Seahawks reporter Bob Condotta answered all of your pressing questions about the Seahawks' impending offseason, and potential changes in a live chat Wednesday.
For the first time in the Russell Wilson era, the Seahawks find themselves sitting at home after the regular season instead of gearing up for a playoff game. Big changes could be coming, and questions about the team’s identity still need answering.
- Will key players like Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril ever play football again?
- Have other staples like Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett played their last games as a Seahawk?
- Are changes in store for the coaching staff and front office?
- Can the Hawks retool in the offseason to get back to the playoffs in 2018?
Beat reporter Bob Condotta answered all of your pressing questions about the Seahawks’ impending offseason, and potential changes in a live chat Wednesday. Here are the highlights:
Q: Bob, what have the Hawks learned about last year’s draft class? We know about Ethan Pocic, Malik McDowell, Shaq Griffin, Chris Carson, and Naz Jones.. But what about the future potentials of Delano Hill and others? Understanding the talent from last year’s draft may determine who they draft this year.
A: Yeah, that’s a good point. Carroll spoke pretty optimistically on Tuesday about the defensive backs but the fact that other than Griffin the other three didn’t play all that much I think makes it sort of hard to know. Hill I think did the most to give them an idea he can be a legit contributor down the road. Amara Darboh didn’t do much on the field but Carroll has raved about him. Moore didn’t do much but the fact they went to pretty extreme lengths to keep him indicates they still have high hopes for him… What is always the tricky thing about trying to guess who they draft now is that so much will happen between now and then with free agency. If they fill certain needs in free agency then obviously they don’t have to go that route in the draft. But I as of now I’d say pass rushers and offensive playmakers are primary needs.
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Q: Bob… is there any chance Jon Ryan returns?
A: Chance? Yes. But I think it’s more up in the air than might have been assumed. I detailed Ryan’s salary cap situation here. That Ryan has a pretty big number the next two years and obviously is getting up there in age puts him at definite risk.
Q: Hey Bob what does the Seahawks offseason schedule look like over the next few months? When will the team begin to address free agents on the roster, decisions between who stays and they let walk?
A: There is nothing official from now until April 16 when the team can begin its offseason program. Obviously there will be a ton of stuff going on behind the scenes, and players who have injuries typically stay in town to rehab. but players cannot be required to do anything with the team until April 16. The team can make some roster moves now but the stuff with the UFAs cannot really happen until March until they those guys officially become UFAs but players can re-sign at any time.
Q: Any circumstances under which Jimmy Graham is back?
A: If he were to take a really low deal or something maybe. But I can’t imagine that he won’t want to enter free agency and see what is out there — he has never been a free agent before and I think he would like the chance to call his own shots. Most players do.
Q: Bob, on a scale of 1-10 (10=super-happy), what would you rate as Jimmy Graham’s happiness level as a member of the ‘hawks?
A: I think that’s a two-part question — I’d say 8 or so in terms of how he liked the environment, the coaches, the other players. I think he liked that part fine. But I’d say 2.5 or so for on field — it hasn’t been a great fit between the lines and I think he would like going somewhere where he thinks he could again put up the kind of numbers he did in New Orleans. I think he genuinely liked Seattle —- I know he’s close with Russell Wilson and I’ve heard he fit in just fine in the locker room and all that. But I think he might like a fresh start playing wise somewhere else.
Q: If John Schneider takes the Green Bay job, who is the top in-house candidate to replace him?
A: I don’t think it’s going to happen. But if it did I think Scott Fitterer would be the primary candidate.
Q: I’ve seen speculation that the Seahawks would let Earl Thomas go… He still seems to be at the top of his game. What do you think is the likelihood of that happening.
A: They wouldn’t “let him go” per se. What could happen is that if they think he won’t re-sign after the 2018 season that they would head that off and try to get some value for him before potentially just losing him as a free agent —basically the same thinking behind why they considered trading Richard Sherman last year. Thomas is obviously a great player who could have some great value out there and they could maybe get a high draft pick or two for him. But they will not just release him or anything like that.
Q: What are the salary cap ramifications if Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril can’t play any more because of injury?
