Could the Seahawks still be interested in Baker Mayfield? And what’s at stake for coach Pete Carroll this season?
That and more in our newest Seahawks Twitter mailbag, so let’s get to it (with questions lightly edited for clarity).
Win_Now11 asked: If the Browns release (Baker) Mayfield, which they likely will be forced to do, do you think the Seahawks would be interested if they don’t have to absorb the $18.8 million contract?
Sure. I think the consensus all along has been the Seahawks would be interested if Mayfield is released and available for the league minimum or close to it.
As has become clear, no one wants to pay the $18.8 million Mayfield is guaranteed this season.
Recall that trade talks between the Browns and Panthers about Mayfield broke down over Cleveland’s unwillingness to pay as much of Mayfield’s salary as Carolina wanted. With teams knowing that Mayfield may be released at some point, there’s not much urgency to trade for him and pay more than needed.
There have been conflicting reports on whether the Seahawks might be interested in trading for Mayfield if Cleveland were to pay a lot of the salary. A report from The Athletic on Friday stated, “The Panthers and Seahawks still haven’t ruled out acquiring Mayfield, but they’ll need the Browns to take on a much greater portion of his contract than they’ve offered so far.”
The guess here is the Seahawks are mostly interested in Mayfield if he is released. But it remains unclear when the Browns will release Mayfield.
And with the status of Deshaun Watson also unclear as the NFL continues to investigate sexual assault and harassment allegations with the potential that he could be suspended, there’s also the chance — if remote — the Browns could keep Mayfield.
Several reports stated the NFL was scheduled to meet with Watson this week which could mean a decision is coming soon.
Mayfield doesn’t want to have to think about reporting to training camp. He’d be subject to fines if he doesn’t, though the NFL Network speculated this week that if Mayfield were still on the roster, he and the Browns could work something out to avoid a potentially awkward situation.
The consensus is that Carolina remains Mayfield’s most likely destination if he is released. The Panthers have twice as much cap space as the Seahawks and have been aggressively pursuing quarterbacks all offseason. The guess here is that the Seahawks wouldn’t get involved in a bidding war for Mayfield.
But if Mayfield is there for the taking, then sure, I can see the Seahawks being interested.
The Seahawks have made it clear they want to give Drew Lock a real shot at proving he can be a legitimate NFL quarterback. Bringing in someone else making a hefty salary would make that person the de facto leader at the position. Bringing in someone for not much, as one wouldn’t expect Mayfield to command a whole lot for the 2022 season, and presumably on a short-term deal, wouldn’t necessarily anoint him as the immediate starter, which is why I wouldn’t rule it out.
Jordanofmadden asked: Is there any outcome this season which results in Pete (Carroll) getting a pink slip?
Sure. It’s the NFL, as cutthroat of a business as there is, and anything can happen.
While many around the league have portrayed the Seahawks as in a rebuilding mode, Carroll has gone out of his way to say that’s not how he sees it.
“Just like every year, we are trying to build a championship football team right now,” Carroll said on the day the Russell Wilson trade was officially announced. “There is no future where we will do it somewhere down the road. We don’t think like that, we have never thought like that and we aren’t going to think like that now.”
That sets an expectation that the organization isn’t expecting to have a bottoming-out season, and if one happens, then sure, change of any sort is possible.
But Carroll has a contract through the 2025 season said to be worth $11 million a year and likely guaranteed (unlike with player contracts, those for coaches and GMs are not made public, so it’s hard to know if they’re guaranteed).
NFL teams may be printing money these days, but at that amount, Carroll’s contract would be something the organization would have to think about.
There have been some strong signals sent that the Wilson trade and what the team received in return has created a two-year window for Carroll and GM John Schneider to restock the team.
The Seahawks have Denver’s first- and second-round picks next year as well as their own. They also have their own picks in the third, fourth and fifth rounds next year as well as Pittsburgh’s fifth, thanks to the Ahkello Witherspoon trade. That’s eight picks in the first five rounds next year, four in the top 64.
With Wilson’s contract coming off the books next year, the Seahawks will have more cap space than they’ve basically ever had. They are listed as having $72 million in cap space in 2023 by OvertheCap.com, second-most in the NFL behind only the Bears with $93 million.
Organizationally, there may be a feeling that the goal is to be as competitive as possible in 2022 and have the team where it wants to be with a strong roster and a QB of the future by the end of the 2023 season.
“It’s really big, especially next year when the majority of the cap space comes into effect with Russell’s contract, and then the draft capital next year with the two first-round picks and two second-round picks,” Schneider said in March. “Four picks in the first two rounds.”
It’s the NFL, and anything can happen. And if the 2022 Seahawks decide to replicate what the 1992 team did 30 years ago, everything is on the table. But the sense I get is this is a two-year process to get things back in order.
SimonettiSays asked: Best guess at our starting three (R/L/SL) corners for week 1?
I’ll stick with what would probably be the betting-line trio of Tre Brown on the left side, Sidney Jones on the right and Justin Coleman as the nickel. Brown started three games on the left side last year before his injury, the last one alongside Jones on the right a pairing I think the Seahawks liked. Coleman appears set to return to the slot spot he played well in for the Seahawks in 2017 and 2018.
Rookie Coby Bryant could definitely factor in. He played left corner during the rookie minicamp but played all over in college at Cincinnati. If the Seahawks view him as a potential starter as a rookie, I’d imagine they’d try him on the right side and see what happens. Fellow rookie Tariq Woolen lined up on the right side in the minicamp. But I think he’s more of a project at the moment.
The wild card may be Artie Burns, a 2016 first-round pick of the Steelers. He was listed as a starter at left corner for the Steelers in 2016 and on the right side the next two years. He played some of both with the Bears last season. So it will be interesting to see how serious of a run he will make at playing time.