Browsing NFL news, as free agency begins, has so far meant saying goodbye to key members of the Seattle Seahawks.
In fact, the scoring drain from the V-Mac toward the frozen tundra of Lambeau and the Chris Clemons Memorial Stadium in D.C., while expected, leaves a void not easily filled.
#Seahawks top four TD-makers, recent seasons— Legion of Earl (@johndavidfraley) March 13, 2018
D. Baldwin 7
J. Graham 6*
C. Michael 6*
T. Rawls 3**
J. Graham 10*
D. Baldwin 8
P. Richardson 6*
L. Willson 4**
* not on 2018 team
** free agent
Jimmy Graham’s in Green Bay. Paul Richardson’s in the other Washington, the one that keeps losing playoff games to the one from the superior Washington.
Thomas Rawls fell out of favor with the coaches enough to be inactive four times last season. It didn’t help that he was literally the worst ball carrier in the NFL according to DYAR. It didn’t help that he had more fumbles (1) than TD’s (0) and finished fifth in penalties among all RBs despite getting only 58 carries.
Christine Michael is out there in the world somewhere, doing C-Mike things. Who knows what those are. But they aren’t football things for the team that drafted him.
Luke Willson, free agent, will re-up with Seattle or get paid elsewhere. I’d bet the latter.
Doug Baldwin’s a Seahawk. Maybe he stays one. Maybe he retires a Seahawk. But after seeing Graham, Richardson and Michael Bennett leave, plus some other long-limbed guy too, all in the space of a week no less, it would be silly to assume anyone in blue and green is completely untouchable. Anyway, only Baldwin remains, from all the top scorers in 2016 and 2017. He’s great. But he can’t do it all. He’ll need help.
If Seattle wants to win, touchdowns will be necessary. In most games. But the men who used to make them are largely gone. Let us examine from which new sources the precious teeders might originate.
Among all tight ends drafted by your Seattle Seahawks, the career leader in TDs is — trigger alert — Jerramy Stevens. With 15. Followed by John Carlson and Itula Mili at 13, then Willson at 11. They’re the only TEs in club history to be drafted here and reach double digits in touchdowns here.
Bad franchise history notwithstanding, the stage is set for a rookie to come in and make an immediate impact. Graham’s gone, Willson’s a question mark and Nick Vannett has one career score. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson loves throwing to the big guys, especially in the red zone. Among his 34 scores last season, 15 went to tight ends. That’s 44 percent.
A high draftee — such as Mark Andrews from Oklahoma, Dallas Goedert from South Dakota State or Mike Gesicki from Penn State — would probably get snaps immediately. Leading to many targets from his quarterback. If he has the hands, he’ll get the points.
Personally, I like Gesicki here. He’ll be available on Day 2, he tallied 14 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons combined, he killed at the combine with his 41-inch vertical and his 6-5 1⁄2 frame, and you “know” the Seahawks front office will have filled out their draft by then, so there are at least a couple selections somewhere between 1.18 and 4.120. It’s hard to imagine them sitting on their fidgety thumbs for 102 picks while talents like Gesicki get claimed.
Rookie receivers don’t score a lot of touchdowns. There were only 33 total TDs scored by rookie WR through the air last season. One per team, on average, basically.
Digging deeper, only seven rookies caught multiple touchdown passes last season. None were Seahawks, in case you were wondering. Odds of a first-year wide receiver making a scoring impact at the CLink in 2018: low.
Yeah. Don’t count on it.
John Schneider likely won’t draft a RB on Day 1 or Day 2. He’s only done it twice, with C.J. Prosise and the aforementioned Michael. I don’t mean to imply that their... intermittent success has scared him off — I simply mean he doesn’t tend to spend significant draft capital on the backfield. Chris Carson, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic and Rawls all came in the seventh round or later; Eddie Lacy was a free agent; Marshawn Lynch arrived via trade.
Schneider, plainly, isn’t one to typically replenish the running game via early draft choices. So guessing who the next big thing is for Seattle isn’t even remotely possible. But if Carson and Davis underwhelm, if Rawls is shipped out, if Prosise continues to break down, and if McKissic gets used sparingly (only 296, only 80 touches last season), then New Guy could make an immediate impact. Just don’t ask me to guess his name.
