Adjusting to the realities of the COVID-19 outbreak meant that NFL teams were forced to conduct their offseason programs virtually.
And that meant no on-field workouts the past month, with players instead Zooming into meetings for a few hours a day.
Usually, teams could have had up to 13 full-squad, on-field workouts in their OTA (Organized Team Activities) and mini-camp portions of the offseason spread out over the last month or so.
Those sessions don’t allow for full pads or hitting, so position jobs aren’t usually won or lost in the spring.
But those workouts do give coaches at least a starting point of an idea of how players look on the field and how certain position groups might come together.
Instead, the uniqueness of this year means any position battles won’t truly start until players get on the field, which the NFL hopes is July 28, the new uniform date for teams to report this year. That, obviously, is contingent on how things progress with the pandemic and what moves the NFL has to make as a result.
But assuming teams start taking the field then, here are five positions that will be particularly intriguing to watch for the Seahawks.
In something that understandably didn’t get as much attention as other things he said when he talked to the media last week, coach Pete Carroll reiterated that first-round pick Jordyn Brooks will begin his NFL career “inside,’’ meaning at weakside linebacker.
That was to be expected, but further makes clear that Brooks will compete with veteran K.J. Wright for the WLB spot. Wright had shoulder surgery following the season but has said he will be ready for the season and the team has said he could be moved to strongside linebacker.
But any moving of Wright will be dependent on how ready the Seahawks think Brooks is to step right into a starting role, especially with Bruce Irvin also set to play some SLB (and Cody Barton also on hand to compete/back up at both spots). Brooks’ speed, though, is something the Seahawks will hope they can get on the field in 2020.
The Seahawks signed free agent Phillip Dorsett II to a one-year deal with the thought that he’ll take over the third-receiver spot to complement the standout duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
But the Seahawks also re-signed David Moore to a restricted free-agent deal worth $2.13 million, which makes him the second-highest-paid receiver on the team and with a cap hit more than twice that of Dorsett’s $887,500.
The Seahawks might not want to pay that much for a fourth receiver but they’ll likely also give Moore every chance to show he’s worth the money (and it’s worth remembering they could also renegotiate Moore’s deal at any time, though Moore would obviously have to agree to that, as well).
The Seahawks go into camp with pretty clear front-runners at each guard spot — veteran Mike Iupati on the left side, after he was re-signed to a one-year deal in April, apparently fully healthy again after the neck/stinger issues that held him out of the playoffs; and rookie third-round pick Damien Lewis on the right. But there are lots of candidates on each side if either player falters, notably second-year player Phil Haynes on the left side and free-agent signee Chance Warmack — a first-round pick of the Titans who has three full seasons of starting at right guard — on the right.
There’s a clear front-runner at this spot, too — free-agent signee B.J. Finney, whose $3.5 million cap hit is the highest of any offensive lineman other than left tackle Duane Brown. But Finney also has just 13 career starts in four previous NFL seasons and the Seahawks have options if Finney falters, notably Joey Hunt — who started the last eight regular-season games last season — and Ethan Pocic.
Hunt’s case is particularly interesting and similar to that of Moore as he signed a $2.13 million restricted free-agent tender, all of which will go against the cap if he makes the team (though like Moore, his deal could also be renegotiated). The Seahawks likely won’t want to pay that much for a backup center.
Pocic, a second-round pick in 2017, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and the Seahawks could save $1.06 million against the cap releasing him, so he’s going to have to show something to make the roster out of camp, as well.
This spot is widely regarded as Quinton Dunbar’s to lose after he was acquired in a trade with Washington in March. But Dunbar has since been charged with four counts of armed robbery. There’s nothing new on that as the state of Florida continues its investigation to decide whether to go forward with the case. If there’s any question about Dunbar’s availability, then the Seahawks would go back to Tre Flowers.
The Seahawks could also look for ways to get both Dunbar and Flowers on the field at the same time, and Carroll will undoubtedly preach the idea that Flowers could still keep his job. At the least, the Seahawks will want Flowers to show improvement so that they can view him as a viable option in 2021 with both Dunbar and left cornerback Shaquill Griffin entering the final years of their contracts in 2020, and Seattle probably not going to be able to re-sign both.