There’s been a lot of focus on the players that the Seattle Seahawks have lost this offseason, then a few that they’ve added, but what about the ones that they already have? The internal upgrades that may cost nothing and are already signed? There’s a few of those worth watching as the Seahawks prepare for next season.
Chris Carson, RB
Elusive with the ability to pass block, Carson was Pete Carroll’s dream back by Week 2 of last season (really should have started him Week 1) and if he can return to form from his ankle injury, Carson should be the number one runner from the jump. The re-addition of Carson alone should bring the Seahawks stock up at the running back position up from 32 or 31 to somewhere in the middle of the pack. Carson had a broken tackle% of 37.5, the highest of any player with at least 30 touches. Alvin Kamara led all qualified backs with a broken tackle% of 32.8, just ahead of Duke Johnson at 32.7.
Carson had DYAR of 34 on 49 runs and a DVOA of 7.7%, which would rank 12th overall if he had more opportunities. Compare that to Eddie Lacy (-81, -34.2%) and Thomas Rawls (-84, -41.9%) and you’ll see why Seattle is immediately better at the position if Carson is back to where he was at in 2017. There was no reason for the Seahawks to sign an outside free agent at running back as anything more than a veteran backup (Chris Ivory, Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Stewart considered) but they didn’t need to sign anyone at all because if nothing else, they’re starting with Carson.
They did bring back Mike Davis (-40, -29.4%) but it’s really about Carson, the rookie running back(s) they add, and this next guy ...
C.J. Prosise, RB
I almost get upset from people being upset at C.J. Prosise. Or any football player who has already had enough robbed of him via something that is mostly out of his control. We should all want the same thing from Prosise: to be healthy, not to get rid of him because he has not been healthy during his two NFL seasons. But Paul Richardson was in a very similar position after two seasons and now he’s a $40millionaire.
Prosise is arguably just as talented as Richardson, if not more so. Do we not owe it to him to let him keep trying without getting butthurt about it? Even if you don’t think the Seahawks should keep Prosise around, you’re wrong because he’s an extremely cheap player for the next two seasons.
In 2016, Prosise was fairly effective as a runner (38 DYAR on 31 runs, 19.6% DVOA) and very much so as a receiver (62 DYAR on 19 passes, 55.2%) and he was a huge reason why they beat the Patriots in New England. 2017 was mostly a lost year but 2018 is another opportunity, this time without Rawls or Lacy threatening to take a spot on the depth chart. I mean, Carson is the only back other than Prosise that I’d consider a lock to make the roster, with J.D. McKissic next, followed by Mike Davis. Prosise likely plays a main role as a receiving back, and the combination of him and McKissic gives Carroll two shots at having a viable option in that position.
He’s an exciting player for any team to “add” to their offense for next season, and there are plenty of examples of guys leaving their early injury troubles behind.
Amara Darboh, WR
David Moore, WR
I think Carson is a more exciting in-house “addition” than Prosise, because he seems a bit more complete, but I have no reason to really choose Darboh over Moore or vice versa. I’ll give some attention to their draft stock (3rd round vs 7th round) but we’ve seen that be meaningless too often for me to really consider it too much at this point.
Darboh made the 53-man roster and had eight catches on 13 targets for 71 yards. David Moore hunt out on the practice squad for most of the year. It’s not much for either but receivers often do little-to-nothing as rookies and the Seahawks had plenty of options ahead of these guys for catching passes: Doug Baldwin, Richardson, Tyler Lockett, Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, McKissic, and Davis.
Right now there’s no Richardson, no Graham, and no Willson. There are opportunities and one of these guys (of very similar size) could get on Russell Wilson’s radar for next season and then who knows. You can throw Tanner McEvoy in there too, but if McEvoy doesn’t grab a real role in the offense in 2018 (his third season) he may never be more than a big play wonder.
The Seahawks added Jaron Brown and Marcus Johnson, but I’d still be more curious/put more stock into one of Darboh or Moore for now.
