The trade deadline and the defense remain popular topics on the minds of Seahawks fans as we open up another mailbag.
So let’s get to it.
Question via @garyhesse: Any chance the Seahawks will trade a player or two just to gain draft picks?
Answer: I rule out nothing when it comes to the Seahawks, and there’s no doubt if they could recoup a pick or two somehow they’d surely jump at it (the Seahawks currently appear to have six picks for 2021). But Seattle is also more in win-now mode at the moment, and I think the primary focus of any moves they’d make before the Nov. 3 trade deadline is improving this year’s team.
Trades of vets for picks are also made by contending teams on the other end looking for immediate help. Given the Seahawks’ hopes this season, I think they’ll want to keep most of their vets for the stretch drive.
But one possibility could be reserve tight end Jacob Hollister, who has played just 48 snaps this season and just three in the last game against Minnesota — he has just two catches for 10 yards on three targets this year after making 41 receptions last season, struggling to find much playing time behind the proven duo of Greg Olsen and Will Dissly.
With Colby Parkinson returning to practice this week and Seattle unlikely to keep five tight ends on the 53-player roster, something will have to give, and the Seahawks could see if maybe they could get a late-round pick for Parkinson (I don’t think Luke Willson would have any realistic trade value).
The one problem is Hollister has a somewhat hefty salary at $3.259 million. But he also will be a free agent at the end of the season and could hold some attraction for teams.
Question via @Philip_Germain: Who are potential trade targets for the Seahawks from teams looking to move?
A: There are lots of veterans out there rumored to be potentially available, such as Cincy receivers A.J. Green and former UW star John Ross and maybe the entire rosters of teams such as the Jets and Giants (sorta joking there, but not completely), just to name a couple.
But noted in earlier mailbags, Seattle doesn’t have a ton of flexibility on paper, having already dealt its top two first-round picks plus a third-rounder in 2021 and without a lot of salary cap space — $3.93 million according to OvertheCap.com as of Tuesday.
Seattle also has a few players coming back from injury who are already going to make for some tough decisions about roster management, such as receiver (Phillip Dorsett II could return soon and maybe Josh Gordon will eventually, too, though at the moment there’s nothing new on his hoped-for reinstatement), the secondary (D.J. Reed and if they promote Damarrious Randall full-time to the 53) and, as noted above, tight end.
I think the obvious need for Seattle is the defensive line, but the Seahawks have already made a move there that could help soon, signing veteran Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison last week. Interestingly, NFL Network reported Tuesday that Miami approached Harrison about signing to its 53-player roster but that, for now, he is staying with the Seahawks. Harrison, though, undoubtedly is hoping to get on the active roster sooner rather than later, with coach Pete Carroll saying on Monday this will be a big week for him to show the team if he is in the physical condition to begin helping.
The Seahawks could obviously use more pass-rushers.
One veteran widely speculated as available is Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan, who is 32 years old, in the final year of his contract playing for a rebuilding team and oddly played just seven snaps on Sunday while apparently healthy (though he had his third sack of the season along the way).
One problem is that he has an $11.6 million cap hit this year, so about $7.5 million at the moment for the rest of the season. Seattle would have to do some finagling to make that work.
Maybe more likely is taking a flyer on a guy like Atlanta defensive end Takkarist McKinley, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal after not having his fifth-year option picked up.
McKinley has a base salary of just $1.8 million this year, so Seattle could take on the rest of that if it wanted.
One problem there is he sat out last week with a groin injury that has bothered him much of the year — he’s played just 19 snaps since he was on the field for 43 in the opener against Seattle, in which he had a sack of Russell Wilson.
But there are few perfect players available this time of year.
Question via @therealeferg: Is (defensive coordinator) Ken Norton too predictable? Would he be better coaching up the (linebackers) rather than the whole defense? Could Seattle bring in Dan Quinn to help advise or something?
A: Seattle’s defense is obviously ripe for criticism, remaining ranked last in the NFL this week in total yards and passing yards (though just 18th in points allowed, which ultimately is the real key to it all).
But coordinators probably always get too much blame when things are going poorly and credit when things go well (and it’s always worth remembering that Carroll has a defensive background and the overall philosophies are always going to be his).
But, of the criticisms you can lobby at Norton, I’m not sure being predictable is one of them.
The numbers indicate Seattle has changed things up quite a bit from week to week this season.
Consider that nickel corner Ugo Amadi went from playing 84% of the snaps against the Cowboys, whom the Seahawks knew would throw all the time but especially after falling behind, to just 32% against Minnesota, against whom Seattle was mostly worried about the run.
And via Pro Football Reference, Seattle also went from blitzing Dak Prescott 23 times in Week 3 to blitzing Ryan Fitzpatrick just five times in Week 4, when the blitzing against Dallas helped lead to a few big plays allowed, and then Kirk Cousins 11 times (again, in a game when Seattle was mostly worried about the run).
So, they’ve tried some things.
And if you recall, the classic Seahawks defenses of the 2012-16 period were known for pretty much lining up the same players in the same few basic coverages (with obviously lots of adaptations within those), daring teams to beat them. Few could.
Carroll has also seemed more optimistic that the defense is going to turn around soon. I’d say almost surprisingly so, but then Carroll is always optimistic about everything.
Still, he seems to think getting the secondary back fully healthy and playing a few games together will make a big difference, as will getting increased contributions from some of the younger players, such as Alton Robinson and Jordyn Brooks (the latter of whom could be back this week).
“We’re going to continue to get better,’’ Carroll said when he talked to media via Zoom on Monday. “There’s no question last couple weeks have been better. And we need to just keep working to put it together find the consistency that really can give us something unique to add to what we’re doing on the other side of the ball.’’
That may be a long-winded way of saying I’d be surprised if an in-season coordinator change was made.
As for Quinn, who was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 before taking over the Falcons and then fired last week, it’s unclear what his next step is or if the Seahawks want to do something like that — nothing yet has become public to indicate it’s under consideration by either side.
But Seattle has used consultants before — Mike Pettine was a consultant with the Seahawks in 2017 after being fired as head coach of the Browns following the 2015 season, then re-emerging as defensive coordinator with the Packers in 2018.