2019 NFL Offseason: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks (Last Year: 10-6)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
G Mike Iupati, DE Ezekiel Ansah, CB Jamar Taylor.
Early Draft Picks:
DE L.J. Collier, S Marquise Blair, WR D.K. Metcalf, LB Cody Barton, WR Gary Jennings, G Phil Haynes, S Ugo Amadi, LB Ben Burr-Kirven. Seahawks Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
WR Doug Baldwin, DE Frank Clark, CB Justin Coleman, S Earl Thomas, K Sebastian Janikowski.

2019 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
It’s been a long time since Russell Wilson received proper protection from his offensive line. The 2018 campaign wasn’t any different. Seattle’s offensive line ranked 30th in adjusted pass protection. The Seahawks were able to reach the playoffs despite this, as Wilson single-handedly willed his team to victory in some contests. Seattle ultimately paid the price in an opening-round playoff loss to the Cowboys, when they had severe difficulty moving the chains against Dallas’ talented front seven.

It was unclear if the Seahawks would finally address their horrid blocking this offseason, given their reluctance to do so in the past. The front office stuck to its strategy, adding just one offensive lineman of note. That was Mike Iupati, who spent the past four seasons in Arizona. Iupati was once a solid blocker, but his play has fallen off because of his extensive injury history. Iupati has been on the field for just 11 of 32 possible games over the previous two years. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Iupati will have a rebound 2019 campaign, but it’s more likely that he’ll continue to struggle or miss action.

The rest of the offensive line will be the same, which is unfortunate for Wilson. The best of the bunch is left tackle Duane Brown, though he’s a candidate for regression, given that he turns 34 in August. His bookend, Germain Ifedi, is a former first-round pick, but has never lived up to expectations. Center Justin Britt is coming off a down year, but should be able to rebound. Last and probably least, D.J. Fluker has been a woeful blocker for years.

The Seahawks have offensive worries beyond the blocking. Doug Baldwin, Wilson’s long-time favorite weapon, has retired because of injuries. Wilson still has the speedy Tyler Lockett at his disposal, but Seattle lacks other proven players at the position. Seattle consequently spent multiple selections on receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft, most notably D.K. Metcalf. The Ole Miss product dominated the combine, prompting some to project him into the top 10. Metcalf, however, fell to the second round because he was not a good football player in college. He’ll need to learn how to run routes, though he could certainly catch his fair share of deep balls from Wilson. It would have been nice had the Seahawks found an upgrade at tight end to compensate for Baldwin’s retirement, but that did not happen.

Seattle should at least be able to run the ball well. The team spent a first-round pick in 2018 on Rashaad Penny, but it was Chris Carson who thrived last year. Carson was exceptional, tallying 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns on a 4.7 yards-per-carry clip despite the team’s poor blocking. It’s unclear if Carson will continue to hold the job, given what Seattle invested in Penny, but both backs should have success in 2019.

2019 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
While Russell Wilson put the Seahawks over the top back when the team was competing for the Super Bowl every year, 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.

The Legion of Boom is completely scattered in the wind, as every single member of the unit is no longer on the roster. Instead, Seattle will boast a secondary that figures to struggle mightily in 2019. The cornerback group is a mess. Shaq Griffin is considered the best of the bunch, but he didn’t perform well last year. Griffin has the potential to bounce back, but he’ll need to improve his woeful tackling. He’ll start across from Tre Flowers, who wasn’t much better this past season.

The best member of the secondary figures to be safety Bradley McDougald once again. McDougald is a solid in all aspects, and there’s no reason to think he’ll regress. He’ll start alongside second-round Marquise Blair, who was considered a major reach when he was chosen in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Given the state of the secondary, the Seahawks will need their defensive front to apply tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The problem there is that Frank Clark, the team’s top pass rusher from 2018, was traded to the Chiefs prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. Seattle used a first-round selection on a replacement in L.J. Collier, but he, like Blair, was considered a reach. Collier figures to be stout in run support, but he’s raw as a pass rusher. The Seahawks also signed Ziggy Ansah, but he has an extensive injury history and can’t be counted on to remain on the field for the entire season.

