Carlos Hyde got something of an official introduction to Seahawks fans Monday, conducting a Zoom video news conference with reporters who cover the team.
Hyde was the latest of the new players Seattle has signed or acquired this offseason to meet the media virtually, joining the likes of Bruce Irvin, Greg Olsen and Phillip Dorsett.
That got us thinking: Which of the newcomers will have the most important role for the Seahawks this season? Everybody loves a list, and 12 seems a good number for one related to the Seahawks.
So, here it is — the 12 most important Seahawks newcomers for the 2020 season.
1. Linebacker/rush end Bruce Irvin
They’re not booing, they’re yelling, “Bruuuuce!” Actually, they are yelling, “Bruce, please, please, please provide both some veteran leadership and at least match your on-field production last year when you had 8.5 sacks with Carolina to revive a Seahawks pass rush that really, really needs it.’’ OK, that’d be a hard thing to get 69,000 people to say in unison on game day. But that’s Irvin’s calling as he returns to Seattle on a one-year contract with the fourth-highest cap hit ($5.96 million) of any defensive player (behind Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Jarran Reed).
2. Defensive end Benson Mayowa
The return of Mayowa might not have elicited the same kind of attention as Irvin’s. But Mayowa had a career-high seven sacks last year for the Raiders and is just 28 years old, with the Seahawks thinking he could be in line for the same kind of mid-career resurgence that they got from Chris Clemons in the early part of the Pete Carroll era. After Mayowa and Irvin combined for 15.5 sacks last season, could the Seahawks get something close to that out of the duo? If they did, that’d be more than half of the 28 they had as a team a year ago.
3. Center B.J. Finney
Justin Britt might never have made it to a Pro Bowl (though he was an alternate in 2016). But he was Seattle’s longest-tenured offensive player and was a steadying force for an offensive line that has experienced constant change over the past decade. Now, Britt is gone, and it’s not entirely clear who will replace him. The Seahawks seem to hope it will be Finney, who has to prove worth the contract Seattle gave him — a $3.5 million cap hit that is the second-most of any offensive lineman other than Duane Brown. Finney solidifying the center spot would help put a lot of other things in place up front.
4. Defensive end Darrell Taylor
Yep, another pass-rusher. Improving the pass rush is just that important for Seattle this season, and Taylor — a player Seattle thought about taking in the first round that it instead drafted in the second — is ticketed to play a big role in that. Seattle hasn’t gotten big, immediate contributions from rookie defensive linemen the past few years, but needs that to change this year with Taylor.
5. Tight end Greg Olsen
Russell Wilson asked for some “superstars’’ back in January. Olsen, a likely future Hall of Famer, classifies as the closest thing that Seattle acquired this offseason in terms of an offensive skill player, even if he is now 35 years old. His 52 receptions for 597 yards in 14 games last season would have ranked third for Seattle last year behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Olsen and a full year out of Will Dissly could go a long way toward giving Seattle the consistent third receiving threat it lacked much of last year.
6. Right tackle Brandon Shell
Think what you will of Germain Ifedi (the fact that he got a minimum contract with the Bears indicates the general league perception might not have been much different). But he was, at the least, dependable. Ifedi played every snap last year at right tackle and now figures to be replaced by Shell, whom the Jets — who gained the fewest yards in the league last year — didn’t try hard to re-sign. Seattle has been pretty hit-and-miss with its free-agent OL signings the past few years, but is hoping it is getting both Shell and Finney on the upswing.
7. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar
I’d have put Dunbar higher if there weren’t some uncertainty over his availability after being charged with four counts of armed robbery last month. There’s nothing new on that as the state attorney’s office continues to weigh whether to go forward with the case after Dunbar officially pleaded not guilty. If the case is dropped, then ink in Dunbar as a key to the defense as the likely starter at right cornerback. If not, then Seattle could be going with basically the same secondary with which it ended last season.
8. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II
The speedy Dorsett signed a one-year deal as another potential upgrade at the third receiver spot. The hope is that his straightaway speed will be a good fit with Wilson. If it is, a regular receiving corps of Lockett, Metcalf, Olsen/Dissly and Dorsett has a lot of promise.
9. Right guard Damien Lewis
The third-round pick out of LSU is expected to jump right into the battle to start at right guard. Seattle does have some fallback plans if Lewis needs more time, including free-agent signee Chance Warmack, who started 46 games at right guard for Tennessee from 2013-15.
10. Running back Carlos Hyde
How much do running backs really matter? Seattle certainly thinks they still matter a lot — a thought undoubtedly reiterated after what happened at the end of last season — signing Hyde to provide a veteran complement to Chris Carson and insurance while Rashaad Penny recovers from his knee injury. Assuming Carson is healthy, Hyde almost certainly won’t rush for 1,000 yards again. But displaying that same ability week-in and week-out would make the Seattle offense that much more dangerous.
11. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks
You’d maybe argue a first-round pick should be higher on this list. But it’s still unclear exactly what role Brooks is going to play this year, and how much. The Seahawks, though, wanted to get faster on defense, especially in shoring up a run defense that allowed 4.9 yards per carry last season, more than all but three other teams. If Brooks proves ready in training camp, Seattle will find a way to get him on the field.
12. Offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi
A former first-round pick of the Bengals, he has 23 starts at tackle in his career and could be a fallback at right tackle. He also could be ticketed for the “eligible lineman’’ role that the now-departed George Fant filled, which Seattle has felt was vital to its resurgent running game the past two seasons.