A: Avril would help the Seahawks greatly — he is due $8 million next year but only $500,000 is dead money so Seattle would save $7.5 million by releasing him. Chancellor is a lot trickier — he has $12 million in injury guarantees over the next two years which is why no one thinks he would retire and willingly give that up. But the team could work out some sort of settlement with him if he really can’t play again.
Q: I know Pete sounded optimistic (what else is new) about the offensive line going forward, but they’ve gotta make changes there going forward right? From a fan’s perspective there just seems like there has been so little improvement from that group in spite of the team investing the most draft picks on o-linemen of any team in the past few years. To me, that falls on the o-line coach especially when it’s been reported that he has a big role in deciding who they draft. Your thoughts?
A: The problem is what do you do. They aren’t going to have a ton of cap room and they only have one pick in the first three rounds. they already made a big trade to get a left tackle, so that’s set. They just paid Britt a ton of money, so that is set too. It’s too soon to give up on Germain Ifedi or Pocic. So that’s basically four of the five right there. They still like George Fant. There’s also a lot invested in Rees Odhiambo. If they acquire more draft picks then maybe they will do something. But they are a little hamstrung there — and again, they did make some big moves in the last few months with Duane Brown. I think one of their hopes is that having him for all of the offseason and training camp will make a really big difference next year.
Q: What are the chances that Carroll and Schneider make changes to the coaching staff, particularly the coordinator positions?
A: I don’t see any chance to the DC in part because Carroll is basically the DC anyway. I think it gets overlooked that everything about the defense is Carroll’s scheme and philosophy. I could see some changes to the offensive staff as a whole, though I’m not sure about specifically Bevell and Cable. But i think they could look to change some of the spots around those guys and bring in some new ideas around them.
Q: What do you think the chances are that they fire Cable and get a new offensive line coach?
A: I don’t see that happening as of now. What could happen is making some changes to the overall OL staff — it’s worth remembering there are two other offensive line coaches on staff in Pat Ruel and Brennan Carroll, as well as Lemuel Jeanpierre. I could see them maybe shake up that group to bring in a new set of eyes. But I will preface that’s largely from trying to read between the lines and all that. Maybe when they step back and assess things they view it differently. But I don’t get the sense that Carroll views the whole thing as being broken on either side of the ball.
Q: Doug Baldwin says play calling isn’t the issue with the ineptness of this offense. That leaves me with the impression that it has to be the inability of Cable to coach this OL to fit Bevell’s scheme. Thoughts?
A: Maybe some of that. Maybe some frustration with the running game. And maybe some frustration with Wilson holding on to the ball too long at times. There was a huge shift in Wilson’s assertiveness in the two halves on Sunday — I think Baldwin was alluding to that a little bit. Wilson ran around a lot in the first half and at times when I don’t think they thought he needed to. In the second half he got rid of it quickly. There’s been a thought that at times Wilson is a little reluctant to throw to really tight windows. I think that’s one thing that changes for him from early to late in the games — when it gets late and the Seahawks are behind he is sort of forced to take more chances and throw caution to the wind a little bit more.
Q: Seems like Doug’s comments were as much about Russell scrambling into sacks and not getting the ball out quickly as they are about the offensive line. I think he feels like the whole offense is dysfunctional, and that Xs and Os don’t matter if guys don’t do their jobs.
A: I don’t think he thinks the whole offense is dysfunctional. But I do think he may have been alluding to the fact that Wilson may at times have to have more faith in both the line and the receivers. But I want to caution there that since Baldwin was vague about it this is only a guess.
Q: What do you make of the Seahawks’ running backs right now? Seems like they have each had moments where you think they can make an impact. But obviously the results were awful last year. How much of that is OL issues and how much is on each of the RBs?
A: Chris Carson and Mike Davis each ended up with okay YPC averages — 4.2 and 3.5. Rawls and Lacy did not — 2.7 and 2.6. I think that’s how the coaches view it — the two guys they thought played well ran well enough, the two guys they were counting on at the beginning of the year each didn’t and that really hurt. There’s obviously no way Lacy is back and it’d be a surprise if Rawls is.
Q: What do you think happens with Paul Richardson? I feel like he’ll end up costing too much to be worth keeping.
A: I think he almost certainly hits the market and then it could be like it was with Jermaine Kearse where Seattle had a price point were it was willing to bring him back and when Kearse didn’t quite get the offers he thought he would he ended up coming back. I think there’ll be a limit to what they want to offer Richardson and if someone breaks the bank for him then goodbye and if not he could return.
