It was a little joke that carried a lot of truth.
Heading into the final day of the NFL draft last weekend, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he planned to spend much of it thinking about Gabe Jackson and Carlos Dunlap.
The comment was a reference to the Seahawks dealing two of their picks (a fifth and a seventh) in the 2020 draft for Jackson and Dunlap, players who will be key parts of the Seahawks in 2021.
Those two trades, as well as the trade for safety Jamal Adams last July, were the major reasons the Seahawks had just three picks last weekend, two fewer than any draft in team history and tied for the fewest of any team since 1999. They had never made fewer than eight picks in the Schneider/Pete Carroll era before this year.
But Schneider shouldn’t have to resort to finding ways to pass the time during the draft next year.
As of today, the Seahawks are in line to have a regular menu of seven picks — though not a first-rounder, as that will also go to the Jets as part of the Adams trade. The Seahawks have their other six original picks and has an extra selection in the fourth from the Jets, also part of the Adams trade.
If there’s a disappointment, it’s that the Seahawks don’t appear as if they will get any compensatory picks in 2022 for free-agent losses suffered this year. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams that incur a net loss of unrestricted free agents based on a formula developed by the NFL.
The NFL keeps the process a little secretive and the actual picks are not announced until a month or so before the draft.
But OvertheCap.com offers projections on comp picks each year that have proven reliable. And with the passing of the deadline on Monday for free-agent signings to factor into the formula, OTC projects that the Seahawks will not get any comp picks.
Specifically, OTC calculated that the free-agent signings of defensive end Kerry Hyder, tight end Gerald Everett and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon canceled out the free-agent losses of Shaquill Griffin (Jacksonville), Carlos Hyde (Jacksonville) and David Moore (Carolina). Not all free-agent signings qualify for the formula, and there are only 32 compensatory picks each year. Such picks are for the third through seventh rounds.
But the Seahawks apparently being shut out on comp picks in 2022 continues a recent trend that is a reversal of an old one.
Schneider used to aggressively hoard comp picks, at times to the consternation of fans who wanted the Seahawks to be more active in free agency.
The Seahawks earned 11 from 2011-17, among the most of any team. One of those, in 2011, was used to draft linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP of the Super Bowl win over Denver.
And the comp picks were one reason the Seahawks made nine or more picks in the draft every year from 2010-19 other than in 2015, when the Seahawks made eight.
But they have earned just three comp picks since 2018, all coming in 2020, meaning 2022 will be the fourth time in five drafts the Seahawks will not have any.
The main reason is that the Seahawks have been more active in free agency. In 2020, the Seahawks signed five free agents to qualifying contracts while losing just three.
This year, as noted earlier, they signed as many FAs to qualifying contracts as they lost, though the Seahawks surely figured that linebacker K.J. Wright would have signed a qualifying contract, which might have given them a pick. Wright remains unsigned.
And the Seahawks didn’t worry that in the process of signing free agents they handed comp picks to two division rivals. The Rams are in line for a sixth-rounder for the loss of Everett, according to OTC, while the 49ers will get a seventh for Hyder.
Does this show a sea change in philosophy by the Seahawks?
It does, at least, seem to accentuate that the Seahawks are more willing to risk draft capital for the sake of helping the team immediately, though they might point to the Percy Harvin trade in 2013 or the Jimmy Graham trade in 2015 as proof they’ve always held that philosophy.
And Schneider and Carroll also said they were more willing to part with draft picks this year because they feel the 2021 draft was more of a crapshoot than ever because of shortened college seasons in 2020 and lack of some of the usual avenues for evaluating players, such as the combine. Teams were thought to have reliable medical reports on as few as 150 players — 259 were drafted.
It’ll take a few years to know if the Seahawks were correct in that assessment — some analysts feel the top of the draft was as solid as ever, but it’s the overall depth that will prove to have been shallower. Seattle’s picks this year were in the second, fourth and sixth rounds.
Regardless of the nature of this specific draft, the Seahawks have seemed more willing than ever of late to part with significant draft capital to add veterans with moves such as Duane Brown trade in 2017, the Jadeveon Clowney trade in 2019 and the trade for Adams.
Russell Wilson turns 33 in November, after all.
While Schneider has always said the overriding goal is to build a team that can be competitive every year — and by any measure, they have done that — the future may be now more than ever for the Seahawks, as indicated by the willingness to sign free agents and not seem to put as much emphasis on compiling comp picks.
And sure, the Seahawks could still trade some of their 2022 picks down the road, though the guess here is they will hang on to more of them than they did this year, having appeared to for now fill their major holes for the 2021 season.
Meaning comp picks or no, Schneider will likely be a lot busier in 2022 than he was this year.
Here’s a review of the Seahawks’ 2022 draft outlook:
First round — Traded to Jets for Jamal Adams.
Second round — Seattle has its own pick.
Third round — Seattle has its own pick.
Fourth round — Seattle has its own pick and one from the Jets in the Adams deal.
Fifth round — Seattle has its own pick.
Sixth round — Seattle has its own pick.
Seventh round — Seattle has its own pick.