Pete Carroll says this roster feels as deep as the ones in the Super Bowl years. But he and John Schneider know they have one major weakness still: Their defensive line.
The Seahawks are pretty much in the same spot with their defensive line that they were in 2013, and they need to do the same thing they did then.
In 2013, they had Chris Clemons coming off an ACL injury, so they needed pass rushers next to run stoppers Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane. John Schneider somehow managed to add both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. The GM also signed Tony McDaniel to start inside next to Mebane. The result: They were the No. 1 pass defense and the No. 7 unit vs. the run.
Now, with Avril, Bennett and Frank Clark all gone and another vacancy at tackle, Carroll and Schneider need another veteran trio. They have the cap space to do it (at least $22 million), and they need to use it.
Their starting line currently projects to budding star Jarran Reed, rookie L.J. Collier and second-year players Poona Ford and Jacob Martin — not what you want for a team that fancies itself a contender.
Seattle could afford to add Ziggy Ansah and Nick Perry (assuming both are healthy), plus one of the several run stoppers who already have visited Seattle. They could even go Ansah, Perry and ‘Kong Suh if they wanted to, knowing they probably will get more cap relief from Doug Baldwin‘s expected release/retirement later this summer.
They could give incentive-heavy deals to Ansah and Perry that count maybe $8 million each but possibly would be worth up to $12 million (based on roster and performance bonuses). Suh is worth maybe $8 million, too.
Even if they don’t/can’t sign all three former first-rounders, they should go for two of them, along with a cheaper tackle (Earl Mitchell, Corey Liuget, et al.). They can sign any of these guys without affecting comp picks as of May 8.
Assuming the ends stayed healthy, this would be a very good 2019 starting line: Ansah, Reed, Suh, Perry. This one would be fine, too: Ansah, Reed, Mitchell, Perry.
Adding those vets would take the pressure off Seattle’s many young linemen — Collier, Ford, Martin, Rasheem Green — and allow them to be effective in lesser roles. Quinton Jefferson and Cassius Marsh would offer some vet backup. Naz Jones probably would be the odd man out, unless he beat out Jefferson.
Ideally, Collier and Green would grow enough that they could start in 2020 — and Carroll and Schneider could let Ansah and Perry go and perhaps get 2021 comp picks for them.
If Carroll and Schneider think one veteran pass rusher is going to cut it, and they plan on major contributions from Collier, Martin and Green, the Seahawks most likely will struggle to pressure quarterbacks in 2019.
And that would be a dumb way to approach a season in which the Hawks are targeting NFC home field and the Super Bowl.
We’ll find out which way they plan to go next week.