Heading into free agency, the Seattle Seahawks have a glaring hole at the line of scrimmage. A minimum of three positions should and could be upgraded along the offensive line, and one could argue that all five spots are open to competition. The idea of proper investment on Seattle’s offensive line will only lead to disappointment, so today we’re going to talk about the other side of the line of scrimmage - and an area where the Seahawks have consistently gotten good production out of low cost veterans; the interior defensive line.
The production and play that Seattle has gotten out of Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed and Tony McDaniel in 2016 was completely acceptable. They finished second in run defense by DVOA, even with Reed, McDaniel, Michael Bennett, and Frank Clark missing time with injuries. But there was still a lingering feeling that the team was missing a body on the inside - like they could’ve used long-time Seahawk Brandon Mebane for one more season. A lot of this had to due with how green Reed looked at times, and Rubin’s play in 2016 wasn’t as strong as it was in 2015 playing next to Mebane.
The up-and-down play of the defensive tackle group in 2016 won’t make the team change course at the position; Reed is the future on the inside, and the team has decent money invested in Rubin through 2018. With Reed and Rubin in place, Pete Carroll and John Schneider will go back to the veteran defensive tackle well, a place where they’ve found great success over the years.
McDaniel returned to Seattle for 2016 and was a plus-player, just like he was in the team’s Super Bowl seasons in 2013 and 2014. Before McDaniel, the team got contributions from players like Junior Siavii, Colin Cole, Alan Branch, Jason Jones and Kevin Williams at a good rate. They were above-average rotational players and helped maintain a dominant level of play from the Seahawks’ run defense - something Seattle will again look to add when free agency opens.
The Seahawks have already kicked the tires on Earl Mitchell before he signed with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this month. In the coming week or so, we will see them connected to many different players around that level of play. Guys like Terrell McClain, Bennie Logan, Paul Soliai, Tyson Alualu and Stephen Paea could be names thrown out as potential targets, and it would make perfect sense.
In a perfect world, former Arizona Cardinal Calais Campbell would recognize the need for a player of his type in Seattle, come for a bargain rate and try and get himself a Super Bowl ring. That sounds great, but it’s doubtful at best.
In the real world, the Seahawks will work the veteran market, find a decent, cheap defensive tackle to work into the rotation, and remain a dominant defense and a Super Bowl contender. And that sounds pretty great too.