2021 Offseason chatter

As the Seahawks get ready to report to camp next week, a couple of their free-agent linebackers made some news this week: K.J. Wright said he still could return, and Mychal Kendricks’ legal situation finally has been resolved.

Wright told SiriusXM NFL Radio: “There is a chance, and I’m not closing the door on Seattle. Going into free agency, I thought it’d be a no-brainer, but they’re going to wait until training camp. So we’ll see.”

The week of the draft in late April, Carroll said he had talked to K.J. Wright and “the door is not closed to us. … We feel very good about where we are with K.J.”

That doesn’t mean they are bringing him back. It could mean Carroll is comfortable having explained Seattle’s situation to the veteran.

Also just before the draft, John Schneider said he talked to Wright’s agents before free agency and then thought Wright would end up with one of Seattle’s former assistants. “We thought he would be signed by now. … A lot of teams are going to see what they do in the draft and then come around to some of these veterans who are still available.”

The Hawks are going with Jordyn Brooks on the weak side and are expected to let Darrell Taylor push Cody Barton on the strong side.

Kendricks, meanwhile, is looking to find a team after his insider-trading case ended up costing him one day in jail, three years of probation and 300 hours of community service. Kendricks spent the past three years with Seattle as that case kept getting kicked down the road. He could be a cheap addition if no other team shows much interest and Carroll is not satisfied with his LB corps.

If Wright does not return, he said, “No matter what happens, my career in Seattle was unforgettable. Ten years. Had a lot of fun, got a Super Bowl, a Pro Bowl, Seahawks Man of the Year. I did a lot of good stuff in that jersey. … Hopefully one day they put me up in the Ring of Honor.

“We’ll see if I go back to Seattle (for 2021). That’d be nice. If not, I’m forever thankful.”

Class words from one of the best players and people to ever put on a Seahawks uniform. As Ring of Honor worthy as anyone who has played in Seattle.

Even before Richard Sherman’s bizarre incident on July 13, Pete Carroll had said signing the former star corner was “Not one of our thoughts right now.”

Sherman was charged with five misdemeanors after that situation, and Carroll surely is more concerned with the 33-year-old’s state of mind.

Sherman needs to get mentally healthy, if this is not in fact CTE, before he ever considers playing again — and then some team would have to take a chance on the aging vet.

The Seahawks drafted Tre Brown to compete against Ahkello Witherspoon and Tre Flowers. D.J. Reed ostensibly owns the other corner spot, based on his solid play in 2020.

The Seahawks also brought back Pierre Desir — the former practice player they have been trying to rope since he left for Indianapolis.

The talented Marquise Blair, coming off a knee injury, should get a chance to return to the slot role he had won last year. Ugo Amadi also plays there.

Aldon Smith was to appear in court July 14 in his battery case in Louisiana, but there has been no word on whether that happened.

The incident occurred just two days after he signed with Seattle.

This is what the Seahawks risked when they signed the long troubled player. Seattle released a statement saying Smith had alerted the franchise to his situation and the team was “gathering more information.”

Last year, Quinton Dunbar was involved in a bizarre robbery story, and the Seahawks waited it out until the investigation showed he was not involved. They appear to be taking the same tack with Smith.

The difference is Smith has a long rap sheet already and just came off a four-year suspension last year. The NFL could ban him again (on top of whatever legal punishment he might receive).

When he signed with Dallas, Smith said he was “making exponential strides towards becoming a better man.” But the Cowboys showed no interest in re-signing him, which may have been telling.

Schneider said they had been monitoring him since last year, sending people to L.A. to stay in touch with him. They felt good enough about him to try to sign him, but Dallas made a better offer.

Seattle then tried to trade for Smith last season, but Dallas declined in an apparent spite move. The Seahawks apparently made an offer to him again in March, but he had “personal issues” that scuttled that deal. Then they got him on their fourth try, signing him April 15. He was involved in the Louisiana incident two days later.

Smith was really a bit of a luxury addition to a Seattle pass rush that already looked strong after Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa re-signed and Kerry Hyder was added.

Smith had five sacks, 20 pressures and 14 QB hits for Dallas last year. And that quartet combined for 24.5 sacks (Dunlap had five in eight games with Seattle).

