Roster report: Dunlap’s return makes free agency a success

(UPDATED 3/26) The Seahawks had a busy first couple of weeks of free agency. They lost five guys, kept eight and added four — resetting both lines and replacing Shaquill Griffin while bringing back Chris Carson and Carlos Dunlap.

It sure seemed like a successful stretch of personnel moves, but did they get any better?

That answer won’t be fully known until the fall, of course, but they seem to have upgraded their offense with the additions of Gabe Jackson and Gerald Everett. Carson also surprisingly returned, so the backfield is full. The team still needs to find a third receiver, but new OC Shane Waldron’s unit seems improved over the 2020 crew.

The defense still has some questions at cornerback, but Dunlap’s return was the exclamation point on a whirlwind couple of days in which the Hawks also brought back Benson Mayowa, added Kerry Hyder and let Jarran Reed go. Even with Reed leaving (unfortunately for nothing), the pass rush certainly got better through those moves.

Here’s a look at the latest news and possible next moves at each position:

Quarterback

Latest news: The biggest move by the Hawks was the one they didn’t make – declining a big trade offer from Chicago for Russell Wilson. Instead, they have tried to show the discontented QB they want to help him. They added another target in Everett and traded for Jackson. Wilson showed appreciation for that move and also reportedly pushed Carson to re-sign. He seems fully invested in Seattle, for 2021 anyway. … Alex McGough might not be long for the team. He reportedly hit a guy at a bar in Tampa recently. The former seventh-rounder returned to Seattle’s practice squad last season.

What’s next? Pete Carroll and John Schneider have not had to address the Wilson drama so far because there was no Combine. But we should hear from them in their pre-draft media session next month. It will be interesting to hear what they say about the trade talks and Wilson’s discontent. … It also will be fun to hear what Wilson has to say about the firestorm he and his agent created in February. … At some point, the Hawks will need to re-sign Geno Smith or find another backup. They seem unlikely to draft one, considering they have just three picks at the moment.

Running back

Latest news: Carson surprisingly is back, on what essentially is a prove-it deal worth $5.5 million. Now we need to see him stay healthy as Carroll recommits to a balanced offense in Waldron’s less predictable scheme. … Alex Collins was re-signed in February and figures to be the No. 3 back, assuming Rashaad Penny remains on the team.

What’s next? The Hawks are pretty set, unless they decide to try to trade Penny. He wouldn’t bring more than a sixth- or seventh-round pick, at best, but he would save them $1.9 million. Odds are Carroll and Schneider will keep him for the final year of his rookie deal and hope he follows up on the promise he showed late in 2019, before an ACL injury put him out for a year. The team certainly will not use the $4.5 million fifth-year option on him; the deadline is May 2.

Wide receiver

Latest news: David Moore and Phillip Dorsett are both gone, Moore to Carolina (where longtime Schneider assistant Scott Fitterer is now GM) and Dorsett to Jacksonville (where Brian Schottenheimer is passing game coordinator under Darrell Bevell). … That leaves Freddie Swain as the current No. 3 receiver.

What’s next? Josh Reynolds, the former Ram, was a popular name – but he signed with Tennessee. … Wilson reportedly is still trying to bring sociopath Antonio Brown to Seattle. The Seahawks tried to sign him last season, but he chose Tampa. We can only hope he does the same this time. … The top remaining veteran receivers are Golden Tate and Kenny Stills. … Some talk about trading Tyler Lockett to recoup draft picks, but why would Schneider do that when Seattle is short receivers already and he is trying to help Wilson?

Tight end

Latest news: Everett was signed to a one-year, $6 million deal to be reunited with Waldron, and we have to hope the new OC uses the versatile target more than the Hawks have typically used their tight ends in the Carroll era. … Jacob Hollister signed a minimum-salary deal with Buffalo.

What’s next? The Hawks seem set here with Everett, Will Dissly and Cody Parkinson, but Brevin Jordan of Miami could be a great addition in the second round of the draft.

Offensive line

Latest news: The big move was acquiring Jackson from the Raiders for a fifth-round pick. That came after the Hawks missed out on Kevin Zeitler, who chose Baltimore despite Wilson’s recruiting pitch to his former Wisconsin teammate. Jackson should slide in at left guard, next to excellent LT Duane Brown. … The team also brought back Ethan Pocic for one year ($3 million). He is the default center, unless they find someone better in the draft. It’s hard for rookie centers to jump right in though, so Pocic seems to be the guy for 2021. … The Hawks did not tender RFA Jordan Simmons, but he and Cedric Ogbuehi both re-signed to remain backups.

What’s next? The Hawks could use an upgrade at center. That could come during the draft. … They also need to try to find a future left tackle since Brown could retire at any point (and is a free agent after 2021).

Defensive line

Latest news: Dunlap was let go to recover cap space ($14 million), meaning pass rusher became the top need for the third straight year. But that was addressed a couple of weeks later. On March 23, they added both Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder. And then they brought back Dunlap two days later, on a net savings of about $9 million. That sets up what should be a very good pass rush from the get-go in 2021. … Poona Ford was re-signed for two years and $13.5 million – a nice (albeit short) move to keep a rare good homegrown player. … Reed was cut, though, after the team did not want to extend him and he didn’t want to reduce his cap hit; his departure brought back about $9 million in cap space. … The Hawks quickly replaced Reed with Al Woods, who was a stout run defender for Seattle in 2019. He skipped 2020 due to the pandemic, so we have to hope the 34-year-old is in shape and still has something left.

What’s next? This unit seems very set. … Branden Jackson could return on the minimum after missing 2020 with an injury. There might not be a lot of room for him on the 53, though.

Linebacker

Latest news: K.J. Wright and the team have had “serious discussions” about his return for an 11th season. He is coming off a great 2020 and would be a good re-signing if they could make it work. … Shaquem Griffin is expected to join his brother in Jacksonville. … Bruce Irvin, who was injured early in his return in 2020, seemed to hint he is going to retire.

What’s next? If the team cannot keep Wright, it will need to look for another strong-side linebacker. Cody Barton could get another shot. Or the Hawks could use Marquise Blair in a lot of big nickel looks.

Secondary

Latest news: Shaquill Griffin headed home to Florida, where he will play for the rebuilding Jaguars on a three-year, $40 million deal. … The Seahawks replaced him on the roster with former 49er Ahkello Witherspoon, who signed a one-year deal worth $4 million. He should push Tre Flowers for the starting job opposite D.J. Reed. … Denver made Justin Simmons the highest-paid safety, at $15.25 million a year, which is noteworthy for Seattle because Pro Bowl safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are up for extensions.

What’s next? The Seahawks shouldn’t feel comfortable with just Reed, Witherspoon and Flowers. But they aren’t going to pay much for another vet, so the draft may be the place they add another corner. Or Schneider can do some waiver-wire magic again, like he did with Reed last year… Many fans want Richard Sherman to come back, but money likely precludes that — even if Carroll were interested in bringing back the contrarian corner. … Adams seems likely to play out his option year, simply because he probably wants more than the Hawks are willing to pay. … The question then becomes Diggs, who will want to be paid like the Pro Bowl safety he is. Will the Seahawks be willing to pay him over $10 million a year?

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