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The Perfect Seattle Seahawks Offseason: A strategy to win the Super Bowl in 2022

There is no question that the 2021 season was a massive disappointment for the Seahawks. The expectation by the organization and its supporters to start the season was Super Bowl contention. Many fans and analysts held reserved hopes based on the decline of the team in the second half of 2020, as well as the strength of the NFC West division, but the Super Bowl was always the measuring stick. Well, the team finished 22nd in the NFL and last place in the NFC West.

Many have pointed to significant injury issues or close games that didn’t bounce the Seahawks way as the culprits to the poor season. Many believe it was an anomaly. Upon closer evaluation there were issues across the board that caused their dreadful 2021 season. Older players regressed, younger players plateaued, coordination and communication issues on both sides of the ball were prevalent, schemes didn’t adjust to personnel weaknesses, the list goes on. This team needs significant overhaul in 2022 to return to contention. Every aspect of the team, coaching staff, and personnel department, needs to be reassessed and improved.

Below is an assessment of each area of the team as it stands at the end of the 2021 season, along with an idea of what the perfect offseason would look like to a die-hard 12 and football fanatic.

SOME NOTES FOR THE READER:

  • The article is categorized into sections of Offense, Defense, Special Teams, and Front Office. Within each category the position groups are ordered in most important to address to least important. Scroll to the sections as needed if you don’t want to read the entire piece.
  • The free agents and extensions selected were based on the writer’s best assessment and personal preference. There are a tremendous number of combinations of positions to address and alternate free agents that would work great to improve the Seahawks roster. Go have some fun and research the positions and free agents you’d like to see acquired this off season.
  • The 2022 draft prospects were not assessed in this article, only which positions draft capital should be used on. Feel free to give your feedback about potential prospects that could improve this team, if you have any.
  • At the very bottom of the article is the table for visualization of the roster and cap situation discussed in this analysis.

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Russell Wilson’s salary is the 6th highest among NFL quarterbacks and he averaged the 8th highest rating among quarterbacks over the last 3 years, 9th in 2021. Considering his play and the QB pay range his salary is fair for 2022. Considering the $26M dead cap hit there is little incentive for the Seahawks to trade him.

At this point in Wilson’s career his game and skills are set, albeit slowly declining with age. He is a pro bowl level QB, a very accurate passer to all areas of the field, has excellent pocket presence, is turnover averse, and has the ability to use his legs to extend plays. He is a leader on and off the field and his teammates always speak highly of his performance, attitude, and competitiveness. However, he does have some shortcomings, no pun intended. He is short for an NFL quarterback and cannot see the whole field when behind the offensive line. He needs a 10+ yard drop or windows between linemen to complete passes in the 0-10 yard range. This gives the defense two advantages: 1. Outside rushers can pin their ears back and rush deep with a free lane to the Wilson’s spot, either pushing Russ back up in the pocket where he can’t see or putting him in scramble mode where he often takes deep sacks. 2) The coverage can sit deeper in their zones and play softer on short routes knowing the ball has a little father to travel for them to break on. The counter to this is a solid run game to keep them honest, part of the reason Carroll is so adamant about not running the football enough after losses. Wilson has also lost some of his speed and quickness to make plays in the open field, which was a big part of his early career success. He often used to break big runs late in games or in critical moments but not much anymore. Probably his most detrimental trait, something that none of his three OCs have been able to break, is his blind faith obsession with the deep ball. He can’t resist holding out for low percentage throws, especially when under pressure, often passing up a wide-open underneath receiver or easy throw away. New over the last few years, he too often appears to stare down the deep route, not even considering the other options within the play design. Though don’t get it twisted, the man has the softest and most accurate deep ball in the game of football.

Here’s the question, can a team win a Super Bowl with a Top 10 QB salary? Based on history, the answer is only if Brady or Manning is your quarterback. Tracking back to 1999, only 6 times has a QB paid in the Top 10 of his position won a Super Bowl. In all 6 instances the QBs last name was either Brady or Manning. 8 times since 1999 has a QB on a rookie deal won the Super Bowl. One can argue a team is more likely to win the Super Bowl with a rookie QB than a highly paid one. Another part to that story, no QB won a Super Bowl taking up more than 12.42% of the salary cap, and Tom Brady in 2018 was the QB at 12.42%. Only 3 QBs have won a Super Bowl taking up more than 10% of the cap, their names Brady (18 & 20) and Manning (Peyton 06 & 15, Eli 11). Maybe they have discovered the sweet spot to being a highly paid championship a QB, don’t exceed 11% of the teams’ cap, more research needed to verify.

