We all know the story. The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2022 season projected to be one of the weakest rosters in the NFL.
They traded Russell Wilson. They lost Bobby Wagner to their division rival and defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. They didn’t even retain one of their more productive defenders in cornerback D.J. Reed, who signed with the New York Jets and had a standout year. The NFC West at large seemed to have outpaced Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and the Seahawks franchise. But that wasn’t how the season played out.
They swept the Rams, swept the Arizona Cardinals, and finished with a 9-8 record, which was good enough to earn a playoff berth. What was assumed to be the weakest part of their roster — the quarterback position — ended up being a revelation, as Geno Smith lit the league on fire when everybody was looking the opposite direction.
Even though they closed out with a disappointing Wild Card loss to the San Francisco 49ers, they entered the 2023 offseason carrying a sense of optimism, with some going so far as to name the Seahawks as having one of the most complete rosters in the NFL.
DraftKings Sportsbook has Seattle with the 13th-best odds to win the Super Bowl following the 2023 season, and the fifth-best odds to win the NFC. Needless to say, this is a pretty remarkable turnaround following what was projected to be a rebuilding year at best. But what kinds of roster changes did they make this offseason? The additions likely outweigh the subtractions, but we can still be certain that there will be some new faces taking the field for Seattle in 2023.
Pete Carroll is no stranger to roster upheaval, and this season featured some noteworthy signings and departures, to be sure. Chiefly among these are the additions of their duo of first-round draft picks — cornerback Devon Witherspoon from Illinois and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State. But these aren’t the only exciting new rookies who fans may get the opportunity to see take the field next season; the team also added a bruising running back in Zach Charbonnet out of UCLA in the second round, who has the potential to serve as a powerful compliment to 2022 standout Ken Walker III.
Beyond the above-mentioned players, they added a number of other young guys who will get an opportunity to compete to make an impact in Year 1. The entire Seahawks 2023 draft class can be seen below, per Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Athletic.
Seahawks 2023 draft class— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) April 29, 2023
CB Devon Witherspoon
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
OLB Derick Hall
RB Zach Charbonnet
OG Anthony Bradford
DT Cameron Young
DT Mike Morris
C Olu Oluwatimi
S/NCB Jerrick Reed II
RB Kenny McIntosh
In addition to adding a hefty number of rookies to the team via the draft (10 in total), they added some notable undrafted free agent pickups, such as hulking wide receiver Jake Bobo, who was a teammate with of the previously mentioned Charbonnet at UCLA. While UDFA pickups are rarely expected to be major contributors in Year 1, the Seahawks have never been afraid to place a premium on performance over salary and draft pedigree, so expect at least one of the following players to find a way to get his name out there in 2023.
*Take note: the team has had further transactions since the signings listed above, so there have been some additions/subtractions from the players listed.
On the topic of free agents, the team brought on a number of veterans during the offseason, as well. Probably the most discussed of these additions is defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones on a $51 million contract, who comes to the Northwest by way of the Denver Broncos. Jones is only 26 and has been productive as a pass rusher as a pro, according to Field Yates.
Seattle adds one of the better pass-rushing defensive tackles in the league.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 14, 2023
Dre'Mont Jones has 18.0 sacks over the past three seasons. Major impact player for the Seahawks. https://t.co/ocvOiliJVq
Hopefully, Jones will help the team add consistency and interior pressure to their pass rush, which was sorely lacking in 2022. Beyond this signing, the team made one of the more talked about moves in the league, as they brought back team leader and future Hall of Fame lock Bobby Wagner, who brings a wealth of experience and leadership back to the defense after a one-year vacation in Los Angeles.
Versatile defensive tackle Jarran Reed — who was a 2016 second-round draft pick for the Seahawks — will also be returning to the team on a two-year deal, according to Over the Cap. Safety Jordan Love will be joining what is an already loaded defensive backfield, as he will be playing alongside Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, among others.
Possibly one of the biggest roster changes is the one that didn’t happen; to state the obvious, Geno Smith earned a payday after what many are considering his “breakout season” in 2022, which saw him post a league-leading and franchise record 69.8% completion percentage, along with an impressive 4,282 yards and 30-11 TD/INT split, according to Pro Football Reference. He revitalized a career many had written off en route to being named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. We all found out exactly what kind of leader Smith was following a dramatic Week 1 victory over Russell Wilson and the then-heavily favored Denver Broncos.
But the enigmatic Smith was set to enter free agency, and the Seahawks held the fifth overall pick. The team was almost certainly projected to use this pick on a signal caller should Smith depart, but of course this would never come to pass.
The veteran quarterback market is often volatile, so projections for Smith’s contract varied wildly. Ultimately, Smith re-signed with Seattle on an incentive-heavy deal that could very well prove to be a mutually beneficial agreement for both player and organization. Bringing back their offensive leader didn’t guarantee that the team would pass on all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, but this ended up being largely irrelevant, given the way the top end of the selections shook out when three quarterbacks went before the Seahawks were even on the board.
While the roster additions captured most of the headlines, the team did lose some key players from 2022, as well. Linebacker Cody Barton signed with Washington Commanders. Even with the return of Wagner, Barton’s absence could be felt while the team approaches 2023 with a sense of uncertainty around last year’s leading tackler Jordyn Brooks, who’s currently on PUP rehabbing an ACL injury.
Brooks, of course, is recovering from offseason surgery for an excruciatingly painful (as well as excruciatingly timed) late-season ACL injury, and a specific return timetable is unknown at this point. Another player who may not be a household name but could become one is defensive back Ryan Neal, who the team briefly tendered as a restricted free agent prior to signing the above-mentioned Love, at which point they rescinded the tender, allowing him to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Neal filled in capably during the last couple if seasons when called upon due to injuries in the secondary, which was an unfortunately frequent occurrence. The defensive line lost some other starters or key role-players, as well, including space-eating defensive tackle Poona Ford and Al Woods. The losses didn’t end there, but the general sense around this team is that the potential of the additions outweighs the voids left by the departures.
The team made a number of coaching changes as well, most notably losing some familiar faces in Dave Canales and Brad Idzik, along with player-turned-coach Aaron Curry. They will be joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Idzik and Canales) and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.
Change is a normal, healthy part of life. But it often brings a host of mixed emotions with it: anxiety, excitement, trepidation, disbelief, etc. Football is no different, and the offseason can bring a lot of all of these emotions.
Thankfully, the Seahawks and their fanbase have been in the enviable position of having a mostly positive summer so far. As always, things will change the moment the first whistle sounds and we get to see cleats hit the turf in some meaningful action. So buckle up, the 2023 NFL season is nearly upon us!