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At least there won’t be a Clowney Watch for Seahawks d-line this offseason

NFL: JAN 03 Seahawks at 49ers Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2020 NFL season is in the books for three quarters of NFL teams, including the Seattle Seahawks who saw their season come to an end Saturday against the Los Angles Rams. That means the offseason has officially arrived for the Hawks, and the regular machinations of offseason movement kicked off Tuesday with the team signing eleven members of 2020 practice squad to futures contracts.

The remainder of the playoffs are, of course, still in full swing, so the true core of the offseason will not arrive for several more weeks. However, with no more meaningful football left to be played for Seattle, it’s possible to start looking at where things stand with the roster when it comes for 2021. Specifically that means working through each position group to evaluate who is under contract or team control for the upcoming season in order to gain a better understanding of the moves the team might make during the offseason.

The starting point this year will be the position group which was the most talked about last offseason, the defensive line. As soon as the Seahawks fell to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round in January, the talk immediately turned to Jadeveon Clowney and whether the Hawks would or would not bring him back. Eventually, after months of back and forth, dozens of headlines and countless rumors, Clowney signed with the Tennessee Titans and the Seahawks were left to address their pass rush needs at the trade deadline by acquiring Carlos Dunlap from the Cincinnati Bengals for a couple of Happy Meal toys John Schneider found under the back seat off his car.

In any case, here are the players who finished the season with the team and their contract status heading into the offseason.

Under contract for 2021:

  • DE L.J. Collier
  • DE Carlos Dunlap
  • DE Rasheem Green
  • DE Alton Robinson
  • DE Darrell Taylor
  • DT Jarran Reed
  • DT Cedrick Lattimore

Under Team Control for 2021

  • DT Poona Ford (restricted free agent)
  • DT Bryan Mone (ERFA)

Unsigned players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents

  • Benson Mayowa
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Branden Jackson
  • Damontre Moore
  • Jonathan Bullard

What that all means is that significant additions on the defensive line could be unlikely. Of the five defensive ends that played in the season ending loss to Los Angeles, only Benson Mayowa is not set to return, while all four defensive tackles who played are likely to be back.

Add in that Taylor should be ready to see the field by the time training camp rolls around, and it’s likely that the team does not see the position group as a pressing need at this time. That certainly doesn’t mean the line will be neglected, as Reed, Dunlap, Ford and Green are all set to be unrestricted free agents after next season, but it’s not a priority for 2021. In addition, here’s a look at the first defensive player the Hawks have drafted each season since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010:

2010: FS Earl Thomas
2011: LB K.J. Wright
2012: DE Bruce Irvin (someone will say he’s a LB, but he played defensive line in college)
2013: DT Jordan Hill
2014: DE Cassius Marsh
2015: DE Frank Clark
2016: DT Jarran Reed
2017: DT Malik McDowell
2018: DT Rasheem Green
2019: DE L.J. Collier
2020: LB Jordyn Brooks

Basically, for the past decade the first draft pick the Seahawks have used on a defensive player has been on a front seven defender, and in seven of the last eight drafts that has been on a player who played defensive line in college. So, while the use of a high draft pick may not be in the works, it won’t come as much of a surprise at all if the team uses one of its Day 3 selections on a defensive lineman. Assuming the league allows free agent visits this offseason, there will likely also be visits from bigger names that hit the market, but expect fans to be disappointed when these bigger name players wind up leaving Seattle without having reached agreement on a contract. As disappointing as that may be to some, there are other positions of greater need as the team looks forward to 2021, meaning the defensive line won’t be nearly as high of a priority as it was in 2020.