Russell Wilson is 16.86% of the cap in 2022, so this does not bode well for Seattle’s chances to win the Super Bowl based on recent history. That being said, neither does trading Wilson. Trading Wilson would open $11 million in cap space and provide a Top 15 pick, maybe two, along with additional draft capital to retool some holes. However, that $11 million would need to be spent on his replacement and draft picks are no guarantee for production. Naturally the next question is, would Seattle be better off with some early draft picks and an $11 million QB such as Andy Daulton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Teddy Bridgewater? Or with Russell Wilson and his #5 QB salary? When considering their chance to win the Super Bowl, statistically, it’s a wash. If the goal is to win the Super Bowl it’s probably better to go with the proven commodity over the potential of some draft picks, especially with Schneider’s 1st round track record. In 2023 Wilson’s salary bumps to $40M with $13M in dead money, which should remain around the 6th highest salary among QBs. In 2023 it will need to be reassessed based on Wilson’s performance. If his play doesn’t improve then $27 million in free cap space and multiple first round picks sounds better than what we just saw Pittsburg go through with Big Ben.

If it comes to this, what would a solid trade look like? Stafford returned two 1sts and a starting QB in Jared Goff, that would be the expected minimum compensation. A starting QB can be had for a couple early to mid-round picks depending on talent. Wentz went for a conditional 2nd and a 3rd, Tannehill for a 4th and 7th, Garoppolo for a 2nd, Sam Darnold returned a 2nd and 4th. Russell Wilson is more efficient and slightly higher rated than Stafford but not by much. Starting talks for a Russell Wilson trade would be three 1st round picks, two 1sts and multiple picks in rounds 2-4, or two 1st‘s and a starting QB. Giants, Eagles, Dolphins, and Jets all have multiple first round picks in 2022.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Russell Wilson decides his goals of being the "Best to ever do it" and winning multiple Super Bowls will or will not be achieved in Seattle. He becomes set on playing his entire career with the Seahawks and gets real with where his game is at aged 33. Russell signs a 5 year $150M extension with $75M guaranteed and reduces his 2023 cap hit by $8-$10M, then plays for $30 million/year through his twilight. Brady did it and pulled out 3 championships. This will give Russ the ability to achieve all that he said he desires, play in the NFL through 40 years old, retire with the Seahawks, and be on a team with the cap space to acquire the talent to win multiple Super Bowls.

Running Back/Fullback – Under contract for 2022 are Chris Carson, returning from a severe neck injury, DJ Dallas, and Travis Homer. Considering Carson’s vast injury history and the low ceiling of Homer and Dallas, this team desperately needs a #1 running back. Possibly two with as much as Pete Carroll wants to run it. Dallas and Homer are almost locks with their special teams’ contributions, minimal cost, and solid backup play. They’ll just need to hold off the rookie competition. Carson will rank 11th in salary among RBs at $6.4 million, but his injury issues have returned the last two years after pro bowl caliber seasons in 2018 and 2019. It’s a difficult decision whether to keep him at 28 years old coming off a spinal fusion surgery or take the $3.5 million in cap savings. He’s a big injury concern but can you replace his potential production for $3.4M? It’s not likely to get a high potential player on a non-guaranteed deal at that price. So, do you roll the dice with Carson’s potential or the potential of an unknown $3.4 million player? If you go with Carson there needs to be a plan B with his injury history and current neck situation, also if you go with the $3 million player. Rashaad Penny is intriguing after his performance to end the season. However, he is an injury risk just like Carson and likely in the $2-$3 million price range, another gamble. Keep in mind ~$4.5M gets you a Jamaal Williams/Gus Edwards type of player and ~$3M gets you a Carlos Hyde/Mike Davis type. Fullback is set with Nick Ballore, but it would be good to bring in a UFDA or vet for competition, as the 33-year-old has $1.5M in available cap savings on his $2.1M salary.

Is it smart to resign Penny and keep Carson? Carson and Penny have only been on the field together 25 times out of 68 games (36%), while both missed the same game 13 times (19%). They have only finished a season together twice in 4 years, with each also individually finishing a season just twice (44% with Carson’s 5 years). It’s a huge gamble paying the $10-$11M it will take to have them both on the roster for just a 36% chance they play together, a 44% chance they make it to the playoffs healthy, and a 20% chance neither of them are on the roster come playoff time. In Week 1 of 2022 Carson will be 28 years old and coming off a neck fusion surgery. Spine surgeries typically have a significant impact to the NFL career with only 67% of players playing another game post-surgery. I couldn’t find any examples of players having a quick recovery nor any "back to 100%". There are camps of 12s that want Penny and Carson on the team in 2022, but based on history it’s very risky to pay both. Penny currently looks like the safer bet to play with upside considering his finish to the season and overall health compared to Carson’s neck surgery.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Load heavy at running back and sign two top starters in free agency. Release Chris Carson to save $3.5M against the cap with the potential to resign him to a non-guaranteed deal. Use Carson’s cap savings to sign Penny for one last shot at redemption at 2 years $7 million w/$4 guaranteed (1/$3.5M is fine). Sign a top free agent such as Leonard Fournette, Sony Michel, Marlon Mack, or Ronald Jones III for $5M/year. Draft at least one RB in the first 4 picks for competition, depth, and as a future starter who takes DJ Dallas spot. Dallas is resigned to the practice squad. Nick Ballore holds down his spot as a solid full back, back-up linebacker, special teams captain, and pro bowler, who makes weekly splash plays in kick coverage.

