Not a total disaster, a 2020 Seahawks Offseason Review
Entering the 2020 offseason, the Seahawks had a roster with numerous positional holes. The optimistic argument against that concern was they had a ton of cap space to address their most pressing needs (more than $50M+ at the time). Some of the biggest areas of need included the pass rush, right tackle, and a nickel corner. All three positions played major roles in ending Seattle’s 2019 playoff journey early.
After the recent signing of Carlos Hyde, the Seahawks now sit at close to $0 in effective cap space. And all three areas — the pass rush, right tackle, and nickel corner — all remain major weaknesses at this time.
By pretty much all accounts, the Seahawks have had a really strange offseason. We’ve had the anticipation of a Clowney deal, the rumors around a Yannick trade, and a Reddit user named “everyonelovesnudez” convincing a Seattle radio station that Myles Garrett was coming to Seattle. And that’s just the beginning.
Now that the draft is over and the early and mid-stages of free agency have concluded, I thought it would be a good time to look back and evaluate Seattle’s offseason. I’m not really going to discuss the draft, just because the draft is a total crapshoot and judging any selections this early would be a waste of time. And for the record, I actually like Seattle’s draft. I don’t *love* it, but I do think they added some exciting, high-upside players.
When it comes to free agency, we have a more accurate picture of who players are. They’ve actually played snaps in the NFL. We know their strengths, their weaknesses, their potential, and where they could play a role in a roster rebuild.
This article isn’t meant to be an exhaustive free agency review (like what I do in my annual previews). I’ve literally just divided the categories into moves I like, moves I’m fine with, and moves I dislike (or hate). I’ll add my commentary to each transaction.
So with that said, let’s dive into this.
Moves I like:
BJ Finney: outside of the Dunbar trade, this is my favorite move of the offseason. Not that this matters a ton, but Steelers fans loved Finney. Coming out of Kansas State in 2015, he went undrafted. He began his career with the Steelers and showed flashes of being a very solid starter. When a guard or center got injured, he would slide right in for Pitt and their offense wouldn’t miss a beat. He’s 28, so he’s still fairly young. Considering his level of play over the past several years, his contract is very reasonable. He’s a solid, but not elite offensive lineman on a $4M APY deal over two years. Not only is Finney cheaper than his predecessor in Britt, but he’s also a significantly better pass protector. Pro Football Focus graded Finney as the NFL’s 13th best pass protecting center in 2019. Britt ranked 35th. That’s a big upgrade and fans should be excited about this.
Quinton Dunbar: assuming he’s cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the armed robbery fiasco, this was Seattle’s best move of the offseason. John Schneider traded a fifth-round pick for PFF’s second-best corner of 2019. He’s an immediate, big-time upgrade at a position of need for an extremely cheap cost. He’ll only cost $3.4M against the cap in 2020 and will be playing for a big time extension. At 27 years old, Dunbar could be a solid 3-4 year starter for the Seahawks. In addition, this also gives Tre Flowers more time to develop. Hard not to love this move. But obviously, as of right now, Dunbar has more important things to worry about than the NFL. And that’s staying out of prison.
Benson Mayowa: considering the price and his 2019 pass-rushing advanced metrics, I like this deal. He carries a $3M cap hit with the potential to rise to $4M based on incentives. PFF’s pass-rushing productivity stat, which measures pressures on a per snap basis, ranked him as the NFL’s 24th best edge rusher. Good signing.
Letting Germain Ifedi walk: he was a complete and total embarrassment to this franchise. A disaster on the field and in between snaps, Germain never found his footing in Seattle. Letting him walk was the right choice. Extending him to any sort of significant money would have been a mistake of criminal proportions. Remember when he shit publicly all over NBC reporter Joe Fann on Twitter for criticizing his play with the use of PFF metrics, just before he proceeded to sign a league-minimum deal in free agency? Yeah, me too. Good riddance.
Cutting Justin Britt: although not a bad player, Britt was slated to enter the 2020 season as the NFL’s third highest-paid center. He was extended off his impressive 2016 season, but simply never returned to that level of play. Smart teams cut overpaid veterans like Britt. No reason to allocate that type of cash to a mediocre-to-subpar offensive lineman.
Moves that are fine:
Greg Olsen: I was initially really excited about this acquisition, but my enthusiasm cratered after I saw the contract details. He’ll count $7M against Seattle’s 2020 cap. He’s still a good player and I really like the idea of adding depth to the tight end room, but the contract is expensive. And I would have preferred they allocate these dollars to more pressing concerns like the pass rush or right tackle. But nonetheless, it’s an ok move.
Brandon Shell: the only reason this deal isn’t in the “dislike” category is because Seattle let Ifedi walk in return. He was PFF’s 54th ranked tackle in 2019. He’s not good, but at least the money isn’t going to Germain Ifedi. Basically, Seattle spent $4.5M to marginally upgrade the right tackle position. It’s slightly disappointing because they could have combined Shell and Olsen’s money to acquire Jack Conklin.
Phillip Dorsett: I almost moved this acquisition into the “moves I like” category simply because of the cost. I’m not really expecting anything out of Dorsett, but he is a former first-round pick on a very small deal. This is a decent move to bolster the competition within the wide receiver room.
