On his show on Tuesday morning, John Clayton mentioned something of interest regarding an already stacked Seattle Seahawks defense: they are shopping around the league for a defensive tackle.
Looking at the current defensive tackles on Seattle’s roster, this makes sense. Out of all the natural defensive tackles likely to make the roster, only Ahtyba Rubin possesses any real experience in the league. He’ll likely be joined by a group consisting of Jarran Reed, Nazair Jones and one of Tylor Harris, Quinton Jefferson and Garrison Smith — a group with a total of five starts between them.
The Seahawks found themselves short at the position just prior to training camp when second-round pick Malik McDowell suffered multiple injuries in an ATV accident. McDowell’s status as it pertains to the 2017 season is vague at best. His chances of making it on the field have never sounded promising whenever Pete Carroll has talked about him this month, and even if he does what can be expected of a rookie who missed all of training camp as well as regular season games well into the season? McDowell will likely be a non-factor this season, and Seattle is short on pass rushing, dynamic defensive tackles as a result.
For this reason, a trade for the New York Jets’ Sheldon Richardson would make a ton of sense for both sides. Earlier this offseason, in a wildly open interview with the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta, Richardson revealed the Seahawks had inquired about a trade for him, asking him to take a paycut. New York already has money invested in the defensive line - with a big deal still to be handed out to Leonard Williams - and their turbulent-at-best relationship with Richardson will likely see him walk in free agency next March if he isn’t dealt before then.
The Jets have already been in
seller tank mode for months, shipping out veterans Brandon Marshall, David Harris, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold and Breno Giacomini, and as recently as Tuesday have sent feelers out around the league to gauge trade interest in Matt Forte. Trading away one of their three best players before he leaves for nothing at the end of the season makes sense for a team that’s as far away from competing as one can be.
As much sense as it makes for New York to trade Richardson now, it makes just as much sense for Seattle to be the ones at the receiving end of the deal. With a contract that expires at the end of the season, it would be an easy out for Seattle if the match with Richardson didn’t work out - be it due to attitude, contract negotiation or performance issues - or if McDowell is expected to comeback at 100-percent in 2018.
At worst, Richardson can fill McDowell’s role for a season and then some; this is a player that over the past three seasons has lined up at defensive end, defensive tackle and even outside linebacker in the Jets’ 3-4 defense. He would immediately be the most dynamic, talented defensive tackle that Carroll’s defense has ever had with the Seahawks. At best, he’ll fit right in on a defensive line stacked with dynamic pass rushers and become a real part of the team’s future.
With the final roster still to be completed, players still to be sent to injured reserve and elsewhere, there’s plenty of time for John Schneider and Seattle’s front office to sort out the cap side of a potential trade. Per Over The Cap, the Seahawks have $8.4 million in cap space, though after accounting for injured reserve and other, that number likely falls a few million dollars shorter. Richardson’s salary for 2017 is a fully guaranteed $8.1 million. A move for him would take some maneuvering and push Seattle right up to the salary cap ceiling in 2017, but it’s the type of move a Super Bowl contending team should make.
At this juncture, league-wide interest in Richardson seems to have cooled after what seemed like two years of trade rumors. Although he’s an All-Pro talent, being just 16 games away from free agency impacts his trade value massively. A third-round pick could be enough to finally pry Richardson away from the Jets, and onto the Seahawks’ defensive line for the 2017 season. If it’s not enough, wide receiver Paul Richardson could be a great sweetener; he would fit into a young nucleus in New York, the team has an almost unrecognizable receiving core, and entering his final season, Seattle could look to move their fourth wideout before he too leaves for nothing in March.
In bringing in Sheldon Richardson, the Seahawks would surpass what they expected out of McDowell in 2017, while not sacrificing much of the team’s future or future cap projections. Interior pass rush has sorely been missed since Clinton McDonald left following the team’s triumph in Super Bowl XLVIII, and they could finally fill that void with a huge splash, just in time for the games to start counting.