Offensive Tackle – A thin position on the roster with just Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe under contract for the league minimum, while $3.5 million is eaten in dead money from Brown’s 2021 preseason holdout raise. Jake Curhan showed promise at right tackle with quick feet, excellent athleticism, and sufficient strength but is still very raw. With the likes of Nick Bosa, Chandler Jones, Erik Armstead, and Aaron Donald across the line 6 games per year and $37 million Russell Wilson standing behind them, this position group needs multiple additions of significant quality. Unfortunately, the free agent pool of tackles is limited in youth and talent, which will make those additions overpriced. Therefore, the needed additions are not likely considering that John Schneider avoids overpaying in free agency like it’s the plague.

At Left Tackle Cam Robinson hasn’t shown a high enough ceiling to merit the $15M+ deal he’ll likely get. Best value for Seattle would be to bring back Duane Brown for around $10 million. He’s no longer a pro bowl caliber left tackle but he’s a great leader and a Top 15-20 tackle, which will cost at least $10 million. Eric Fisher might be another name of equal value to Brown but without the experience with the team and system. Orlando Brown would be the big money pick to be our franchise left tackle if they can find a way to make the $25M contract work. Brown is a bigger Russell Okung in his prime. Terron Armstead’s age and injury history cause hesitation with the massive investment he will require.

At Right Tackle there probably isn’t enough money to invest in free agency. Riley Reiff, Chris Hubbard, or Nate Solder might be options but likely options the team can’t afford considering they also need to fill the left tackle and center positions.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: A high ceiling tackle is drafted in the first four picks. Duane Brown is resigned for $10M to hold down another year at left tackle while developing Forsythe and the 2022 early round draft pick as his replacement. They roll with Curhan and a vet minimum player to compete at right tackle and hope to hit on the draft pick for depth.

Center – There are no centers on the roster and $1 million in dead money from Pocic’s 2021 deal. Good news is there are a lot of quality free agent centers available. With the variety of run concepts that Waldron’s offense wants to employ the center position might be the most important position on the offensive line. The center in Waldron’s offense needs to be athletic, smart, and technically sound. This position has been a weak point on the Seahawks for many years and it should be a priority for them to solidify it for a few years, even if it’s a little expensive. Bradley Bozeman is very intriguing at 27 years old with 3 years of experience leading Baltimore’s complex run game under Greg Roman. He’s played in complex run systems from winning programs in Alabama and Baltimore, doesn’t get hurt, and still has improvement to be had in his game. Ryan Jenson and Ted Karas are other interesting options. If big money is not allocated to the center position, then Justin Britt is a decent option to return in the $3M range.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Seahawks make a significant financial investment into the center position. Bradley Bozeman is signed to a 4 year $36M contract with $20M guaranteed who mans the position at a pro bowl level for several years. A non-guaranteed vet minimum free agent and a late round pick/UDFA are brought in to compete for the backup G/C position.

Tight End – Another thin group with only unproven Colby Parkinson (4 rec/26 yards) under contract in his 3rd year after injury issues the previous two. $2 million in cap space is eaten by the dead money in Gerald Everett’s 2021 deal. This position is in desperate need of resources. The silver lining is that Russell Wilson doesn’t target or utilize his tight ends, mostly because he doesn’t target the intermediate middle of the field (5-15 yards) which is usually where TEs roam. He also doesn’t have the touch for jump balls meant for bigger receivers, he couldn’t even complete fade passes to Jimmy Graham. Though it’s an important position for the offense they want to run under Waldron, due to Wilson’s play style the Seahawks should only need one solid starter to carry the load. There are a lot of solid free agents available such as Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Mike Gesicki, and CJ Uzomah to name a few. Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, and Dalton Shultz are intriguing names to fill that main TE1 role at a higher salary, with Parkinson and another minimum salary player filling TE2 & 3. Though, it appears the best scenario would be to bring back Everett and Dissly, especially Everett considering his 2021 production and experience with the offensive system.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Everett ($7.5M) and Dissly ($2.5M) are resigned for approximately $9-$10 million total. The offensive continuity is maintained and a focus is made to build off of Everett’s promising 2021 season where he showed pro bowl potential.

