A few minutes after the 2019 NFL draft ended, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was asked about the status of the team’s pass rush and he said it was too early to judge because the roster at that spot was hardly complete.
“We’re not done,’’ Carroll said. “We have work to do. We’re excited about what’s coming and you guys will see in time.’’
That time has almost arrived.
As many other NFL teams, the Seahawks appear to be waiting for the passing of the deadline when free agents no longer count in the calculations for determining compensatory picks in 2020 to sign any more of the veteran players who remain available. Seattle appears on track to get four comp selections in 2020 for having lost Earl Thomas (third), Justin Coleman (fourth), Shamar Stephen (sixth) and Brett Hundley (seventh), according to OvertheCap.com.
After Tuesday, any future signings won’t count against the formula, seemingly assuring Seattle would get those four picks.
And that means the Seahawks can then begin signing some of the free agents who are still unsigned, particularly some of the defensive linemen it has brought in for visits to shore up what on paper is its biggest immediate need.
Seattle has almost $26 million remaining in salary cap space, with $17.1 million cleared out via the Frank Clark trade, so the Seahawks have lots of flexibility to make a few moves.
Of course, it’s the Clark trade that also created the pass-rushing hole Seattle is attempting to fill.
The Seahawks drafted two defensive linemen — end L.J. Collier and tackle Demarcus Christmas — but neither projects to the right defensive end spot Clark primarily manned last year well enough to make 13 sacks, most for a Seattle player since 2007.
Collier, as Carroll said again following rookie minicamp, projects to play mostly the five-technique end spot and fill a role similar to that of Michael Bennett from 2013-17.
That leaves Seattle with Cassius Marsh — who signed in March to return to the team with which he began his career — fellow free agent signee Nate Orchard; Jacob Martin, 2018 third-round choice Rasheem Green and Barkevious Mingo (also the team’s starting strongside linebacker last season) as the primary candidates currently on the roster to fill more of the edge pass-rushing role Clark did, with Quinton Jefferson, who started in the role last year where Collier figures to play, also remaining in the mix.
But if adding a pass-rusher might be the priority, Seattle also could add a tackle.
Here are some free agents who might make sense and/or Seattle has been linked to whose fates should become a lot more clear over the next few days.
Ziggy Ansah: A franchise-tagged player last year with the Lions before seeing his season end after just seven games due to shoulder surgery, he visited Seattle last week and also has visited the Ravens. Several reports have indicated the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Ansah might not be ready to return until mid-August because of that surgery and how quickly teams think he will be able to regain his regular form figures to go to a long way toward determining his market.
Nick Perry: A former Green Bay Packer, the 6-3, 265-pound Perry visited Seattle in March after being released and actually could have signed at any time since then without counting against the formula. But teams and/or Perry might also have been waiting until after the comp pick deadline sets the market a little more clearly to know what his value is. Perry was recruited to USC by Carroll and played the 2009 season there under Carroll. He battled a knee injury last year and his health will also be a factor in his market.
Shane Ray: A 2015 first-round draft choice of Denver, the 6-3, 245-pounder also has visited the Seahawks. After making just two sacks in the past two seasons, he might be one of the cheaper pass-rush options available.
Earl Mitchell: The 31-year-old tackle (6-3, 310 pounds) will be entering his 10th season next year, having spent the past two with the 49ers. He also made a reported visit to Seattle in March and also visited the Seahawks in 2017 before signing with the 49ers, so the two sides seem well acquainted.
Al Woods: The 6-4, 330-pound tackle, a 32-year-old veteran of nine seasons, played in two games in 2011 with the Seahawks and visited the Seahawks in April. He played in 14 games for the Colts last season.
Corey Liuget: The 6-2, 309-pound tackle also visited the Seahawks in April. He played in just six games for the Chargers last year after suffering a quadriceps injury and also serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He had 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year.
Danny Shelton: The 6-2, 345-pound tackle is a former Husky and Auburn High standout and also now a Super Bowl ring-wearer after playing in 13 games for the Patriots last season and then making two tackles in the title game against the Rams.
Ndamukong Suh: Well, Seattle was interested in him last year before he signed a one-year deal worth up to $14 million with the Rams. “We weren’t able to get close financially on the deal,’’ Carroll said last October of the team’s dealings with Suh. “But we did a lot of talking, spent a lot of time with him about the thought of it and he was considering it. But when it came down to it our cap situation didn’t allow it.’’ So now with Suh again a free agent and needing a team, maybe each side will consider it again. The 6-4, 305-pounder, though, now is 32 years old.
What Seattle really has in mind to shore up the line should become more clear soon.