“Not for one reason at all am I thinking that we have to restart this whole thing and create a new philosophy and a new approach. I don’t think that. I think we’ve got the essence of the things that we need.” — Pete Carroll
The Seahawks’ confounding season continues to spiral to a terrible end, and with every bad loss it becomes more and more clear that a HUGE change must come in 2022.
We already have gone into detail about why we think Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be back and why Russell Wilson needs to go. We still think that is the way it will happen. But, with the Hawks wallowing at an unbelievable 5-10 after a horrendous last-minute home loss to Chicago, it’s a good time to see what else needs to occur.
For those hoping Carroll might retire or at least change his approach, he seemingly made it clear he does not plan to leave and also does not plan to change.
“Not for one reason at all am I thinking that we have to restart this whole thing and create a new philosophy and a new approach,” he told 710 ESPN. “I don’t think that. I think we’ve got the essence of the things that we need. We’ve got to build on it, we’ve got to support it better and we’ve got to continue to grow and progress. There ain’t no standing still, but there’s the foundation for doing things.”
Carroll later told reporters, “I think you can count on us to figure it out and to make the choices and the decisions that have to be done coming from a philosophical foundation that we have and have established over a long period of time.”
As for Jody Allen’s involvement, Carroll said, “She stays on it. She’s strong in her awareness of what’s going on. She’s strong in her opinion of what she wants to see done.”
For those who hold out hope that Allen will reverse course on Carroll, don’t count on it. Carroll said, “We’ve been on the same page about everything that’s going on since she took over.”
Allen just extended her football bosses last year, so we do not expect them to go anywhere in 2022. That means it comes down to roster building, with quarterback likely the biggest change.
But Carroll admitted his roster is not strong enough to compete in the stacked NFC West, even if it looked like they had fortified both lines.
“Going into the season, we were very optimistic about it and thought we had a lot of pieces put together,” he told 710 ESPN, citing the offensive line especially. “I liked every aspect of what we had; but, as it turned out, the guys in our division (were even more loaded) – it’s why it’s the best division in football. … We’re up against it.”
So what comes after these final two games?
“We have to continue to build,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to get better and keep bringing in the players who can help us make the difference.”
Beyond the expected QB change, Seattle has to fill three O-line positions (LT, RT and center) and find some running backs, and the defense will need corners and a pass rusher who can beat double-teams (or perhaps just a better rush scheme).
Absent any extensions (Quandre Diggs? Gerald Everett?) before the season ends in two weeks, the Hawks are projected to have $56 million in 2022 cap space (that includes $13 million in rollover but does not account for any escalators or reserve space needed for draft picks, practice squad, etc.). If they trade Wilson, they will have $11 million more.
As the Seahawks play out a lost season, let’s see what they need to do at each position to try to quickly become contenders again.
Position strength (out of 10): 6. Wilson is mainly just a deep-ball specialist, and it’s time to move on to a QB who can see/read the entire field, use the middle and throw with timing, quickly and decisively.
Free agent: Geno Smith.
Possible trade block: Wilson.
NFL trade options: Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Gardner Minshew.
Offseason plan: Get as much as possible for Wilson. Then replace him – either by trading for a franchise QB such as Carr or Garoppolo or by adding a cheap vet such as Minshew the Mustache whom the Hawks think might be able to do the things Wilson cannot. … We expect Schneider and Carroll to try to get Rodgers, too – maybe as their first option. … Drafting a QB is not out of the question either, although it is considered a pretty weak QB draft and Carroll will not want to rely on a rookie QB in the coach’s final stanza.
Position strength: 6. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny could never stay healthy and need to be replaced.
Free agents: Alex Collins, Penny.
NFL options: James Conner, Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Jordan Howard, Sony Michel, Marlon Mack.
Offseason plan: Penny has had a couple of good games in December, which might help him build a bit of a free-agent market. But he and Carson (neck surgery) cannot be counted on, so the Hawks need a new starter. If Penny returns, it has to be on a minimum contract. Otherwise, let some other team pay him and maybe get him qualified as a comp loss. … The Hawks need to draft a dependable guy and add at least one veteran, upgrading over Collins, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer as possible. Conner and Fournette seem the top veteran options, but a plug-and-play rookie rusher would be the best choice.
Position strength: 9. Lockett hit 1,000 yards for a third straight year, but Metcalf has been woefully underused.
Free agents: None.
Possible trade block: DK Metcalf.
Offseason plan: The Hawks need to extend Metcalf – or trade him. Extending would be costly, but it’s the price you pay for great talent. Most fans would hate the thought of trading him, but it would add major draft resources – probably two first-rounders – so the Hawks (assuming Wilson were dealt) would have at least four first-round picks over two years, plus two or three other picks. They still would have Tyler Lockett, Dee Eskridge and Freddie Swain – and certainly would add a vet and possible draft pick. It will be very interesting to see how the Hawks handle Metcalf in the offseason.
