You may remember that at around this time last season, ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell’s ranking of the best and worst NFL offseasons had the Seattle Seahawks at the very bottom of the list, while the Denver Broncos were numero uno. I’ll leave it at that.
In fairness to Bill, he had the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 2 and they reached the Super Bowl, and the Arizona Cardinals were No. 30 and stunk the place out. We all have big whiffs at some point but in this particular context the Seahawks and Broncos rankings look a bit on the embarrassing side.
So what’s his encore for this year? Well he’s doing a two-part series, starting with the worst offseason and all the way up to 17th. The Tennessee Titans have the unwanted (or given last year, maybe the wanted?) distinction of the worst offseason, while the Seahawks come in at 18th.
This is all behind the ESPN+ paywall so I won’t lift everything Barnwell wrote, but here are a couple of highlights.
What went right: Geno Smith is back on a reasonable deal. After his stunning 2022 season, he always seemed likely to return to Seattle. Unlike the Giants, who committed more than $80 million to lock up Daniel Jones over the next two years, the Seahawks were able to get a much more sensible deal done with their breakout quarterback. Smith will make $27.5 million in 2023 and has no further guaranteed money remaining on his deal afterward. It’s a nice payday for him and a flexible deal for the Seahawks, who even brought back Drew Lock on a one-year deal to be the backup.
What went wrong: Did enough get done on defense? After a frustrating 2021 season saw the Seahawks finish 21st in defensive DVOA, Pete Carroll took action. He fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton, cut franchise stalwart Bobby Wagner, promised to move toward a more attacking, aggressive scheme, and imported one of the game’s brightest young minds in Sean Desai to work alongside new coordinator Clint Hurtt. Seattle then landed a potential franchise cornerback in fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen, who did his best Richard Sherman impression in a spectacular rookie season.
In 2022, the Seahawks finished ... 21st in defensive DVOA. Not ideal. Now, Wagner is back, Desai has left for Philadelphia and Woolen is out until training camp after undergoing knee surgery. Jamal Adams, who missed most of the 2022 season with a torn quadriceps, might not be ready for the start of training camp. Jordyn Brooks just had his fifth-year option declined and is coming off a torn ACL. Wagner and Devin Bush were added to help at linebacker, and No. 5 pick Devon Witherspoon should be an immediate starter at corner, but this defense is already banged up before it has even put on pads.
Barnwell also expressed his concerns about the pass rush and the offensive line, more specifically the interior following the departures of Austin Blythe and Gabe Jackson. He believes the Seahawks need to add more depth beyond Phil Haynes and Day 3 rookies Anthony Bradford and Olusegun Oluwatimi.
While Bill didn’t bring it up, I’d say the only glaringly questionable decision I’ve seen this offseason is re-signing Jarran Reed. I don’t know how he fits schematically and I’m skeptical he has much left in the tank to offer. I’ve also made it clear that off-ball linebacker depth has potential to be a horror show, especially if Jordyn Brooks isn’t back soon and Bobby Wagner’s cozy PFF grade from 2022 was complete nonsense.
Otherwise I’m more than satisfied with the draft and what’s been done on offense, and lukewarm on the defense. It’s been a net positive offseason in my view, but obviously Bill doesn’t see a whole lot to be excited about. Let’s see if he’s underestimated this team once again!