Wide Receiver – This position is set at the top with two of the best receivers in the NFL in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. At the number three spot is 2021 2nd Round pick D’Wayne Eskridge, who looked exceptionally explosive at times and should significantly improvement in year two if he can stay on the field. Freddy Swain is a versatile WR4/5 who can contribute on special teams and return kicks. Due to the uncertainty of Eskridge staying healthy, as well as the ceiling of Swain, bringing in a high potential player that can grab 35-50 balls should be considered. Zay Jones and Cedric Wilson are two players that could fill the role with a high ceiling. However, this type of player will cost in the $5M range. Unfortunately, there are too many holes on the roster and not enough cap space for this luxury. The team will need to roll with their current roster rounded out with a combination of draft picks and minimum free agent deals. Some examples that would work well for the Seahawks are Josh Gordon and Mohamed Sanu, big possession receivers.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: D.K. Metcalf is extended for 4 years $80M w/$48M guaranteed, this is basically the Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas deal. Metcalf is not at that level yet, especially with his issues with drops and attitude. But the Seahawks are paying for potential here, which is at a Calvin Johnson/Julio Jones level. Waldon scheme’s up D.K. Metcalf to join Lockett in the elite receiver ranks. Eskridge becomes the Debo Samuel/Robert Woods gadget man in Waldron’s offense, while a veteran on a minimum deal pulls off a Mike Williams-esque comeback performance. Swain continues to grow into an all-around receiver with a rookie joining him to hold down special teams duties.

Offensive Guard – This position is set with returning starters Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson. However, they are the only two guards under contract. Damien Lewis did not appear to progress much in year 2 after the move from RG to LG, though based on the progress in his rookie season he should continue his improvement in year 3. Gabe Jackson is ranked in the mid-20s to mid-30s in PFF ratings which doesn’t justify his $9M cap hit. However, with Jackson having only $3M in cap savings there’s no ability to release him unless a diamond in the rough on a minimum/rookie deal is discovered. The position group will need to be filled out with rookies and minimum salary veterans as the remaining cap space will need to go to the empty center and tackle positions. Ethan Pocic, Phil Haynes, Dakota Shepley, and/or Jordan Simmons are all quality options for this role.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Lewis makes a big jump in year 3 and Jackson doesn’t regress. Continuity is maintained by signing Ethan Pocic on a minimum deal for depth and a diamond in the rough future starter is drafted in rounds 5-7.

DEFENSE

Cornerback – The cornerback room is thin with only Tre Brown and Ugo Amadi under contract. Tre Brown showed very promising instincts, good quickness, and aggressive tackling in his first year but couldn’t stay healthy. Ugo Amadi, who’s in a contract year, is a solid nickel corner that contributes on special teams and continues to improve. Seattle has struggled to find quality cornerbacks since the departure of Richard Sherman in 2017. This is mostly because they have not invested the resources needed to acquire a quality player over that time. The highest draft pick was Shaquill Griffin in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft, the biggest trade was a 5th rounder for Quinton Dunbar in 2020, and the most spent on a free agent was $4M on Ahkello Witherspoon in 2021. Seattle must invest in the cornerback position to solidify their number one spot in this pass first league.

The free agent class of cornerbacks is not very deep which will make the good players expensive. However, there is a unique opportunity to get a Bill Belichick coached All-Pro in their prime in JC Jackson, albeit probably at a cost of $20M per year. He can play in any scheme but excels in man coverage and is the ball hawking defensive back that Pete Carroll loves with 25 interceptions in his first 4 years. Yes! 25! DJ Reed and Sydney Jones should also be easy to resign in free agency at fair deals in the $3-5M range for Reed and $1-3M range for Jones. Keep in mind that Marquise Blair can man the slot as well. Some other interesting names on the market are Kevin King, Darious Williams, Charvarius Ward, Eli Apple, Levi Wallace, and Desmond Trufant. JC Jackson is an elite talent that doesn’t come around very often as a free agent, the Seahawks must do everything to sign him.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: The Seahawks go big and sign JC Jackson at 4 years $80M with $45M guaranteed to lock down that #1 spot for years to come. Tre Brown mans the #2 spot, continuing to improve on his rookie highlights, with Ugo Amadi remaining in the slot. Sydney Jones or DJ Reed are signed for depth and to push Brown for the right side, while a mid-round pick is used for additional depth.

Free Safety – There are no single-high free safeties under contract for the 2022 season. Marquise Blair, coming off of a broken knee cap, can man the position but his coverage skills are better suited for strong safety or nickel corner in Carroll’s scheme. Ugo Amadi can also man the free safety spot but he’s the starting nickel corner and also not ideal for the scheme. There are a few single high safeties available in free agency that are intriguing. Pairing Marcus Maye back with Jamal Adams would be an excellent safety tandem. Maye should come at a fair price due to his recent achilles tear. Marcus Williams and Quandre Diggs are the other quality single-high free agents, possibly Jessie Bates III if the Bengals don’t give him the franchise tag. Considering Maye’s achilles injury, Williams cost, and Bates tackling issues, the Seahawks best option for pro bowl level single-high safety play is to resign Quandre Diggs. He should be able to be signed for around $9-$10M. There really aren’t many other options, and with the uncertainty at cornerback the Seahawks need to solidify their backend with experience.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Seattle resigns Quandre Diggs at a slight discount due to his broken leg, 3 years $28M with $18M guaranteed, and he returns in pro bowl form. A player is drafted in the late rounds or a veteran is signed to a minimum contract for depth.

