“I thought something was brewing when they cut Hunt and Jackson. Now I’m waiting for them to re-sign both for $1m each.”
This is a reply I made in the comments section this week.
I was joking, sort of.
Yet earlier today, this tweet surfaced:
That was fast: The #Seahawks are re-signing DE Branden Jackson, source said. He actually was just released by Seattle more than a week ago, but will re-sign under a different deal on Wednesday when he clears protocol.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 3, 2020
Branden Jackson joined the Seahawks in 2017. He’s played three seasons in Seattle, featuring in 36 games.
He has 3.5 career sacks.
It was never obvious why the Seahawks tendered him for $2.1m in the first place. What exactly were they protecting? Now, some months later, they’ve cut him and re-signed him — probably saving about $1m in the process.
A week ago I wrote an article asking whether another move was on the cards following the Jackson and Hunt cuts. The answer, categorically, was no. Nothing happened. It won’t be a big surprise if Hunt follows suit and similarly re-joins for a discounted price.
At least with Hunt there’d be a reason for the move. Currently Seattle’s depth at center is B.J. Finney — a career backup signed this year after mixing between positions in Pittsburgh — and second round underachiever Ethan Pocic.
Hunt might have struggled at times as a starter but it’s a sad reality that he could easily end up winning a camp battle to start once more.
Jackson rejoining, though, is much more of a head-scratcher.
The lack of sacks are not the only problem. He had only seven pressures last season in 15 games. He had only four hurries. His PFF grade of 50.4 ranked 96th out of 109 defensive lineman in 2019. Only one other player had a worse pass rushing grade.
He simply hasn’t been able to impact games.
His run defense grade (59.6) wasn’t anything to write home about either.
Thankfully this new contract will probably have no guarantees and down the line the Seahawks could simply cut him again or replace him with another player. Yet it’s somewhat indicative of Seattle’s problem.
In an interview with John Clayton at the combine, Pete Carroll said improving the defensive line and pass rush was ‘definitely the focal point and it has to be‘.
How many people honestly thought, upon hearing those words and acknowledging the off-season priority, that we’d still be talking about Branden Jackson in August?
Every team needs depth but you also need to justify your retention. After three seasons there’s extreme clarity on whether he’s good enough.
I want to be fair to Jackson. His team mates speak very positively about him as a person. Clowney name-checked him during his ‘gym interview’ a few weeks ago. He seems to be well liked and a positive influence in the locker room. There’s something to be said for that — but you also need to produce results on the field. Jackson simply hasn’t delivered.
You could easily make the argument tendering him for $2.1m was a waste. If Hunt wasn’t retained either, that’s $4.2m you could’ve used on a player to actively improve your stated priority for the off-season.
There’s still time to rectify the issue. The season, if it starts on time, is well over a month away. Both Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen remain available. We know Clowney isn’t going to budge on his demands — so in the next couple of weeks it’s time to make a call once and for all. Either come to an argreement for multiple years that can include a low first-year cap hit or move on and sign Everson Griffen. Inject some proven quality onto the line — and then get a defensive tackle too.
It’s not ideal to be addressing the biggest issue of the year this close to the start of the season. Griffen and a cheap interior lineman aren’t likely to transform a D-line recently described by PFF as the worst in the league either.
They need to do something though — otherwise all of the big investments at linebacker and safety will simply end up being undermined.
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