Out there, floating around in the ether of free agency, are established scorers such as Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tyler Eifert, Ed Dickson and Martellus Bennett. 72 career touchdowns between those four, but ASJ is pricey plus comes with red flags, Eifert’s injury history is off-putting, Dickson’ll be 31 and Bennett might have retired for good. Beyond them there’s little hype.
Allen Robinson finagled a new $14 million annual contract while Sammy Watkins hauled in $16 million AAV. Donte Moncrief and Ryan Grant got paid too, along with others. It’s been a good week to be a pass-catcher. Richardson’s $$$ haul is well documented on our pages. If the Seahawks sign a free agent receiver, he likely won’t be the expensive type who has a nose for the end zone — unless they splurge a little on Jordy Nelson, released by Green Bay on March 14. Nelson spent the better part of the decade getting along quite nicely with Aaron Rodgers, to the tune of 69 scores in nine seasons. (That includes 15 TDs in ‘11 and a league-leading 14 two years ago.)
Signing Nelson would eat up a significant chunk of the Seahawks’ salary cap space but would also give them a known producer.
There’s always the possibility that Seattle’s front office makes a move out of nowhere to acquire someone of Graham’s caliber. They did it in 2013 and 2015; they sought to do it again with the Sheldon Richardson blockbuster during the last training camp.
The biggest names available are DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde, and Doug Martin. Jonathan Stewart’s already a Giant. But hey, our old pal Lynch could get cut. He scores touchdowns even when mal-intentioned people are trying to tackle him to the ground. We already know this.
(John and Pete are not signing Beast Mode. Definitives are bad idea when you’re talking Seahawks. But they’re not signing Lynch. [God, I hope this reverse psychology shit works. Even once would be enough.] It’s not happening. Nuh-uh, no way.)
Even though it is so hard to predict how an outside playmaker will fit in here (see: Harvin, Percy), I’m gonna put my chips on Nelson, the wily vet, and let others speculate on the running back situation, while I proceed to highlight four current Seahawks who could make the jump from recent afterthought to decent aftershock. You know their names, but you are not accustomed to calling them out in celebration.
Could Lockett bounce back to his 2015 form, where he posted a 74 percent catch rate and got into the end zone six times? Of course he could. He did it once. Why not again? And Richardson’s departure means the WR2 job is Lockett’s to lose.
His 21 career carries for 192 yards indicate the Seahawks are willing to use him as a weapon all over the field. His 949 kickoff return yards led the league last year, which means he stayed healthy all year. If he plays 15 or 16 games again, why not?
While his teammates were struggling to get three yards per carry last season, Carson earned 4.2; while other Seahawks went down on first contact or for lack of vision, Carson displayed both tenacity and creativity.
Making people miss in a phone booth and running through tackles are legitimate skills that lead to touchdowns. Again, if Carson appears in 15 or 16 games, like Lockett, he’ll get his chances near the goal line.
Worth noting: Carson caught seven of his eight targets, for one precious score, the only one of his career. More, please.
His three total TDs in 2017 place him fifth on the team. But is there a spot for him in the offense with Lockett and Prosise and the new draftees? Will he even make the team? I’d like to say yes to both.
What a catch! McKissic another TD.— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) October 2, 2017
Q4: 46-18 SEA #INDvsSEA pic.twitter.com/KQDdvICMTy
Don’t count out J.D McKissic. He wasn’t even supposed to make the team out of camp, remember?
My pick, though, is Vannett. He’s entering his third year of Carroll’s “program.” He’s going to be a leader in the TE room, like it or not, due to attrition. He played more and more as the year went on: 13.2 snaps/game and 0.6 targets/game before the bye, then 19.5 snaps and 1.2 targets after. He scored once.
He’s earned a reputation as a solid blocker, which will endear him to coaches. He’s put the time in on special teams. Should Willson move on, Vannett’s in the mix for the starting job. Also, he needs more chances to improve his mosh-pit celebration.
Nick Vannett just scored his first NFL touchdown and then led a dance party in the end zone.pic.twitter.com/uw38sPEc2V— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 26, 2017
Truth is, as long as the Seahawks get more than one rushing touchdown from their running backs, and as long as Wilson is running the offense with increasing consistency, and as long as Doug Baldwin is drawing coverage from the team’s best opposing cornerback, there will be opportunities for whoever steps up.
If it’s Gesicki, Nelson or Vannett, you all owe me one beer apiece, and I intend to collect.