2018 NFL Offseason: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks (Last Year: 9-7)

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Brandon Marshall, WR Jaron Brown, TE Ed Dickson, G D.J. Fluker, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, OLB Barkevious Mingo, CB Dontae Johnson, K Sebastian Janikowski.
Early Draft Picks:
RB Rashaad Penny, DE/DT Rasheem Green, TE Will Dissly, LB Shaquem Griffin, S Tre Flowers, P Michael Dickson, OT Jamarco Jones. Seahawks Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Trevone Boykin, RB Thomas Rawls, WR Paul Richardson, TE Jimmy Graham, TE Luke Willson, G Luke Joeckel, DE Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril, DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Michael Wilhoite, CB Richard Sherman, CB Jeremy Lane, CB Deshawn Shead, K Blair Walsh.

2018 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
If there’s one thing the Seahawks absolutely had to do this offseason, it was to upgrade Russell Wilson’s abysmal pass protection. Seattle allowed pressures on the majority of its passing downs last year, and Wilson had to run around like a chicken with its head cut off just to avoid potential sacks. If this sounds familiar, it’s the same opening sentence that was written in the 2017 Seahawks preview. Seattle failed to upgrade its blocking the previous offseason, but acquired Duane Brown in a trade with the Texans. Brown helped on the blind side for sure, but more upgrades were needed in this area.

Unfortunately for Wilson, this was once again not addressed. Outside of a minor signing in guard D.J. Fluker, and a mid-round pick spent on tackle Jamarco Jones, the Seahawks’ blocking unit will be the same as last year, which is obviously horrible news. There’s actually a chance Fluker will start at right guard, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The anemic Fluker will join left guard Ethan Pocic and center Justin Britt in the interior. Britt is a solid blocker, but Pocic was absolutely horrendous last season.

Things are better at tackle, but only by default. Right tackle Germain Ifedi has been a bust as a 2016 first-round pick, but he still has potential to improve. If not, George Fant could replace him. The aforementioned Brown, meanwhile, is a decent player, but isn’t the particularly great blocker the media and casual fans make him out to be.

The struggles of the offensive line have been the primary reason for the Seahawks’ inability to run the ball. Seattle spent an opening-round selection on San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny to be the new three-down back, but it’s highly probable that Penny will struggle. Penny was considered a reach, and he won’t have the proper blocking anyway. It’s noteworthy that Alex Collins, formerly of the Seahawks, struggled with the team before thriving in Baltimore. Even the great Todd Gurley struggled with the Rams in 2016 when his offensive line was poor. There’s no reason to believe that Penny will suddenly fix things when he won’t have any open lanes to burst through.

Things are dubious for Seattle’s passing attack beyond the poor blocking as well. Wilson is still a great quarterback, and his ability to buy time in the pocket is the only reason he isn’t sacked a dozen times per game. However, he lost two key targets this offseason. Paul Richardson, his deep threat, signed with the Redskins in free agency. Tight end Jimmy Graham, meanwhile, joined the Packers. Wilson still has the stellar Doug Baldwin at his disposal, but that’s about it. His other primary targets beyond the decrepit Brandon Marshall figure to be the perennially disappointing Tyler Lockett, the inexperienced Amara Darboh, and the mediocre Ed Dickson.

2018 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
While Russell Wilson put the Seahawks over the top back when the team was competing for the Super Bowl, the defense could’ve been considered the backbone of the team. The Legion of Boom, in particular, was spectacular, and Seattle was always a threat as a result.

In an absolutely stunning turn of events, there may not be a single member of the Legion of Boom present on the field during opening weekend. Richard Sherman was released, signing with the 49ers prior to free agency. Earl Thomas has requested to be traded to the Cowboys. That left just Kam Chancellor, who announced his retirement because of an unfortunate career-ending neck injury.

With Chancellor’s retirement, and all of these departures, it’s almost difficult to fathom who will be playing for the Seahawks in their new defensive backfield. Shaq Griffin is perhaps the best remaining healthy player in the secondary. A third-round pick in 2017, Griffin performed well as a rookie and is expected to take the next step moving forward. Byron Maxwell figures to start across from him. Maxwell has been a bust elsewhere, but he’s a solid scheme fit in Seattle. He should be fine. Meanwhile, nickel corner Justin Coleman is a decent player as well.

It gets much more dubious for the Seahawks at safety. If Thomas is traded, and Chancellor is unavailable, the two starters at the position will be Bradley McDougald and Delano Hill. McDougald is a mediocre player who thrives in coverage but misses way too many tackles. Hill, on the other hand, is an unproven, third-rounder from the 2017 NFL Draft.

The secondary wasn’t the only area on Seattle’s defense that was ravaged by offseason departures. The line saw several veterans, including Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson and Cliff Avril, leave the team as well. The Seahawks still have a fine edge player in Frank Clark, who recorded nine sacks last year, but that’s about it. No one else can consistently generate pressure on the quarterback. Dion Jordan flashed last year, but he’s been an unreliable player throughout his career. Third-round rookie Rasheem Green will have to perform well right away.

The defensive interior is in even worse shape. Losing Richardson was huge, as the Seahawks’ top two defensive tackles are now Jarran Reed and Tom Johnson. Reed, a 2016 second-round pick, has been a fairly average player thus far, and that could also describe Johnson, formerly of the Vikings. Malik McDowell was supposed to be the top player here, but he sustained career-ending injuries in a horrible ATV accident.

The strength of Seattle’s defense is now in the linebacking corps. Bobby Wagner is one of the best in the business, while K.J. Wright is a stellar player as well. Depth was an issue, as evidenced by the Seahawks’ collapse in Jacksonville last year when Wagner got hurt, which would explain the mid-round pick used on Shaquem Griffin.

2018 Seattle Seahawks Schedule and Intangibles:
The Seahawks had a tremendous home-field advantage when they were great. The deafening noise at Qwest Field is why they are a ridiculous 39-6 as hosts the five seasons prior to 2017. However, they were just 4-4 as hosts last year, losing a crucial Week 17 game to the lowly Cardinals.

Seattle has endured kicking woes recently, but perhaps Sebastian Janikowski can help. Janikowski is now 40, but was 29-of-35 in 2016. He missed all of last season with an injury.

Punter Jon Ryan does a good job of pinning the opposition inside the 20, but he was just 30th in net yardage last year. That would explain why Seattle spent a fifth-round pick on Michael Dickson, who has a massive leg.

The Seahawks were just average on special teams. They outgained their opponents on kickoffs, but were crushed on punt returns.

Seattle doesn’t battle many tough opponents to begin the season, but it’s worth noting that five of its first seven games are on the road.

2018 Seattle Seahawks Rookies:
Go here for the Seahawks Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2018 Seattle Seahawks Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: Anyone expecting the Seahawks to make another deep push in the playoffs will be sorely disappointed. Seattle’s roster has regressed substantially. The defense has lost most of its key players, while the offensive line still has yet to be repaired. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if the Seahawks can even be a .500 team.

Projection: 6-10 (3rd in NFC West)

2017 Projection: 11-5. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 12-4. 2016 Actual Result: 10-5-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: D Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: The Seahawks have tons of holes, yet they don’t pick again after the opening round until No. 120. They must trade down to accumulate draft capital so that they can fill many of the voids on their decaying roster.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Seattle managed to trade down once from 18th overall. The team shifted to No. 27, picking up a crucial third-round pick in the process. That was nice, yet the front office still reached on Rashaad Penny, a running back who teams had rated in the second or third round. One team that tends to draft well considered him a tertiary option in the middle of the second round.

Penny was the beginning of an underwhelming haul. I liked the Rasheem Green pick in the third round, as he’ll replace Michael Bennett on the defensive front. Shaquem Griffin also earned a high mark; the athletic linebacker was a nice choice in the fifth frame. However, those two choices were the only ones that scored higher than a C+ until Round 6.

The Seahawks made a number of mistakes beyond Penny. They spent a fourth-round choice on a blocking tight end even though those grow on trees. They traded up for a punter in the fifth round. They reached a bit earlier on safety Tre Flowers.

I don’t know what happened to Seattle. John Schneider used to be a great drafter, but his past couple of classes have been duds. He had 11 combined picks in the first three rounds in the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts, and only two, Shaquil Griffin and C.J. Prosise, have enjoyed any amount of success thus far. The jury is still out on some prospects (and Prosise has injury woes), but it’s not looking good right now. And I’m not confident based on the 2018 selections.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

26. Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State D Grade
The Seahawks are clearly eager to replace Marshawn Lynch, but this is not a good decision. Rashaad Penny was seen as a second- or third-round prospect among teams. I know one team in the early 40s that was targeting him, and I imagine they’re surprised that he was taken.

I almost gave this a Millen grade – I would’ve gone with Kielbasa-Mode – but the Seahawks don’t have a second-round choice and almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten Penny in the third. So, I understand this pick … sort of. The Seahawks could’ve traded down once more to get Penny.

79. Rasheem Green, DE/DT, USC B Grade
Rasheem Green is a nice upside pick for the Seahawks. He has starting ability, but he needs to bulk up for the pros. He also has some medical concerns. There’s probably a high-percentage chance that Green flops, but he could also be a dynamic defensive lineman in the future.

120. Will Dissly, TE, Washington C- Grade
Will Dissly will help Russell Wilson’s blocking. That makes this pick not worthless. However, blocking tight ends grow on trees, so I don’t think taking one in the fourth round presents good value.

141. Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida A- Grade
People were wondering if Shaquem Griffin fell, but I had him at this very exact spot in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft. The Seahawks liked him all the way as a sub-package linebacker who will make an instant impact on special teams. Seattle had major problems when Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright got hurt, so they desperately needed strong depth like this.

146. Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma State C- Grade
This pick isn’t as exciting as Seattle’s other fifth-rounder, and it’s not as good either. Tre Flowers is a stiff-hipped safety who doesn’t seem like he’ll pan out in the NFL. Maybe he can be good on special teams.

149. Michael Dickson, P, Texas C Grade
The Seahawks moved up … for a punter!? OK, so this isn’t nearly as dumb as taking a punter in the third round, over Russell Wilson, no less, but I’m not a fan of trading resources for a punter. Still, Michael Dickson projects as a great punter, so I don’t hate this.

168. Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State C Grade
Jamarco Jones is an awkward projection, as he’s not athletic enough to play tackle and he’s not strong enough to play guard. That said, I can’t strongly criticize the Seahawks trying to improve their blocking.

186. Jacob Martin, DE, Temple B Grade
Jacob Martin might have made more sense in a 3-4, but he could fit in with the Seahawks as a rotational pass-rusher. He’ll be killed in run support if he has to play in that role, but he’ll be able to get some sacks every year if he performs up to expectations.

220. Alex McGough, QB, Florida International B+ Grade
This seventh-round quarterback pick isn’t nearly as surprising as New England’s choice of Danny Etling. Alex McGough generated lots of late interest. He’s an accurate quarterback with mobility, and he could develop into a solid NFL backup.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Seahawks had a disappointing 2017. Injuries played a part – they were missing two members of the Legion of Boom for half the year – but the in-fighting in the locker room certainly didn’t help matters. It’s almost certain that there will be wholesale changes this offseason.

Offseason Moves:
  • Seahawks sign WR Brandon Marshall
  • Seahawks cut DE Cliff Avril
  • Seahawks sign K Sebastian Janikowski
  • Seahawks sign CB Dontae Johnson
  • Seahawks sign DT Shamar Stephen
  • Seahawks sign DT Tom Johnson
  • Seahawks sign G D.J. Fluker
  • Seahawks sign WR Jaron Brown
  • Seahawks sign TE Ed Dickson
  • Seahawks sign OLB Barkevious Mingo
  • Seahawks cut CB Richard Sherman
  • Seahawks cut CB Jeremy Lane
  • Eagles acquire DE Michael Bennett from Seahawks

    Team Needs:
    1. Right Tackle: This is obviously Seattle’s primary need. The team absolutely has to upgrade the offensive line so Russell Wilson isn’t running for his life every play. Germain Ifedi, a former first-round pick, has been a failure at right tackle, but he could do better at guard. A new right tackle must be acquired.

    2. Guard: Even if the Seahawks move Ifedi inside, they’ll still need to acquire another guard. It’ll be a complete failure of an offseason if they don’t bolster their offensive line with multiple upgrades this offseason. Signed D.J. Fluker

    3. Running Back: Seattle has gone through approximately a billion running backs over the past couple of seasons. The team needs to find a solid running back who can finally properly replace Marshawn Lynch.

    4. Edge Rusher: Michael Bennett is rumored to be on his way out. Cliff Avril is edging toward retirement. Another edge rusher is needed.

    5. Cornerback: The Legion of Boom is still great, but needs help. Richard Sherman is coming off a torn Achilles, while Byron Maxwell and Justin Coleman are both heading into free agency. Signed Dontae Johnson

    6. Defensive Tackle: Sheldon Richardson is an impending free agent who will have to be re-signed. Signed Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen

    7. Tight End: Jimmy Graham is heading into free agency as well, but the Seahawks have discussed retaining him. Still, Graham is now 31, and he has been regressing lately. Signed Ed Dickson

    8. Backup Quarterback: The Seahawks could use a better signal-caller behind Russell Wilson.

    9. Kicker: Blair Walsh is lucky the Falcons won, as he escaped major scrutiny for his missed kick at the end of the Arizona game. Walsh is a choke artist who should not be kicking in the NFL until he receives psychiatric help. Signed Sebastian Janikowski

    10. Punter: Jon Ryan finishes at the bottom of net punting each year.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. Age: 40.
      Signed with Seahawks (1 year)

      Adam Vinatieri has kicked incredibly well into his mid-40s, so perhaps that’s good news for Sebastian Janikowski, who turns 40 in March. The bad news is that he’s coming off a back injury that caused him to miss all of 2017, so we’ll see if he can continue to be a great kicker.

    2. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Colts. Age: 27.
      Signed with Seahawks (2 years)

      Barkevious Mingo was the sixth-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but has yet to hit double-digit career sacks. He hasn’t been a total bust, however, because he has shown the ability to defend the run well and cover very effectively.

    3. Tom Johnson, DT, Vikings. Age: 34.
      Signed with Seahawks (1 year)

      Tom Johnson has been a solid rotational defensive tackle over the years, playing well as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He turns 34 in August, so he’s bound to regress in the near future.

    4. Brandon Marshall, WR, Giants. Age: 34.
      Signed with Seahawks

      Brandon Marshall probably should be a 1.5-star player, but I thought I’d give him a write-up for everything he’s done. Marshall has enjoyed a great statistical career, catching 100-plus passes in six seasons. Unfortunately, there has always been controversy following him, and he’s never helped a team reach the playoffs. Now 34, Marshall’s playing days appear to be over, as he has severely declined over the past two seasons.

    5. Shamar Stephen, DT, Vikings. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks
    6. Dontae Johnson, CB, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks
    7. Ed Dickson, TE, Panthers. Age: 31. — Signed with Seahawks (3 years)
    8. Jaron Brown, WR, Cardinals. Age: 28. — Signed with Seahawks
    9. D.J. Fluker, G/OT, Giants. Age: 27. — Signed with Seahawks

    Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Sheldon Richardson, DE/DT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Vikings (1 year)

      Sheldon Richardson is an extremely talented defensive lineman, playing very strongly in the pass rush and run defense. He can play in both the 4-3 and 3-4, so he should garner tons of interest if he gets to the open market.

    2. Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Richard Sherman is a 30-year-old coming off a torn Achilles. He was once considered the best cornerback in the NFL, but because of age and injuries, that’s not the case anymore. There’s not even a guarantee that Sherman will be anywhere close to 100 percent in 2018, so the next time he’s fully healthy could be his age-31 season.

    3. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks. Age: 31.
      Signed with Packers (3 years)

      Perhaps suffering the lingering effects from his torn patellar tendon, Jimmy Graham regressed in 2017. He caught 10 touchdowns, but saw his yards per reception total drop from 14.2 to 9.1. He’s 31 now, so his best years are likely over.

    4. Dion Jordan (RFA), DE, Seahawks. Age: 28.
      Tendered by Seahawks (original round)

      Dion Jordan was a bust as a former third-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Until this past season. Jordan played five games and was dominant in those, recording four sacks. Pete Carroll ranted and raved about Jordan in an offseason press conference, and rightfully so. Perhaps Jordan will finally begin living up to expectations.

    5. Justin Coleman (RFA), CB, Seahawks. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Seahawks

      It’s hard to believe that the Seahawks acquired Justin Coleman for a mere seventh-round pick from New England in September. Coleman played very well in the second half of the season, and he could be a starter going forward.

    6. Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $40 million)

      Paul Richardson turns only 26 in April. He has lots of potential – he caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017 – and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in an explosive offense.

    7. Jeremy Lane, CB, Seahawk. Age: 28.
      Jeremy Lane showed promise earlier in his career, but he hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL in Super Bowl XLIX. He has struggled the past two seasons, but still has some time to rebound, however, as he turns 28 in July.

    8. Byron Maxwell, CB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (1 year, $3 million)

      Byron Maxwell was a huge bust with the Eagles and Dolphins. Miami cut him, and so Maxwell returned to his home. He actually played well with the Seahawks in the second go around. He can probably stay motivated with a short-term “prove it” deal.

    9. Bradley McDouglad, S, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (3 years, $13.95 million)

      Bradley McDouglad is solid in run support, but could stand to improve in coverage. Still, he’s not a liability, and he makes for a fine starting safety.

    10. Thomas Rawls (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25.
      Signed with Jets

      Thomas Rawls showed tremendous potential as a rookie, rushing for 830 yards on a 5.6 YPC carry. Injuries and lethargy have hurt him in the past two seasons, but he has potential to bounce back to 2015 form.

    11. Cliff Avril, DE, Seahawks. Age: 32.
      Cliff Avril had been a declining player heading into 2017. He then missed the final 12 games of the year with a neck injiry that might have ended his career. There’s a chance Avril doesn’t play again.

    12. Luke Joeckel, G, Seahawks. Age: 26.
    13. Mike Davis (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    14. Deshawn Shead, CB, Seahawks. Age: 29. — Signed with Lions (1 year, $3.5 million)
    15. Luke Willson, TE, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Lions
    16. Michael Wilhoite, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 31.
    17. Blair Walsh, K, Seahawks. Age: 28.
    18. Oday Aboushi, G/OT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
    19. Dewey McDonald (RFA), S, Seahawks. Age: 28.
    20. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    21. Matt Tobin, G, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Patriots
    22. Terence Garvin, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    23. Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks. Age: 28.
    24. Austin Davis, QB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
    25. Trevone Boykin, QB, Seahawks. Age: 25.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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