Questions about Julio Jones and what may happen at a few of the more uncertain position groups heading into 2021 are the focus of our latest Seahawks Twitter mailbag.
Let’s get to it.
Q: Jim_Rothman asked: ”If we trade for Julio and they want players in the trade, who do we give them?’’
A: To briefly reiterate the situation here, the Falcons are reportedly looking to trade the 32-year-old, certain Hall of Fame receiver because A, he wants out; and B, the Falcons are in rebuilding mode and need to open up some cap space. Jones is due a guaranteed salary of $15.3 million in 2021.
There was one ESPN report over the weekend of Seattle having “discussions’’ about trading for Jones. Another ESPN report this week characterized those discussions as Seattle doing its usual “due diligence’’ and noted that the Seahawks would probably ask Jones to redo his deal, with Seattle having just a little over $7 million in available cap space for 2021.
The Falcons are also said to want a first-round pick, something Seattle doesn’t have for the 2022 draft. Reports conflict on whether the Falcons have gotten offers for a first-round pick — it seems as if the Falcons would have made a deal if they had — with most thinking Atlanta will have to settle for a second-rounder.
With teams about to head into the summer, there isn’t necessarily much urgency for Atlanta to do something. Recall Seattle’s trades the last two years for Jamal Adams and Jadeveon Clowney took place either right before training camp (Adams) or a week before the season (Clowney).
To answer the specific question of who, I don’t think the Falcons want players. With a new coach and GM, Atlanta seems to be in starting over mode (though having Matt Ryan under contract at a huge cap number the next three years seems to counter that).
And they are definitely in cost- and cap-cutting mode.
So, Atlanta appears to want draft picks. If they took players, I’d imagine they would be young, inexpensive ones, who I wouldn’t think Seattle would want to give up.
Seattle was able to deal two players for Clowney — one, a young player still on his rookie deal in Jacob Martin who the Seahawks probably regret dealing now. I don’t think the Seahawks want to do that again.
Q: est5454 asked: “Why would the Seahawks be interested in Jones when the more pressing need and potentially better fit would be to add an offensive lineman like Schwartz?’’
A: The question is a reference to offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is a free agent after spending the past five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and earning second team All-Pro honors as recently as 2019.
Schwartz is like a handful of veteran free agents — including K.J, Wright and Richard Sherman — who may have to wait until training camps begin to sign.
I’d also argue that the Seahawks think they are better on the offensive line than many fans and other observers do.
They have Duane Brown returning at left tackle and Brandon Shell at right tackle. Brown was rated 5th last year by Pro Football Focus and Shell 38th.
To state the obvious, that means an objective entity rated Seattle as having two of the top 38 tackles in the NFL last year — every team has two, so there are 64 starters overall, meaning a lot of teams’ tackle situation was considered worse than Seattle’s.
Brown and Shell each have just one year left on their contracts, so trying to add a tackle for the future makes sense, which is what Seattle did in drafting Stone Forsythe. But Schwartz will be 32 when the season begins and missed 10 games last season with a back injury.
Schwartz would be a one-year fill-in or so at best. As noted, Seattle has two highly-paid players already at those spots — Brown is due for a $13.2 million cap hit in 2021 and Shell $5.3 million.
The Seahawks also re-signed Cedric Ogbuehi to compete with Shell at right tackle, And think what you want, but he’s a former first-round pick who is healthy and three years younger than Schwartz. His relatively inexpensive ($1.7 million) cap hit is still enough that the Seahawks appear to have him pegged for a role on the team.
Some might argue the center position could use an upgrade — I believe Seattle thinks it is set at guard with Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson.
But I also think Seattle feels it is better there with Ethan Pocic and Kyle Fuller than a lot of outsiders may think.
And Seattle only has $7.2 million left in cap space, less than all but nine other teams, which means the Seahawks have had to prioritize some spots — in other words, you can’t pay top dollar everywhere.
At this point, I don’t see Seattle making a significant move on the offensive line barring an injury before the regular season.
Q: 235noles asked: “Where does Marquis Blair fit in this year? Is Cody Barton really better than K.J. (Wright)? Are we in the market for a DT still?”
A: Pete Carroll has said several times that Blair will again compete for the nickel corner position. First, he has to show he is healthy. Carroll said recently Blair is on track to be ready for camp — the injury he suffered in September is typically a 9-10 month recovery so that timeline makes sense.
Quandre Diggs is entering the final year of his contract, so if Blair proves he’s healthy and has a good season, the Seahawks could consider his long-term future as moving back to safety in 2022 for what would be the final year on his rookie deal. Blair was the 47th overall pick in 2019 so I think Seattle still has plans to try to use him as much as possible the next two years.
As for the question on Barton, I don’t think that’s the way to look at it.
I think if the season started today, Seattle’s starting three linebackers would be Bobby Wagner in the middle, Jordyn Brooks on the weakside and Darrell Taylor at strongside. Barton, I think, would be pegged to be the primary backup at WLB and SLB but given the chance to compete at SLB.
Brooks was a first-round pick in 2019 and Taylor a second-rounder. The Seahawks want to get those two on the field as much as possible, especially if Taylor is now healthy, which the team seems to think he will be.
As for another defensive tackle, there are a few big names still available, notably former Bengal Geno Atkins and Sheldon Richardson, who was with the Seahawks in 2017 and since has played for Minnesota and Cleveland.
But like Sherman and Wright, I think each are players who will likely remain available until training camp and sign once teams see what they have and if injuries develop.
It’s worth remembering what Carroll said last week when asked about Wright: “We’re still working it, figuring out the roster and how it’s going to go. Until we get on the field and can see how things are starting to come together, there won’t be major changes in what’s going on because we’re pretty committed at this point.’’