The Seattle Seahawks closed out a disappointing 2021 season with a pair of statement wins over the Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals, which sent the Hawks into the offseason on a high note following a roller coaster of a year. The season certainly hadn’t played out as fans had hoped, but as the team prepared to reload during the offseason, 12s could at least rest easy in the knowledge that there were no questions about the quarterback position.
With a full offseason to return to health, future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson would likely be able to return to form and lead a unit loaded with dangerous weapons like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Then came Tuesday, March 8, and all bets were off.
Blockbuster: After weeks of negotiations, in one of the largest trades in NFL history, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos have agreed to terms for a deal involving Super-Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2022
Trade is pending a physical and Wilson’s approval. pic.twitter.com/oRFDV8Ehyx
The trade of 10-year veteran Russell Wilson wasn’t the only big Seahawks news on that Tuesday in early March, however, as the team also released future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner the same afternoon. The moves weren’t the first indications that the winds of change were blowing around the VMAC this offseason, with several changes to the coaching staff having already been announced. However, the trade of Wilson and release of Wagner dwarfed the tweaks to the coaching staff and unquestionably demonstrated that Seattle wasn’t messing around when it came to building for the future.
And while Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll won’t say the word “rebuild,” Seattle spent the offseason reloading, revamping and retooling while laying the foundation for the next several years. The aforementioned changes to the coaching staff included moving on from Mike Solari and Ken Norton Jr., both of whom had relationships with Carroll that dated back to their time together with the San Francisco 49ers almost three decades ago.
The coaches brought in to replace Solari and KNJ were lesser known, but carried strong reputations. Clint Hurtt was promoted from defensive line coach to take over as defensive coordinator, while Karl Scott and Sean Desai were hired to help install a defensive system that would be more dynamic and more attacking. On the other side of the ball, Andy Dickerson was promoted from his role as run game coordinator to offensive line coach, and Sanjay Lal was lured back with promises of working with Metcalf, Lockett and Dee Eskridge.
Thus, with an eye to the future, the Seahawks hit free agency not looking to break the bank on big-name stars and rather to fill in the holes on the roster while using the draft to grab talent for the future. And that is exactly what the team did.
The team retained several of its own free agents, including Quandre Diggs, Rashaad Penny, Sidney Jones, Will Dissly, Al Woods and Geno Smith, but watched several members of the team who played key roles in 2021 depart. Also added in free agency were a number of role players from other teams in Artie Burns and Justin Coleman, who joined the trio of players added from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade: Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Shelby Harris. Meanwhile, the team allowed multiple starters to depart for greener pastures, including starters Duane Brown, Gerald Everett, Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder, Ethan Pocic, Rasheem Green and D.J. Reed.
Those changes set the team up for the absolute haul of potential it added in the draft, which the team used to bring in:
- LT Charles Cross
- EDGE Boye Mafe
- RB Ken Walker
- RT Abraham Lucas
- CB Coby Bryant
- CB Tariq Woolen
- EDGE Tyreke Smith (on injured reserve with a hip injury)
- WR Bo Melton (practice squad)
- WR Dareke Young
It’s only preseason, but the returns so far on many of the selections have been exactly what fans have been hoping for. Cross and Lucas seem likely to be the future on the ends of the offensive line. Mafe flashed exciting explosiveness in the preseason opener against the Steelers. Walker looked good in limited action in the opener before leaving with an injury, and Bryant appears to be the front runner to take over at the nickel corner slot. Even the later Day 3 picks could wind up playing key roles on special teams.
Then, during the summer, the Hawks threw a curveball that caught nearly everyone off guard; adding a pair of bright, young analytics staffers. Whether that is simply a matter of trying to keep up with the rest of the division in that regard, or whether it potentially signals a true shift in strategy within the front office and coaching staff, only time will tell. However, with a renewed ability to find contributors in the draft, a coaching staff that is shaking things up on both sides of the ball, and signs that the team could be looking to move into the present day when it comes to analytics, it’s entirely possible the team may have laid the foundation for a run of success in the years to come.
Now all they need is a quarterback.