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Seahawks continue tight end signing spree, bringing Luke Willson back

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have fought injuries at the tight end position in recent seasons. Will Dissly, a 2018 fourth round pick, has suffered significant, season ending injuries in each of his two years in the NFL, while 2018 free agent signing Ed Dickson has played in just 11 of the 35 games the Hawks have played the paste two years. Add in that the team traded away Nick Vannett early in the 2019 season and that George Fant played several hundred snaps as a tight end over the past two seasons, and the team’s desire to stockpile depth at the position is understandable.

That leads to Monday, when the team made multiple moves to address depth at the position. Even with Dissly reportedly on schedule to return from a torn Achilles before Week 1 and the recent addition of Greg Olsen in free agency, the Hawks have stockpiled depth at the position this offseason. It started with reports that the team had extended a second round tender to restricted free agent Jacob Hollister, all but guaranteeing his return for the 2020 season. Then it continued on Monday evening when the team moved to bring back Luke Willson.

That’s a hefty collection of tight ends, but there are a couple of things to take into consideration for fans wondering if the Hawks will really keep more than three players at the position. First of all, Seattle carried seven wide receivers for most of the 2019 campaign, and that’s two roster spots that will likely be allocated elsewhere next season now that younger players like DK Metcalf, David Moore and Malik Turner have another year of experience under their belt. Secondly, with the new CBA going into effect, roster expansion will give the team two additional spots for players, one of which could easily go towards a tight end. Lastly, Brian Schottenheimer’s Air Coryell offense uses the tight end extensively.

Schottenheimer picked up the offense from Cam Cameron during his time in Southern California with the then San Diego, but now Los Angeles Chargers, where the Bolts extensively used a tight end by the name of Antonio Gates. It’s a system not dissimilar from that used by Al Saunders with the Kansas City Chiefs for several years while Mike Solari was the offensive line coach, and in which Tony Gonzalez flourished.

In short, the system often uses tight ends to both occupy and attack the underneath layer of the defense, while the receivers challenge the middle and deep. That makes pass catching tight ends a key component of the system, and makes it understandable why the Hawks have stockpiled players at the position this offseason.