Although this is the quietest part of the NFL off-season, the Seahawks are approaching a particularly interesting part of their year.
It’s clear they wanted to get a look at their quarterbacks during minicamp and OTA’s, then reassess. So what did they learn? Are they content or planning an addition?
It stands to reason that if they’re going to add, the new QB would be in place for the start of training camp. It would be particularly challenging to introduce a new quarterback into the competition once camp begins.
Now that they have some info on the Geno Smith vs Drew Lock vs Jacob Eason ‘battle’ — they can review how aggressive they want to be.
Pete Carroll suggested at the owners meeting they would like to add another quarterback to the mix. It’s possible he was indulging in a bit of kidology there with the draft still to come. Yet in all likelihood I think he was being honest. Even if the Seahawks are playing a long game at the position with an eye on the 2023 draft, you can well imagine Carroll wanting a bigger competition.
That’s not to say it’s with a view, necessarily, of imagining the Seahawks becoming strong contenders this year. I sense a realism from the front office.
For example, for all the talk of Carroll’s age and implied desperation to compete as soon as possible — do we really think the Seahawks would be sat here in mid-June having done nothing at quarterback other than acquire Lock in the Russell Wilson trade?
Wouldn’t they have been more aggressive to go after Matt Ryan, for example? They had the draft stock to usurp Indianapolis after all. Or would they have added some other veteran via trade or free agency?
They even snubbed the entire 2022 QB draft class when other teams (Atlanta, Carolina) couldn’t help themselves and felt they had to take someone. The Seahawks have been incredibly patient throughout this process, suggesting a more long term approach.
I also think it’s not quite as black or white as trying to contend or tanking. There’s a middle ground that I think the Seahawks are situated currently.
As noted in another article I wrote recently — it’s possible to be highly competitive internally and foster the kind of culture you desire without having the optimal quarterback situation. You only have to look at 2011 for that. The Seahawks created an attitude and style that ultimately paved the way for what happened next. And they did it with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst competing to start at quarterback.
I think this is what the 2022 season will be about. Creating something that proves to be the platform for the next couple of years.
I don’t think Carroll feels pressure to find an answer to win right away. A smart franchise, having dealt Wilson, would embrace more of a longer build over a couple of off-seasons. I think this is where they are.
The key for this team is to find a great, young quarterback. Not an average, expensive place-holder. Having spent a lot of time already studying the 2023 quarterback class, there are players in there with the potential to be a long term quality starter for this team.
Yet there is still part of me that wonders if they are, wisely or not, planning to make a further move in the coming weeks.
The Shelby Harris contract restructure felt unnecessary given the Seahawks already have ample cap space to play with. When you look across the remaining available free agents, there’s equally nobody who really stands out as a viable target for Seattle.
Sure, they could perhaps look at another receiver such as a Will Fuller. Kwon Alexander could add a bit more competition at linebacker. Yet there’s a feeling of relative completeness to the roster given the status of the team in a rebuilding year.
The Seahawks have around $17m to spend — more than enough to make some moves. So why make the Harris restructure unless it’s with a view to having flexibility over quarterbacks?
The team is making it known via the media that they won’t be trading for Baker Mayfield, for example, and it’s unlikely they’d be able to strike a deal with division rival San Francisco for Jimmy Garoppolo.
There is part of me, however, that wonders if they’ve created cap room ‘just in case’. The Panthers are said to still be in talks with Cleveland over Mayfield. The Browns are supposedly prepared to pay half of Mayfield’s $18m salary while the Panthers are still trying to barter that number down (especially given they’re already paying Sam Darnold $18m).
Are the Seahawks saying and doing all of the right things publicly but essentially hiding in the tall grass, waiting to pounce when the value reaches a level they are comfortable with?
Or could Darnold provide an option if Carolina trades for Mayfield? I appreciate it would be unattractive and highly underwhelming to many fans. Yet it shouldn’t be ignored what was being reported just over a year ago.
Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quoted a NFL GM linking Darnold to the Seahawks. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News cited a source, claiming Pete Carroll ‘has a high opinion of Darnold’ and that people should ‘keep an eye on Seattle’.
Days earlier, Colin Cowherd also made the connection.
I suspect, had the Seahawks dealt Wilson to Chicago a year ago, Darnold probably would’ve been Seattle’s target replacement.
Their view might’ve changed given Darnold’s extremely disappointing year in Carolina. Yet if they acquire Mayfield having already drafted Matt Corral — you would imagine Darnold might be surplus to requirements and could be available for an extremely low price (he is in the same boat as Mayfield contractually so the Panthers could agree to pay a high portion of his salary to get something/anything in return).
With Garoppolo, it’s more a case of biding time. There’s no way the 49ers are going to guarantee his $25m salary by having him on the roster in week one. It makes no sense for Garoppolo to be at camp given his pending exit.
He’s better off holding out, asking for his release and telling San Francisco he will not lower his cap hit.
It’s possible the Niners would hold on to him until the end of camp in that scenario to prevent him having an ideal settling in period with another NFC team — but that would be a fairly brutal and ruthless approach.
Complicating matters will be his recovery from a serious shoulder surgery. Yet if he is released you can imagine there will be suitors — from Carolina to Houston and potentially Cleveland depending on Deshaun Watson’s status and possibly the Falcons and Eagles.
Cap space, in that situation, could be crucial.
The Seahawks might appreciate Garoppolo’s ability to convert third downs and play within structure, as he did in San Francisco. His number of ‘WTF?’ turnovers and lack of arm strength isn’t ideal but he is well suited to other aspects of the scheme.
As I’ve said a few times now, I see little benefit in adding either player.
Mayfield had everything going for him in Cleveland. Great running game, they acquired fantastic weapons at great expense at receiver and tight end, quality O-line, offensive minded Head Coaches. He has an 87.8 career passer rating and he’s thrown 56 interceptions. Drama has followed him. He has physical limitations.
Garoppolo is injured a lot and the 49ers just spent three first round picks trying to replace him. I don’t think either puts you in a position to win this year. They’re just big names.
I’d rather just have an extended look at Drew Lock for a year and think about happier times in the future.
Yet there are things working in Seattle’s favour if they truly do believe Mayfield and/or Garoppolo are worth adding. Firstly, they have the draft stock to trade up if needed next year for a young QB. Secondly, the hype train on players like Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud is OTT. If they prefer the likes of Will Levis and Tyler Van Dyke, those players might be in striking range even if you win between seven and nine games.
(Although I expect both to go very early if they continue to perform in 2022)
I still think short-term pain for potential long-term gain is the way to go. Mayfield and Garoppolo are not taking you where you need to get to — not in 2022. Not beyond.
That’s certainly the case with Darnold too.
Yet we’re reaching a point where a decision on all of these players needs to be made before training camp. With Seattle’s quarterback room as it is, these names are going to continue be connected to the Seahawks.
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