How will Hawks make cap room for rookies and the rest?

Upon completion of a draft that added 10 players to Seattle’s cap-strapped roster, John Schneider was asked whether he needed to make any contract-related moves to sign the rookies.

Schneider’s answer: “We’re OK right now.”

“Right now” is the operative phrase, as the Seahawks definitely will need to create about $4 million in space to sign the rookies before training camp. By the time the season starts, they also will need about $6 million for practice squad and injury moves. And they probably are budgeting about $2.5 million for Al Woods or another veteran D-lineman – which they need very much.

All told, the Hawks need about $12.5 million in added cap space.

So where do they get it?

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Big boys finally come in Rounds 4-5

After ignoring their lines on the first two days, the Seahawks hit both with a vengeance on Day 3. In Rounds 4 and 5 they added two guys on each side of the ball.

So what are the odds any of these guys turn into more than emergency starters?

John Schneider had picked 40 players in Rounds 4-5 over his first 13 drafts in Seattle. Eight of them turned into full-time starters, and five have been top backups/part-time starters. So that gives these four new guys a historic 20% chance individually of becoming permanent starters –collectively, one of them is likely to become a regular starter.

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Hawks whiff on needs on Day 2

The Seahawks entered this draft with four big needs – and they didn’t address any of them in the first two days:

❌ Nose tackle
❌ Defensive end
❌ Inside linebacker
❌ Center

After going for star power in Round 1, with cornerback Devon Witherspoon and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Hawks really needed to hit some of those big needs on Day 2.

Instead, they reached to add yet another rush linebacker and used a second-round pick on a running back for the second straight year. Maybe their best move was bailing from the third round and picking up an early fourth and a 2024 third from Denver (more on the Broncos below).

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Hawks go corner and receiver in first round, leaving DL to Day 2

The Seahawks ignored the defensive line with both first-round picks, instead drafting a corner and receiver in the round for the first time since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010.

Despite fielding calls for the No. 5 pick, they took Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon — a guy they were said to love as the draft neared.

At 20, they ended up with Ohio State WR Jaxon Njigba-Smith, a guy who was often mocked to them.

The Hawks eschewed defensive linemen Jalen Carter and Tyree Wilson early and Nolan Smith and Myles Murphy late. (The Eagles ended up with Carter and Smith.)

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Draft day: ‘A lot of different scenarios’

At Seattle’s pre-draft presser on April 19, John Schneider was asked whether the top of the 2023 draft was pretty predictable by now.

“You would think so, right?” he said before giving the reality. “It doesn’t feel like it, no. … You’re constantly trying to paint pictures and scenarios of what you think will happen and what other teams will do.

“There’s just a ton of different variables up there. A lot of different scenarios. A lot of different ways we can go.’’

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Looking at first-round options and overall strategy

The NFL draft is two weeks away, and the Seahawks are finishing up their evaluations of players and starting to put together their final draft board.

John Schneider outlined upcoming steps on his radio show on Thursday: Scouts went over the board last week and coaches are meeting to go over it again this weekend. Next week, Schneider will hear from his medical team and let the analytics squad “pick the board apart” (he said that with a laugh). On Tuesday of draft week, Schneider and Pete Carroll will go over the board one last time.

Schneider said it’s time to “hunker down in the draft room with everybody and be able to study and continue to bounce things off each other and try to figure this thing out.”

So let’s figure it out with them.

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Will Jalen Carter be on Seattle’s board?

Jalen Carter reportedly will meet with the Seahawks in the “coming days” – and it will be one of the most important pre-draft meetings in franchise history.

Carter, one of the top two defenders in this draft, is almost surely going to be available when the Seahawks draft at No. 5. Talent-wise, he seems like a perfect fit, but in nearly every other way he sure seems like the anti-Seahawk.

All signs indicate he would be the second coming of Aaron Curry (Seattle’s 2009 bust at No. 4 overall who never earned the millions he was paid). The current Hawks have their own cautionary tale as well in Malik McDowell, their top pick in 2017 who never played for them.

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A QB at 5 is fine, but Hawks should not burn good picks to move up

The Seahawks are not hiding their interest in Anthony Richardson, but are they really willing to trade up to No. 3 to get him? Knowing it would cost them valuable resources they could use on their defense?

Two reports this week mentioned league buzz about Seattle possibly trading up with Arizona to draft the Florida quarterback. Corbin Smith of also reported that the Seahawks showed a lot of interest during Richardson’s Pro Day — John Schneider meeting with Richardson’s agent and Pete Carroll talking privately with Florida coach Billy Napier.

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After Wagner’s return, Hawks ‘pretty tapped out’ but still have work to do

After the Seahawks cut Al Woods last week, John Schneider told Seattle Sports 710 “… we needed to create some space to try to get something done.”

And then they got that “something done,” bringing back Bobby Wagner on a deal reportedly worth up to $7 million.

It put the cap on perhaps the most aggressive free agency period we have seen by Schneider and Co., who signed six projected starters – five of them on defense – and paid an aggregate annual average of $8.5 million, the most they have ever spent on outside free agents in an offseason. Most of that is thanks to paying $17 million per year to new star defensive lineman Dre Jones, but all except Evan Brown got more than $3.5 million per year.

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Hawks full of (good) surprises in first week of free agency

John Schneider and Pete Carroll were not kidding when they declared they were going to get better on the defensive line this offseason.

They surprised everyone by breaking out of their frugal free agency routine when they gave Dre Jones the biggest deal they have ever given an outside free agent: $17 million per year over three years. It was a stunningly aggressive start to what has been a surprising free agency period in several ways.

Jarran Reed unexpectedly returned. The Hawks got a good veteran center for much cheaper than expected. Linebackers went fast, but the Hawks added Devin Bush — and Bobby Wagner remained unsigned through this publish, giving Quandre Diggs and many fans hope that he might yet return. The Hawks also added a good starting safety at a bargain, creating all kinds of questions and possibilities at that position.

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