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Three years later, Seahawks still looking for answers on the defensive line

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

While questions remain regarding whether rookies for NFL teams across the league will report to training camp Tuesday as scheduled, some teams, such as the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs are telling players that things are on as scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks are still working to address questions on the defensive line, including many of the same questions that the team has faced in recent seasons. Specifically, where will the pass rush come from and where is the depth in the middle as the team looks to improve its run defense?

In spite of the addition of Bruce Irvin from the Carolina Panthers and Benson Mayowa from the then Oakland, but now Las Vegas Raiders, the Seahawks appear to lack the proven game-changing, impact player they’ve had on the line in the past. Whether it was Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Chris Clemons, Jadeveon Clowney or any of a number of other recognizable names on the defensive front, the Hawks appear to lack that punch in 2020. They brought back Jarran Reed on a two year contract, but with both Clowney and Quinton Jefferson not under contract for 2020, things could get interesting.

All that said, it’s been three years now since a single, largely forgotten tweet indicated the start of a chain of events that has helped create the Seahawks roster of today.

Whatever it was that led to the incident that derailed the career of Malik McDowell, that tweet appears to be McDowell’s response in the immediate aftermath of what went down. Exactly what went down is still largely a mystery, as McDowell, the team and all other involved parties have never filled in the details for fans. However, what is known is that McDowell would spend his rookie season on the Non-Football Injury list before getting released at the start of training camp in 2018.

The Seahawks had used a second round pick on McDowell, looking to generate pass rush in the middle of the defensive line, but obviously did not get any. As a result, just six weeks later the Hawks went out and traded Jermaine Kearse and a second round pick to the New York Jets in exchange for Sheldon Richardson. Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a 2014 Pro Bowler failed to live up to the hopes of fans, and departed for the Minnesota Vikings after just a single season with Seattle.

Since then the Hawks have looked to address the defensive line and build the pass rush through a barrage of moves, including the drafting of Rasheem Green, Shaquem Griffin, Jacob Martin, Demarcus Christmas, L.J. Collier, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson. Beyond simply drafting to generate pass rush, the Hawks have played in the free agent market as well, signing the aforementioned Irvin and Mayowa, on top of hoping to see Barkevious Mingo blossom as a pass rusher in 2018 and hoping Ziggy Ansah could come back from shoulder reconstruction in 2019.

Add the trade for Clowney on top of all of those moves, and the sum total of the assets the team has used to address the defensive line just since McDowell’s accident is as follows:

  • 9 draft picks (one 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks, two 3rd round picks, two 5th round picks and two 6th round picks)
  • $28,508,566 of cap space on free agents (Ansah: $8,531,250, Irvin: $5,906,250, Mayowa: $3,018,750, Mingo: $3,650,000, Marcus Smith: $1,390,000, Shamar Stephen: $2,081,250, Tom Johnson: $1,865,625 and Al Woods: $2,065,441)

Thus, the Hawks appear headed into the season with a defensive front stacked full of potential in youngsters Taylor, Robinson, Green and Collier, but now it’s time for them to show what they can do on the field of play. And if Pete Carroll and John Schneider aren’t happy with what they see in training camp, it won’t be a surprise to see the team make a move to add a pass rusher late in camp. They’ve done it in two of the past three seasons, and with pass rush potentially available from a team who failed to sign a franchise tagged player to a long-term contract before the July 15 deadline, it wouldn’t be all that big a surprise if Matthew Judon, Bud Dupree, Yannick Ngakoue or Shaquil Barrett were added for the right compensation.

Now fans simply need to wait for the season.