Other interest

The Seahawks reportedly were interested in former Bengals running back Giovani Bernard — with Carroll and Russell Wilson apparently recruiting him before he signed with Tampa Bay.

Before drafting D’Wayne Eskridge, the Seahawks apparently checked into veteran receivers Sammy Watkins, Willie Snead and Marquise Goodwin. Watkins signed with Baltimore and Snead with the Raiders.

Josh Reynolds, a guy linked to them because he played under Shane Waldron with the Rams, signed with Tennessee. And T.Y. Hilton, favored by a portion of fans, returned to Indy.

Meanwhile, Wilson tried again to get Antonio Brown to the Seahawks. The mercurial receiver won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Bucs last season and re-signed with them just before the draft.

Chance Warmack (who opted out of 2020 and was cut after the season) was back in Seattle for a physical in early April. He could be a cheap flier on line depth. The Seahawks also reportedly touched base with guards Danny Isidora and Cody Wichmann and Vikings backup center Brett Jones, who played for Seattle line coach Mike Solari in New York in 2016-17.

Additions

The Seahawks added former first-round DT Robert Nkemdiche on draft day.

The Seahawks had shown interest in Nkemdiche in 2016, but they traded down from 26 to 31 and Arizona took him 29th. The Seahawks drafted Germain Ifedi at 31 and then traded up in the second round to get a defensive tackle: Jarran Reed.

With Reed having decided to leave Seattle, the Hawks now replace him with the guy they could have drafted in the first round (if his red flags did not scare Seattle).

Nkemdiche (6-4, 296) has had a disappointing career, playing in just 29 games. His best season was 2018, when he had 4.5 sacks in 10 games for Arizona before suffering a knee injury. In 2019, he played in just two games with Miami. He did not play last season.

This obviously is a low-cost flier on a once-talented former first-rounder — the kind of move the Seahawks love to make.

Right after Reed left, the Seahawks signed 34-year-old DT Al Woods to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

This is Woods’ third stint with Seattle, after a year in 2011 and in 2019. He missed four games in 2019 on a PED suspension. He signed with Jacksonville last year but opted out during the pandemic.

Woods was still a good run stopper for much of 2019, and the Hawks obviously are hoping for one more good year from him in that department.

Hyder’s deal is for two years and $6.5 million and includes a voidable third year at $10 million. The $3.25 million base average is a nice price for Seattle to bid on a guy who is now on his fifth team in seven NFL seasons. His 2021 cap hit is just under $2 million.

Hyder, 29, tallied a career-high 8.5 sacks for the 49ers last season — playing in Robert Saleh’s Seattle-style scheme. The 6-2, 270-pound journeyman is likely to play 5-tech for Seattle.

The Seahawks also reportedly were in the mix for Efe Obada, who had 5.5 sacks for Carolina last season and signed with Buffalo.

The Seahawks were chasing tight ends and offensive linemen early, and they landed one of each when they signed Gerald Everett and traded for Gabe Jackson.

Everett, signed to a $6 million deal for one year, rejoins new OC Shane Waldron after they tore up the Seahawks with the Rams. It will be Waldron’s task to get Everett more involved than Greg Olsen was in 2020 (or most tight ends have ever been in the history of the franchise, for that matter).

“Gerald brings versatility to any offense, so we’re excited to be able to get him here and really utilize him as a weapon that can move around and do a lot of different things within an offensive structure,” Waldron said. “He’s got aggressive hands, and he can seem to always find a way to get open versus tight man-to-man coverage. Then his ability once the ball’s in his hand to make the first guy miss or break that first tackle has been something he’s consistently been able to put on display since college and right on through at the NFL level. So it’s a big asset as far as his ability to aggressively go attack the ball and then make something happen with it once it’s in his hands.”

Everett said “the best part of my game (is) the element of surprise. I can be a WR, I can be a TE, I can run the ball, I can pass pro, I can take the top off a defense. Seattle already has those things … and I feel like I can only add more.”

Everett called Waldron “a mastermind. He’s very creative, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in Seattle.”

Jackson, acquired from Vegas for a fifth-rounder, is a consolation prize for missing out on Kevin Zeitler. But Wilson was happy about the move.

The Seahawks finished off their line, for now, by bringing back Ethan Pocic on a one-year, $3 million deal.

The Seahawks unsurprisingly did not sign Joe Thuney or Corey Linsley, despite the calls of many fans. Thuney reportedly got $16 million a year from Kansas City, and All-Pro center Linsley left Green Bay for the L.A. Chargers on a five-year deal reportedly worth $62.5 million.

But the Hawks reportedly did express interest in Thuney and also put in a losing bid for Zeitler, who got over $7 million a year from Baltimore. Wilson apparently put a big recruiting pitch to his former Wisconsin teammate, but it didn’t work.

Seattle signed former 49er CB Ahkello Witherspoon, who figures to push Tre Flowers for a starting spot opposite D.J. Reed (who also was picked up from San Francisco, which ran the same defense as Seattle).

The 6-3 Witherspoon was a third-round pick of the 49ers in 2017. Some saw him as a Seahawks fit then. He has played just 21 games (12 starts) the past two years, so he and Flowers (and any other addition) are likely to battle it out.

Re-signings

Tyler Lockett signed an extension that reportedly is worth $69.2 million over four years and includes $37 million in guarantees.

It’s a great deal for Lockett, with the guaranteed money ranking sixth among NFL receivers and the $17.3 million APY ranking 10th. His average guarantee of $9.25 million per year ranks third in the league, behind only DeAndre Hopkins and Julion Jones (both over $20 million) among non-franchise-tag receivers.

Lockett has been stellar for the Seahawks, coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and setting a team record with 100 receptions in 2020. The past three years (per Corbin Smith of SI.com), Lockett is one of 12 receivers with at least 200 catches, 3,000 yards and 20 TDs. He has the highest catch rate of those 12 at 76%.

This deal sure makes it look like John Schneider is willing to pay both of his receivers. DK Metcalf will be eligible for an extension next year.

Lockett’s deal saved $6.9 million on the cap. He got a $19 million signing bonus and has a $13 million option bonus in 2022 — basically a tiered $32 million bonus that keeps the 2021 cap low. It’s a rare use of option bonus by Seattle.

His cap hits spike by about $6 million each in 2023 and 2024, but those numbers should be no problem as the league’s new TV deals bump the salary cap starting in 2023.

The Seahawks re-signed Damarious Randall to a deal for the veteran minimum.

Randall had indicated his return on social media earlier in the week, and the team made it official Friday. He also is being moved back to cornerback, where he started his career with the Packers. The Seahawks are a bit unsettled at corner, with Ahkello Witherspoon signing on to push Tre Flowers. Randall also might be moving to compete against Ugo Amadi at nickel.

About two hours after Reed announced his looming departure on March 25, the Seahawks reportedly made the move they really needed to make: Bringing back Dunlap.

The deal, per his agent, is worth $16.6 million over two years, with $8.5 million guaranteed. It is the Seahawks’ top signing of the offseason, especially after the team cut Dunlap to save $14 million earlier in March. His cap hit dropped to $2.9 million, a net savings of $11.2 million.

“The Seahawks were very transparent, and that’s something that I appreciate,” Dunlap said. “From Day 1 coming in when we were doing the signing and the trade, they let me know that this would be a potential move in the postseason. And then when it actually happened, yeah, it still hit different because I’ve never been cut before. But they were still very transparent. They wanted me to know that they wanted me back, and this was one of the moves they had to make because of the situation they were in cap-wise with the new numbers.”

For the first time in three offseasons, Schneider has locked in a top pass rusher in March. No desperate veteran trade will be needed this year.

In a bit of a surprise, Chris Carson returned.

“It was definitely a possibility I was done with Seattle,’’ Carson said. “Some teams made it tough to decide to sign with the Seahawks. … It was the team that gave me my first shot in the league. So it felt like it was the right decision.’’

He reportedly got a two-year deal contract that could pay over $14.6 million but is really a one-year, prove-it deal worth $5.5 million guaranteed — and up to $6.9 million in 2021. There is a third year that voids, helping reduce the 2021 cap hit to $2.5 million. If he has a good season, he could earn a $1.4 million in incentives, plus a $1.4 million raise in 2022.

The hard-charging Carson has been a two-time 1,000-yarder for Seattle, but he has never played a full season. Pete Carroll wants to run the ball more, so Carson needs to figure out how to stay healthy. Otherwise, he will not “prove it” and Rashaad Penny (if healthy and still on the roster) and Alex Collins will be on the field.

