The Seahawks seem to be making peace with (and appeasing) Russell Wilson.
After a rough Monday where they lost out on a couple of linemen and fans grumbled, they did several things over the following two days that signaled they are recommitting to their quarterback. First, they declined a huge trade offer from Chicago. Then they came back the next day and signed tight end Gerald Everett and then made a “just for you, Russ” trade for veteran guard Gabe Jackson.
Wilson indicated he liked the Jackson trade, which sets up Seattle’s line with starters everywhere but at center, which is still one of their top two needs. (UPDATE: They re-signed Ethan Pocic.)
If you recall, per The Athletic’s story last month, Wilson asked Pete Carroll about the offseason plan for the line and the coach merely told him to have faith. That was a big leap considering John Schneider has whiffed on the offensive line way too much over the years. So, Wilson made his feelings on the matter known publicly, which set off a six-week soap opera that seemed to end when Carroll nixed a Wilson trade to Chicago on the eve of the league year.
That didn’t necessarily mean Wilson (who certainly shares blame for offensive failures) would remain with the Hawks; the draft is the real deadline for 2021.
But Schneider clearly has been trying to earn Wilson’s trust this week. He reportedly tried to dip his toe in the bidding for guards Joe Thuney and Kevin Zeitler, but Thuney got $16 million a year from Kansas City and Schneider didn’t want to pay Zeitler over $7 million a year (Baltimore did). The Seahawks also refrained from going after All-Pro center Corey Linsley, who got $12.5 million from the Chargers.
The results weren’t promising. But the effort was there, and there was still hope for a line upgrade when word came that the Raiders were going to cut Jackson and Rodney Hudson. The Raiders realized they could get something for their good linemen, though, so they decided to try to trade them. Hudson went first, to Arizona for a third-rounder (too rich for Seattle). But the Hawks managed to land Jackson for a fifth-rounder.
It remains to be seen whether Jackson is as good as his name, but left guard seems to be his best position.
The Hawks now have four starters set up in front of Wilson: Duane Brown, Jackson, Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell.
They still need a starting center. David Andrews is the next best option, with Austin Blythe (the former Ram who knows Shane Waldron’s scheme) and Nick Martin possibilities. Depending on their cap situation, it also is possible the Hawks will just bring back Ethan Pocic for cheap and look to the draft for their 2022 starter. (UPDATE: Pocic was indeed re-signed for cheap.)
The Seahawks have just three picks now – in Rounds 2, 4 and 7. Schneider put himself in that spot with trades for Jamal Adams (1 and 3) and Stephen Sullivan (6). A reminder: The GM made the move to get Adams last summer because he knew draft prep this year would be difficult and he didn’t mind losing those top picks. The trade for Jackson drops another one, and you can expect Schneider to make moves to recoup picks by next month.
Before we get to the draft, though, Schneider needs to find veteran starters at center and pass rusher. Those are the top prios.
The market for pass rushers is dropping, so the Hawks should have a shot at bringing back Carlos Dunlap or adding Melvin Ingram or Ryan Kerrigan. Those would be the top options. Also available are Justin Houston, old friend Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith (whom Seattle tried to acquire from Dallas last season). The Hawks also seem likely to try to bring back Benson Mayowa.
They also need to add a running back. They reportedly have an offer out to Leonard Fournette, and Chris Carson is still unsigned as the RB market remains depressed. Those guys might not get more than $3 million or $4 million.
The Hawks also could use another corner and a swing tackle. And they need to decide whether they can afford to bring back K.J. Wright.
We’ll see what their cap situation looks like after paying Ahkello Witherspoon ($4 million), Everett ($6 million) and Jackson ($9.6 million). Jackson surely adjusted his pay, whether via extension or pay cut in exchange for voiding his contract after 2021.
But the big thing on Day 1 of the league year was Schneider managed to get Jackson, which shows Wilson that his bosses are listening to him.