If Ansah spends time on the injury report, Seattle’s best pass rusher will be Jarran Reed. The 26-year-old defensive tackle logged 10.5 sacks in 2019. He tends to get pushed around in run support, but he can at least generate pressure on opposing passers. To compensate for Reed’s weakness, Seattle signed Al Woods, a monstrous 330-pound nose tackle. Woods clogged running lanes well for the Colts over the past two seasons, so he should perform just as well in his new home.

The best aspect of Seattle’s defense is the linebacking corps. Bobby Wagner is one of the top linebackers in the NFL, while K.J. Wright is a very solid player. The Seahawks didn’t have a viable third option in the event of an injury, which would explain why the front office used a third-round pick on Utah’s Cody Barton.

2019 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 49-12 as hosts over the past seven seasons.

Seattle has endured kicking woes recently, but perhaps Jason Myers can help. Myers is coming off a great year with the Jets, going 33-of-36, including 6-of-7 from 50-plus. However, he missed three extra points.

A fifth-round pick was spent on punter Michael Dickson last year. Dickson finished sixth in net average as a rookie.

Seattle has an easy game to begin the season (home vs. Bengals), but four of its next five games (at Steelers, vs. Saints, vs. Rams, at Browns) will be difficult to win. Things get a bit easier after that, but the Seahawks still have some tough battles in November and December.

2019 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.

2019 Seattle Seahawks Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: Russell Wilson will have to be a miracle worker this year. His offensive line still stinks; his receiving corps is in shambles; the defense lost its top pass rusher; and the secondary is still a major weakness. It’s possible that Wilson will still somehow be able to overcome the ineptitude around him, but with the 49ers and Cardinals bound to improve, making a repeat trip to the playoffs will prove to be difficult.

Projection: 9-7 (Tied 2nd in NFC West)

2018 Projection: 6-10. 2017 Actual Result: 10-6.
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 9-7.
2016 Projection: 12-4. 2016 Actual Result: 10-5-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: D Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Seahawks just made Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL. With so much of the cap allocated to one player, they must draft extremely well. The problem is that they have four draft choices this April, and only two in the top 123. They’ll have to trade down on several occasions to acquire more resources. Some of those resources must be used on the offensive line, which has been a major problem for years, as well as the defensive front, which lost some players to free agency recently.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Seattle came into the draft with just four picks, yet thanks to all of the trades they made, it ended up making 11 selections. This was absolutely necessary, given the poor depth on its roster.

The Seahawks did a good job of wheeling and dealing throughout the 2019 NFL Draft, but the end result of their selections was mostly lackluster. Their lone opening-round choice, defensive end L.J. Collier, was graded on Day 3 by some teams. The same can be said of second-day selections Marquise Blair and Cody Barton. Those players address needs at safety and linebacker, respectively, but they, like Collier, were massive reaches. The Seahawks could’ve obtained all of those players much later than when they were drafted.

It wasn’t all negative for Seattle, as the front office obtained some good values in wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, guard Phil Haynes and safety Ugo Amadi. Those were some positive moments, but they couldn’t offset the horrible value decisions the Seahawks made on the first two nights of the draft.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

29. L.J. Collier, DE, TCU D+ Grade
I thought the Seahawks would be on the clock for the 2020 NFL Draft by the time they made this pick. And it’s not a good one at that. Daniel Jeremiah just mentioned that L.J. Collier was his 56th-ranked player, and that matches my projection, as I had him No. 58. This is yet another reach in the 2019 NFL Draft. Collier was just a 1-year starter at TCU and just seems to be a solid rotational defensive end who thrives against the run. Seattle should have moved down and selected Collier or someone similar, though to the team’s credit, it already traded down twice.

47. Marquise Blair, S, Utah D Grade
I don’t know why the Seahawks are selecting third-day prospects on the first two days of the draft. I won’t give them an “F” for this because they moved down several times, but Marquise Blair is a tweener safety who could have fallen to the fifth round.

64. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss B Grade
People who didn’t watch D.K. Metcalf will consider this a steal because “he raanannn a great 40 tiiimmeeee,” but Metcalf is not a good player. He is an unbelievable athlete, but he’s not a good football player. He’s a receiver who has no clue how to run routes, and I expected him to be chosen in the second round. This is right where Metcalf should’ve been chosen. He has immense upside and could develop into a good player, but he won’t be a consistent wideout for a while.

