As expected, the Seahawks made good use of the draft resources available to them in last month’s draft, and continued to fill the holes which existed on their roster after free agency. One remaining need, however, is that of a defensive tackle.
Al Woods, a key rotational player a year ago playing both 1- and 3-tech, signed with the Jaguars in free agency and has not yet been replaced. Poona Ford and Jarran Reed are locked in as starters at the two defensive tackle spots, while Bryan Mone and Demarcus Christmas could potentially provide depth at 1-tech. Though Seattle does have a few EDGEs who could potentially reduce inside on passing downs—namely, Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier—it would behoove the Seahawks to add another true defensive tackle; one who could be a spot-starter if need be, as Woods was in 2019.
Throughout Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s time in Seattle, they have excelled at finding low-cost veterans at defensive tackle to provide valuable snaps. With a few interesting names available, 2020 should be no different.
The long-time Charger left the drifting franchise ahead of the 2019 season, splitting the season between the Raiders and the Bills. Only 30, Liuget should still have quality football left in him, particularly in a rotational role. While his days of disrupting from the interior look to be over—he last exceeded two sacks in 2015—there’s no reason he can’t provide the Seahawks snaps at 1- and 3-tech, presuming he stays healthy.
After departing Gus Bradley’s defense, Liuget saw snaps as a 3-tech in Oakland and then as a 1-tech in Buffalo. In Seattle, he can do both—just as Woods did previously. Woods’ great value was not only a result of his ability to play both spots but because he was perfectly adept to defend the stretch running games that thrive within the NFC West. As a run defender, Liuget’s best moments come moving laterally—he would have no problem fitting right in against the 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals, just as Woods did.
Health will be a question mark surrounding Liuget for however long he continues to play, but similar to a couple of other players on this list, the upside is certainly there.
At his peak, as one of the game’s premier run defenders, Snacks Harrison offered very little against the pass. Now, on the wrong side of 30, he is entirely one-dimensional as a defensive tackle. However, that one dimension is still played at a high level.
Harrison can still absorb double teams, play sound as a two-gapping tackle, and hold up at the point of attack. Despite pondering retirement after the 2019 season, health remains sound for Harrison—he has missed just one game since his rookie season. Harrison could play a key role in base and on early downs for the Seahawks.
Among the defensive tackles left in free agency, Daniels easily has the highest ceiling. However, that ceiling hasn’t been reached in several seasons now. A surprise cut by the Packers in late July last season, Daniels spent his 2019 with the Lions. Foot injuries robbed Daniels of time in both ‘18 and ‘19, but ultimately it was a Week 15 arm injury that ended his season. Entering his age-31 season, Daniels’ history of foot injuries needs to be taken into account—and it is probably a contributing factor to him still being on the open market.
Before injuries began to derail Daniels’ career, he was one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the NFL as a true three-down defender, strong against the run and disruptive against the pass. If Seattle wants to take a high-ceiling flyer, Daniels would be an exciting signing at this stage of the offseason. With just a rotational role to fill, however, they may look elsewhere.
The journeyman defensive tackle, most recently of the Jaguars, would be the most sensible addition to the Seahawks’ roster. Still just 28 years old, with almost no history of injuries, Spence would be a cheap addition and seamlessly replace Woods as the primary backup at 3-tech. However, Spence likely wouldn’t be able to spell Ford at 1-tech, which would increase the importance of either Christmas or Mone becoming a rotational player in 2020.
While not as strong as Woods holding up in one-on-ones, Spence has the type of quickness to defend laterally against the run, and the ability to disengage and make a stop. Spence has previously topped 20 pressures and hit 2-3 sacks in a season; his upside as a rusher is certainly more than Woods’.
All eyes are on Seattle and Jadeveon Clowney, and rightfully so. Whether it’s re-signing the dynamic edge defender or replacing him with another pass rusher, that spot is the Seahawks’ biggest priority. However, they are yet to replace a defensive tackle in Woods who played well in 2019. Despite the start of free agency and the draft behind us, there are still options available for Seattle.