With the Seattle Seahawks coming off a bye week and not much going on other than continuing to not add a player to the offensive line, it’s a good time to look back on the team’s offseason decisions. I am not assuming perfect foresight, but rather, with the information the team had at hand, which decisions seem suspect now? For example, criticizing the Malik McDowell pick feels fruitless because his injury was unforeseeable, and signing Andrew Whitworth never made sense because the team was counting on George Fant as the left tackle of the future (which he backed up by his play in the preseason). Signing Whitworth or not drafting McDowell would only make sense with access to a time machine.
With the ground rules in place, here are my top 3 worst decisions.
3. Signing Eddie Lacy
Lacy signed a one-year deal in March worth up to $5.55 million. While he was efficient in the limited time he was on the field last year, running back production is so tied to offensive line play and running backs are so fungible that spending money on the position is a bit of a head-scratcher. Lacy also lacks the suddenness to get through the rare holes that Seattle’s offensive line can open up before they are closed.
2. Drafting Tedric Thompson
After signing Bradley McDougald in March and drafting Delano Hill one round prior to Thompson, Seattle spent an early 4th round pick on yet another safety. The Seahawks would later sign Kam Chancellor to an extension in August.
The pick doesn’t make sense on a number of levels. First, he is backing up All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who is 28 years old and almost certainly will hold the position throughout the duration of Thompson’s rookie contract. Even if Thompson was the best player available on the draft board, there is no reasonable process through which he could end up on the field, unless Thomas suffers another injury, and if that happens the Seahawks are probably doomed anyway (as we saw last year).
Why not throw a dart at a pass rusher (Carl Lawson was drafted 5 picks later), tight end (George Kittle was drafted in the next round), or offensive lineman? All of those positions would have reasonable paths to playing time.
1. Not matching San Francisco’s offer to Garry Gilliam
If I could make one (reasonable) change to Seattle’s offseason, this would be it (the perfect foresight move would be drafting Cam Robinson at 34 instead of trading down to take McDowell at 35, knowing ahead of time that Fant would be injured in preseason).
In April, the San Francisco 49ers offered Gilliam a $2.2 million contract with $1.4 million guaranteed. The decision to let a 26-year-old tackle the team had just spent 3 years developing was and continues to be baffling. First, the team performed very well when he was on the field last year:
With the combination of Fant, Glowinski, Britt, Ifedi, and Gilliam on the field, Seattle’s offense was 6th in DVOA in 2016. With any other combination, they were 29th. Part of this is who was playing when Wilson’s injury was most severe, but it is still a remarkable difference.
And second, even if the team didn’t view Gilliam as an NFL starter, having quality depth at the tackle position is still valuable. Gilliam hasn’t taken snaps as an NFL left tackle, but the likelihood that he is a better left tackle than Rees Odhiambo is very high. After letting Russell Okung leave after the 2015 season with no plan to replace him (no, Bradley Sowell doesn’t count), this makes two straight offseasons of very questionable decisions at the tackle position.