Defensive Tackle – Poona Ford is the only true defensive tackle under contract at $9.7M against the salary cap. I count LJ Collier as a DT but he will most likely be released at roster cuts to get his $1M in cap savings; a player of his caliber can be signed for a non-guaranteed minimum contract. Poona Ford can be released for a savings of $4.8M against the cap, which is a possibility. Poona has not made the leap forward to justify his 2022 salary. However, with no other DTs on the roster his release is dependent on the quality of depth at the position. The Seahawks were 17th in rush yards allowed per game, 18th in rushing TDs allowed per game, and had 2 linebackers in the Top 5 in tackles, they need to improve the interior of their line.

There are a lot of solid DTs available in free agency covering all sorts of roles and schemes. Defensive tackles are also a sweet spot of John Schneider, hitting on numerous free agents over the years, from Williams and McDaniel during the super bowl runs, to the recent Al Woods. Some interesting names here would be the return of Jarran Reed, Quinton Jefferson, Malik McDowell, Sheldon Richardson, and/or Al Woods. All could be had in the $3-$5M range and are more developed than their last stint in Seattle. Larry Ogunjobi is arguably the best available at 27 years old with 7 sacks and 16 QB hits with 49 tackles in 2021. He wins with a rare speed and power that would be excellent for the 3-tech/big end position in the 4-3 under scheme. Some older veterans such as Malik Jackson, Jonathan Hankins, DaQuan Jones, and Linval Joseph could also fill the spot at various values. We may see them just resign Al Woods and Brian Mone, who played excellent in 2021 for their pay grade.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Another big investment is made in the trenches and Larry Ogunjobi is signed to a 3 year $21M deal with $13 guaranteed. Sign back Al Woods and Brian Mone at similar rates to 2021 with a slight raise for Mone. Poona is extended on another 2-year $12 million contract with $7.5 guaranteed to lower his cap hit down to $4.5M, same as in 2021. Collier is released for his $1M cap savings. Draft a player in the late rounds and sign a couple non-guaranteed vet minimum deals for competition to round out the roster.

Defensive End – Defensive end is mostly set due to current contracts taking up $16.7M of the cap, $20M if you count LJ Collier who is listed as a DT for this analysis. Dunlap is a lock with only $900K in savings to $5.6M in dead money. Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson are also locks, with Taylor looking like a future pro bowler. Hyder can be cut to save $2M of his $3.7M cap hit. Mayowa’s release would save another $1.5M from his $3.7M cap hit. Question is, can you replace Hyder and Mayowa with improved production for $3.5M? Yes, neither was very good in 2021. Hyder is a smarter more aggressive LJ Collier and Mayowa is now too slow for his size. Both were always in the right spots but just a half step too slow.

With the lack of secondary talent on this roster and the terrible track record of free agent corner signings, the defensive line should receive considerable resources to pressure the opposing QB. Unfortunately, the cap space isn’t available as it’s needed to fill other positions on the roster. There are a lot of quality free agent pass rushers on the market but pass rushers are expensive. Rasheem Green will be in the $6-$7M price range with his age, production, and continued progression. Another veteran pass rusher such as Justin Houston, William Gholston, Everson Griffen, or Melvin Ingram should be brought in for around $2.5M with minimal guarantees and a draft pick in the first 4 rounds should be used on a pass rusher.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: A pass rushing specialist, interior or end, is drafted in rounds 2-4 that is ready to contribute on day 1. Mayowa and Hyder are released. The $3.5M in savings are used to sign Melvin Ingram to complete the rotation with Dunlap, Taylor, Robinson, and the draft pick.

Linebacker – The starting linebackers from 2021 are under contract for 2022 in Wagner, Brooks, and Barton (Taylor is a DE for this analysis), with Ben Burr-Kirven under a non-guaranteed contract and coming off a torn ACL. Brooks and Wagner are fantastic, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the NFL in tackles, while Barton would start on a lot of other teams in the league. This group needs depth but is already the 2nd most expensive position group on the team at $26M or 12.5% of the cap. Depth will need to come from a couple of high-ceiling/low-cost free agents and/or late round draft picks.

