With the offseason’s heavy lifting complete, it’s time to revisit the Seahawks’ top offseason story lines and assess where things stand.
With the offseason’s heavy lifting complete, it’s time to revisit those story lines and assess where things stand:
1. Defensive Line
It seemed unlikely in January the Seahawks would re-sign both their free-agent defensive tackles — Athyba Rubin and Brandon Mebane. Ultimately, Seattle brought back the younger and cheaper Rubin, and Mebane signed with San Diego. The Seahawks then replaced Mebane with draft picks Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson. Fourth-year player Jordan Hill also returns, giving the Seahawks what already looks like a set quartet of tackles.
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2. Safety Kam Chancellor
As last season ended, the future of Chancellor seemed hazy following a holdout that caused him to miss two games, after which he returned without any resolution to his contract. Some wondered if the team would trade or release him. Chancellor, though, remains a Seahawk. And though the team has not done any adjusting of his contract — and with no indications that it will — Chancellor is by all accounts again happily in the fold, with the team and Chancellor having apparently smoothed out any potentially lingering ill will.
Coach Pete Carroll made an interesting statement about Chancellor when talking about the secondary as a whole during an interview this week on 710 ESPN Seattle. Carroll was asked about the fact that all of the projected starters — Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Chancellor and Jeremy Lane — entered last season recovering from a significant injury, and noted that all are now healthy.
“It was a very challenging offseason (in 2015) for those guys physically, and it was mentally for Kam,’’ Carroll said. “He had all sorts of stuff he was going through, so it was very, very challenging. … Those guys are all having much better offseasons. They are just in flow, really have command of the leadership spots and really are busting their tails.’’
3. Tight end Jimmy Graham
Graham ended last season on injured reserve after suffering a patellar-tendon tear against the Steelers on Nov. 29, concluding a first year with the Seahawks that never seemed to go as planned. Still, it’s worth noting he was the team’s leading receiver at the time of his injury with 48 catches for 605 yards.
Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider have consistently said they were just fine with what Graham produced, adding they expect even bigger things going forward.
Carroll said the addition of rookie Nick Vannett, who projects as more of an in-line blocking tight end, could free up Graham (and Luke Willson) to line up even more as a receiver in 2016.
“We are going to stick him (Vannett) right into the rotation of playing a lot of the Y (or in-line) spot, and we’ll see how that goes because we know Jimmy is terrific,’’ Carroll said. “Jimmy can do all the stuff, but Jimmy is terrific, too, to move him around. We love playing him (Graham) in two-tight-end sets. Luke can do it all, too, but we like those guys in receiver spots moreso whenever we can get them there so we are hoping that Nick will be able to pick up some good slack there.’’
There is no specific date for Graham’s return, but the Seahawks are optimistic he will be ready for the season opener.
4. Running back Marshawn Lynch
The question of will he or won’t he retire finally has been answered. As for the question of why the Seahawks waited until last week to make the move official, the answer is they finally needed the roster spot to sign all the draft picks and undrafted free agents.
They then picked three running backs in the draft to help fill his production on the field.
Still, it’ll look a little strange come during the season opener when for the first time since 2010 Lynch is not in the starting backfield.
5. Offensive Line
The Seahawks’ offensive-line moves have been well-chronicled. The CliffsNotes version: They did not re-sign left tackle Russell Okung or right guard J.R. Sweezy, meaning every starter from their Super Bowl-winning team from the 2013 season is gone. In fact, only Justin Britt and Patrick Lewis remain of the offensive line from the 2014 team.
Seattle signed free agent J’Marcus Webb to start at right tackle, drafted Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo to potentially take over the right- and left-guard spots and moved Garry Gilliam from right tackle to left tackle, potentially leaving only Lewis as a starter who will line up at the same spot where he ended the 2015 season.
Suffice to say, there’s a long way to go before all the questions are answered.
6. Linebacker Bruce Irvin
The NFL’s free-agency period hadn’t officially begun when it was reported Irvin was out the door, set to sign a four-year, $37 million deal with the Raiders.
Irvin had a dual role with the Seahawks as a strong-side linebacker on run downs and as a rush end in passing downs. And Seattle appears set to have multiple players fill those roles.
Carroll spoke this week on 710 ESPN Seattle about using Brandon Browner as an extra safety in the base defense in some packages, which could mean having him replace Irvin on those downs. Mike Morgan and Cassius Marsh also could be used as strong-side linebackers. Irvin’s rush role could be filled by the return of Chris Clemons as well as second-year player Frank Clark, who is likely to play more end than inside this season.