Make no mistake, I am one of the most blindly optimistic Seattle Seahawk fans you’ll meet. For better or for worse, I’ve been drinking the Pete Carroll positivity kool-aid since 2010. And despite numerous pundits and analysts writing the Seahawks off prior to the 2018 season (including this horrendous 4-12 prediction by USA Today), I correctly predicted a 10-6 record (humble brag).
However, despite overcoming the odds, this is a roster devoid of talent and unless the strategy going into 2019 is to rely on Russell Wilson to drag this team to the playoffs. And praying the defence plays above their talent level, the Seahawks should aim to accomplish these five items heading into free agency and the draft.
Extend or Franchise Tag Frank Clark
For a team with limited pass-rush, Clark certainly did his part in at least bringing an element of fear to this defensive unit (Jarran Reed did his part as well). Don’t just take my word for it, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the number one edge rusher in the NFC West, well deserved.
2018’s highest-graded edge defenders in the NFC West pic.twitter.com/3zDPXPkiY5
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 16, 2019
Clark’s contract is up this off-season and the Seahawks would presumably like to ink him to a long-term extension. However, depending on how far apart they are on contract talks, the franchise tag is still an option. Evan Hill of Hawkblogger reasons that the tag will cost the Seahawks around $18 million for 2019 and an extension would be anywhere from $20-$21 million range annually. Either way, Clark will be a Seahawk in 2019, this shouldn’t be a hard one to check off.
Make a run at Safety Landon Collins
Unless tagged by the New York Giants, safety Landon Collins is set to hit the open market and at 25-years-old, could garner a lot of attention. Safety is a point of interest for the Seahawks. Kam Chancellor’s career came to an unfortunate end in 2017 after suffering a neck injury. Earl Thomas was on the trade block multiple times over the last year but the Seahawks never pulled the trigger. And the end result was Thomas flipping the bird at the Seahawks sideline. And thus brought the end to one of the greatest safety tandems in NFL history.
However, an underrated signing was made in the 2017 off-season in bringing in Bradley McDougald. The versatile safety has spent a majority of his time lining up at strong safety but has the ability to play the free safety position. McDougald will only carry a $3.33 million cap hit in 2019.
Which brings us to Collins, the former 33rd, overall pick in the 2015 draft could potentially carry a hefty price tag. But that’s not to say the Seahawks couldn’t afford him. Chancellor will likely be off the books and extensions for Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson are still a year away. If the bridge has been burned with Earl Thomas, the Seahawks need to make a move for Collins.
Add another top tier pass-rusher
Easier said than done but as mentioned in the Frank Clark portion of this blog, the Seahawks desperately lack secondary rushers on the exterior of the defensive line. Dion Jordan never found his footing, Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin showed flashes but it remains to be seen if they can consistently get after the quarterback.
Enter this year’s pass-rushing free agent class. Jadeveon Clowney, Ezekiel Ansah and Demarcus Lawrence are all set to hit the open market, provided their current team’s don’t hit them with the franchise tag. Unless you’re drafting high, it’s hard to find a day one elite pass-rusher in the draft. It comes down to being able to afford one of these pass-rushers though and that may be difficult after paying Clark and potentially Collins. However, if they whiff on Collins, then this should be priority number one for the Seahawks in free agency.
Draft another running back in the first round
Add to the Secondary through the Draft
Shameless plug, fellow blogfather Braydon Tomac (@BrayTomac on Twitter) has conveniently released his first 32 teams pre-combine Mock Draft. After bowing out in the Wild-Card round in last year’s playoffs the Seahawks hold the 21st pick this year’s draft. As per Tomac’s analysis, he has the Hawks targetting the secondary:
Seattle Seahawks – Byron Murphy – Corner – Washington
“Although being a playoff team this past season I don’t believe this is a very strong roster and they could go a number of different directions. I believe Murphy is good enough to be Seattle’s number one corner day one. He is a playmaker who has excels in zone coverage making him a perfect fit in their cover three scheme. Murphy and Seattle are one of those perfect fits that just makes way to much sense to pass up.”
Hard to argue with that, Shaquill Griffin won over the hearts of many 12’s in his rookie season but has struggled in locating the ball this past season which has impacted his ability to produce turnovers. Tre Flowers had a good rookie season for being a 5th-round converted safety-turned-corner. He has a tall frame and large wingspan that Carroll loves in his defensive backs. But beyond that, the secondary gets quite thin and nickel corner Justin Coleman is an unrestricted free agent.
Find one more impact receiver
Let me be very clear. Doug Baldwin should still be very much feared as a top receiver in the NFL. He, unfortunately, suffered a plethora of injuries last season that didn’t quite shut him down for the year but severely hindered his production. When healthy, Baldwin is a premier route-runner in the NFL. Tyler Lockett had quite the breakout season after signing a lucrative contract.
Please direct all Tyler Lockett haters to me. I need a word. pic.twitter.com/wNpUKZ5BMa
— C.J. Tumbarello (@c_tumbarello) December 2, 2018
Likewise, C.J., likewise. However, beyond those two, it was a rotation of Jaron Brown, David Moore and Malik Turner taking turns as the third receiver. Moore, making the biggest impact out of the three. As the final option on my checklist, the Seahawks need to target their third receiver. There are some interesting names in this year’s free agency class and it remains to be seen what these players will demand on the open market. Demaryius Thomas is coming off a torn-Achilles (and a felony charge). Donte Moncrief, Randall Cobb, Pierre Garcon, Michael Crabtree and Tavon Austin are all enticing options.
However, if there’s one name that stands out it’s former-Seahawk, Golden Tate. For those with a short memory, Tate spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seahawks from 2010-2013. Seattle in hindsight paid the wrong guy (Hi Percy!) and Tate walked in free agency. Tate has made it clear he wants to play for a winner in the time he has left in the league.
“My time is limited. I want to go to a team that has a chance…”
While all eyes will be on where Antonio Brown will land this off-season (the Seahawks do not have the draft capital or assets to make this trade), underrated receivers like Tate will be on the open market and the Seahawks should round out their receiving corps with one of the options above.
So while inking Clark to a long-term deal, adding Clowney, Collins and Tate all sound nice. The chances of this happening are, well, slim. Every fan has free agency dreams for their favourite team but this isn’t Madden. Teams are much more meticulous in handing out big contracts and aside from a few blockbuster deals (Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham), the Seahawks have usually been quite coy in the off-season.
Oh and the draft? I’m willing to put down $100 that John Schneider trades back in this draft (seriously, someone take this bet, anyone!) With only four selections in the 2019 draft, the Seahawks will certainly be looking to add more ammo to the back end of their draft. But rest assured, this is where the Seahawks have made it count in years past.
What do you think the Seahawks need to do to get back to their peak? Will they ever? Is this just all a giant waste of time? IS RUSSELL WILSON LEAVING? Let me know…