The 2019 Seattle Seahawks have played two preseason games thus far, and from these games we can probably safely gather a few things about this team.
In terms of positives, we know that the starting offensive line looks fairly competent. We know that Russell Wilson looks in command of the offense. We know that Chris Carson is a dynamic running back, and Tyler Lockett is a pretty darn good receiver. We know that Seattle looks pretty good at defensive tackle with the emerging talent of Poona Ford along with Jarran Reed and Al Woods. We also know that they have pretty good linebackers in Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Mychal Kendricks, and rookie linebacker Cody Barton.
In terms of negatives, we know that Seattle’s depth at the offensive line is getting scary thin with injuries to Mike Iupati, George Fant, Jordan Simmons, Phillip Haynes, and JaMarco Jones. Iupati was expected to be a starter at left guard, and the other guys were each considered quality backups. After Sunday night’s game against the Vikings it has become clear that Seattle’s once promising offensive line depth is near depletion.
We also know that Seattle has become more reliant on blitzing than it has ever shown in the Pete Carroll era to generate pass rush, and the second string defense failed to generate much pressure against the dreaded Vikings.
Oh how the trials and tribulations of the NFL preseason can take a toll on an NFL roster. Most teams by now are facing their share of injury concerns and depth worries, and Seattle is no different. So, in a sense, relax, because most teams have their warts.
One other thing we do know about these Seattle Seahawks is that they love to make roster additions starting just about this time of the preseason, whether it is by trade or by veteran free agency. Often times, they wait until the end when teams all cut down 53 players to see who they might pick up off the waver wires, but sometimes they will make a trade or sign someone off the streets earlier, if they have reached the conclusion that they simply do not have what they need presently on the roster.
This year, after these two games, I think it is becoming a bit apparent (at least to me) that offensive line, and pass rush are going to be the most likely targets. Maybe a case can be made for nickel corner, or some additional form of pass catcher, but if I had to bet money, I would say offensive line and pass rush are the safest bets.
So, who is presently out there on the streets in free agency to help fix the offensive line depth?
Well, we have guard Chance Warmack, former Seahawk offensive tackles Terry Gilliam and Isaiah Battle, veteran right tackle Jermey Parnell. I gotta be honest, that’s not an enticing list, but Warmack might be a fit for Seattle’s power scheme, and at one point the team was high enough on Gilliam to think of him as a replacement to Russell Okung (could he be any worse than Elijah Nkansah was against Minnesota?). This might be an area that Seattle scans the waiver wire after the final cut downs or works out a trade. In fact, let’s throw the safe money on that.
How about any pass rushers on the streets presently?
Well, the big name presently out there is former Green Bay Packer and Pete Carroll USC Trojan Nick Perry. They worked him out last Spring and ultimately chose to sign Cassius Marsh and Ezekiel Ansah over him. Nobody else has signed this player who still under thirty, and once thought to be one of the better pass rushers in the league. Maybe his asking price is too much, or maybe there’s a negative vibe about how much he’s still into football. He also comes with his share of injury baggage.
Thirty 32 year old Connor Barwin might still have something left in his tank, but he might be more of a 3-4 player than someone who will effectively put his hand in dirt in a 4-3, even if it is Carroll’s hybrid version. He’s a good player though, and a good veteran presence.
Outside of these two, not a lot of players hanging around out there to get excited about. So, that said how about the big elephant in the room question you are all thinking about.
How likely are the 2019 Seattle Seahawks going to trade for Jadeveon Clowney who apparently wants out of Houston?
My gut is telling me not very likely, but it is also letting me know that it wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Allow me to explain.
While Seattle has shown to be prone to making big splash name player acquisitions over the year of the Carroll/Schneider regime, very little of these big name players had much success while in Seattle, outside of current left tackle Duane Brown. Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, and Sheldon Richardson were all players that had their moments, but were never the same player once they got to Seattle as they were for their other franchises, and they all unceremoniously left. My hunch is telling me that Seattle might have learned a thing or two about that, and are now behaving more prudent with who they look to add these days.
At John Schneider’s best, he finds special value in the later portions of the draft and in rookie free agency, like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, KJ Wright, Doug Baldwin, Chris Carson, and Poona Ford. At Carroll’s best, he develops those guys into special players on the football field, and builds around them with a few key veteran acquistions sprinkled here and there. When they go big in trades and free agency, they tend to bugger things up.
There are things about Clowney that frankly make me nervous. His injury history is a bit unsettling. His mercurial way about wanting to break the bank in earnings also gives me pause, and I worry how that might rub off on younger players.
Would he be a player that would be excited to be in Seattle with a chance to sign an extension with a perennial playoff team, with an elite franchise quarterback, or is he going to be a bit dialed back on the effort, here and there, as a way to preserve himself potentially being on the open market as a player in 2020, a la Sheldon Richardon?
These are the answers that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have to weigh before potentially sending a high pick to Houston for a player that might be difficult to extend.
Would Jadeveon Clowney help this defense in 2019? A healthy committed Clowney absolutely would. On paper, a Seattle defensive line that boasted Clowney, Reed, Ford, and Zekiel Ansah looks pretty darn nice in November and December. However, both Clowney and Ansah are players with injury histories, and Clowney has not had a single preseason practice to get himself ready for the regular season. Quite often when guys miss the preseason, they tend to get injured early in the regular season, their bodies just aren’t prepared for the hitting, no matter how great they are (See Earl Thomas in 2018).
Some will say that trading a 2020 second round pick for Clowney, and then having him leave in free agency after the season would net Seattle a 2021 third round pick, and that would be a fair deal. I can kind of see the logic in that, and even accept that.
But what if, instead of making that deal, Seattle traded a middle round pick for a player a few years older, probably less upside, but still a productive player with a few more years left on an existing deal? What if Seattle sent a fourth round pick to Minnesota for Everson Griffin, who Carroll coached at USC, or maybe a third round pick to Jacksonville for Calais Campbell who Seattle knows full well from his days in Arizona? Both players are on the other side of thirty but neither has a Super Bowl ring to show for it and would probably be down for sticking around a few more seasons in pursuit of one.
The one thing that makes me think Seattle might be somewhat of a realistic landing spot for Clowney is that 710 ESPN’s Brock Huard tweeted out a few days ago that Seattle’s left tackle Duane Brown is a big time Clowney fan. Brown has a ton of respect within the Seattle organization. If he feels that Clowney would come into Seattle and give it his all as a player in practice and on game day, that could be pretty persuasive. Secondly, since Seattle traded away Frank Clark, they have about twenty million dollars to spend, and they can more than comfortably afford Clowney’s services this season and beyond.
If Seattle is able to convince Houston to accept a second round pick, they might have a deal. Seattle could franchise him in 2020 like they did with Clark to either assure his services the following season, or move him again in a trade, if they cannot work out a long term deal. That would be two trades in a row for the player, though, and the second trade might not yield as much as Seattle gave away for him.
Franchising him also might mean that they won’t be able to keep quality defensive tackle Jarran Reed, and I don’t know what message it sends to the home grown talent on the roster that the team is willing to pay outside talent more than paying their own. My hunch is that might not sit well with Poona Ford once his contract is ready to be upped.
That’s why I kind of lean more towards getting a Campbell or Griffin type, or shoot, even bringing back Michael Bennett, if cranky old Bill Belichick has gotten tired of his goofiness already.
I love Michael Bennett.