What’s the Seahawks’ plan?
That has been the question ever since Pete Carroll and John Schneider dismantled the battered Legion of Boom in 2018. The unsatisfying answer for the last three years, especially at pass rusher, has been: Make it up as we go.
Some think the excellent extensions of Tyler Lockett and Gabe Jackson mean the Seahawks have found their way again, creating a new long-term window of contention. But the fact is nothing has changed: Carroll and Schneider are still going just one or two years at a time.
They can’t help it now, because Russell Wilson’s future in Seattle is in question. Until that situation is resolved, they will remain year to year – even if they manage to get long-term deals with Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Brandon Shell and Michael Dickson.
For now, we have to be content with the fact that Schneider and cap manager Matt Thomas have done good work to restock the 2021 roster. The Hawks, who went 12-4 in 2020, look at least marginally better on both sides of the ball for next season.
Heading into this league year, the Seahawks were not in bad shape for 2021 – losing just four starters on offense and three on defense. But the shrinking salary cap made it harder to fill those spots than it would have been in a non-pandemic year.
In the first two weeks of free agency, they did great work though. Thomas smartly followed the league trend of using voidable years to re-sign guys, and they filled in all but one offensive starter (the No. 3 receiver) and shuffled their defense to line up all but the SAM linebacker (which still could end up being K.J. Wright).
Along the way, they locked in a few guys for 2022 as well: Lockett, Jackson, Carlos Dunlap (whew!), Poona Ford, Kerry Hyder, maybe Chris Carson.
But let’s not mistake this for the same kind of window they had in the LOB days, when they had a dozen core guys for five or six years. They are not there, thanks to a lot of bad drafting (we’ve covered that territory ad nauseum, so won’t review it here).
Even to put together a two-year plan, they have work to do on the offensive line (center and both tackles) and the secondary.
We expect Shell to be extended, and it is very possible that Duane Brown, who had a great 2020 season, comes back in 2022 as well. But the 35-year-old left tackle is on a year-to-year plan, based on how he feels, so there are no guarantees he will be back. Thus, the Hawks need a center and possible left tackle for 2022 and beyond.
The secondary is totally up in the air. Both Pro Bowl safeties are in contract years. Seattle surely wants to extend Adams, but that could be tricky. Diggs will be cheaper and perhaps easier to extend.
At corner, the cupboard is completely bare after 2021. D.J. Reed, Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers are all free agents – and, as promising as Reed has been, there is no guarantee he or the others will merit new contracts. That’s why corner is right up there with center as the top need in the draft.
If Schneider manages to extend Shell, Adams, Diggs and Dickson, that would give Seattle maybe eight core players signed through 2023 and just leave the two O-line positions and the corners as 2022 question marks – along with quarterback, of course.
That last one is the big one – and Seattle won’t have a real window of contention until Wilson’s situation is resolved once and for good.
For now, Seattle will continue to take it one year at a time.