I know I said I was going to take a break but I also wanted to write two roster review articles (one for defense and one for offense) so here we go, starting with the defense.

Defensive linemen

Byron Murphy, Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Johnathan Hankins, Cameron Young, Mike Morris, Matthew Gotel, Myles Adams

What a turnaround from 12 months ago. Seattle’s defensive tackle depth was non-existent going into the 2023 season, amid fears Jarran Reed would be asked to take on a massive workload and that the line wouldn’t function if he got hurt. A year on, this unit is absolutely loaded.

There’s a legit opportunity here, paired with the edge rush talent, to create the identity of the Mike Macdonald Seahawks. They have highly disruptive players in Murphy and Williams, a quality all-rounder in Reed, a classic space-eating nose tackle in Hankins, a big-ticket free agent who retains potential in Jones and young depth behind their starters.

The more players you have that can win 1v1 battles inside, the better chance you have to play great defense. The Seahawks now have two legit players who can win 1v1 and Reed is no slouch, he can chip in too. Especially if he gets to rotate more and manage his snaps. Then there’s Jones, who can also win pass rushing battles as an inside/out type.

This is a formidable looking group with real potential to control games and impact opponents. There’s also great positional versatility.

The big question is whether they keep the group together until the first game in September. The Seahawks currently only have $1.6m in cap space and they’re $1.3m in the red for effective cap space. They can pull other levers to create cap room but the biggest move they can make is to trade Dre’Mont Jones after June 1st. That would save $11.5m.

I doubt you’d get much in return — it might be a player swap or some token gesture draft compensation. You’d definitely be operating in a buyers market. Yet they have to save money somehow and this is the most logical way to do it. The depth they’ve created makes it feasible, if not probable. It might come down to whether Macdonald sees a great fit in the system or not. He didn’t typically use players like Jones in Baltimore.

Whether he stays or not, Seattle’s defensive front looks strong at a time San Francisco (Arik Armstead) and the LA Rams (Aaron Donald) have lost key players on their D-line. This is a big positive.

EDGE rushers

Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, Derick Hall, Darrell Taylor, Levi Bell, Joshua Onujiogu, Nelson Ceaser

While lacking that one genuine game-changing edge rusher, this looks like a good group. Mike Macdonald’s system really elevated the play of multiple pass rushers in Baltimore and there will be hope the same can happen here.

Importantly, the Ravens didn’t have a special rusher (Bosa, Garrett, Crosby etc) either. It was a slimmed-down Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy and Odafe Oweh who excelled. This could be a career-changing year for Seattle’s three younger rushers. Can Mafe, who had a very decent 2023 season, become more consistently impactful? Will we see why the team gave Hall a first round grade? Can Taylor finally become the player he’s always threatened to be, without letting himself down versus the run?

The return of Nwosu will be critical too. He’s a steadying, consistent force who just gets the job done. Almost the antithesis of what Taylor has been.

It’s quite a salivating thought to imagine this edge rush group mixing with the loaded D-line to cause problems. The Seahawks, for the first time in a long time, might have a formidable pass rush. Macdonald is creative, imaginative and loves to deceive opponents. There’s so much potential to do that with the front seven personnel he possesses. This is the one unit, combined with Macdonald’s coaching (along with his staff) that gives you reason to believe we could see rapid, dynamic improvement in performance.

There are also young players in the likes of Bell, Onujiogu and Ceaser who can push Taylor — who will need to fight for his roster spot. As mentioned earlier, they need cap space. They can cut Taylor at any point and save $3.1m — there’s only $20,000 guaranteed on his contract. It’s a fantastic situation they’ve created — giving Taylor the incentive to stay and fight (he wouldn’t get $3.1m anywhere else) while keeping their options open if he doesn’t deliver. They can move on with ease.

I wonder if the Seahawks will look for opportunities to add one more ‘EDGE’ to the competition for training camp, possibly as direct competition for Taylor? Carl Lawson remains a free agent, as does Emmanuel Ogbah, Tyus Bowser and Jerry Hughes. The Ravens struck gold adding Van Noy as a late, cheap signing a year ago — maybe the Seahawks will try to emulate that?


Jerome Baker, Tyrel Dodson, Tyrice Knight, Jon Rhattigan, Drake Thomas, Easton Gibbs, Patrick O’Connell

I’m not as concerned about this group as some others. For a long time I’ve wanted the Seahawks to just go young and fast at this position, preferably cheap, while pumping resource into the trenches. They’ve most certainly done that this year.

Baker is a really good addition. He’s extremely solid, has offered some playmaking quality in the past and he’s still only 27-years-old. Dodson is a calculated gamble. He led PFF’s linebacker rankings in 2023 after being thrust into Buffalo’s starting line-up. We’ll soon find out whether this was the emergence of a developing talent or a bit of a flukey run.

