PHOTO CREDIT: Rod Mar/Seahawks
Where we stand
I wrote a primer article a few months ago, with the plenty of options this team faced moving forward. Obviously, a lot has changed in that time. We no longer have a franchise QB, and we’ve lost a few players to free agency along the way.
Today is March 23rd, 2022. Things are certain to change in the very near future, but at the moment Drew Lock is penciled in as our starting QB and there’s a Baker Mayfield possibility blowing in the wind. The Browns are desperate to move him and have only the Hawks interested, so it’s an intriguing situation.
First, let me address the elephant on the field so to speak. I am very excited and happy with the trade of Russell Wilson. He had an amazing career with the Hawks and will always be special to Seattle but the writing was on the wall. The return in the trade we got opens a lot of possibilities and really opens up the future of the franchise.
I was a tough critic of Russ at times due to a frustrating nature of his to ignore the short pass and go for the extremely low percentage long bomb throws. While being one of the best in the league at this tactic, it can be very annoying when he tries to use his legs every single play to extend it and go for those passes and wind up going three-and-out 5 times a game.
So, the concept of having a QB who will take the short pass, maybe throw a quick slant or two, is a whole new world to the Seattle offense. It really opens the door to some cool possibilities.
A New Canvas
What would you do with this flexibility? Well, I have some ideas. See below, these are in order of priority by position.
Baker Mayfield is a franchise QB who carries baggage. This is not debated. But he played for years in a town and franchise where quarterbacks have been known to die. Like the NY Jets, if your name is called on draft day by Cleveland, it’s typically the end of your career. Sorry Zach Wilson, but it’s just a fact.
Wash off the Cleveland from him, give him something to work with and I think you’ll find he can run the offense Pete Carroll loves pretty well. He also wont cost you $40 Million like other QBs (or the ludicrous 60 of Aaron Rodgers).
The alternatives out there are: Jimmy G from the 49ers, Ryan Fitzpatrick (FA) or drafting a QB in a very poor QB draft. While Kenny Pickett will be an NFL star, the rest of the pool is very much a mixed bag.
ACTION TAKEN: Offer Cleveland a 5th round pick as we are the only option they have, and wait them out. But be prepared for Drew Lock if it happens.
This should be a source of HUGE embarrassment for Pete, but somehow is not. It’s been the worst position group on the team for a decade. We haven’t had a reliable Center since trading Max Unger.
With our 9th Overall pick, it may be a reach, but I’d love to consider Tyler Linderbaum out of Iowa. This kid is a generational talent at the position, and is able to play several positions. He’ll be one of the top 5 Centers in the game in a few years, easily. But here’s the wrinkle…I put him at right guard to start. Yes, Gabe Jackson is cut and Damien Lewis has shown he has the chops and is comfortable most at left guard.
Next, we take a look at J.C. Tretter. He’s a top 5 Center NOW, and a free agent. He would instantly provide stability to the line, and who did he snap to? Oh that’s right, Baker Mayfield. So there’s an ease of transition to both there.
Finally, I’d use one of the 2nd round picks on an additional tackle. Preferably the local boy from WSU, Abraham Lucas. But if he’s off the board as he might be, consider Rasheed Walker out of Penn State or my favorite Bernhard Raimann from Central Michigan. He’s a former TE so he has more mobility than you expect and I like the tape I’ve watched. He’s a Darkhorse I’ll be eagerly watching wherever he winds up in the NFL.
For the rest of the line, a right tackle can be found on the waivers wire during training camp, or we can consider moving last year’s pick Stone Forsythe over to RT for a lower stress spot. Will Dissly was re-signed and with the new offense we can actually use him! So Stone would have help.
ACTION TAKEN: Draft Tyler Linderbaum (9th overall) and a decent LT with the 40th or 41st picks. Sign J.C. Tretter to a 3 year deal. Cut Gabe Jackson, let Duane Brown, Brandon Shell and Ethan Pocic walk.
It’s no secret we have a big hole back here. It’s due to a situation that I’ve taken a lot of flak for pointing out and trying to resolve on the SSU Podcast. His name is Jamal Adams. He’s overpaid and he’s absolutely terrible as a Safety and in coverage. His strengths rely in the Linebacker area of the field, be it rushing the passer or short quick coverage.
