Fans of the Seattle Seahawks entered the offseason with hopes and dreams of the team using its available cap space to add impact pass rushers in free agency and multiple impact players with the team’s three picks in the first two rounds of the draft. Instead, many have been left disappointed as the offseason has not played out according to their dreams.
Specifically, while fans were lobbying for the Hawks front office to sign Jack Conklin or Bryan Bulaga to play right tackle, while also going after a big name guard like Brandon Scherff and pursuing pass rush talent at the same time. However, Conklin and Bulaga quickly agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers, resepectively, while Scherff saw the franchise tag applied by the Washington Football Team. Then, Seattle further disappointed fans by adding B.J. Finney and Brandon Shell, names that didn’t ring much of a bell for the majority of Seattle fans.
That led to even more disappointment come draft time when the Seahawks stood pat for the first time in a long time and used their first round pick on an off ball linebacker, Jordyn Brooks. Watching college tape of Brooks certainly makes it readily apparent why the team was excited to add him to the roster, but with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Cody Barton already manning the position group, many fans were disappointed the pick wasn’t used to address the team’s lack of a pass rush.
Similar criticisms have now been lobbed at the team’s trade to acquire Jamal Adams from the New York Jets, as the pass rush remains largely overlooked while the team went in and depleted its future draft capital in order to bring in a playmaker who is not a pure pass rusher.
So, is it time to panic?
Probably not just yet. It’s still early August, which means there is still plenty of time for the Hawks to continue to work on addressing its defensive line. In the past three seasons the team has twice added potential impact defensive linemen at the end of August or early September. In 2017 the team brought in Sheldon Richardson from the Jets on September 1, while just this past season it was Jadeveon Clowney getting added from the Houston Texans at the end of August. Add in that this offseason has been the strangest in recent memory, with a half dozen potential impact defensive linemen remaining on the free agent market as a result of COVID complicating the free agent process, and there’s plenty of reason to hope that the team will be able to improve its pass rush in the coming days and weeks.
Further improving that potential this season is the carnage expected to be seen among mid-level veterans across the league come roster cuts. Specifically, with the salary cap likely to slip down to $175M for the 2021 season, teams won’t want to create cap space by getting rid of cost controlled players on rookie contracts or by cutting elite, high-priced talent. Instead, it is likely to be the middle tier of veterans - those who are good enough to sign moderate second contracts, but not good enough to land the top of market deals - who find themselves looking for work come early September. These are the types of veterans that the Seahawks will happily look to add to the roster, as they already know how to play and should be able to step right in and contribute without a lot of ramp up time needed.
Basically, while the team will continue to express that it is happy with its current defensive line configuration, the fact of the matter is that the team likely isn’t done looking under every rock to find talent to add. So, don’t be surprised if in the coming weeks the team adds one of the big name players still available, such as Everson Griffen, Mike Daniels, Damon Harrison or if the team decides to step out and make a trade for a player like Yannick Ngakoue, who is still young and could contribute to the team for years to come.
Is it a certainty that the team will make roster moves to address the defensive line? No, but based on the history of Pete Carroll and John Schneider being willing to pull the trigger on a deal right up until the start of the season, it certainly won’t be a surprise if they do.