BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 04/20/2020

Thiel: Prior to draft, Seahawks treading water

Absent a decision from DE Jadeveon Clowney, Seahawks’ off-season so far has been about maintaining. Improvement has to begin Thursday with the draft.

DE Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks’ No. 1 draft choice in 2012,  is back among the 12s. / Wiki Commons

An actual sports event is occurring this week. It must be said, however, that the NFL draft is less an event and more like the epitome of American cultural overdone-ness.

Yet this time around, even the NFL’s sprawling self-importance is humbled and muted by a brutal force of nature.

The coronavirus has forced the NFL to sit quietly at home.

The league does not do nothing well.

Fussing and fidgeting while the entire American sports world is in rapt attention, the NFL bloomers were sufficiently bunched this week that it went to the trouble of issuing written apparel and speech prohibitions to the 58 home-bound players invited to join the stripped-down version of the three-day saga starting Thursday.

Via Pro Football Talk, you can see here that the Catholic-school nuns have nothing on Roger Goodell and his iron squad of behavioral therapists. The only action not proscribed is the draft’s ritual booing that annually follows the commissioner’s  introduction on a stage in front of a live audience.

Absent a rowdy crowd this time, the task apparently will fall at his home to Goodell’s family. We must trust that the years have left them well-rehearsed.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, the Seahawks are plotting their annual trick of turning one fish and one loaf into many of each. They are scheduled to pick 27th in the first round, but the chance they select a player with it is equivalent to flowers and chocolates being sent from Gov. Jay Inslee to the White House.

But before general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll get to trading, picking and cutting, let’s use this Monday morning to review what has been done in free agency that began in March. Since the signings typically are scattershot, below is a one-stop compilation in case your enforced free time has been fully consumed trying to remember what day it is.

For a quick summary this far away from a season of unknown initiation, it appears the Seahawks have added perhaps two starters on defense, CB Quinton Dunbar and DE Bruce Irvin, while losing one starter, DT Quinton Jefferson, with the mysterious DE Jadeveon Clowney unsigned, floating in the ether.

On offense, they appear to have added a starter at right tackle, Brandon Shell, to replace Germain Ifedi, and replaced the line’s “sixth man,” George Fant, with someone similar in Cedric Ogbuehi.

Otherwise, the rest of the new hires seemed destined to be secondary, albeit valuable, figures. Absent a decision by Clowney, the Seahawks so far are treading water. Coming off an 11-5 season and a playoff win, that’s not bad.

Improvement, then, begins Thursday.

And please, no swearing, no politics, no off-brand product sales.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS SIGNED

RT Brandon Shell (two years, $9 million, Jets): The likeliest replacement for Germain Ifedi at right tackle, Shell was a lineup regular for four years with the Jets. His great uncle is Hall of Fame Raiders OT Art Shell.

C/G B.J. Finney (two years, $8 million, Steelers): Sleeper signing of the off-season. Finney played well after taken over for suspended Maurkice Pouncey. He’s started at both  guard spots and center, and will be the starter if incumbent C Justin Britt doesn’t make it back from injury, or is cut to save $8.5 million against the cap.

OT Cedric Ogbuehi (one year, $2.3 million, Jaguars): A former first-round pick of the Bengals, Ogbuehi was a reserve tackle in Jacksonville. He’ll probably back up both tackle spots.

OG Chance Warmack  (one year, $1 million, Eagles): A former first-round draft pick from Alabama and a three-year starter for the Titans, Warmack has played just seven snaps since 2017 because of injuries. If healthy at 29, he could challenge veteran incumbent LG Mike Iupati.

WR Phillip Dorsett (one year, $1 million, Patriots): Never quite lived up to expectations for the Pats and QB Tom Brady, Dorsett fits in as No. 3 receiver behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.

TE Greg Olsen (one year, $7 million, Panthers): A 14-year veteran and three-time All-Pro, Olsen, 35, is not what he was, but will be a good complement if starting TE Will Dissly returns to full health.

DE Benson Mayowa (one year, $4 million,  $3M guaranteed, Raiders): A member of the Seahawks Super Bowl champs, Mayowa had a career-high seven sacks last season and will be part of the answer if DE Jadeveon Clowney doesn’t return. But Mayowa had only 15 tackles overall in 15 starts.

