the injury to Zach and AM put us in a tough TE spot. It is possible we’d be feeling different about our tall/big receiver if Sidney was still here and AM was an option. As I think about it now, those 2 guys may be missed almost as much as Tate on offense.

  13. AlaskaHawk

    We really don’t use tight ends that often in our passing attack. I thought it might be because of our play designs, or maybe that RW can’t see over the line to find a tight end slanting into the middle. The only reason we use them now is the other receivers are covered. I am in favor of heavier blocking tight ends that can also catch the ball. Bailey said he could play tight end. A few years ago we tried and passed on a Fells, a 285 pound tight end that looked okay to me. He also played basketball in college so he had good leaping ability.

    This team really needs to find it’s identity. I keep hearing that we are a rushing team. I just don’t see that happening for much longer. The only reason that we still have a rushing attack is because of Marshawn Lynch. Popular talk was that he would be cut at the end of this year. Well there aren’t any replacements for him. So I don’t think that will be happening either. In fact, if you really believe this is a rush first team, it would make more sense to cut Russell Wilson and save the 20 million/year for better blockers and defensive players.

    Once you pay RW the 20 million (and cut Marshawn) then we are a PASSING TEAM. Because that is where we put our money in offense. Not in the line, well we did pay Okung but he is injured for half the season. And we screwed up the receivers by overpaying for Harvin, not paying to keep Tate, and we will undoubtedly look for a discount on Baldwin and try to keep him for less then 4 million a year despite the fact that he is our leading receiver. It just sucks because we are obviously transitioning into a passing offense, but they haven’t managed the transition very well. I’m hoping Rich and Norwood excel.

    • David Ess

      I can see the hawks going for a RB in the early rounds (I.e Gordon, Gurley, M. Davis or even Duke Johnson)
      I could see them going TE late in the draft seeing as the class isn’t that strong in this group.
      I find it hard it to believe that they go WR seeing as they got 2 this last draft but if they did go after one id hope for Jaelen Strong, Devante Parker or even Dorial Green-Beckham. all big RZ targets.

    • Rob Staton

      Even if you want to run the ball, you don’t cut a franchise QB. Why would you do that?

      This will always be a run first team. They never ran Lynch 40 times a game. It will be the identity, whether it’s the running back rushing or Wilson or whoever. I don’t see any transition. Run first doesn’t mean run every play. And in some cases Wilson will be the prominent attacking option.

      • AlaskaHawk

        I think my point is that if they cut Marshawn Lynch at the end of this season – the team will no longer be a running team. Just like you wouldn’t cut your franchise QB- you also shouldn’t cut your franchise running back. Unless you are going to be more pass oriented.

        • Rob Staton

          What if they draft Gurley in round one? What if they sign Adrian Peterson? I think it’s OTT to say no Marshawn means no running team. It’s pretty clear they aren’t moving on from Marshawn because he lacks talent or they want to make a cost saving. They’ve had enough of him. They’re moving on from the individual for, I think it’s fair to say, the greater good of the team chemistry. Much in the way they decided no more with Percy.

          But there won’t be any major shift in offensive philosophy. They won’t become more pass orientated. Carroll has been run first throughout his entire career — and people think he’ll change now? Of course not.

  14. CT Seahawk Fan

    No doubt we need a great TE but maybe we’re looking in the wrong place. There are a ton of big, athletic, gifted power forwards who played hoops in college but not football – think Antonio Gates for starters. Sure they’re a gamble and a bit of a project but you can’t teach height and athleticism. I’m not sure what the rules are about attaining players who are not registered for the draft but I’d have recruiters looking at cross over talent from other sports. Why leave the stone unturned? Speaking of which, what happened with that Australian rugby player who tried out?

  15. Jim Q

    Here’s a draft candidate that could maybe fit in, even though he’s from a small college, his numbers as a very athletic DE are pretty darn good and his 2-nd position is listed as TE/OLB. He has had some success with his red zone TD catching ability. He may easily be worth a later round flier as far as I can tell, obviously more research is required to be sure. He’s one I’m keeping an eye on.

    DE-Lynden Trail, Norfolk St., 6-062, 260, 4.67/40(avg) 4.57(low) – (This would seem to be fairly decent speed/size ratio for DE/OLB or maybe even TE….?…..?…..?.)

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