Moves I dislike:
Bruce Irvin: bringing Bruce back was and is a great idea. Paying him $6M on a one year deal is not. I like the player and the fact that he had 8 sacks last year, but his contract seems very expensive for an old defensive player. Not only is this an expensive deal, but the deal represents a significant missed opportunity cost on what could have been used to pursue star players. I expect him to be a decent rotational pass rusher in 2020, but the cost of his deal leaves me irked.
Letting Clowney walk: by numerous reports, Clowney has lowered his asking price for something in the $14-15M APY range. Choosing not to extend him at that number should be considered a felony in the state of Washington. When you consider how bad (and I mean BAD) the pass rush was in 2019, the nonchalant attitude the Seahawks have about letting him walk is gross. He was their best pass rusher by a wide margin. Ranked 15th overall as an edge defender by PFF. Not only did the Seahawks fail to get better in the pass rush this offseason, they actually got worse. Signing a couple of old defensive veterans with expensive contracts does not equal out the losses of Jadeveon Clowney and Quinton Jefferson. Shame on Seattle for completely botching this position group when they had a very clear and real opportunity to drastically improve it. They had the cash and the resources., but didn’t improve the position group.
Extending Jarran Reed: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is the worst move of the offseason. I’d argue it’s actually worse than letting Clowney walk. Seattle chose to sign Reed to a very expensive contract: 2 years for $23M ($11.5M APY). They are paying him exclusively off his 2018 production. Unlike the Locket deal, the length is so short that if he balls out in 2020, the Seahawks will 100% look to extend him before he hits free agency in 2021. There will be no value gained from being below market and/or outperforming his deal. The Seahawks are betting $100 to win $5. There’s a 0% chance Reed outperforms this deal. When you look at comparative signings, I get nauseous. Jarran Reed: 91st overall per PFF. Signed for 2/$23M ($11.5M APY). Javon Hargrave: 8th overall per PFF. And he’s a far, far superior player. Signed for 3/$39M ($13M APY). The Reed deal carries major risk with very, very little upside. I am disgusted with how poorly this contract was negotiated. I’ll eat crow if I have to, but this contract is repulsive.
Losing QJeff: many fans think poorly of Quinton due to his injury history, but he was an underrated player on Seattle’s defense in 2019. PFF had him as Seattle’s second-best DL player in 2019. He signed a deal for $6.9M APY with the Bills. I would have absolutely taken him back at that price.
Losing Al Woods: yes, it was disappointing to have him suspended towards the end of last season. But overall Woods was a strong run stopper for Seattle in 2019. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s 15th best run stopper. He signed a one year/$2.5M deal with the Jags. I would have absolutely retained him at that cost. Another underrated loss.
Offering Devonta Freeman a deal worth up to $4M: what the fuck? Even if this doesn’t happen, spending $4M on what could be your 3rd or 4th string running back is pure insanity. The process is horrible. I mean, what the fuck? (note: this paragraph was written before the Carlos Hyde signing and I’m keeping it)
Missing on Right Tackle: in a market where Jack Conklin and Bryan Buluga signed very reasonable deals (far, far lower than expected) in the low teens, Seattle chose to sign Brandon Shell for $4.5M a year. The right tackle spot has been the weak link on a bad offensive line for years. It would have been really encouraging to see Seattle take the Greg Olsen + Shell money and allocate it towards a Conklin or Buluga signing. Nonetheless, they did neither and settled for a bad tackle at a medium cost. I’m really bummed about cheapskate moves here.
Carlos Hyde: recently a report surfaced that Seattle has been negotiating a contract with Carlos Hyde. Those rumors became official when he inked a one year deal worth for “up to $4M”. Realistically, Hyde is nowhere near as talented as Penny or Carson. If Penny doesn’t come back by week 1, Hyde will be the backup. At worst, Seattle just paid $4M to their RB3 or RB4. Everyone knows that a running back is heavily dependent on the quality of his offensive line play. Thus, paying any sort of medium to high money for one has proven to be a very poor allocation of resources.
Pass Rush: it’s not unrealistic to say that the Seahawks probably have the worst pass rush in the NFL, at least on paper. PFF had the Seahawks as the 30th ranked pass rush in 2019 — and that defense has now lost their two best pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Quinton Jefferson. Benson Mayowa and Bruce are decent rotational options but don’t equalize the loss of their predecessors. On top of all of this, there was some legit pass-rushing talent available in free agency. Some of those names included Arik Armstead, Dante Fowler, Robert Quinn, Shaq Lawson, JPP, Mario Addison, and many others available via trade.
Honestly, I’m just kind of dumbfounded with this offseason. It doesn’t seem like Seattle has a clear plan in place to rebuild the roster. Random dart throws at expensive, rotational veterans isn’t the answer.
The Seahawks chose to pay old, expensive veterans with minimal chances of outperforming their contracts. There’s a couple of nice moves in the Dunbar/Finney acquisitions and the Britt/Ifedi partings, but Seattle chose to abstain from adding any major talent to the defensive line — which was clearly Seattle’s biggest need from 2019. Right tackle remains the weak link on the offensive line. And the nickel corner spot continues to pose a problem for this team, especially if it encourages Pete Carroll to stay with a heavy base defense approach. Not only did Seattle not get better this offseason, but there’s a credible argument that they got worse. One thing is for certain — it got more expensive.
For a team that needed a superb offseason to credibly claim themselves as Super Bowl contenders, a “not disastrous” offseason just doesn’t cut it.