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Grading the Seahawks first week of free agency

Oakland Raiders v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Nobody is equipped to grade the Seahawks on anything they do, but nobody is equipped to stop us from doing it, either. It’s a standoff that can only end in one way: you reading this far, then continuing to do so, even though deep down you know better. Anyway, I volunteer for this thankless job.

There are three subjects in the report card of Week 1 free agency.

  1. Did you retain the people worth retaining, at prices that won’t seriously constrain roster construction?
  2. Did you let the people walk who made sense to let walk?
  3. Did you address an area of significant need with more than a band-aid approach?

Retainers: Not just for lawyers, or teenagers’ teeth

Grade: B+, which is good

Chris Carson was worth keeping. He’s a top 10 RB who does everything you ask, and more. He was above average in all five top-line stats you can find at rotowire (link: https://www.rotowire.com/football/player.php?id=11784) and elite in two: positive run percentage and average yards after contact. To retain his services for only $5.5 million guaranteed and only a $2.5 million cap hit in the first year is nothing short of a miracle.

Running backs hardly matter. But you need a foursome on your roster anyway, and it’s better if they’re headlined by a good player when you’re going to run as much as the Seahawks.

Poona Ford was worth keeping. Eight TFL and nine QB hits from an interior guy who plays half the snaps is valuable production. He’ll do Jarran Reed’s job for less money.

Ethan Pocic was worth keeping, at $3 million annually, even if he warms the bench. But if he continues to start, you’re getting an above-average pass blocking center for cheap, a guy entering his fifth year, with 30 starts now under his belt, so right about when you’d expect an offensive lineman to blossom. If it were going to happen.

Nick Bellore plays fullback. Probably an overpay at 2 years/$4.5 million, but let me introduce you to a coach called Pete, who is going to employ fullbacks while other coaches choose to pass. Whatever. Bellore’s going to earn his money on special teams, which circles us right back to let me introduce you to a coach called Pete.

Tendering Ryan Neal, Bryan Mone and Kyle Fuller is good for competition and insurance. All-around solid process there.

The Departed

Grade: A-, which is better than good

Shaquill Griffin. Sorry to see him go since the Seahawks don’t have a true CB1 on the roster without him, not yet at least. But at $13.3 million? That money ended up roughly paying for Ford and Gabe Jackson. Would you rather have Shaq or the other two? I realize free agency doesn’t work exactly that way, but cap space is cap space. Choosing to prioritize the trenches over a good corner is the type of debate that both sides can win. Which makes it an eminently defensible decision.

(Fourth-round comp pick coming Seattle’s way in 2022 for Griffin, too. Fun fact: he was drafted 90th overall four years ago, in the, you guessed it, third round.)

Carlos Hyde. We’ll remember him fondly for a few touchdowns, and for helping us beat the Niners twice. There are more of him in the great running back stable of life.

Jacob Hollister. We’ll remember him fondly for a few touchdowns, and for almost helping us beat the Niners in 2019. There are more of him in the great tight end stable of life.

David Moore. We’ll remember him fondly for a few touchdowns, especially on fourth downs. Glad he got paid. Freddie Swain can do most everything Moore does.

Moore, year 2: 17 receptions, 50 percent catch rate, 8.9 yards/target. 2 TD

Swain, rookie: 13 receptions, 62 percent catch rate, 7.6 yards/target, 2 TD

Also falling under the “departed” umbrella: the whole Carlos Dunlap situation. It’s a big, big win for the Seahawks so far to see him unsigned. It appears John Schneider correctly diagnosed the market glut in which defensive ends find themselves… glutting. Should Dunlap return at an affordable price you can tack on some extra credit points. Not that Schneider needs them. Usually he’d earn those by pulling off a Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson or Jadeveon Clowney out-of-absolutely-nowhere-in-the-dead-of-summer trade to fill out the roster and get us pumped for training camp.

Which could still happen, by the way.

But if you try sometimes, you get what you need

Grade: A-

Paying a fifth-rounder to take on Gabe Jackson’s contract is the offensive line move that we didn’t see coming but will definitely take, in the absence of an upgrade at center. Jackson is of course as reliable as they come. Though he hasn’t been seen at a Pro Bowl, he’s also going to play nearly every game without being a liability.

How many times have we wished for the Seahawks to simply put an average pass-blocking offensive line around Russell Wilson? Don’t answer that. Not just because the number is too high to express in regular mathematical terms, but also because they’ve just finished a three-year project of… doing exactly that?

Pre-injury Brandon Shell is a perfectly fine right tackle.

Damien Lewis is a draft hit and the long-term answer at right guard.

Moving Pocic to center was a risk that didn’t backfire.

Jackson is everything I described above.

If Duane Brown holds off Father Time for another year, no worries there.

Your capable pass-blocking offensive line is in place. It needs a little depth, a little luck, and could always use a little bit of progression from the two least-experienced elements, but that’s it. There’s even the luxury of continuity in the group. Why, I never.

If anyone thought Schneider would be wary of dipping into free agency for another tight end after the Greg Olsen experiment fizzled, the Gerald Everett signing disabused their notions. Everett’s familiarity with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron can’t hurt, and with only Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson in the TE room and only three draft picks in the holster, it was more than incumbent on the Seahawks to act decisively.

Very early to evaluate the Ahkello Witherspoon signing. I refuse to think of him as Griffin’s replacement, but I also refuse to rule it out. If he settles in at CB2, for the $4 million price tag he’s another positive answer to a vexing question.

(Not going to lie, it’d be especially sweet to watch Everett and Witherspoon thrive after poaching them from division rivals.)

No receivers or defensive ends have been inked yet. Those are both areas of sore need. There’s no reason to sugarcoat it. But with the cap constraints on Seattle — the medium signings listed above have taken the team above the cap already — it was never going to be possible to fill every roster hole right away. You were alarmingly short on guards, tight ends and cornerbacks. While Jackson, Everett and Witherspoon may not be stars, and only two of them might start, it wasn’t star power the Seahawks lacked anyway, but solid veterans.

Now, what to do with K.J. Wright? You couldn’t pay me enough* to make that decision.

*false. But you get the idea.