We’ll never know whether the Dallas Cowboys would have put together a deal for Earl Thomas this week if the Seahawks’ star safety had not been lost for the season.
Instead, the Cowboys sent a first-round pick to Oakland for Amari Cooper, who joined Carlos Hyde and Eli Apple as starting players already changing teams as the trade deadline nears.
There’s surely more to come before next Tuesday, but will the Seahawks be one of the teams in the action?
John Schneider has made five October trades since his 2010 arrival — the most notable being the acquisitions of Marshawn Lynch (2010) and Duane Brown (2017).
This year, the Seahawks need pass-rush help and also could use a few more 2019 draft picks, so they could be buyers or sellers depending on the situation. The problem is they don’t have much currency to use to buy and they don’t have much of value to sell.
They’re surely not going to deal any of their valuable veterans — Doug Baldwin, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, et al. They probably would love to get something for bench riders Brandon Marshall and C.J. Prosise, but who would offer anything for them?
So it really comes down to whether Schneider and Pete Carroll feel they need to add a pass rusher — and whether they can find one.
This team is going to contend as soon as it replaces Michael Bennett, who is still one of the league’s top pass rushers (No. 2 in the league in QB hits for the Eagles). Frank Clark (5.5 sacks) has been great as Cliff Avril’s replacement, but he hasn’t gotten much help on the other side. Both Dion Jordan (knee) and Rasheem Green (ankle) have been injured, and Barkevious Mingo has been used mostly at linebacker because Wright has yet to play.
“I don’t think we’ve been as effective,” Carroll said before Seattle’s good rush day in a blowout win against the bad Raiders in London. “I think we’ve been saying this for a while now: We have not been as effective, particularly on early downs transitioning from the run game to the pass game. … It’s just a work in progress.”
Maybe the returns of Green and Wright will help, allowing Mingo to help on the rush more, but Jordan is still hobbled and ineffective.
“He’s been nursing his knee coming back,” Carroll said before Jordan missed the London game. “It hasn’t been exactly perfect for him yet, but we’re working our way through it and he’s been a solid performer so far. I don’t think he’s found his best game yet …”
So the Hawks still need a pass rusher, but they don’t have much ammunition for one. They already are without 2019 draft picks in the second, sixth and seventh rounds. And they have only about $3 million in salary cap space. Plus, next year’s draft is considered loaded with pass rushers, so the Hawks probably will just bite the bullet and wait until next year. A lot of people think this is a two-year reload for contention anyway.
But, if the Hawks think they might be real contenders this year, they could always find a way to pay for a new guy.
So, who might they consider doing that for? How about a trio of underachieving 2015 first-rounders — Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley or Shane Ray? Or 2016 first-rounder Shaq Lawson? Or maybe even a reunion with their own former first-rounder, Bruce Irvin?
The third overall pick in 2015, Fowler’s star has fallen this year in Jacksonville. He was suspended by the Jags for a week of camp for fighting teammate Yannick Ngakoue. He also missed the first game on a league suspension. He had eight sacks last year but has just two this year. Maybe a change of scenery for a mid-round pick would work.
Beasley has similarly disappeared in Atlanta. In 2016, he led the league with 15.5 sacks and tied for the league lead with six forced fumbles. The past two seasons, though, he has just six sacks. He has a $12.8 million option next year, which the Falcons might not really want to pay. Would the Falcons trade him for a mid-round pick?
Ray is in the same spot as his 2015 draft predecessors. After 12 sacks and 28 QB hits in his first two years, he has just two sacks and five hits the past two. Like Fowler, he will be a free agent next year, so perhaps the 2-4 Broncos might be willing to dump him for a mid-rounder.
Lawson, Buffalo’s top pick in 2016, was rumored to be on the block in the summer after just six sacks in his first two seasons. He apparently rededicated himself to the game, but he still might not fit the Bills’ new regime in the long haul. Maybe he could play Bennett’s role for Seattle — if the Bills wanted to give him up for a mid-round pick.
The Raiders are in fire sale mode, and Irvin probably would love to get out. Of course, he probably would be the costliest guy among this bunch because he has been the most productive recently (three sacks and four QB hits this season). Even if available, he probably would require too much in draft capital (a third-rounder?) and cap space (about $4 million) for Seattle.
As much as it might be nice to see the Hawks bring in potential pass-rush help this week, a trade seems improbable. The Hawks seem more likely to count on Green, Mingo and Jordan offering something and then to upgrade the rush after the season — re-signing Clark and then perhaps adding a moderately priced free agent and drafting a guy who could make an impact.
We’ll know which way the Seahawks are going at this position by Tuesday.