Re-signing Quandre Diggs was HUGE and a big plus. But we need someone to play Safety next to him. He cannot do it all himself. So I suggest bringing in someone known as “The Honey Badger”, aka one of the best Safeties in the game, Tyrann Mathieu. He can man the field next to Diggs and allow the defense to adjust to where Adams plays to his strengths.
As for Corners, I was impressed with what little I saw Tre Brown last year. He has yet to show he can stay healthy, but he’s definitely talented and currently penciled in at LCB. Opposite him though, we need some depth. I like Kaiir Elam out of Florida, and he’s the size that Pete likes. Also available would be Kyler Gordon from UW at 41st pick overall, and he’s a definite possible.
ACTION TAKEN: Sign Tyrann Mathieu to a 2 year deal. Cut the BS and move Jamal Adams to LB. Draft help with the 2nd pick of the 2nd round (41st overall). Try to re-sign Ryan Neal as depth.
The Hawks again struggled with pass rush last year. It’s been a source of pain for several years, and we keep adding Defensive Ends and rushing linebackers to try and solve the issue. I think this is a case of poor scouting. We haven’t had any PUSH from the center of the line whatsoever, and that’s a crucial part of the pass rush that some folks ignore.
So my proposal here is to address that. Poona Ford, Bryan Mone and Quinton Jefferson along with Al Woods aren’t producing the push we need. LJ Collier is a ghost…. I’m ready to say goodbye to him.
There’s a Nose tackle out of Alabama who will probably fall to the 3rd round, and coincidentally the Hawks have a spot in number 72. Most mock drafts have him still available and I’d be excited to add him to the team. Phidarian Mathis. Kid is known for his off the field intangibles as well and would help the push immensely.
ACTION TAKEN: Draft Mathis with 3rd round (72 overall) pick. Cut LJ Collier. Watch Rasheem Green walk.
With the overhaul of the offensive line, our running backs should theoretically have more success and reliability. When the players aren’t having to make holes themselves, they shouldn’t get hurt as often.
The one year return of Rashaad Penny was inevitable. I wouldn’t have done it, but it’s done. Chris Carson returns from what feels like 2 years of injury as well.
But the room needs more depth and a talented pass catcher. Travis Homer is excellent as a pass blocker and has worked in that screen pass role in the past, but a true screen pass RB would be nice to have.
With the 153rd overall pick in the draft, near the end of Round 5 there will be two potentials. One is injury prone so he’s a backup option. But the primary target here is Max Borghi from WSU. He CARRIED an Air Raid offense at WSU under Mike Leach. Yes, that’s right…an offensive coach who typically hates RBs leaned HARD on this man and he produced. He didn’t get a lot of notice by playing in the Palouse, but I expect the Hawks to have noticed.
The backup would be CJ Verdell out of Oregon. He’s injury prone, but only because he runs a bit harder into defenses than Borghi. But he’s excellent in that role as the Screen as well and will definitely be available late.
ACTION TAKEN: Draft Max Borghi with the 153rd overall pick. Let Alex Collins walk.
Small Moves to Wrap up
ACTION TAKEN: Cut Penny Hart as you have Cade Johnson and John Ursua. Consider signing a new kicker as a salary cap measure.
The Whole Picture – a Conclusion
So with these moves, I think we find ourselves in position to make a run at a wild card if you can believe it. How do I say that when the future looked so bleak a few minutes ago?
We will have a completely upgraded and younger offensive line, with both a future Center and a current one that can ease our new QB’s (be it Baker or Lock) transition to Seattle. This will also end the embarrassing 10 year streak of being a bottom 5 offensive line unit in the league.
Our defense will have more clarity and an identity. With the reality of Adams no longer being Safety, we’re free to fill the vacancy in the secondary with one of the best. Diggs is free to worry only about his duties and that increases his effectiveness. Fresh blood will be brought in at CB as well.
The pass rush finally upgrades with some actual PUSH from the inside. Nothing beats a true old school Nose Tackle.
Altogether we get younger, more flexible and exciting on offense, and the defense gets a chance to reset. Is it a perfect plan? Maybe not. But I think with this plan we could very well score the final playoffs spot.
Within the division the Rams will be winning the NFC West barring an all-time collapse. The Cardinals continue to be held back with some questionable coaching (though remain dangerous) and the 49ers are transitioning to a new QB who has little experience. They have additional roster questions as well.
So a 2nd place in the NFC West seems possible if we make the right moves. Optimistic? You bet. But also a good place to be.