With needs across the roster Wagner’s $20M cap hit will have to be addressed for this team to contend. Wagner is still a pro bowl caliber inside linebacker but is inevitably slowly declining, father time is undefeated. Wagner is no longer a $20M player in today’s pass happy NFL. With one year remaining on his contract an extension should be in the works. He’s still a Top 5 inside linebacker, which runs around $15M in today’s market. If an extension can’t be worked out then it’s probably best for Seattle to release Wagner for the $16.6M in cap savings and take their chances to resign him for less. $16.6M is what PFF estimated for a Chandler Jones contract in 2022. Intriguing question, who’s the better player right now, Bobby Wagner or Chandler Jones? Moving Jordan Brooks inside seems like the best fit for him in this defense but there are benefits to keeping him outside as well, mainly they don’t have to sign a player for outside backer. If Bobby is released then it is likely they’ll have Barton compete with a mid-grade free agent like Alex Singleton, Christian Kirksey, or Troy Reeder for MIKE (Middle Linebacker).

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Wagner will sign an extension to retire as a Seahawk for 4 years $56M with $32M guaranteed, dropping his cap hit to $13M for 2022. Brooks will continue to advance creating one of the best linebacker tandems in the NFL. Alex Singleton is signed for $3M and a late round draft pick is added for depth. Burr-Kirven will be released for his $1M cap savings with Taylor able to play SAM.

Strong Safety – Strong safety is set with starter Jamal Adams and utility player Marquise Blair both under contract. One of the odd parts about the Adams trade was that Blair was thought to have been drafted high in the 2nd round (47th overall) to man the strong safety position. He looks the part with a little better coverage than Adams though not as stout around the line, but he can’t stay on the field. Blair can be released to save $1.3M but that’s not enough for a replacement of the quality of Blair. With $11 million in cap space taken by this position it will not receive any additional resources, depth will come from a non-guaranteed free agent signing or a late round draft pick. Ryan Neal will likely get a solid contract in free agency and may get a shot at being a starter, there’s little chance he returns.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Jamal Adams and Marquise Blair return in the best shape of their lives. The new defensive coordinator excels at maximizing Adams talent while Marquise Blair develops into the big nickel package Carroll envisioned for him. Kam Chancellor 2.0 is drafted in the late rounds.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker – Jason Myers struggled significantly in 2021 after a stellar 2020 season. With a $5M cap hit (5th among NFL kickers) and only $1M dead money there is a good chance he is cut regardless of the potential of him returning to form. That money is needed elsewhere. Myers has an 84% career field goal percentage, so returning to his 2020 form (100%) after kicking just 74% in 2021 is not likely. It’s not easy to find a quality kicker, so the Seahawks may not be keen on going through another Blair Walsh/Sebastian Janikowski era.

Punter – Michael Dickson is an All-Pro with a new contract. Nothing to do here.

Long Snapper – Tyler Ott is under contract for 2022. $1M in cap savings is available if another lineman can long snap or someone is brought in on a vet minimum, but is that really worth the risk of bad snaps in the kicking game?

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Myers gets a shot to redeem himself with an extension to lower his cap hit in 2022 to $2.5M in exchange for a guaranteed year in 2023 at $4M. Extend Ott to lower his cap hit and continue to watch Dickson pin teams inside the 20, often inside the 10.

FRONT OFFICE AND COACHING STAFF

Defense – Ken Norton Jr. has to be replaced. If not for his predictable play calling then for his lack of player development and failure to maximize players strengths, especially on the defensive line. There are countless articles written on the issues with his defenses over the last 4 years. To summarize, there is always a significant player/talent weakness that isn’t covered up by scheme and gets exploited by the opponent. That’s a failure of the coordinator. Positional coaches should take some blame as well, especially the defensive backs coaches Nick Sorenson and Andre Curtis. The secondary has been terrible since losing Sherman and Thomas, though only low value resources have been put towards fixing it by the personnel department. After finishing 6th in passing yards allowed in 2017 Curtis took over as passing game coordinator and they have regressed in all 4 seasons, 17th in 2018, 24th in 2019, 30th in 2020, and 31st in 2021. Deshawn Shead was brought in as an assistant in 2021 so maybe that change is already in the works.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: The entire defensive coaching staff is fired except for Clint Hurt, who players love and is always found coaching hard on SoundFx/All Access. Gus Bradley is not retained by Las Vegas and is hired back as the Defensive Coordinator. Gus Bradley is a fantastic motivator and even better play caller. They bring in another experienced coach to run the secondary and pass game coordination who can maximize Jamal Adams.

UPDATE: Since writing this Ken Norton Jr and Andre Curtis were fired. I did not know Nick Sorenson left last year. The rumors are that Carroll is looking in the Vic Fangio coaching tree. Fangio is known for running a 4-3 under variation, Carroll’s favorite, and an expert at featuring safeties in his defense, Justin Simmons and Eddie Jackson are his recent yields. This would be good for Jamal Adams.

