Could the Seahawks have a quiet summer? What is the biggest question mark heading into training camp?
Those are among the questions addressed in our latest Seahawks Twitter mailbag. Let’s get to it.
@hollywoodt9: asked “What are the chances of (Darrell) Taylor securing OLB instead of re-signing (K.J.) Wright? Also, do you feel it is Taylor’s job for the taking if they stay internally?
A: That Taylor is being tried at strongside linebacker was the biggest news of last weekend’s rookie minicamp.
While Taylor was drafted in the second round last year out of Tennessee to be a rush end, he has experience playing SLB, and coach Pete Carroll said he had no concerns about Taylor being able to learn the position.
The big questions are Taylor’s health, how his leg will hold up to a full training camp and season, and that he has lost weight. He’s at 245 pounds and said he wants to get up to 260 by the time the season rolls around. Setting the edge on running plays is a key part of playing SLB.
But I think the Seahawks are hoping Taylor can make the move and play a Bruce Irvin-type role of filling the SLB spot in the base defense and being a rush end in the nickel.
As for Wright, there isn’t much indication the Seahawks plan to bring him back.
As I’ve written a few times now, the Seahawks appear as if they want to give their young linebackers a shot to be full-time players this season.
That means 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks taking over the weakside linebacker spot full time — the position where Wright has been the primary starter since 2013 — and letting Taylor and maybe Cody Barton battle it out at SLB.
Wright started at SLB last year in the base defense and moved to WLB in the nickel, with Brooks playing WLB in the base and heading to the sidelines in the nickel. But I think this year the Seahawks want for Brooks to be an every-down player and to give Taylor a shot at SLB.
If so, there isn’t a lot of room left for Wright. They loaded up on edge rushers this season.
So, short version: Yes, I think the Seahawks want to go with the young LBs this season and are not looking to re-sign Wright. That could change if Wright remains unsigned into training camp and there’s an injury or they have a change of heart. But it may be time to start assuming Wright won’t be part of the Seahawks in 2021.
Q: @tweetsareduuumb asked: “Biggest question mark this season: cornerback or center?’’
A: Corner. The Seahawks have 10 corners on its roster and another two who are listed as safeties but could battle for the nickel spot (Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi). They will likely keep five or six on the 53-man roster, meaning there is going to be some stiff competition for roster spots.
Ahkello Witherspoon is the highest paid, at $4 million guaranteed for one year, which speaks to the team’s faith that he can take over a starting role.
D.J. Reed played well down the stretch last season and seems to have a leg up on a starting spot again this year. Tre Flowers also returns, but he has no guaranteed money in his $2.183 million salary, so he’s going to have to earn a spot on the team.
And there are other candidates led by rookie Tre Brown, veterans Damarious Randall and Pierre Desir, and former UW standout Jordan Miller, a fifth-round pick of the Falcons in 2019.
It’ll be interesting to watch how it all turns out.
I think center is a lot more straightforward. It’s Ethan Pocic’s job to lose with Kyle Fuller the other legitimate competitor.
That may not excite a lot of people. Also, that Pocic’s contract is for just $3 million (though fully guaranteed) has been widely interpreted as the Seahawks not fully committing to him.
That has led some fans to pine for Austin Reiter, a starter the last two years with Kansas City who remains unsigned.
But with the Seahawks now a month into their meetings in the offseason program and learning the offense of new coordinator Shane Waldron, you’d think they would want any player they would consider a potential starter at a key spot such as center to be already on the roster.
Many have pointed to the Pro Football Focus ratings of centers as a reason the Seahwks should pursue Reiter. Reiter was 12th among centers last year while Pocic was 26th. But Reiter and Pocic had essentially the same run block grade last year. Pass blocking was quite different — Reiter was fifth and Pocic 21st.
But Pocic had some pretty good grades early in the season before suffering a concussion against the Bills (a game that was one of his worst grades) and missing two weeks.
True, he struggled against the Rams in the playoffs, which is the last glimpse everyone has of the Seahawks’ offense (via PFF, Pocic gave up two hurries on 36 pass attempts). But few look good going against Aaron Donald.
I think the Seahawks believe Pocic could make a big leap in 2021 in what would be his second season at center — remember, he played guard and tackle his first three years — and that for now he’s the starter heading into camp.
Q: Garyhesse asked: “What dates should we be watching as the final roster is set (including the likelihood of trades/free agent signings)?”
A: There are really no more dates when specific things have to happen in terms of the roster until cutdown day, which this year is Sept. 4.
The Seahawks have the maximum 90 players on its roster now (actually 91 with international player Aaron Donkor not counting) so there’s nothing they have to do at this point.
The one big contract situation that the Seahawks are likely to address this offseason is extending safety Jamal Adams. But, it’s worth remembering he is under contract for 2021 at $9.86 million, so technically, the Seahawks don’t have to do anything.
But the expectation is that the Seahawks will try to extend Adams’ contract, which would obviously secure Adams’ future — something both sides undoubtedly want — and could also cut his cap hit and give them a bit more room. The Seahawks have $7.25 million in cap room, which seems an ideal amount to take care of the inevitable business of the season and have enough to make another move or two if needed.
The Seahawks has made big offseason trades the past two seasons in Adams and Jadeveon Clowney. But the Adams deal means they do not have their first-round pick again in 2022.
That the Seahawks have given up so much draft capital the last few years may mean they would be more reluctant this year to make a big move.
Also, they are coming off a 12-win season and has mostly addressed the needs it had in the offseason. Unless something unexpected comes up, there’s a good chance the roster you see now is pretty much what it’s going to be heading into training camp in late July.
Meaning, maybe the Seahawks will be a little quieter this summer than in years past. Conversely, these are the Seahawks, so you never know.