Saturday the Seattle Seahawks saw their season come to an end at home against the division rival Los Angeles Rams, and on Tuesday Field Gulls reviewed the state of the defensive line heading into the offseason. With the defensive line seemingly well positioned for success going forward, attention now moves back to the linebackers group, where a mix of young talent and veteran experience combined to make a great group this past season.
The linebacker group is a position group where there are some decisions to be made in the offseason regarding some of the bigger names. However, with the infusion of youth the team has made in each of the last two drafts, those decisions likely are not as crucial as those to be made at several other positions.
So, to avoid wasting time, here are the linebackers under contract for 2021:
- Bobby Wagner
- Jordyn Brooks
- Cody Barton
- Ben Burr-Kirven
That’s not a whole ton of names actually under contract, however, it is the best off ball linebacker in the game today and a player set to enter his second season who showed enough during the 2020 season to get excited about his potential moving forward. In addition, while neither Barton nor Burr-Kirven have not seen the field a lot on defense, both of them remain core members of the special teams units, having combined for 1,231 special teams snaps since being drafted by the Hawks in 2019.
On the subject of key special teams players, the team will have an interesting decision to make on the lone member of the group who is set to be a restricted free agent, Shaquem Griffin, who saw his special teams role greatly diminish in 2020. After averaging over 220 special teams snaps per season in his first two years in the league, Shaquem logged just 82 special teams snaps, while earning a slight increase in defensive snaps, from 110 in 2019 to 113 in 2020. However, only 19 of those defensive snaps came after the acquisition of Carlos Dunlap, as he averaged just 8.6 defensive and special teams snaps per game over the final ten games of the season.
The question then becomes whether the Hawks, in a season in which the salary cap is expected to decrease significantly, will be willing to commit to Griffin on even the low RFA tender (likely in the $2.3M range), or if they will decline to extend a tender offer and allow him to explore free agency. With Shaquill Griffin also set to hit free agency barring a contract extension between now and mid-March, it certainly seems to make for an interesting dynamic in terms of negotiations as the brother could look to be playing on different teams for just the second time in their lives.
Moving on to the members of the group set to be unrestricted free agents, it’s a pair of bigger names that many fans would likely love to see return.
- K.J. Wright
- Bruce Irvin
- Ray-Ray Armstrong
Wright and Irvin, obviously, each have significant history with Seattle, and were key contributors to the Legion of Boom in its heyday. Wright had a great year after moving from WILL to SAM, and the overtures regarding what he may be looking for in contract negotiations have already started.
I’m told #Seahawks LB KJ Wright wants a new deal commensurate with his production, per source. Wright, the only player in the NFL with 10+ TFL(11) & 10+ PD(10) this season, is an eligible UFA in the new league year. Plays all LB positions, can QB the defense & is a vocal leader.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 13, 2021
Of course, where exactly this ammunition for contract negotiations came from is not difficult to discern.
The ONLY??? Like nobody else did that????? https://t.co/guVC8FsHLd— KJ (@KJ_WRIGHT34) January 11, 2021
In any case, the early rumors have Wright connected to former Seattle defensive coordinators Dan Quinn, who was just hired by the Dallas Cowboys, and Gus Bradley, who was just hired by the Las Vegas Raiders. With more than two months until free agency begins, these are unlikely to be the last rumors regarding Wright and his future, so stay tuned.
As for Irvin, his situation is a little more complicated, and depending on how things progress with COVID, could be made even more complicated. Specifically, if teams are not allowed to host free agent visits again this offseason, it’s possible Irvin could be stuck at home hoping for a contract as he rehabs from the knee injury that ended his season. Just as was seen with many of the free agents who had injury concerns in 2020, such as Mychal Kendricks, Everson Griffen and others, there was not a lot of movement until teams were able to host players in order to conduct a physical. For Irvin that means that the prospect of getting a contract to play for 2021 could be more complicated that it would be for soon to be 34 year olds coming off a serious knee injury during non-COVID times. So, until the league provides direction regarding what is and is not allowed this offseason, free agents returning from significant injury like Irvin will have to play the wait and see game as they look to their future.