BY Art Thiel 06:53PM 04/16/2018

Thiel: McDowell a bust that will be felt for years

The Seahawks are reportedly ready to waive Malik McDowell, whose non-football injury absence cost the team dearly. It makes him the worst draft bust in club history.

A rare sighting of Malik McDowell (94) in a Seahawks jersey in June before his injury. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

Where does the long-tenured Seahawks fan rank the high draft selection last year of Malik McDowell? Ahead or behind Aaron Curry or  Jerramy Stevens? Where is the pick in relation to Rick Mirer and Dan McGwire? How about Owen Gill? Or the first draft pick in the 1976 expansion season, Steve Niehaus?

You may not recall a lot of those names or their immensely modest deeds. But it’s a fairly safe bet that McDowell’s name will hang around the career necks of Pete Carroll and John Schneider until the warming seas reach the observation deck of the Space Needle.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the league’s house organ, reported Monday afternoon that the Seahawks shortly will waive their first choice in their 2017 draft (second round, 35th pick overall), merely to be rid of the once highly regarded defensive end from Michigan State.

Much mystery has surrounded McDowell since his ATV accident in July in his home state left him with a “very bad” concussion, according to Carroll. That’s about the only information put out by the club about the episode. No report of any legal problem has surfaced, nor was there any report of injuries to others.

Carroll said last month at the league meetings said that he had no news on McDowell, including whether he has been cleared to play.

“We get information rarely in his case,” he told reporters, “but there will be a time when you will hear more.”

Rapoport wrote that “the primary question today is whether or not he’ll be healthy enough to catch on with another team.”

Rumors have circulated about an effort by McDowell’s family to keep all of the $3.19 million signing bonus he received as part of his four-year, $6.95 million deal. Whether there is a settlement pending for the non-football injury isn’t known, but reports that if he is cut now, McDowell will count $3.65 million in dead money against the salary cap in 2018, and $2.07 million in 2019.

Bad as is the salary cap hit, worse was the fact that they had to compensate for the absence of McDowell at the start of the 2017 regular season by trading for DT Sheldon Richardson. They gave the New York Jets WR Jermaine Kearse and a second-round choice in the draft beginning April 26.

Although he played well enough that the Seahawks wanted to keep him, Richardson, 27, left in free agency for a one-year, $8 million deal with Minnesota. The Seahawks reportedly offered $6.5 million.

The other loss, the second-round pick, is sufficiently severe that the Seahawks are considering trading All-Pro FS Earl Thomas to get one or two high picks.

The ripple effects of McDowell’s foolishness may well qualify as a personnel calamity for the Seahawks.

Which is why his selection arguably qualifies as the Seahawks’ all-time draft bust. At least all the other top selections in Seahawks history played a little. For McDowell, the Seahawks get less than nothing.

It was easy to see why the Seahawks liked him — a 6-6, 295-pound D-lineman who runs a 4.85 40-yard dash is going to cause unseemly salivation among all NFL general managers. But at 20 in his junior season, he was maddeningly inconsistent, and every single one of those GMs took a first-round pass on McDowell likely because of character issues and immaturity.

Analyst Mike Mayock said on, “I’ve had an awful lot of coaches say if we can unlock the potential in this kid, we can have something special. Pete Carroll has always done a great job of taking these types of guys and getting the best.”

The Seahawks traded back twice from their original choice at 26 and picked up additional choices, then bragged about McDowell’s potential.

“We had extensive meetings with this guy to figure him out,” Carroll told ESPN 710 in May. “He loves to play and isn’t a flashy guy. He has tremendous upside in a body frame that’s much different than the guys we’ve had.

“The instincts he shows to find the football and make plays is something that gives us a chance to have a really special player. He’ll play five-technique like Michael Bennett does and be featured as an inside rusher in the nickel group. If Malik can add to Michael [Bennett] being the other tackle, he’ll be a huge addition.”

But by July, he’d flipped his ATV and took a severe blow to the head. The season was lost, and by December, so was he. McDowell was arrested outside a nightclub in Atlanta in a dispute over a bill and charged with disorderly conduct. The video of the arrest went straight to TMZ and did him no favors.

He wrote an apology that was released by the team:

“I am embarrassed by the situation and my actions on Saturday. I would like to apologize to the Atlanta Police Department, SL Lounge, the entire Seattle Seahawks organization and my teammates. I am a young man who made a mistake and am constantly working towards getting better.”

Carroll addressed the media, saying, “He got in a situation and made a mistake and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him.

I know he felt really bad representing in that manner . . . I think we’re definitely going work to help him in every way that we can. We’ve already talked about that; and let’s hope that this isn’t an indicator of things to come. I hope that he has turned with this experience. He sounds very much intending to do that, and we’ll see what happens.”

Apparently, we’re seeing what’s happening, and it seems as if the Seahawks are done helping him.

Generally speaking, any team cannot be held entirely to blame for a 21-year-old kid doing a knucklehead thing in the summer after he became abruptly wealthy. But there were warning signs. The Seahawks bosses thought they could coach around them. McDowell’s reckless immaturity didn’t give them the chance. As the arrest video showed, no lessons about humility were learned.

When he gets cut, McDowell goes to the top of the Seahawks’ list of bad draft decisions.



