Part two of this off-season position analysis will focus on the defensive line. Pete Carroll made it clear that both lines were primary areas of focus. Let’s take a look at where we are, and where we might be after the off-season.
|Brandon Mebane’s free agency leaves a major hole in the line|
The Seahawks defensive line made nearly miraculous strides in 2010. This was a pitiful excuse for a unit in 2009. Dan Quinn, Gus Bradley and Pete Carroll put together a scheme that maximized the team’s talent, while adding key pieces like Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock. Players like Red Bryant and Colin Cole became better than they had ever been, and Brandon Mebane was his normal disruptive self. This was among the best lines in the NFL when healthy, but it was rarely healthy. The starting four only played four games together all year. The depth here was terrible. Finding new starters would be great, but the goal should be to retain the four starters, and add more quality depth so the defense does not collapse with 1-2 injuries.
- DT Brandon Mebane
- DT Craig Terrill
- DT Armon Gordon
- DE Raheem Brock
- DE Jay Richardson
- DT/DE Junior Siavii
- DE Red Bryant
- DE Chris Clemons
- DT Colin Cole
- DE Dexter Davis
Seymour is going to be 32, but is a perfect target for the Seahawks if another team doesn’t give him starters money. He could make up a dynamic part of a tackle rotation for the next few years. This is guy that gave offensive lineman concussions. His attitude and effort is questionable at times, so buyer beware.
DT Aubrayo Franklin
Franklin was a 49er, so there is always the connection with Scott Mcloughlin. He is a run-stuffer that was franchised by the 49ers last year. He is 30, and could be a fit depending on the price he commands. He would be more of Colin Cole role, where Seymour would be more disruptive like Mebane.
DE Cullen Jenkins
Jenkins is great player when healthy, and GM John Schneider should know him well. Jenkins is 30, and has been injury-prone. He is good enough that someone will look past that and give him lots of cash. I wouldn’t expect it to be the Seahawks.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Kiwanuka is a pass-rushing force, who missed much of last year with a herniated disc in his neck. Those aren’t problems that go away, and will cause some to avoid him altogether. He would be an interesting addition in rotation with Red Bryant, but will probably be out of the team’s price range.
DE Shaun Ellis
Ellis is 33, and could be the perfect target for Seattle. The Jets are said to be unlikely to re-sign him, and he still can be a difference-maker in a rotation.
There are also guys like DE Ray Edwards, DE Charles Johnson, DE Jason Babin and DT Gerard Warren. The smart move in free agency is to keep Mebane around. The team cannot count on Bryant being the same player he was a year ago after major knee surgery. Remember Marcus Tubbs anyone? Ideally, they are able to re-sign Mebane and Bryant recovers, allowing any free agent additions to be rotational additions. This will save the team money that can be spent elsewhere. If they have to pay starter money on the d-line, that’s bad news for the rest of team. There are some strong lineman in the draft, and Seattle may have to roll the dice there if free agency gets too rich for them in this area.
Bringing in a player like Richard Seymour would be the one free agent who could be the perfect combination of talent, cost and fit. He could play all along the line, and brings the nastiness the team is trying to cultivate. It’s hard to say if he’d work with Carroll all that well, but I’d take the risk.