Q: I am on the fence today about Michael Bennett as a future Hawk. He’s solid as granite, but consistent offside penalty collections and overall lesser play has me questioning him, for starters. What’s the Condotta Crystal Ball say for where he is on opening day 2018?
A: My hunch is that he’s not back. I think they will look to get younger up front and will look at the fact that Bennett will be 33 next year and has had a ton of injuries the past two seasons. I think seeing what happened with Chancellor and Avril will help guide what they do going forward and maybe be a bit more proactive about getting younger before it’s too late.
Q: What will Sheldon Richardson command on the open market?
A: Really good question. My hunch is that he’s going to want to find out. I’m sure he’s hoping for $13-15 million a year or so. But markets at all positions can be really unpredictable.
Q: Kearse and Alex Collins both had good seasons, shouldn’t that be a concern about this offense and game plans? One player a coincidence, two players more likely the truth that Bevell and Cable are not getting the job done and there needs to be a change.
A: To me, Kearse is largely a usage and playing time thing. He had a larger role in the Jets’ offense than he was going to have here. The Ravens offense is a lot different than Seattle’s, not as much zone read and all that. I think that helped Collins greatly. But with Russell, you are never not going to have the zone read.
Q: Is Byron Maxwell going to be back next season? At least at a depth role?
A: I think he will be. I think they could already be set at CB with Sherman returning along with Griffin, Coleman and Maxwell and then you still have Tyson and DeAndre Elliott and Shead and Thorpe. Shead will be one to watch — if it is ruled he is a UFA then I would imagine he will test the market and if Seattle thinks he would go then I think they for sure bring Maxwell back. Maxwell has made a lot of money so this time around I think he’d be happy to stay put as long as Seattle gives an offer that’s in line with whatever else he might get. Jeremy Lane won’t be back. But Elliott could serve as the backup to Coleman at nickel and I think they think Tyson could compete for that role, too.
Q: Bob, where are the draft needs on D? With your post about the secondary being ok with depth, seems like the priority would be a pass-rushing DE. The pass rush seemed nonexistent at times. Would you say DE, or maybe best-player-available LB?
A: I’d agree totally. They need to add a pass rusher or two, and depending on what happens with Bennett, an interior player or two possibly, as well. And I think an overall upgrade at linebacker. If Thomas returns and they re-sign Bradley McDougald — which they will know by the time the draft rolls around — then I think the secondary is in pretty good shape.
Q: It seems pretty clear that Carroll isn’t going to build the team around Wilson passing the ball. Do you think that means the Hawks won’t use expensive free agency or high draft picks at TE and WR and will focus instead of running game and defense even though many of us think they need a big WR.
A: It’s not like they won’t throw it a lot — Wilson led the NFL In touchdown passes this season. It’s just that it’s always going to be a somewhat different passing attack than, say, the Patriots do with Brady because of the type of QB that Wilson is. It used to be that everyone liked it that Carroll built his schemes around what his players do well. I don’t see him varying from that as long as he has Wilson — he is what he is. He is a franchise QB, he’s just not the typical looking one, and any offense he plays in is always going to have some unique qualities to it.
Q: Do they have a plan to deal seriously with the offensive line, or will we see another patchwork approach with the belief that skill players can overcome a weak OL?
A: No offense, but I don’t see what was patchwork about what they did this year. They drafted a guy in the second round and made him a starter. They traded second and third round picks for an All-Pro left tackle. They signed a former first round pick to an $8 million contract. They signed their center to a long-term extension. They made significant moves this year to put it together and other than the uncertainty with Jockel since he is a free agent, I think they will want to give a lot of that another year to see Brown-Pocic-Ifedi-Britt playing together an entire year pays off.
Q: How likely do you think it is that the Hawks trade down from #18? We need more early round picks (in my opinion) and Schneider has a history of trading down/out of the first round.
A: I’d say pretty likely but again — and I know this answer frustrates some people who may want a more direct answer –it’s really hard to guess about the draft right now when we don’t know what will happen in free agency. But as of now, and the Seahawks only having one pick before the fourth round, it definitely makes sense to think they would try to add some picks in the second and third rounds.
Here are the full highlights: