Clint Hurtt was not kidding when he said the Seahawks’ defense would be different in 2022.
After he was promoted to coordinator, he said, “The 3-4 system is something that I’ve really embraced and obviously Vic Fangio is a big influence. … There’s going to be some element of that. I will say we’re going to be multiple. …
“You have to adjust along the way,” he said, “and sometimes that means you have to adjust your scheme. That’s where we’re going into a transition right now.”
That transition has been very clear in the personnel moves the Seahawks have made in the first week of free agency. Gone are Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder and Benson Mayowa – replaced by Uchenna Nwosu and former Seahawk Quinton Jefferson.
The three departed defensive ends simply did not fit the 3-4 scheme Hurtt plans to run. Nwosu, on the other hand, is well-made as a 3-4 OLB – able to play in space and rush the passer.
Nwosu – who got a two-year deal worth $20 million — said scheme was a big reason he came to Seattle. “I feel like the best thing for a player is not always the best amount of money, it’s about the scheme, being able to fit in. And I hear the culture here is really good.”
Nwosu figures to pair with Darrell Taylor as the rush ’backer tandem. Alton Robinson is the only outside pass rusher in reserve, so the Hawks seem certain to take advantage of a strong draft for edge rushers.
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux (6-4, 254) and Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson (6-4, 254) have been mentioned as possibilities at No. 9 overall (or a trade down for Johnson).
After two years away—one in Buffalo and one in Vegas — Jefferson is back in Seattle on a two-year, $9 million deal. At 6-4, 291, he is well-suited as a 3-4 end.
He told Josina Anderson of CBS he was drawn to Hurtt, his D-line coach in Seattle, being promoted to DC: “It just made sense to go back. My house is there; my friends, too. It’ll be good to see some familiar faces.”
Jefferson, Seattle’s fifth-round pick in 2016, seems likely to team with Shelby Harris (6-2, 290) on either side of nose tackle Al Woods (6-4, 330), who is back on a two-year, $9 million deal. Poona Ford (5-11, 310) could play all across the line; he might start ahead of Jefferson at end.
The Seahawks also have L.J. Collier (6-2, 291), who fits as a 3-4 end, and NT Bryan Mone (6-4, 335).
As Hurtt said, “We’re learning and adapting for where we’ve been. … We’re adjusting some things. We’re going to be changing.”