  • Ron

    Yes he’s the biggest flippin’ bust ever, but his name won’t be remembered as well as Rick Mirer.

  • Alan Harrison

    Oh boy. The names between McDowell and Pocic in Round 2: Budda Baker, Zay Jones, Forrest Lamp, Marcus Maye, Curtis Samuel, Dalvin Cook, Marcus Williams, Sidney Jones, Gerald Everett, Adam Shaheen, Quincy Wilson, Tyus Bowser, Joe Mixon, Ryan Anderson, Justin Evans, DeMarcus Walker, DeShone Kizer, Teez Tabor, Raekwan McMillan, Dalvin Tomlinson, Obi Melifonwu, Zach Cunningham. What does the team look like with Baker, Lamp, Samuel, Cook, Tomlinson, or Melifonwu? We’ll never know. More than a bust, as you say, than even Dan McGwire or the Boz.

    • John M

      I was hoping they’d get Jones or Baker, both those guys played well last year . . .

  • woofer

    McDowell was probably the most consequential bust. Drafting him and letting Hauschka go were unforced bonehead errors that cost the Hawks a playoff berth. Most of the other draft whiffs happened when the Hawks were toiling in irrelevancy. It’s kind of like GW Bush may not have been the most hopelessly incompetent president ever, but the Iraq invasion unnecessarily and permanently destabilized the Middle East and has thrown the American empire into an endless tailspin. So Bushie is inevitably in the mix when you’re talking about the most consequentially inept. The McDowell choice is like that. The rudest surprise was surely Curry. He was touted as the safest choice on the board. Go figure.

    • Ed Norton

      It sure is enlightening news that the Middle East was a stable place until the invasion of Irag. i had no idea….

      • woofer

        Stable in the sense of contained. Most of the time Saddam and the Ayatollah were at one another’s throats, which limited the mischief they could cause elsewhere. The mission that Bushie accomplished was to upset the balance between Iran and Iraq. It’s a simple concept…even Trump figured that one out.

        • rosetta_stoned

          Regime change in Iraq was official White House policy in 1998 … long before Bush decided to actually do something about it.

          • Effzee

            Anyone who thinks the Bushes and Clinton’s aren’t on the same team isn’t ready for a truthful discussion on these matters. Y’all have been hoodwinked. Bamboozled! Divided and conquered.

  • 1coolguy

    The luster has worn off of Schneider – Allen needs to wake up

    • Ron

      Earl Thomas would be a Cowboy already if not for Schneider. John’s asking price is first and third round picks, but the Cowboys only want to offer a single second round pick. So if the trade never materializes, do we blame John? Earl is holding out of voluntary workouts.

    • tor5

      How soon we forget. How many active GMs have built a Super Bowl winner and perennial contender? Who exactly would you replace him with? The McDowell bust is epic, and we missed the playoffs (barely), but I hardly see cause to can Schneider.

      • 1coolguy

        Hey – that is WAY past history. Wake up – he han’t done jack for 3+ years. And let me remind you: Harvin was arguably one of the worst acquisitions in NFL history – look it up. Graham – Giving up our ALL -PRO center, Unger, for the stiff Graham? Again, look it up. And let us all know what the last 3-4 years have netted? May I suggest “ZIP”?
        The crew JS and Pete put together when they arrived was greta, but since, not much.

  • Husky73

    Two words: Andre Hines

  • jafabian

    Continuing the pattern of poor drafting since 2013. It’s time to stop gambling on drafting and make some smart choices. What’s maddening to me is they passed on 3 Huskies, one of whom made the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    McDowell – 2nd round pick , never plays , cut with no compensation .

    Rick Mirer had a pretty darn good rookie year , which no one ever remembers . Dan McQuire was gawd-awful , although he did once throw a touchdown while sitting on his butt after tripping over backwards . Brian Bosworth flashed at first and actually succeeded at catching Elway from behind a couple of times back before horse collar tackles were illegal . If you put Lofa Tatupu’s brain in Aaron Curry’s body , you’d have had a once-in-ten-years linebacker . Jeremy Stevens was one of Holmgren’s favorites and made some great catches , but was also in need of the aforementioned brain transplant .

    Mr. McDowell appears to be another in a long line of talented yet ‘intelligence challenged’ ( I like to be politically correct ) individuals my favorite team seems to acquire . The man cost us a 2nd round pick ( himself ) , another 2nd round pick ( given up for Richardson ) , and Jermaine Kearse . And probably also the 3rd round comp pick we would’ve gotten for losing Richardson , as we’ve signed too many free agents this year to qualify . That’s A LOT of draft capital , and a damn good receiver .

    So yes , he’s the worst ever .

  • Andy

    McDowell’s bust impact won’t be felt for a few years down the road when the quality of the depth chart is shown. The Seahawks will have to trade back and recoup then 2nd rounder lost in the trade as a result and in a year or two draft a DT to fill the vacant spot left by him and Richardson. If McDowell would have been healthy we more than likely would stay at #18 this year and draft a really good player (think Josh Jackson, Marcus Davenport) rather than trading down to get a good player (think Harold Landry, Isaiah Oliver).

  • LarryLurex70

    Wow! An Owen Gill reference. That’s a name the really separates the pre-Paul Allen Seahawks fans from the current batch of obnoxious self-described “12’s”, if you ask me.