Position strength: 8. Seattle finally started to use these guys in November.
Free agents: Gerald Everett, Will Dissly.
Veteran options: David Njoku, Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, Dalton Schultz, Robert Tonyan, Evan Engram, O.J. Howard.
Offseason plan: The Hawks should extend Everett now. He has shown that he is a major weapon when used correctly. Dissly should be a cheap re-sign for a couple years; he likely would love to stay in Seattle. There are plenty of vets if Dissly is not retainable at a reasonable number. But Everett should be a big priority.
Position strength: 5. Center was an expected weakness, but this entire unit has been disappointing and requires some upgrades.
Free agents: Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Ethan Pocic, Jamarco Jones, Kyle Fuller (RFA).
NFL options: Terron Armstead (LT), Orlando Brown Jr. (LT), Riley Reiff (RT), Trent Brown (RT), Bobby Massie (RT), Morgan Moses (RT), Brian Allen (C), Ryan Jensen (C), Ben Jones (C), Matt Paradis (C).
Offseason plan: Outside the Chiefs’ Brown, there are not a lot of great veteran options at left tackle. Armstead is good but has never played a full season and missed a lot of this one. So will it even be possible to upgrade over 36-year-old Duane Brown, who struggled in the first half of the season? Brown would be an option only if he returned for the same money he makes right now ($10 million). … The Hawks also need to find a healthier right tackle than Shell; that could be a vet or maybe a Day 2 rookie. Stone Forsythe could figure into either tackle spot as well, but that is a long shot. Jake Curhan has played OK there and is under club control, so they have a fallback. … At center, Seattle needs to bring in a good veteran (an anti-B.J. Finney). The four listed above are better options than what the Hawks have. … Schneider slowly has started to change his MO on paying veteran linemen, adding Brown, Shell and Gabe Jackson over the past few years. He needs to be willing to pay for a good left tackle and center in 2022. If he adds a couple of Round 1 picks, he needs to use at least one on those spots.
Position strength: 6. Good against the run, but surprisingly bad against the pass.
Free agents: Rasheem Green, Al Woods, Robert Nkemdiche.
Possible trade block: L.J. Collier.
NFL options: Chandler Jones, Von Miller, Haason Reddick, Jerry Hughes, Dante Fowler, Melvin Ingram, Randy Gregory.
Offseason plan: The Hawks need to scheme their rush better, first of all. They had plenty of talent and simply did not put it together. … They have almost all of their outside rushers returning (if they want them), so they don’t necessarily need to pony up for Jones, Miller or Reddick. But they could if they sign a cheap QB or trade Bobby Wagner (see below). … Benson Mayowa should be let go (a $1.5 million savings). If the Hawks plan to use Carlos Dunlap as little as they did this year, they can let him go, too. But he has really heated up in December (six sacks) and clearly still has something to offer. … Green probably will move on, and the Hawks should trade Collier if they plan to use him as little as they have in 2021. … Alton Robinson needs to play more down the stretch to see whether he and Darrell Taylor are part of the pass-rushing future for Seattle. But Carroll made it clear he wants upgrades here. We’ll see what Schneider comes up with for him.
Position strength: 7. Jordyn Brooks has played fairly well (though screen passes have been a glaring weakness for the second-year LB), and Wagner leads the NFL in tackles (Brooks is third as Seattle has been on the field more than any defense).
Free agents: None.
Possible trade block: Wagner.
Offseason plan: The Seahawks should consider trading Wagner, if they could get a second-rounder and another pick for him. They would save $16.6 million against the cap (the acquiring team obviously would extend or renegotiate his deal). That money could help pay a more impactful position – QB, pass rusher, Metcalf. Schneider and Carroll love Wagner (as the extreme overpay indicates), but would they make this move? Either way, maybe bring back K.J. Wright for cheap?
Position strength: 7. Jamal Adams played well after a rough start until he was lost for the season in Week 13; Quandre Diggs has earned a big payday; corner remains a big question.
Free agents: D.J. Reed, Sidney Jones, Bless Austin (RFA).
NFL options: J.C. Jackson, Casey Hayward, Darious Williams, Joe Haden, Kyle Fuller, Chris Harris, Jimmy Smith, Mike Hughes.
Offseason plan: The Hawks need to pay Diggs, voted to his second straight Pro Bowl last week right after getting his fifth INT of the season. Tagging him at a projected $13.5 million also is a serious option. … Tre Brown (patellar tendon) is out until training camp, so Seattle needs two corners. Reed is an obvious re-sign candidate, but it would have to be a short-term, prove-it deal. Same with Jones. … The team definitely needs to add a corner or two via the draft. … If the Hawks trade Wilson to the Saints, they should try to coax Marshon Lattimore out of New Orleans as part of the deal.