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The eve of the first regular season game for the Seattle Seahawks is upon us, and the excitement is palpable. While looking from the outside in, the Hawks are in a tenuous spot with many a question to be answered. However, in spite of increasing skepticism towards the team, I think they just put a stamp on one of the most successful summers they have had since Carroll came on board.
With the team re-working Quandre Diggs’ contract, along with the recent re-work for Duane Brown, Pete Carroll and John Schneider seem to have sneakily managed one of their best offseasons to date. As the team entered free agency, they had some major gaps on their roster, but the reality of the situation was confusticated by the drama surrounding Russell Wilson and his absolutely deplorable 100% REASONABLE request for better protection. But when the sports world turned their attention to other, more immediate things (e.g. Aaron Rodgers, the gameshow host), the dust settled and the drama subsided. Whether intentional or not, the situation resulted in a smoke-and-mirror effect, whereby Seattle starts out the season with doubters aplenty and prognostications of doom. But the demise of the Seattle Seahawks has been highly exaggerated. Why? Because they pulled off an offseason that will look better and better as the season progresses. While there are a multitude of factors that support this, I would like to focus on a select few, which primarily deal with roster building and maintenance.
Seattle didn’t trade Russell Wilson
This is an easy one. Trading Russ at this point would have been the wrong move. Even the rumors of what John Schneider gave up in his clandestine meeting with Ryan Pace couldn’t justify a maneuver like this. Russell Wilson has never had a losing season, has never missed a game, and consistently pulls magic out of nowhere to create plays that literally maybe two other quarterbacks in the league can mimic. This is a simple, cut and dry situation in my eyes; when you have a franchise quarterback on your roster, you don’t move on until you absolutely have to, and this should only happen when the team has the heir apparent on the roster (e.g. Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, etc) or a certain shot at landing a viable day one starter in the draft. And as for the rumblings of using the Bears draft picks to make a big move for one of the top year one signal callers, Seattle would have never been able to have a shot at Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, and even if they had I wouldn’t feel comfortable replacing a surefire hall of famer at the most important position on any team’s offense with a rookie; even in “best case scenarios,” this rarely works out… see the transition of Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck for a perfect example. If Seattle wants to get back to the Super Bowl anytime soon, they are going to do it with Russell Wilson under center. Moving on.
Free Agency was an under-the-radar goldmine
The Hawks have a history of making big splashy moves during the offseason just when everybody has counted them out. See: the trade for Jimmy Graham, the trade for Percy Harvin, the trade for Jamal Adams, just to name a few. This year, the Hawks found themselves in a tricky situation with a cap tightrope to walk and the fewest draft picks of the PC/JS tenure. So they did what good teams tend to do; they added talented players with reasonable contracts and added depth at some of their thinnest positions. While cornerback is still a bit terrifying in its uncertainty, Seattle now features one of the deepest pass rush units in the league, and they have enough talent at the CB position to merit some tempered optimism. As history has shown us time and time again, perennial playoff teams don’t become consistent winners by “winning” free agency, and the teams who do “win” free agency rarely translate this to wins in the regular season. Free agency is a supplement that keeps a healthy roster healthy. Signing players like Kerry Hyder, Gerald Everett, and trading for Gabe Jackson are the kind of moves that will pay dividends as the season progresses.
They extended, re-signed, or re-worked almost everybody
Jarran Reed aside, Seattle did the most important thing they could possibly do, and they did it intelligently and well;
They re-signed Jamal Adams, making him the highest paid safety in the league. Money well earned.
They re-signed the uncanny Tyler Lockett who’s unmatched efficiency as a receiver is a sight to behold.
They re-signed Carlos Dunlap, who was the second half star that Seattle needed in 2020, and they will need him to lead a group of talented by largely unproven QB chasers in ‘21.
They re-worked Duane Brown and Quandre Diggs, ensuring that they would have two of their team leaders happy and on the field when the team touches down in Indy. Quandre Diggs is undoubtedly one of the best players on the defense, and Duane Brown is the best tackle Seattle has had since Walter Jones.
Of course, Seattle made some moves (or didn’t make some) that led to some scrutiny; namely, letting Jarran Reed and K.J. Wright walk while also failing to find any proven support at the CB position. Letting Shaquill Griffin walk was a challenging decision, but ultimately speaks to the team’s unwillingness to pay top dollar for mid-level production. I like Quill, as a player and as a person, but I think ultimately this was the best decision for both parties. Same story for K.J. As much as I want to see both back in Seahawks uniforms, this feels like the (W)right decision at this moment. And with young players waiting in the wings to get some playing time — Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and even this year’s preseason darling Cody Barton — these moves may end up looking better much quicker than many anticipated. And furthermore, the fact that Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t end up making it to week one is another example of Seattle demonstrating little reluctance to cut ties with a player who isn’t meeting expectations. And they even got something in return for this move.
And in the end…
Of course, all of this will seem meaningless if Seattle can’t translate their offseason to regular season and postseason success. This year feels like a bit of a tipping point for the team — for the coaches AND the roster. The Hawks are expected to perform, and after coming off a 12-win season with a playoff “appearance,” the team seems to be pursuing win-now mode, but without sacrificing their long-term prospects. And we will finally have an opportunity to see these guys take the field and open with a statement against one of their favorite QBs to play against — Carson Wentz. If you have read the Field Gulls predictions (part 1, part 2, part 3), you know that I am pretty high on Seattle this year. And I know I’m a homer, but I also think that the team has the right combination of grit and talent to make some noise this year, maybe even a lot more noise than many are expecting. Regardless, here’s to the return of football and the dawning of a new season. Go Hawks!