If there’s a position the Seahawks don’t seem to need to address this offseason — at least, not in any significant way — it’s tight end.
The Seahawks have quite a bit invested in the top two players at the position — Noah Fant and Will Dissly, each under contract through at least the 2023 season — as well as a third-year player in Colby Parkinson for whom the team still has high hopes.
So, on paper, tight end would appear at the bottom of the team’s list of needs during next week’s NFL draft.
Let’s look further at the tight-end spot as the draft approaches.
Players under contract for 2022: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, Tyler Mabry.
Key offseason losses: Gerald Everett.
The addition of Fant in the Russell Wilson trade made up for the loss in free agency of Everett, who signed with the Chargers. The Seahawks expect Fant to fill a similar role — if not more productive — after making 68 catches last season, almost as many as the 74 that all of the Seahawks tight ends combined for last season.
The Seahawks picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract for the 2023 season at $6.85 million.
That means for at least the next two seasons, Fant will team with Dissly, who signed a three-year extension worth up to $24 million, though it’s structured in a way that the Seahawks could get out of it after the 2023 season.
Their two contracts make up the bulk of $17.7 million in spending on tight ends in 2023, fifth most at that position in the NFL, according to OvertheCap.com.
Parkinson is on his rookie contract for two more seasons. Foot injuries have limited his snaps and production. He has just seven receptions for 49 yards in 20 games.
Parkinson just turned 23 in January and he appeared to show vast improvement early in camp last year before being reinjured in mid-August.
The team’s commitment to Fant and Dissly has had some wondering where Parkinson fits. But the team surely has not written Parkinson off and will look for ways to get the 6 foot 7, 251-pounder involved in the passing game as much as possible.
Mabry also returns after playing in six games last season.
In other words, the Seahawks already are set with a four-deep at tight end, needing only to fill it out with some for depth for camp.
Recent draft history
The Seahawks have proved to have a decent eye for tight ends during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era.
They have drafted seven tight ends, none higher than the third round. But aside from Parkinson, whose career can’t be fairly judged yet, all but the two players taken in the seventh round (Stephen Sullivan, 2020, and Jameson Konz, 2010) have gone on to have fairly significant careers.
Nick Vannett played 77 games and signed a three-year deal last year with the Saints. Dissly has been a solid contributor for the Seahawks and has earned a second contract.
The other two mid-round picks are Luke Willson, a fifth-rounder in 2013 who played a 102 games and won a Super Bowl ring as a significant contributor as a rookie before retiring last season; and Anthony McCoy, a sixth-rounder in 2010, started 14 games in the 2011-12 seasons before suffering an Achilles injury in 2013 that helped derail his career.
It’s worth remembering the Seahawks had a few years without major needs at tight end during the Carroll/Schneider era thanks to the presence of highly paid vets Zach Miller and Jimmy Graham.
Draft need (on scale of 1-10): 3.
This appears a good year to not need a tight end at the top of the draft as there might not be any taken in the first round — in other words, no Kyle Pitts, selected fourth overall last year by Atlanta.
Generally considered at the top of the tight-end group is Trey McBride of Colorado State. But he ranks a mere 60th on Pro Football Focus’ Big Board. Some side with UCLA’s Greg Dulcich (70th on PFF’s Big Board).
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good tight ends likely to be available in the middle rounds. One with local ties is Cade Otton of UW, who said he met with the Seahawks at the combine (which was before the team traded for Fant).
More likely is that the Seahawks either take a tight end late, or most likely sign one or two as undrafted free agents — and expect them to do that as the Seahawks are likely to want at least five or six for camp.
The only tight end the Seahawks have reportedly had in for a pre-draft Top 30 visit is Armani Rogers of Ohio. Rogers didn’t play tight end in college, playing quarterback at UNLV and Ohio, and was used last year largely in a Wildcat scheme, rushing for 552 yards on 92 carries. But since the end of the season, the 6-5, 225-pound Rogers has been training as a tight end, playing there during the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Next up: Offensive line.
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