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Will Dissly has moved down Seahawks’ tight end pecking order

One of the NFL’s highest cap hits at the tight end position is 3rd on his own team in snap counts.

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks retained the services of University of Washington alum and fan favorite tight end Will Dissly. The 3-year, $24 million contract was considered a head-scratcher at the time by outsiders, especially since it didn’t seem like there was a big market for him. We later found out that the Denver Broncos were potential suitors.

Alongside Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson, Dissly has been part of a tight end group heavily utilized by offensive coordinator Shane Waldron in 12 personnel—1 running back + 2 tight ends. While Seattle’s rate of 12 personnel has dropped from 29.7% in 2022 to 23% in 2023, they still use this grouping at a top-10 rate. Besides the decrease in target shares in the passing game, which can be attributed to both the arrival of Jaxon Smith-Njigba and the injuries on the offensive line, another development has emerged within the TE room.

Via Pro Football Reference:

2022 snap count share

Noah Fant - 660 (60.38%)
Will Dissly - 569 (52.06%)
Colby Parkinson - 443 (40.53%)

2023 snap count share

Noah Fant - 566 (56.83%)
Colby Parkinson - 454 (45.58%)
Will Dissly - 360 (36.14%)

Dissly is essentially the TE3 or rotating TE2 status with Parkinson depending on the week. He only missed two regular season games last season and one this season, so the numbers are not heavily skewed by absences.

Per Pro Football Focus, about 60% of Dissly’s snaps have been for some form of blocking, up from 52% the year before. Dissly has been targeted just 19 times compared to Fant’s 43 and Parkinson’s 30, and his average depth of target is 1.8 yards. He has had minimal impact as a receiving threat, a far cry from his fast starts to 2018 and 2019 before injuries cut both of those years short.

This is not to say Dissly has performed poorly; it’s not even a critique of his play. It’s an important observation to make about a player who has the 5th highest cap number of any tight end in the NFL for 2023. At $8 million, his average per year is 17th among all tight ends, but he’s 58th in TE snaps played.

Seattle’s tight end room could look very different in 2024; Fant and Parkinson are soon to be free agents and Dissly has a year left on his contract. I’d be surprised if the Seahawks completely cleaned house at this position, but it’s not totally out of the question. What does seem clear to me is that Will’s contract was seen as an overpay at the time, and it’s clear that it’s an overpay right now.