Front Office - The roster has holes across the board, aging stars, and a lack of young talent or quality depth at several positions. The failures in the draft and free agent signings are obvious when looking at the ages of the quality players, the Seahawks are the7th oldest team in the NFL. During the 5 years between 2013 and 2018 the only pro bowlers drafted were Tyler Lockett and punter Michael Dickson. Technically there are two others as Shaquill Griffin was an injury replacement in 2019 and Frank Clark made it 19 & 20 but as a Chief. Only 7 other multi-year starters were drafted during that time in Luke Willson, Justin Britt, Jarran Reed, Germain Ifedi, Chris Carson, Tre Flowers, and Will Dissly. That list shouldn’t need any explanation as to its quality. 2019-2021 was much better, potentially finding future stars in DK Metcalf, Jordan Brooks, Darrell Taylor, Damien Lewis, and D’Wayne Eskridge. Starting level talent has also been found in Ugo Amadi, Cody Barton, Marquise Blair, Freddie Swain, Alton Robinson, Colby Parkinson, and Tre Brown. Whatever the personnel assessment issues that were occurring between 2013 and 2018 they seem to have been corrected if one pretends LJ Collier never happened.

Trades have been a polarizing subject for this front office. They have executed plenty of blockbusters over the years, some have worked out and some haven’t. They have also capitalized on several extremely successful trades for late round picks, a few recent examples are Justin Coleman, Quandre Diggs, and Carlos Dunlap. To cover the subject, the Jamal Adams trade is likely a net loss at this point considering the contract and injury issues, but it’s very arguable as to how large a loss when looking at their history of first round draft picks. If they traded Rashaad Penny and LJ Collier along with McDougald and a 3rd for Adams many people would have called the trade a steal. Adams also can still become the perennial All-Pro that was hoped for.

The question is, who is responsible for the roster issues, Pete Carroll, John Schneider, or both? Both likely have some blame in the situation. Regardless, the turn-around seen in talent acquisition the last couple years needs to be maintained for this team to return to championship contention.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Pete Carroll gives full personnel authority over to John Schneider and focuses on coaching. Mainly just to give 12’s the satisfaction of really knowing who’s in charge of the roster. Schneider hires scouting consultants specializing in offensive line and cornerbacks for both the draft and personnel assessment.

Offense – The Offensive coaching staff gets a pass for 2021. It’s a new staff and offensive scheme, which take time to gel in the NFL. Russell Wilson was injured for a quarter of the season and played poorly for another half of the season. There were flashes of the diverse system that was hoped for with the hiring of Waldon, and the improvement of the offensive line on combo blocks really set the stage for Penny’s late season burst. The play designs to open up Metcalf and the Tight Ends were regularly on tape but many were unsuccessful due to failures by the offensive line and quarterback. A full offseason of training and activities in 2022 should significantly improve the coordination of the offense in year 2.

THE PERFECT OFFSEASON: Full offseason activities are allowed without covid restrictions. The entire offense buys into learning and perfecting the system throughout the offseason. The issues with offensive line spacing, timing and angles of pulling lineman, 3rd down conversions, and lack of pre-snap motion are corrected. The offense becomes balanced and the scheme takes advantage of the talent available.

SUMMARY

The talent is there for this team to return to competitiveness in 2022, but the goal is the Super Bowl. This roster will need an influx of talent and depth to get back to a championship level. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have done it before, there’s no reason to doubt they can do it again. Here’s a formula they might follow:

Fire the defensive staff and hire coaches with expertise in pass rush and safety use. Give full personnel authority to John Schneider and have Pete Carroll focus on culture and coaching. Hire personnel consultants where consistent failures have occurred, offensive line and cornerback.

Extend players to lower cap and maintain continuity: Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Jason Myers, Poona Ford, Bobby Wagner

Cut players for additional cap space: Chris Carson, DJ Dallas, LJ Collier, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, Ben Burr-Kirven.

Sign Free Agents to fill holes at RB, TE, OT, C, DT, CB, and FS with talent and provide quality depth for the DE and LB positions: Leonard Fournette, Rashaad Penny, Gerald Everett, Will Disley, Duane Brown, Bradley Bozeman, Larry Ogunjobi, Melvin Ingram, Alex Singleton, JC Jackson, and Quandre Diggs.

Draft an RB, OT, CB, and Pass Rusher in the first 4 draft picks. Draft a DT, Safety, C, and G with the last 4 picks (They only have 6 picks right now but that will change).

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment on Twitter @LeeLaRiviere.

