SEATTLE — Free agency isn’t going to save the Seahawks. It never was.
Doesn’t matter if they deviated from their norm by throwing big money at a player just as free agency began. Doesn’t matter if they (seemingly) bolstered one of the weakest areas of the roster in the pass rush, either.
Yes, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have made notable moves the past few days. They might make more in the days to come. But the difference between the Seahawks being mighty or mediocre will be whether the front office hits in the draft and if their key returners stay healthy. It’s that simple.
The biggest news in Seahawks World since the re-signing of QB Geno Smith was landing defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones in free agency Monday. The former Bronco agreed to a three-year, $51.5 million deal ($18 million guaranteed) after logging 61/2 sacks with Denver last season.
His stats aren’t overwhelming, but the disrupter was considered one of the top free agents in 2023 and possibly the most coveted D-lineman. It’s no secret that the pass rush was one of the Seahawks’ weaker areas. Any upgrades on the front seven are welcome, and though Jones could improve the situation, he won’t fix it.
Same with Jarran Reed. Reed stood out in Seattle in 2018 when he recorded 101/2 sacks — but he’s had just 131/2 in the four seasons since.
Still, the team believes he could thrive — or at least noticeably contribute — in the 3-4 defense. So are Seattle’s moves an upgrade to the “D” or simply an update?
Probably more the former, but it is far from a finished product. And free agent linebacker Cody Barton leaving the Seahawks for the Commanders prompts even more question marks for a team that finished 30th in run defense last year.
The draft and health are everything.
One of the best things that could have happened to Seattle at the NFL combine this month was quarterback Anthony Richardson showing out in front of the whole country.
The thought is that the Florida Gator’s performance could make him a top-three selection in the NFL draft, possibly joining fellow QBs Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. This could potentially leave a pass-rushing talent such as Will Anderson at No. 5 for the Seahawks to snatch. Either way, with four picks in the first two rounds — this draft is a must-hit for Seattle in a way it hasn’t been for a while.
Smith’s team-friendly deal gave the front office salary-cap flexibility it didn’t have in the Russell Wilson days. But the Seahawks, frankly, haven’t made much headway in this league over the past decade-plus because of whales they signed in the offseason. Draft picks such as Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Kam Chancellor were the driving force behind their success — along with running back Marshawn Lynch, who was acquired via trade.
A year after drafting perhaps the NFL’s best rookie class in 2022 (six had significant snap counts, and two — Kenneth Walker III and Tariq Woolen — finished in the top three for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, respectively), Seattle needs to follow with another home run to compete with an elite NFC West team such as San Francisco.
They also need health — particularly from safety Jamal Adams, who is in the midst of a four-year, $70 million contract. The Seahawks have seen what the three-time Pro Bowler can do from a pass-rush perspective — as he tallied a defensive-back-record 91/2 sacks in 2020. What they haven’t seen him do is excel as a pass defender or be utilized the way defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt envisioned when he was promoted last year.
We know the Seahawks want to use the three-safety look. And we know that look might make the loss of Barton more manageable. But the quadriceps injury Adams has been rehabilitating from is serious. It’s unknown if he’ll ever be the same.
Bottom line: It’s always intriguing seeing the Seahawks sign productive players, and a man such as Jones is just that. But the real work comes when this team is on the clock next month.
Hit on the draft. Health in the season. Anything less, and a forgettable season awaits.
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