Dodson only turns 26 in June, so both players have the potential to re-sign in Seattle if things work out and be ‘the guys’. I’d rather they go down this route, spending $10.9m of cap space on the pair in 2024, then spend bigger money on others (eg Patrick Queen).

The position overall is in a bit of a state of flux across the league. The Roquan Smith types are rare. Most teams are investing in traits, rolling with it and they aren’t investing big money or resource. I think Seattle’s plan at this position — adding two reasonable prove-it type players with a draft pick behind them — is the correct thing to do.

Ideally they would’ve added another body to the mix. I think day three had some attractive options — including Jordan Magee, JD Bertrand, Edefuan Ulofoshio, Nathaniel Watson, Michael Barrett and Tathum Bethune. Magee in particular might not have sparkled on tape but his testing profile matches the linebackers who’ve come into the league, in the mid-round range, and succeeded.

Nevertheless, I don’t think this will necessarily be a position of great strength for the Seahawks but neither do I think it’ll warrant too much stress when the season comes around. They’ll need their two key starters to stay healthy — but with the talent up front, they’ll have ample opportunity to fly around and make plays.


Devon Witherspoon, Tariq Woolen, Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, Artie Burns, Nehemiah Pritchett, DJ James, Andrew Whitaker

There are a lot of names here and I think that is quite telling. I think Tariq Woolen (please go back to Tariq) will be on a short leash. I think they were massively disappointed by his 2023 season, where he undid so much good work from 2022. Then there was the embarrassing groin-grab at the end of the Arizona game. I suspect if he doesn’t come into camp on it and ready to go, he might not be for long on this roster. This is a big few weeks for him.

Part of the reason for thinking that way is the sheer depth behind him. Mike Jackson is back, although his spot may be in jeopardy now because they can save $3.1m by cutting him. Artie Burns has stuck around in Seattle and done a good job whenever he’s been called upon. Tre Brown and Coby Bryant both face big summer’s and there’s the two Auburn rookies coming to join the competition.

A big factor in decision making is going to be how they view the roles of certain players. For example, do they put Witherspoon as a permanent nickel and ask him to be a variation of Kyle Hamilton? Or do they want to retain the flexibility to move him around? James is an ideal backup nickel if they want to go down this route — and his selection in round six is the one pick on day three where I thought they got value.

What is Bryant’s role? Safety? Corner? Nickel? If Witherspoon plays mostly inside, that creates a big opportunity for the rest of the cornerbacks to fight for starting reps on the outside.

This could be another position where the Seahawks just check in for veteran competition if they are unimpressed with some of the players on the current list. The Ravens were never shy in adding an experienced veteran. Stephon Gilmore is a free agent who enjoyed a decent season last year. Xavien Howard feels like an unlikely big name splash but he’s still out there. They have options if they want to add a name down the line. I suspect they’ll stick with what they’ve got, especially after using the two draft picks at corner.


Rayshawn Jenkins, Julian Love, K’Von Wallace, Ty Okada, Jerrick Reed, Jonathan Sutherland

It was surprising that the Seahawks didn’t draft a safety, especially given the draft offered some genuine value on day three. The current group looks thin. I really like the addition of Jenkins and appreciate the cheaper way they’ve approached things this year. I doubt Jenkins and Love will set the league on fire but neither will they be a liability.

Wallace as a potential nickel or third safety feels like a very solid move — I’ve always noticed him when he’s played for other teams. There is a distinct lack of depth though. Reed continues to rehab from injury while little is known outside the facility about Okada and Sutherland.

I do wonder whether the Seahawks deliberately avoided the position in the draft with the aim of trying to manipulate the veteran market in the coming weeks? It has tanked, frankly. There’s a long list of big name safeties without a team at the moment. We’re now getting to a situation where these players need to assess what they want to do post-draft. They’re unlikely to get better offers than they will from this point, so a decision to sign or not will likely depend on their level of interest in going through training camp.

I don’t think the Seahawks need to rush out and sign Justin Simmons, or that they need a ‘big name’ starter. However, it seems obvious at the moment that they need more. They need another signing.

Other free agents available include Eddie Jackson, Marcus Maye, Micah Hyde, Keanu Neal, Ryan Neal and Tracy Walker. Plus, of course, Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams.

I’d prefer the Seahawks not look back to the past, as they so often did in the Carroll era. I’m probably more intrigued by Simmons than I should be — given the likely contract he’ll command (even at this stage) and the fact they are already strapped for cash. There’s no doubt in my mind, though, that he’s by far the best player out there and the one who can offer the most impact. I think he can easily enjoy a late career flourish ala Tyrann Mathieu. In fact I’d go as far to say that if you can get him without any major guarantees, he could be the final piece to a defense that suddenly looks quite formidable.

Can they afford it? Probably not. Will he be in demand? Almost certainly. If the Seahawks are serious about doing something this year, though, as they claim to be — he’d be the most impactful addition they could make.

Tomorrow — I’ll look at the offense.