The deal for Carlos Dunlap brought relief. At least the Seahawks weren’t going to try and press on with what they had.
One 31-year-old defensive end is unlikely to elevate a horrendous defense into a passable unit — but at least it’s something.
Yet suddenly, there was a flicker of hope for more.
Jason La Canfora initially linked the Seahawks to a pair of moves — touting Washington’s Ryan Anderson as a possible target to go with Dunlap.
Then Adam Caplan tweeted something similar:
Wouldn't be a surprise if they reeled in another DE… https://t.co/HFbQMTgePj
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) October 28, 2020
La Canfora has broken stories about the Seahawks in the past and seems to have a source in the front office. Caplan posted a series of tweets yesterday that seemed to infer he’d spoken to someone within the organisation.
Whether it’s Anderson or anyone else — the message being sent out seems to be that they aren’t finished yet.
Let’s be realistic about what is actually possible though.
The Seahawks have barely any cap space remaining. Another trade would probably need to be for someone on an expiring rookie contract. That is why Anderson makes sense. His cap hit is only $1.6m this year and Washington would incur a $500,000 dead hit. The cost to the Seahawks would be minimal for a half season rental.
It’s the same situation with Takk McKinley in Atlanta. He has a $3.2m salary with Atlanta responsible for a $1.3m charge.
In both cases you could make this work financially.
Washington is probably just looking to get anything for Anderson. He’s not going to be re-signed in the off-season and he’s well behind Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan. If they get a flier pick for him it’s better than nothing.
Atlanta might be a more stubborn trade partner even if the price is still fairly cheap for McKinley. They don’t have a GM and seem to be stuck in no man’s land at the moment — waiting for a new front office to determine how severe their rebuild needs to be.
These are the types of trades that make sense from a financial point of view. It wouldn’t take much to free up room to make either happen.
There’s also a reason why both players might be available. Anderson’s career has been unspectacular so far. He was highly active and physical for Alabama but tested poorly at the combine and lacks speed and length. McKinley has the profile Seattle craves but has also had an underwhelming four years in the NFL.
Seattle’s defense is not going to massively improve with the inclusion of either.
This is part of the current dilemma. When you get to the week before the trade deadline — there are always deals to be made but very rarely do they work out to the extent of Duane Brown’s move in 2017. Usually it’s a salary dump, an admittance of a lost season or a chance to get rid of a disgruntled player.
Adding to the D-line now from Seattle’s perspective is more an acknowledgement of needing to try anything to improve. They run the serious risk of wasting another season of Russell Wilson’s prime if they can’t make a turn on defense. They’ve tried blitzing. They’ve tried being more conservative. The next thing to do is add new players.
Fans also need to be realistic.
Many have suggested trading for Stephon Gilmore but it’s highly unlikely. The Patriots would expect to be compensated richly and the Seahawks don’t have the picks. It’d also be a challenge to fit his salary into the current structure for this season or next.
Another name that often gets thrown around is J.J. Watt.
The Texans probably should consider making a move. They have no picks in the first two rounds next year and they’re clearly facing a big rebuild.
If they were able to get a second round pick or higher, that would be attractive for a team that needs to be able to entice a top GM and Head Coach combo to Houston. That’s hard to do when all you can offer is day three picks and the need to cut costs.
I suspect all the talk of trading players in Houston is with the idea of recouping stock. Take Will Fuller. It’s unlikely he’s being dangled for a late round selection. They’ll want a good pick for him. They might expect a second or third rounder — about what they spent on Brandin Cooks. It could be the same for Whitney Mercilus who was only given a contract extension in December.
The Texans are projected to be about $16m over the cap next year but they can deal Watt and Cooks in the off-season, when the new front office has full control, and they would save an immediate $29.5m. Cutting David Johnson saves another $7m. Cutting Duke Johnson and Brandon Dunn would save about $8.5m.
They have a means to raise money fairly easily unlike the Saints, Eagles or Falcons. There’s no real pressure for them to trade now.
I can only see one plausible scenario where Watt could end up in Seattle.
Houston would essentially ‘buy’ a draft pick. They would have to eat his salary for this year, knowing it would clear $17.5m off the books for 2021. For that they would get back into round two next year.
As a plan it’s not too unrealistic. After all, the Texans are famously the team that sold a second round pick just to dump Brock Osweiler’s salary on the Browns.
For Seattle it would mean giving up their only remaining pick in the first two days of next years draft to add a legit impact player on a short-term basis.
Anything else doesn’t seem to cut the mustard. Swapping a second rounder for Houston’s third rounder could only be a difference of about 5-10 picks so it’s hard to imagine a package that works with that at the forefront.
The Seahawks don’t really have players they can sacrifice that would appeal to Houston. Also — why would you want to acquire anyone now before you know whether the new coach or GM wants them?
If you could guarantee 4-5 years of J.J. Watt for your 2021 second rounder, it would be worth doing. The problem is he’s missed 39 games since 2016. He’s a warrior but you just can’t bank on his availability.
It might be a risk you’d be willing to take if you had your other 2021 picks. I doubt the Seahawks want to write-off the 2021 draft for this type of gamble.
There’s always a chance of a surprise, of course. Calais Campbell was moved for a fifth rounder to Baltimore despite his play being so much more valuable. Would the Texans be willing to move Watt to a contender as a thank you for years of service? Maybe. Although in that scenario, would Watt necessarily choose the Seahawks over an army of suitors including, presumably, the 49ers, Rams, Packers, Saints and Steelers?
And would Houston be so inclined to absorb a lot of his salary for a lesser pick? If not, how do the Seahawks afford this deal?
A fired-up and healthy J.J. Watt is exactly what this team is missing. He’s a game-wrecker. Chris Collinsworth pointed it out on Sunday. He said, correctly, that the Seahawks lack a premier defensive end and haven’t replaced Jadeveon Clowney.
Watt, playing across from Carlos Dunlap, could elevate Seattle’s defense to the kind of level they need to be a serious contender. It’d be probably the oldest D-line pairing in the league but it’d certainly be a major upgrade over a toothless Benson Mayowa and L.J. Collier double-act.
I’m not convinced the Seahawks will make this kind of move. Not unless they felt confident in recouping high draft picks in the off-season but there isn’t anyone (short of the quarterback, D.K. Metcalf or Jamal Adams) with the requisite value. You wouldn’t get much for Bobby Wagner at the moment.
Breer also says the Seahawks were open to moving Jacob Hollister last week to create cap space for a pass rusher but apparently they’ve moved off that thought since dealing B.J. Finney. However, interest is said to be strong in Hollister and the Seahawks could get an offer worth considering.
The Seahawks may well make another move and who knows who might become available? This is an unusual time in the NFL and there are more rumours than normal at this time of year. Quandre Diggs was a surprise 12 months ago. There might be another shocker to come this season.
Yet it seems much more likely that an inexpensive trade for a player in the final year of a rookie contract will be their final move. And the bulk of the responsibility of fixing a terrible pass rush will fall on the shoulders of Carlos Dunlap.
Good luck, Carlos.
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