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Seahawks depth chart at defensive end following Frank Clark trade

Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks traded their best defensive end on Tuesday, sending Frank Clark to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 29th overall pick, plus a 2020 second rounder and swapping third round picks on Friday. Clark is the third notable defensive end in the last year-plus to part ways with the Seahawks, joining the also-traded Michael Bennett and retired Cliff Avril from 2018. But parting ways with Clark is different than those two because there is no Clark to replace him.

Not that we know of.

Seattle has another year of Quinton Jefferson, the starter next to Clark, but one who had just three sacks last season and who had been released by the team in 2017. Jefferson may be capable of playing a role, but that role should not be starter or “top defensive end” on any defense.

The Seahawks are also bringing back Rasheem Green, the young defensive end (he turns 22 next month) out of USC who was a third round pick a year ago. Green has the highest ceiling of any edge rusher on the team now that Clark is gone but even if he was expected to contribute very little as a rookie, that doesn’t mean we can expect him to contribute now. Both good players and bad players can be dead weight as rookies.

The third defensive end who is set to return is Branden Jackson, a player most distinctly known (by me at least) as “not Brandon.” He’s had some good snaps in his career but not much else than that.

Brought into the fold at defensive end are Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard.

Marsh experienced a breakout season of sorts with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018, recording a career-high 5.5 sacks and 14 QB hits, matching him sorta closely with Jefferson in terms of stats at least. The addition of Marsh gives Seattle depth they needed last season but certainly not the quality of pass rusher that they’ve lost by trading Clark. Orchard is both remembered and well-liked for his appearance on Hard Knocks last fall, but he also didn’t make the cut for the Cleveland Browns and couldn’t hang on with any team last season.

Also on the table for availability will be sixth round pick Jacob Martin. At 6’2, 242, you know that Martin is noticeably smaller than Clark, who is maybe an inch taller and 20-25 lbs heavier. Martin is actually a very close physical comp to Kam Chancellor, not Clark or Avil or Bennett, who is at least 30 lbs heavier than Martin.

Martin had better moments as a rookie than Green did and maybe even a better season than Jefferson given his limited amount of snaps to do what he can do, but is he a 4-3 defensive end? Of course, many of you will say yes! And that could be true but going from Clark to Martin isn’t likely to be a 1:1 immediately. The team probably still looks at their defense and says, “We need to add a quality starting defensive end for next season” which is often difficult to do in April.

The player I’ve highlighted the most over the last six months is Ezekiel Ansah. Our own John Gilbert wrote about a possibly May 7 tender that the Detroit Lions could still use on Ansah if they really wanted to.

There’s also Nick Perry, who had 18 sacks from 2016-2017 with the Green Bay Packers. Believe it or not, there are still under-30 NFL players who played for Pete Carroll at USC and Perry is one of them.

The addition of pick 29 of course gives the Seahawks new possibilities as far as fortifying their front-7 and pass rush for next season. They could stay at 21 and take a defensive end, stay at 29 and do it, or when they trade down from both spots, still have that many more selections to use to find one or two more defensive ends on par with the level of prospect that Clark was and that Green and Martin currently are.

As of now, they have five or six guys with a small handful of career sacks. It’s not proven and it’s not the end result as far as which five or six guys will make the final 53-man roster, but it’s what they’ve got right now.