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Trading the Irreplaceable for the Unsung

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On October 27, 2008, I wrote:

Whenever I mention that Seattle should sincerely consider whether to re-sign Leroy Hill, someone mentions cutting Julian Peterson. The idea is so preposterous I refuse to even respond. Peterson, just thirty and in phenomenal shape, is one of a handful of truly irreplaceable players on Seattle's roster. As a Seahawk, he's yet to miss a game. His contributions are incredibly steady, 10 sacks, 80 tackles, a handful of forced fumbles and a pick or two. Not to mention he's Seattle's second best defensive end. Peterson is the kind of talent that never, ever escapes the first round. He's the insane athlete made good. He gives Seattle scheme versatility and bottled pass rush. He ran around Joe Staley and forced a fumble with Dwight Freeney-like speed and precision.

Strictly from a talent standpoint, Seattle has gotten worse. They've given up a premier talent. Since 2006, Seattle had grown almost dependent on Peterson. He could morph into a Freeney-like rush end on third down and, in limited opportunities, record double digit sacks. He was capable against the run and still strong against the pass. Peterson was a beast, the undisputed MVP of Seattle's 2006 season, and one of the great signings of Tim Ruskell's career.

And yet, this deal could still work out.

Seattle has good young depth at linebacker. No one that is going to put their hand in the dirt and dismantle left tackles, but with John Marshall out and Casey Bradley in, it's possible that wasn't part of the plan to begin with. Clearly, Seattle wants pressure out of its front four. With Colin Cole presumably starting alongside Brandon Mebane, Seattle was setting itself up for failure. Mebane isn't beast enough and Cole not pass rusher enough to make that pairing work.

Consider then, the immediate impact of a Cory Redding and Brandon Mebane defensive tackle pairing.

Zero guards and centers entering the second level.

Hustle pass rush from snap to whistle.

A second string tackle pairing of Colin Cole and Red Bryant.

Seattle is stockpiling a specific type of defensive tackle. Players that are quick off the snap, hybrid single-gap/two-gap, that are stout against the run and hustle pass rushers. That type can be as good as Brandon Mebane or as bad as Howard Green. In totality, it should be very good against the run. Seattle almost must be a top ten rush defense to justify this move. For it to be good against the pass -- assuming Seattle is forthright about getting pressure from its front four -- it needs excellent coverage from its secondary. A hustle pass rush is all about time. Redding, Bryant, Mebane and Cole never give up, and convert a ton of cover sacks/hits. Not one knifes into the backfield and creates instantaneous pressure.

Redding has a good chance of a semi-breakout. He's nearing 29, so he has about three more seasons of peak ability. He's never played on a talented defense or a talented defensive line. Specifically, he's never played in front of anything but a terrible secondary. I'll have to watch more of him to know, but as stinging it is to see a truly irreplaceable talent go, Redding could be an unsung talent that makes Seattle's remaining linebackers, future linebackers, and surrounding defensive line, better and and better appreciated.

Scruffy's add - I love love love love this deal. This actually may improve our Defense from a scheme standpoint. No longer do we have to watch Hill fail to cover a crossing WR or TE. This allows the team to use a better coverage LB and use Hill more to his strength and that is brining the pain!