The Seahawks lost a former first-round pick and a consistent, high-snap starter in Bruce Irvin in free agency, but the team has a succession plan in place. How do they replace a guy that played over 700 snaps for Seattle in 2015, over 70-percent of the team's defensive snaps? It involves a mixture of Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh, and Frank Clark, to start with.
"Frank Clark is going to really help us," Pete Carroll said from the owners' meetings in Boca Raton, Florida. "We think Frank is going to be a premier rusher. He showed that last year. And so losing Bruce as an outside guy on the right side really opens up the opportunity for Frank to step up and do some good things for us."
This jibes with a recent tweet by Clark that showed he was down to the 257-pound range, a big loss from around 280 where he was playing last year. As a rookie, Clark saw most success as an inside rusher on nickel downs. In 2016, he's going to get a shot at becoming a top-tier end.
"When we drafted Frank, you have to prepare for the possibilities of not having some players," added John Schneider. " To a certain extent you have to be looking towards the future. The right end especially, he does a nice job rushing there, and he does a nice job inside too."
So, optimism for Clark remains high. He was a dominant force in the preseason last year but wasn't as highly-utilized in the regular season as many would've thought he'd be. The rookie learning curve was in effect and after a year in a rotational reserve role, Clark might find himself getting a ton of snaps in year two.
Schneider alluded to it yesterday as well, but Carroll expounded on their plan to replace Irvin at the SAM linebacker spot as well. Obviously, Irvin played both SAM and right end in Seattle's scheme, but going forward the team will likely use two different players for each respective role.
"There may not be one guy that we have to load up with the SAM backer spot and also play [defensive end]," Carroll said. "Mike Morgan did really well for us when he played last year at the SAM spot, but he's not going to be the third-down rusher. So it's going to be a combination of guys playing. It will be a spot to watch though, the competition there. We'll see what happens in the draft coming up.
"[Cassius Marsh] also can double as a third-down rush guy too," said Carroll. He's a little bit more in the format. Mike has rushed for us also, but I think he's best suited to play the linebacker spot. So we'll see how we put that together."
Seattle also has tinkered with uber athlete Eric Pinkins at outside linebacker, and third year pro Kevin Pierre-Louis will probably get a shot at it as well. The Seahawks have also been linked to free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby, and there's a lot of secondary free agency left for the team to add another player or two to that spot.