Just one step remains in the Seahawks’ offseason — a three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday.
When it ends Thursday afternoon, players will head into the summer, not to return until they report July 27 for training camp which starts July 31.
Unlike OTAs, which are voluntary and which many veterans sat out the first two weeks, minicamp is mandatory and figures to have full attendance other than any excused absences — all but seven players were present for the final voluntary OTA on Thursday.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said vets sat out early OTAs in part to make the point that they are, indeed, officially voluntary, and also out of concerns about COVID-19. But with more than 75 players on hand for all four OTAs last week, most Seahawks will still have gotten a substantial amount of offseason work.
Minicamp, though, will provide the best sense yet of what we might see out of the 2021 Seahawks.
Here are five things we’ll be monitoring:
The Jamal Adams watch
Adams was one of the seven not present for any of the OTAs open to the media. The others were receiver Tyler Lockett, running back Chris Carson, fullback Nick Bellore and defensive linemen Al Woods, Benson Mayowa and Aldon Smith.
Adams is the focus of what remains the biggest question of the rest of the offseason — specifically, will the Seahawks be able to sign him to a long-term extension as he enters the final year of his rookie contract?
Adams is due a fully guaranteed $9.6 million in 2021, but the expectation is that before the season he will get a long-term extension in the $16-18 million range, with Adams desiring to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL. Some, though, wonder if he might want even more than that — to be paid like the top edge rushers in the NFL after he set a league record for defensive backs with 9 1/2 sacks last season.
That the Seahawks gave up so much for him, though — first-round picks in 2021 and 2022 — has fed the idea Seattle will pretty much do what it takes to secure Adams for a few more seasons.
Seattle’s MO has been to get such extensions done by the start of training camp or a few days in, so Adams probably isn’t miffed it isn’t done yet and any holdout — if he were to consider one — wouldn’t likely come until camp. But his presence and what he says — if he is made available to media — during minicamp could be telling.
Darrell Taylor’s progress
From a personnel standpoint, the team’s decision to let Taylor, a second-year player out of Tennessee, take his shot at the strongside linebacker spot may be the biggest position move of the offseason.
Taylor did not play last season while still recovering from surgery to repair a shin injury. But he was on the field for all three OTAs open to the media after taking part in rookie minicamp, an early positive sign that he may be able to put the injury behind him and take the starting spot this year.
If so, K.J. Wright’s days with the Seahawks are probably done. Handling all three days of minicamp would be another strong sign for Taylor, who also continues to get work as an edge rusher in the nickel package.
L.J. Collier’s usage/Robert Nkemdiche’s impact
Seattle appears to have three pretty sure things at defensive tackle in Poona Ford, Bryan Mone and Al Woods, the latter signed after the team released Jarran Reed. That Seattle let Reed go has some observers pointing to the tackle spot as a possible question mark. But Carroll has said the Seahawks may use 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier substantially at tackle this year, particularly in the nickel (something he did a lot last year, anyway, but could do even more this season).
Seattle also made the intriguing decision recently to sign Robert Nkemdiche, a 2016 first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals, who washed out there after three seasons and was not on a roster a year ago.
It’s hard to know what Seattle will get out of Nkemdiche. But despite being a five-year veteran, he’s just 26 years old — only one year older than Collier — and he figures to get a long look to see if the Seahawks can unearth his potential.
The battle at corner
The most interesting overall position battle for Seattle is cornerback, where there are plenty of candidates but no real sure things.
D.J. Reed, who ended last season as a starter at right corner, said Thursday that’s where he continues to play. Free-agent signee Ahkello Witherspoon, the highest-paid corner on the roster, is the front-runner on the other side.
But there is lots of competition, including former starter Tre Flowers, 2021 fourth-round pick Tre Brown and veteran free-agent signees Pierre Desir and Damarious Randall. Meanwhile, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi and former UW standout Jordan Miller are among those competing for the slot position. This likely won’t be decided in minicamp, but first impressions can last.
Any breakthroughs at receiver?
That Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee last weekend might end Seattle’s pursuit of any big-name vets at the receiver spot for now (though hey, Golden Tate remains unsigned!). The third receiver spot behind Lockett and DK Metcalf is second-round pick Dee Eskridge’s to lose with Freddie Swain next in line.
But the lack of proven players behind that makes the battle for the final few receiving spots pretty wide open. Minicamp will provide a chance for the bevy of young WRs on the roster such as former Husky Aaron Fuller, former Stanford and Sumner standout Connor Wedington and a pair of other intriguing rookie undrafted free agents — Tamorrion Taylor of Florida State and Cade Johnson of South Dakota State — to state their case, and for holdovers such as John Ursua and Penny Hart to try to hold them off.