The Seahawks reportedly had talked to Leonard Fournette, which made it seem like they were not interested in bringing back Carson. But Russell Wilson apparently pushed Carson to return. Carson said Wilson “was definitely in my ear.’’ 

New England also reportedly talked to Carson and Fournette. The Jets and Panthers (now run by ex-Seattle personnel man Scott Fitterer) also were involved with Carson, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Kenyan Drake signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Raiders, and Fowler had told 710 ESPN: “I think Drake’s contract is a starting point for (Carson). I think he’ll fall in line there, but he’ll try to get slightly above.”

Carson’s agency had complained about the market, seemingly for RBs, and possible collusion by NFL teams.

Mayowa, who had six sacks in 13 games for Seattle last season, signed a one-year, $4.6 million deal with voidable years.

The Seahawks addressed their depth issues on the offensive line by reportedly bringing back both Jordan Simmons and Cedric Ogbuehi.

At this point, their line is largely the same as last season — with the notable exception of Jackson coming over in a trade with the Raiders to start at left guard.

Many expect them to draft a center to push Pocic or perhaps replace him in 2022.

Pocic reportedly is returning on a one-year deal worth $3 million.

Pocic was surprisingly good early in the 2020 season, but constant flux at the guard spots and his own injuries diminished his play late on the season. If he has good guard play next to him, he should be fine.

We expect the Seahawks to look for a center in the draft, if possible.

Restricted free agent Poona Ford got a two-year deal that reportedly could be worth $14 million.

Per Mike Dugar, Ford will receive a $3.5 million signing bonus and cost $2.6 million against the cap (instead of the $3.384 million tender). He will get $4.4 million this year and could net around $9 million in 2022.

That’s a good deal for Ford and a good (and rare) move by Seattle to not have to deal with a contract again next year.

Before the surprising return of Carson, the Seahawks had fortified the running back room a bit by re-signing Collins, the 2016 fifth-rounder who returned to Seattle in 2020 and played well when given a chance. He provides good backup ability to the two injury-prone guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

Cap maneuvers

As assumed, Jackson redid his deal to alleviate cap issues for the Seahawks upon his trade from the Raiders.

He actually got a new three-year deal worth $25.575 million. His 2021 cap hit dropped from $9.6 million to $4.075 million.

Dunlap’s deal includes three voidable years to spread out a $7 million bonus and keep his cap hit at $2.9 million.

The Seahawks also used a voidable year for Ogbuehi to lower his cap hit. His deal is worth up to $2.3 million but carries a cap hit of under $1.8 million.

Matt Thomas, Seattle’s cap manager, has now used voidable years on at least seven deals as he works to fit under a tight pandemic cap. Dunlap, Everett, Pocic, Carson, Mayowa and Hyder all reportedly have void years. Woods did not have a void, but his deal also is for $2.5 million (not the $3 million first reported).

Total dead money from voidables for 2022 is $3.35 million. In 2023, it will be $8 million — $4.2 million for Dunlap.

It is a smart way to kick some cap hits into future years where Seattle has tons of space. Seven of their 15 signings (not counting Tyler Lockett’s extension) extend legitimately into 2022. Jackson is the only one who is extended through 2023, as they keep to their usual MO of short contracts.

Departures

Quinton Dunbar signed a one-year deal with Detroit, where he will be reunited with Aubrey Pleasant, his first NFL position coach in Washington. The talented Dunbar will try to prove he can stay healthy and earn a long-term deal somewhere next year.

Dunbar missed 10 games due to a knee injury last season after Seattle acquired him from Washington for a fifth-round pick in March.

Dunbar and the Seahawks had talked about a return, but the Lions and Cardinals also were interested.

Reed landed with a new team quickly after being cut as Kansas City reportedly signed him to a one-year deal worth up to $7 million. Seven teams apparently had contacted him.

It’s a prove-it deal for the defensive tackle who was just cut by Seattle because he wanted an extension and they just wanted him to add a void year to help their cap. He had been set to make over $8 million with Seattle, so he clearly took a pay cut. His guaranteed money from the Chiefs is just $5 million.

