After injuries helped derail the past two seasons, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have made a big deal about having a much healthier roster this year. So it’s disappointing to see that Dion Jordan is still having injury issues — and it could mean the Seahawks really have few pass-rush options beyond this year.
Among several injury moves as camp started Thursday, the Seahawks placed Jordan on PUP. Carroll said he would be out “a few weeks,” and the PUP move means the Hawks think this could stretch into the season.
Jordan had offseason surgery “to correct a little something” in a knee, and Carroll said in May, “We’re hoping that by camp time he’ll be ready to rip and all that. He’s had some complications over time, so it was worth it to go ahead and clean this thing up. It was a really small issue, but it’s one that was going to sit him down for six to eight weeks, so we just went ahead and did it.”
But now Jordan has another issue that apparently stems from his rehab workouts. “He’s got an issue we are working on,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be a few weeks before we will be able to get him back out.”
The Seahawks were patient with Jordan last year as he came back from a knee problem and had another surgery once he joined them. He finally got on the field in November and December and showed flashes of why he was the third overall pick in 2013, tallying four sacks in five games.
It was an easy call for the Seahawks to use the original-round tender, for $1.9 million, to keep the restricted free agent for another year and see whether he could stay healthy enough to merit a longer deal. But these ongoing injury issues create questions both short and long term.
With Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett gone, the Seahawks have no proven pass rushers beyond Frank Clark, who had wrist surgery last month and is easing into camp. At this point, the top options to replace Jordan appear to be Marcus Smith, Barkevious Mingo and rookie third-round pick Rasheem Green. If Jordan can’t get healthy, which seems pretty probable at this point, those three guys will be needed to help out Clark. Sixth-round pick Jacob Martin also could be a darkhorse rush candidate; he is working in a SAM/LEO role behind Mingo.
Clark also said Thursday that the team needs a defensive tackle to step up as a pass rusher. The Seahawks basically traded Sheldon Richardson to Minnesota for Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen. Johnson, 33, is known for interior disruption — he had 16 sacks with the Vikings the past four years. Also not to be counted out is second-year man Nazair Jones, who was having an excellent rookie season until he was lost to a season-ending ankle injury after 11 games. He showed better pass-rush ability than expected.
If those D-tackles can pick up some pass-rush slack and Smith, Mingo and Green (who may move inside on passing downs) can help provide pressure, Jordan’s health might not be as paramount for the club this season.
The future is completely up in the air though. The only outside pass rushers signed beyond this season are the unproven Mingo and Green. If Clark proves too expensive and Jordan can’t get healthy, pass rusher will be their No. 1 — and maybe No. 2 — need in 2019.