It’s the slowest part of the NFL offseason, so why not dive into the history books and shudder at some of the worst free agent signings the Seattle Seahawks have ever made?
Traded players don’t count, and undrafted free agent rookies also do not qualify.
In the Pete Carroll era, Seattle has had massive home runs in the form of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, and it looks like Uchenna Nwosu may be another gem. On the downside, many of the whiffs were on guys who essentially were jettisoned from the league immediately after their failed Seahawks stint. Matt Flynn obviously was not a good signing but Russell Wilson’s presence prevented potential disaster from happening, so I’ll leave him off for now. Eddie Lacy, Robert Gallery, Ziggy Ansah, J’Marcus Webb, Bradley Sowell, and Luke Joeckel were particularly glaring disasterclasses for how ineffective they were. B.J. Finney and Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t even play a game here but at least they had trade value!
It’s really hard not to single out Cary Williams as the worst FA acquisition under Carroll. Byron Maxwell got paid by the Philadelphia Eagles (becoming one of their worst FA signings ever), and the Seahawks opted to sign Williams on a 3-year, $18 million contract. Other than an opening day scoop and score for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams, Williams was bad, bad, bad. He was a schematic misfit and it was a horrid showing against the Blaine Gabbert led San Francisco 49ers that resulted in his benching and eventual release. Williams never played another game in the NFL.
My fandom goes back to the Mike Holmgren/Tim Ruskell years, and, well... I only have one definitive answer. While Ruskell made some brilliant moves to get Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney, he had a few duds. TJ Houshmandzadeh might be a popular choice among others given his 5-year, $40 million contract ended after one season, but I think he also joined the team during Matt Hasselbeck’s decline and that hurt the entire offense.
Numero uno for me is free safety Brian Russell, whom Ruskell inked to a 5-year, $25 million contract fresh off two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was best known for recording nine interceptions in the 2003 season with the Minnesota Vikings. With Ken Hamlin gone, Russell was the Hamlin replacement. It was a disastrous move defined by poor angles, poor tackling, and a lot of memes in the olden days of Field Gulls. This was John Morgan’s write-up of his 2008 campaign:
Outlook: Negative utility is the operative phrase there. Russell is played to reduce the greatest amount of harm, neglecting the fact that a team can prevent scoring passes without being a successful pass defense. Russell sometimes stops a 30 yard play from going for 50 and the score. That leaves the opposing team in the red zone with a new set of downs. In 2007, Seattle parlayed that strategy into an improbable mix of a high number of opposing pass attempts, a below average number of yards allowed, but the league’s best touchdown’s allowed*. At the time, I accepted it as the hallmark of a bend but don’t break defense, but I’ve become ever more skeptical of the bend but don’t break phenomenon. Seattle flexed the other way in 2008, allowing more relative attempts - an extraordinarily high number of pass attempts for a 4-12 team - the worst pass yards in football, and the 27th ranked touchdown passes allowed.
Opponents provided compelling evidence that neither the strategy nor Russell work. Seattle allowed ten touchdown passes of ten or fewer yards. Proving the Seahawks couldn’t cede field position and then toughen in the red zone. It also allowed ten touchdowns of 20 or more yards. Proving that as a deep cover safety, Russell wasn’t covering shit.
Seattle didn’t draft a safety until the seventh and Courtney Greene is a project Seattle hopes to develop. Jamar Adams hasn’t received much pub. However cringeworthy, Russell is the presumptive and almost uncontested starter at free safety. Seattle could mitigate that some by making Russell just a safety. That is, a cover 2 safety and therefore not truly a strong or free safety. It absolutely must avoid putting Russell on an island and hoping his savvy and field marshalship overcomes his broken wheels, bad compass, terrible technique and leather-helmet athleticism.
Russell was released before the 2009 season, and then Justin Forsett ran over him when Seattle blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars in one of the few highlights of Jim Mora’s tenure. We have spent nearly every subsequent season with a whole lot of Earl Thomas and Quandre Diggs playing at a high level at the free safety position.
Now it’s your turn! Remember that these must be free agent signings and not draft picks or trades! Who’s the worst of the worst Seahawks FAs?
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