As our postseason review of Seahawks position groups wraps up, let’s look at what was one of the best for Seattle this year and what appears to be one of the most stable going forward — special teams.
Contract situation: Myers will be entering the third year of a four-year deal he signed with Seattle in 2019, due to make a base salary of $3.35 million in 2021 with a cap hit of $4.35 million.
Contract situation: Dickson has one season left on his initial four-year rookie contract, due to make $920,000 in 2021. However, OvertheCap.com projects that Dickson will qualify for a proven-performance escalator that would boost his 2021 salary to $3.4 million.
Contract situation: Entering third season of four-year deal signed with Seattle before the 2019 season due to pay him a base salary of $990,000 in 2021.
During the glory days of the Legion of Boom era, the Seahawks also had some of the best special teams in the NFL, with the kicking battery of Stephen Hauschka, Jon Ryan and Clint Gresham proving as solid as any in the league and Seattle’s overall talent meaning the team usually had good coverage and return units.
But some cracks began to develop in the 2016-18 period as free agency and other issues took a toll, and the Seahawks made it a priority in the 2018 and 2019 offseasons to try to shore things up.
The payoff came this season as the new kicking battery of Myers, Dickson and Ott — in their second year together — was as good as any in the NFL. And the coverage units, bolstered by the improved play from a handful of members of the 2019 draft class (Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Travis Homer and Ugo Amadi, to name a few) as well as 2019 free-agent signee Nick Bellore (who was named to the Pro Bowl) also were among the best in the NFL.
NFL writer Rick Gosselin, who has used a numbers system for more than four decades to rate special teams based on their rankings in 22 kicking-team areas, had Seattle second in the league this year, behind only New England.
That happened as Seattle also handled some upheaval in its special-teams coaching. Longtime special-teams coordinator Brian Schneider — who had been with the Seahawks since Pete Carroll arrived in 2010 — took a leave of absence early in the season and was replaced by assistant Larry Izzo. It was learned late last week that Schneider is leaving the Seahawks and expected to be named to the same position with Jacksonville, with Izzo taking over on a permanent basis starting in 2021.
Both Myers and Dickson turned in record-setting seasons along the way.
Myers, signed in 2019, made all 24 of his field-goal attempts in the regular season and has a team-record streak of 35 in a row he will carry into next season. He also made both of his attempts in the playoff defeat against the Rams. Included in Myers’ streak in 2020 was hitting all 15 from 40 yards and beyond, including a team-record 61-yarder against the Rams in November and a 55-yarder at Miami that was tied for the fourth-longest in team history.
Dickson, drafted in the fifth round in 2018, was twice named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week and led the NFL with 32 punts downed inside the 20 and set team records with a gross average of 49.6 yards and a net average of 44.4.
Ott, meanwhile, was named to the Pro Bowl.
If there’s an area where Seattle could maybe use some improvement, it’s in the return game. The Seahawks were 20th in the NFL in punt-return average at 8.6 yards per attempt and 13th in kickoff returns at 22.5.
With Myers, Dickson and Ott all under contract for at least one more year, there isn’t a lot that needs to be done heading into 2021.
But Seattle could give Dickson an extension both to possibly reduce his cap hit in 2021, depending on the proven-performance escalator, and also to assure he doesn’t become a free agent following the season. Thomas Morstead of New Orleans is the highest-paid punter in the NFL at an average of $3.9 million per year, and Dickson would seem within his right to ask for something similar.
Many of the core special-teams players, notably Barton and Burr-Kirven — who along with Bellore played the most special-teams snaps this season — also remain under contract. Bellore now is an unrestricted free agent but would seem likely to be back if the Seahawks want him.