88. Cody Barton, LB, Utah D- Grade
I don’t understand Seattle’s draft board. Cody Barton is yet another third-day player the Seahawks have chosen in the first three rounds. Cody Barton seems like a special-teamer and sub-package player only. That’s the sort of guy you choose in the sixth round; not the third frame.

120. Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia B Grade
Gary Jennings was excellent at the Senior Bowl, so it’s nice that his performance in Mobile was able to help his draft stock. Jennings needs to improve as a route runner, but he has nice size (6-1, 214) and speed, and he offers Seattle tremendous upside.

124. Phil Haynes, G, Wake Forest B Grade
This is a better pick than the previous one, which was also used on a guard (Ben Powers.) Phil Haynes has a better chance of emerging as a starter, and not just because Seattle’s offensive line is a mess. He needs to work on his footwork, but he’s a sound, powerful blocker.

132. Ugo Amadi, S, Oregon A- Grade
Ugo Amadi tested very poorly at the combine, which is why he dropped to the end of the fourth round. It’s possible that the Seahawks could be getting a steal, as Amadi played much better than the times indicate. He’s a smart, tough defensive back who could end up starting at nickel for the Seahawks.

142. Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington B+ Grade
Ben Burr-Kirven is small, but has solid athleticism and positive instincts. He could’ve been chosen a round earlier than this without any criticism, so I think the Seahawks are getting solid value. They needed linebacker depth, and Burr-Kirven should be able to help in that regard.

204. Travis Homer, RB, Miami B Grade
The Seahawks already have their two top running backs set in stone, but needed a third back in the wake of Mike Davis’ departure. Travis Homer seems like he’ll be a nice third-down runner, as he catches passes and blocks well. This is the right range for Homer, so this is a decent choice.

209. Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida State C+ Grade
Demarcus Christmas offers absolutely nothing as a pass rusher, and he’s an extremely limited athlete. He has such a low ceiling, so I’m not sure I understand the point of selecting him rather than choosing someone with more upside. I don’t hate this selection, but it could’ve been better.

236. John Ursua, WR, Hawaii C Grade
The Seahawks have chosen so many receivers, which doesn’t bode well for Doug Baldwin’s future in the NFL. I didn’t have John Ursua as a drafted prospect and never included him in a mock. He could potentially emerge as a slot receiver in the pros, but likely won’t make the 53-man roster.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson apparently didn’t get the message, as he led Seattle into the playoffs. The Seahawks, however, lost right away. They must rebuild their offensive line, which has been a lingering issue for quite some time.

Offseason Moves:
  • Seahawks sign QB Geno Smith
  • Seahawks cut WR Doug Baldwin
  • Seahawks sign CB Jamar Taylor
  • Seahawks sign DE Ezekiel Ansah
  • Seahawks sign G Mike Iupati

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: Seattle’s No. 1 priority is finally obtaining some solid protection for Russell Wilson, who has been stationed behind a horrible offensive line for way too long. Signed Mike Iupati

    2. Right Tackle: This is another problem area on Seattle’s offensive line. Perhaps George Fant will be able to develop into a viable starter at the position, but he’s an impending free agent anyway.

    3. Cornerback: Once the Seahawks fix their offensive line, they’ll need to bolster the secondary, which is not nearly as potent as it once was. Justin Coleman is solid in the slot, but Seattle’s outside corners need to be upgraded.

    4. Two Defensive Ends: Only one defensive end will be needed if the Seahawks re-sign Frank Clark. Still, even if Clark is retained, another edge rusher will be needed to help the secondary. Franchised by Frank Clark; signed Ezekiel Ansah

    5. Defensive Tackle: The Seahawks also must address the interior of their defensive line. Jarran Reed is coming off a solid year, but he needs some help.