Nick Vannett, TE
After his rookie season, I was a bit concerned at how little Vannett was used, even if he was the third option behind Graham and Willson. Last year, Vannett got in a little bit more (12 catches on 15 targets, 124 yards) but still his future prospects are still fairly unknown. I mean, on one hand, he’s not doing much and on the other, he’s not had many opportunities.
With Graham and Willson gone, and Ed Dickson added mostly for pass blocking purposes (averaged 17 catches/year in four seasons with the Panthers), there’s little standing between Vannett and establishing himself as a TE1. Except maybe himself.
It’s important to note that tight ends may be among the positions that are the hardest to develop because you have to fill the role of two positions: lineman and pass catcher. I also am left to wonder how many backup tight ends have developed into premier players; FootballOutsiders lists TEs with <25 targets each season and I’m going back to 2009 to find future “stars” in those lists. (You’ll see that “stars” is used very loosely.)
2009: Gary Barnidge (little-used 2008-2014, Pro Bowl in 2015, out of league at the moment)
Jared Cook (2009 rookie third round pick, some productive albeit underwhelming seasons as a starter since)
Jacob Tamme (six catches in first two seasons, productive in later seasons with Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan)
2010: Brandon Myers (32 catches in first three seasons, 79 catches in year four before quickly trailing off again)
2011: Jordan Cameron (-43 DYAR ranked dead last among backup TEs in 2011, but Cameron had 80 catches for 917 yards in 2013. Quickly disappeared after that.)
2015: Tyler Kroft (21 catches in first two seasons, 42 catches for 404 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017)
2016: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (halfway out of NFL at this point, then 50 catches in 2017)
You’ll sadly notice instead that a lot of the names of the backups are guys we all assumed would be great if they started but instead just disappointed or settled in only as backups: Josh Hill, Luke Willson, Virgil Green, Ladarius Green, Gavin Escobar, Jack Doyle, Craig Stevens, Levine Toilolo. Frankly, it’s hard to get excited or care about anyone on this list and that’s not a great sign for Vannett.
But it doesn’t mean he can’t be an exception, or that going from TE3 to TE1 (as a receiver) is something he can’t handle. It just might be that it won’t stop Seattle from searching for a different TE of the Future either in this draft or the next one. Tyrone Swoopes is also hoping to establish himself as more than just a backup, and he’s got nothing but potential after switching from QB to TE less than a year ago.
George Fant, OL
I don’t think people are really respecting how much better the Seahawks o-line could be in 2018, and they are certainly in extraordinarily better shape than the start of 2016, and still well ahead of the 2017 squad.
First and foremost, Duane Brown is the starter at left tackle. That’s a change from Rees Odhiambo for the first seven games of 2017. Immeasurably huge upgrade.
Second, Ethan Pocic enters his second NFL season and has a relatively low bar to exceed if he replaces Luke Joeckel. Pocic has 11 starts under him already and I think there’s reason to be hopeful for his progress in year two. I also don’t think people are giving enough credit to Germain Ifedi, who is right where he needs to be after two seasons and who could establish himself as a legitimate right tackle in 2018 under Mike Solari; I mean, people complained about Tom Cable day-in-and-out for years and begged for him to replaced and it happened, so why not give over some extra hope in the unit after getting what you wanted?
Speaking of, D.J. Fluker steps into maybe the weakest or second-weakest position on the offense last season (right guard) after playing for Solari in New York in 2017. You don’t have to play that well to beat out Oday Aboushi and Mark Glowinski’s production. I mean, Fluker could be bad, but he probably won’t be worse. I assume though that Brown will be a significant upgrade, while Pocic and Ifedi will improve, and Justin Britt will remain steady. However, the name that resonates the most should any of the outside four guys falter, is George Fant.
He was meant to be the starter at left tackle and if not for his torn ACL, perhaps could have saved Seattle from both Odhiambo and trading picks for Brown. Oh well, it happened, but he should be ready to go by this summer and in time for training camp, assuming normal recovery time. He could really be a super-utility player to begin, but may also win jobs over any of those guys (save for Brown, Britt) if he’s healthy and shown progress from his rookie performance in 2016. We really can’t say what Solari will think about Fant or most of these guys, but I think the presence of Fant made it easier to be shy on the free agent market.