Whether or not safety Earl Thomas, who the Seahawks have been entertaining offers for during the offseason, shows up is the biggest questions during the session. Thomas has been open about his desire for a new contract.
For the first time since New Year’s Eve, when the Seahawks trudged off CenturyLink Field dealing with the disappointment of their first nonplayoff season since 2011, the entire team will reconvene and run plays between the lines Monday.
The occasion is the beginning of Organized Team Activities, the first time this offseason the Seahawks are allowed to pit offensive and defensive players against each other on a field.
While helmets are permitted, full pads are not, nor is contact, which is one reason the NFL uses the OTA term for these workouts as opposed to just calling them practice.
It will be a starkly different-looking group that gathers than played against Arizona in the regular-season finale about five months ago.
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While 36 of what was the 53-man roster for that game return — a fairly normal percentage — Seahawks fans hardly need reminding of the big names, such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, who are gone.
But of those who are left, lots of questions remain.
Here are five things to watch as OTAs begin.
1, Will Earl Thomas show up?
Thomas, who the team has acknowledged listening to trade offers for, has so far been absent from the team’s offseason program, and it’s worth reiterating they’re all technically voluntary until minicamp June 12-14.
While rumors persist, and likely will all offseason, a trade doesn’t seem likely at this point, with the draft in the rearview mirror and Seahawks brass insisting he is staying put.
But Thomas would still like a new contract by the time training camp rolls around and staying away appears to be Thomas’ way of making that clear.
Or, maybe, he simply doesn’t want to risk any injuries during workouts he is not contractually obligated to attend (as Bennett did the last few years).
Since OTAs are voluntary, there’s no punishment for not attending and little the team can do other than send a gentle nudge that it would prefer he attend, which coach Pete Carroll seemed to do a few weeks ago when he said “Phase 3 (OTAs) is around the corner for us, so we’ll see.’’
The smart money is probably on Thomas not showing up until he has to.
2, How quickly can the rookies adapt?
While the rookies got on the field two weeks ago at rookie minicamp, OTAs will mark their first time going 11-on-11 against the veterans. Even in the limited scope of OTAs, facing veterans can be an eye-opening experience for rookies, and for coaches it can be the first chance to get a sense of how ready some of the rookies are to contribute.
All of the rookies are intriguing in their own way, but it’ll be hard to take eyes off Shaquem Griffin, who along with all else that greeted his drafting by the Seahawks, is making a transition to weakside linebacker.
3, What will the offensive line look like?
Sweeping assessments of line play are difficult in no-pad, no-contact situations such as OTAs.
But with the Seahawks starting over with a new offensive-line coach, every practice matters and will help set a foundation for the season.
The assumption is that Seattle’s starting line for now looks like, from left to right, Duane Brown, Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi.
But OTAs could reveal if there is any change in that thinking or any reserves making more serious runs at starting jobs.
4, How will the kicking battles begin to unfold?
The Seahawks have intriguing battles at all three specialist positions, with Sebastian Janikowski and Jason Myers duking it out at kicker, rookie Michael Dickson and Jon Ryan at punter and undrafted rookie free agent Tanner Carew and Tyler Ott at snapper.
Roster spots are precious in the NFL, even when teams are allowed the offseason maximum of 90, and it’s not out of the question the Seahawks could make moves at any of the specialist spots following the offseason program.
Janikowski’s contract seems to give him the edge at kicker. Ryan’s contract — specifically, that the team could save $5 million against the cap over the next two years if he is released — puts him in a precarious spot. Carew comes in highly touted as a snapper some thought was worthy of getting drafted. First impressions over the next few weeks could also turn into lasting ones.
5, Can QB Alex McGough keep his rookie minicamp momentum going?
McGough, a seventh-round pick from Florida International, was the surprise star of rookie minicamp. “He did a lot of good things,” Carroll said at the end of rookie minicamp. “He can throw all the passes. He’s got a big arm. He moves real well.’’
Seattle was apparently confident enough in McGough that they waived Stephen Morris — who was claimed by Houston — leaving only Austin Davis and McGough as backups behind Russell Wilson.
But as noted, the minicamp performance was against rookies, more than two-thirds of whom were tryout players. Doing it against veterans — even if Thomas isn’t there — is a different deal.
If McGough continues to impress over the next few weeks then he really could become the player who is the literal play away from being the quarterback of the Seahawks.