    6. Tight End: Wilson really missed Jimmy Graham last year. Seattle will have to find a new play-maker at tight end. There will be viable options early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

    7. Outside Linebacker (plus depth): K.J. Wright is a very important free agent the Seahawks will need to re-sign. Even still, some depth is needed at the position. Re-signed K.J. Wright

    8. Wide Receiver: Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett form a nice duo at receiver, but the Seahawks need another threat at the position.

    9. Backup Quarterback: The Seahawks need a better backup quarterback than Brett Hundley, who’s a free agent anyway. Signed Geno Smith

    10. Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski missed three extra points in 2018. He happens to be an impending free agent.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions. Age: 30.
      Signed with Seahawks (1 year)

      Ezekiel Ansah is an extremely talented edge rusher, but he can’t stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season since 2015. He also turns 30 this offseason, which is not ideal.

    2. Mike Iupati, G, Cardinals. Age: 32.
      Signed with Seahawks (1 year)

      Mike Iupati used to be a solid guard, but injuries have sapped his talents over the years. He’s now 32 (in May) and will likely continue to regress. There’s a chance he could bounce back with better health, but that’s unlikely to happen.

    3. Jamar Taylor, CB, Broncos. Age: 28. — Signed with Seahawks
    4. Al Woods, NT, Colts. Age: 32. — Signed with Seahawks
    5. Geno Smith, QB, Chargers. Age: 28. — Signed with Seahawks

    Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Frank Clark, DE, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Franchised by Seahawks

      Frank Clark is coming off his best season as a pro, logging 13 sacks. He’s only 25 (26 in June), so he’s expected to make big strides in the coming years. The sky is the limit for him.

    2. Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Signed with Ravens (4 years, $55 million)

      Earl Thomas would’ve been a five-star free agent a year ago, but he turns 30 in May. Still, Thomas should still be one of the top safeties in the NFL for the next three or so years. Thomas is coming off a season-ending leg injury, but should be able to rebound.

    3. K.J. Wright, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (2 years, $15 million)

      K.J. Wright has been an excellent linebacker for the Seahawks in all regards throughout this decade. He turns 30 this offseason, but still should continue to play on a high level. Wright was on the field for just five games in 2018 because of a knee injury, but he should be 100 percent for 2019.

    4. Justin Coleman, CB, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Signed with Lions (4 years, $36 million)

      Justin Coleman is a solid slot cornerback. He covers very well, but misses too many tackles. He’s still young, however, as he’ll be just 26 in March, so perhaps he can improve on his tackling ability.

    5. Tre Madden (RFA), FB, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Tre Madden doesn’t play much, but when he’s on the field, he’s an excellent blocker in the running game.

    6. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, Seahawks. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Seahawks

      Mychal Kendricks would have a better rating, as he’s a talented linebacker, but he might be going to prison for insider trading.

    7. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      It appears as though Doug Baldwin’s career is over. The Seahawks released him with a failed physical designation, and I can’t believe they would’ve done so if they thought Baldwin could play again. Baldwin’s body is falling apart, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see him on a football field again.

    8. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Seahawks. Age: 41.
      Sebastian Janikowski is finally beginning to show his age. He was 22-of-27 last year, which isn’t bad. However, he missed a career-high three extra points.

    9. Kam Chancellor, S, Seahawks. Age: 31.
      Kam Chancellor likely won’t be able to play football again, as he cannot get cleared to return to action from his neck injury.

    10. D.J. Fluker, G, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    11. Dion Jordan, DE, Seahawks. Age: 29.
    12. Cassius Marsh, DE, Seahawks. Age: 27.
    13. Mike Davis, RB, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Signed with Bears (2 years, $6 million)
    14. Quinton Jefferson (RFA), DT, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Tendered by Seahawks (original)
    15. Shamar Stephen, DT, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Vikings (3 years)
    16. J.R. Sweezy, G, Seahawks. Age: 30. — Signed with Cardinals (2 years)
    17. Neiko Thorpe, CB, Seahawks. Age: 29.
    18. J.D. McKissic (RFA), RB, Seahawks. Age: 26.
    19. Joey Hunt (RFA), C, Seahawks. Age: 25.
    20. Brett Hundley, QB, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Signed with Cardinals (1 year)
    21. Maurice Alexander, S, Seahawks. Age: 28. — Signed with Bills (1 year)

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

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