Position Player Cap Hit Dead Cap Savings Cap Total % of Cap Target Delta
QB1 Russell Wilson $29,000,000 $26,000,000 -$3,000,000 $29,895,000 14.36% $30,000,000 $105,000
QB2 Jacob Eason $895,000 $0 -$895,000
RB1 Fournette/Top FA $5,000,000 $5,000,000 $0 $15,416,501 7.40% $15,000,000 -$416,501
RB2 Rashaad Penny/FA $3,000,000 $4,000,000 $1,000,000
RB3 Travis Homer $1,000,701 $35,704 -$964,997
RB4 Draft Rounds 1-4 $1,018,600 $1,000,000 -$18,600
CUT Chris Carson $3,000,000 $3,000,000 $0
CUT/PS DJ Dallas $247,200 $247,200 $0
FB Nick Ballore $2,150,000 $600,000 -$1,550,000
WR1 Tyler Lockett $10,050,000 $31,200,000 $21,150,000 $15,539,620 7.46% $15,000,000 -$539,620
WR2 D.K. Metcalf $1,459,198 $338,827 -$1,120,371
WR3 D'Wayne Eskridge $1,353,069 $2,197,979 $844,910
WR4 Freddie Swain $927,353 $64,706 -$862,647
WR5 Josh Gordon/Vet Min $1,000,000 $0 -$1,000,000
WR6 Draft Rounds 4-7/UDFA $750,000 $750,000 $0
TE1 Gerald Everett/FA $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $0 $10,395,000 4.99% $10,000,000 -$395,000
TE2 Will Disley/FA $2,500,000 $2,500,000 $0
TE3 Colby Parkinson $895,000 $167,610 -$727,390
T1 Duane Brown/Top FA $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $0 $13,650,500 6.56% $15,000,000 $1,349,500
T2 Jake Curhan $825,000 $9,500 -$815,500
T3 Stone Fosythe $825,500 $41,656 -$783,844
T4 Draft Rounds 1-4 $2,000,000 $2,000,000 $0
G1 Gabe Jackson $9,000,000 $6,000,000 -$3,000,000 $12,086,947 5.81% $12,000,000 -$86,947
G2 Damien Lewis $1,336,947 $562,596 -$774,351
G3/C2 Ethan Pocic/Vet Min $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $0
G4/C2 Draft Rounds 5-7 $750,000 $750,000 $0
C1 Bradley Bozeman/Top FA $8,000,000 $9,000,000 $1,000,000 $8,000,000 3.84% $7,000,000 -$1,000,000
TOTALS $104,983,568 $104,000,000
P Michael Dickson $4,383,059 $5,200,000 $816,941 $7,683,059 3.69% $9,000,000 $1,316,941
LS Tyler Ott $800,000 $125,000 -$675,000
K Jason Myers $2,500,000 $1,000,000 -$1,500,000
TOTALS $7,683,059 $9,000,000
DT1 Poona Ford $4,500,000 $4,830,000 $330,000 $16,961,521 8.15% $16,000,000 -$961,521
DT2 Larry Ogunjobi $7,000,000 $7,000,000 $0
DT3 Al Woods $2,000,000 $500,000 -$1,500,000
DT4 Brian Mone $1,000,000 $500,000 -$500,000
CUT LJ Collier $2,461,521 $2,461,521 $0
DE1 Carlos Dunlap $6,500,000 $5,600,000 -$900,000 $18,277,702 8.78% $21,000,000 $2,722,298
DE2 Melvin Ingram/FA $3,500,000 $1,239,820 -$2,260,180
DE3 Draft Rounds 1-4 $750,000 $750,000 $0
DE4/DT5 Draft Rounds 4-7 $750,000 $750,000 $0
Edge1 Darrell Taylor $1,844,865 $1,239,820 -$605,045
Edge2 Alton Robinson $982,837 $175,674 -$807,163
CUT Benson Mayowa $2,250,000 $2,250,000 $0
CUT Kerry Hyder $1,700,000 $1,700,000 $0
MLB1 Bobby Wagner $13,000,000 $14,000,000 $1,000,000 $21,358,419 10.26% $20,000,000 -$1,358,419
MLB2 Cody Barton $1,186,031 $221,031 -$965,000
OLB1 Jordyn Brooks $3,336,984 $7,230,132 $3,893,148
OLB2/MLB Alex Singleton/FA $3,000,000 $3,000,000 $0
OLB3 FA/Draft Rounds 5-7 $750,000 $750,000 $0
CUT Ben Burr-Kirven $85,404 $85,404 $0
CB1 JC Jackson $13,000,000 $40,000,000 $27,000,000 $17,861,465 8.58% $20,000,000 $2,138,535
CB2 Tre Brown $985,166 $480,498 -$504,668
CB3 Ugo Amadi $1,126,299 $161,299 -$965,000
CB4 Sydney Jones/FA $2,000,000 $250,000 -$1,750,000
CB5 FA/Draft Rounds 2-5 $750,000 $750,000 $0
SS1 Jamal Adams $9,110,000 $16,000,000 $6,890,000 $19,344,388 9.29% $18,000,000 -$1,344,388
SS2 Marquise Blair $1,984,388 $638,936 -$1,345,452
FS1 Quandre Diggs/Top FA $7,500,000 $15,000,000 $7,500,000
FS2 FA/Draft Rounds 5-7 $750,000 $750,000 $0
TOTALS $93,803,495 $95,000,000 $1,529,878
TOTAL CAP $206,470,122 $208,000,000