Last year, the Seahawks surprisingly gave him a deal worth $11.5 million a year. That was the first time John Schneider had ever paid a defensive lineman over $10 million — even Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril did not hit eight figures (Bennett got $29 million over three years on his last deal, which he never even started because he was traded).

He had said, “I want to be here long-term for sure. … I’ve been a Seahawk my whole career, and that’s how I want it to stay.”

The Seahawks were right not to overpay him on a new extension though. Carroll has said several times that Reed’s pass rush ability was predicated on having an ace outside rusher to free him. In 2018, Reed had 10.5 sacks opposite Frank Clark. In 2020, he had 6.5 opposite Dunlap.

Reed obviously was OK taking less to reunite with Clark and play next to Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones — a move that could again help Reed put up good sack numbers and get that big extension he wants.

The Seahawks made a bid to keep Shaquill Griffin, but they lost him to Jacksonville on a three-year deal worth up to $44.5 million ($29 million guaranteed). The base reportedly is a little over $13 million a year.

The Seahawks were bidding against two teams, per NFLN’s Ian Rapoport. Cleveland had interest, per ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Per Joel Corry, Griffin’s expected asking price was $15 million a year, so he has a chance to make close to that.

Griffin told MMQB of leaving the Seahawks: “Everything that I want to do as a player, I started there. So, of course, I had some love for Seattle and was hoping that I could go back there. But … I know it’s a business. And I know what’s going on in this world.”

Carolina’s Fitterer plucked David Moore on a two-year deal worth $4.75 million. Nice deal for Moore, who did not merit that in Seattle. (Those 1-yard jet sweeps were agonizing to watch.)

The Jaguars also signed away Carlos Hyde and Phillip Dorsett. They and Griffin join three former Seattle coaches in Jacksonville: Darrell Bevell, Brian Schottenheimer and Brian Schneider.

Hyde signed for $6 million over two years. Pete Carroll had expected Dorsett to return after he missed 2020 with a foot injury.

Hyde said “it was a no-brainer” to reunite with his former college coach, Urban Meyer. “He’s all about winning.”

Dorsett said he is “intrigued” to play with presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.

Hawks talk

Dunlap said he feels like he has unfinished business with Seattle. “I just feel like with such a small sample of games that I had an opportunity to play in (eight), we were able to see what we were able to do and accomplish. I feel like if we can get that from Day 1 with the offseason program and being in OTAs and being in the meetings, learning the culture, I just feel like sky’s the limit cause we were able to accomplish such great things last season in a short period of time. I just want an opportunity to build on that.

“I’m looking to pick up where we left off and make it better. That includes me keeping the same number (43). I’m a creature of habit and I like to finish what I started and I feel like we have a lot of unfinished work to be done.”

Everett said: “The best part of my game would have to be the element of surprise. I can be a receiver, I can be a tight end, I can run the ball, I can pass pro, I can take the top off a defense. Seattle already has those all things in the offense, and I feel like I can only add more and be an addition to it.

“I definitely think I can take the next step in Seattle. … I’m allowed to do more and more things each year I’m in the league, whether that be jet sweeps or screens or running the ball. I really don’t know what that looks like, me taking the next step, because I really don’t think I have a ceiling, honestly.”

D.J. Reed, who played with Witherspoon in San Francisco, called the new Seahawk “a good football player.” In a podcast with The Athletic, Reed said, “First of all, he’s all of 6-3. It’s not just on paper. If you see him, he’s a big dude. He’s all of 6-3. One thing I love about him is his technique. His re-step, he probably has one of the best, if not the best, re-step in the league. If you don’t know what re-step is, it’s just a technique at the line where you just side-step when you’re in press (coverage). He does a good job getting his hands on receivers. He gives a lot of good receivers problems.”

L.J. Collier told GMFB he had arthroscopic ankle surgery in February. He expects huge things from himself and the defense in 2021. On himself: “I didn’t even scratch the surface of what I know I can do. Year 3 I’m really going crazy.” On the defense: “I feel like there’s a lot to come. I feel like we’re going to have the best defense next year. We have a stacked team. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back. I’m excited.” And that was before Ford, Dunlap, Mayowa and Hyder signed.

No surprise: Mike Iupati, 33, is retiring, saying, “My body was telling me it was time to close the door.”

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