DE/LB Bruce Irvin (one year, Panthers): Seattle’s 2012 first-round pick, he is, like Mayowa, returning to his original NFL team. He’ll be 33 Nov. 1, but he had 8.5 sacks and 16 QB hits, both of which would have led the Seahawks in 2019.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS RETAINED

DT Jarran Reed (two years, $23 million, $14 million guaranteed): Coming off a mediocre season that included a six-game suspension, Reed is hoping for a bounce-back season equivalent to 2018, when he had 10.5 sacks alongside DE Frank Clark, who often called for double-teams. Reed had 2.5 sacks in 12 games, including playoffs, and seemed ordinary as a run defender.

LG Mike Iupati (one year):  Something of a surprise re-signing because of  his age (32) and injury history (he missed both playoff games). But he did start 15 regular-season games after playing just 11 combined the previous two years. Carroll loves O-line continuity.

TE Luke Willson (one year): Apparently the default team mascot, Willson was re-signed almost as much for personality as ability. He’ll be depth behind Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister.

CB Neiko Thorpe (one year): A two-time special-teams captain, Thorpe, 29, doesn’t figure much in the regular defense, but is a popular locker-room figure that runs the ST show.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS UNSIGNED

DE Jadeveon Clowney; LB Ziggy Ansah; LB Mychal Kendricks; WR Josh Gordon (indefinite suspension); RB Marshawn Lynch; RB Robert Turbin; WR Jaron Brown; CB Akeem King; DE Dekoda Watson; QB Geno Smith; RB C.J. Prosise

TRADE ACQUISITION

CB Quinton Dunbar from Washington for 2020 fifth-round draft pick: He is likely the Seahawks’ best veteran acquisition of the off-season.  A 6-2, 202-pounder likened to Richard Sherman, he’s in the final of a five-year deal at $3.25 million. He figures to supplant Tre Flowers as the starter opposite Shaquill Griffin. He had a hamstring injury that limited him to 11 games in 2019. With Quandre Diggs at free safety and Bradley McDougald as strong safety, this is potentially as settled as the secondary has been since the Legion of Boom.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS LOST

RT Germain Ifedi (one year, $1.1 million, Bears): The Bears indicated Ifedi would move inside to guard, which is smart, since it’s harder to lead the league in penalties (as he did in 2017) from the inside. The market figured to be better for him, since he was at least a durable four-year starter. But the film shows he’s a below-average pass blocker, which is why the Seahawks declined his fifth-year option.

LT/TE George Fant (three years, $30 million, Jets): Fant wanted to start, but the Seahawks have Duane Brown, so it wasn’t a surprise he left. But the deal from the Jets was surprising. The Seahawks and Jets basically swapped tackles. The Seahawks will miss his help as a tight end in the jumbo package.

DT Al Woods (one year, Jacksonville): Before getting suspended at the end of the year for PEDs, Woods, 32, was a good run stuffer in his second stint with the Seahawks (2011).

DT Quinton Jefferson (two years, Buffalo): Probably the most consistent pass rusher for Seattle last season, he will be missed, with 3.5 sacks, plus two in the wild-card game in Philly. Broke his foot in the playoff loss at Green Bay.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS TENDERED

TE Jacob Hollister, C Joey Hunt, WR David Moore, DL Branden Jackson

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS UNSIGNED

DB Kalan Reed

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

OL Jordan Simmons has been re-signed. WR Malik Turner had his offer rescinded but still could re-sign. Others who can be re-signed, but would become unrestricted free agents if they do not, include OL Jordan Roos, TE Tyrone Swoopes, DT Bryan Mone, DBs Jeremy Boykins and Ryan Neal, LB Emmanuel Ellerbee.

VETERANS WAIVED

TE Ed Dickson, FS Tedric Thompson


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YourThoughts

  • DB

    -Best review of the Seahawks status heading into the draft that I’ve seen. And, by far, the most entertaining. Thank you for another polished gem, Art.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, DB. I don’t know if’s better, but one-stop shopping can be a handy tool for readers.

  • Alan Harrison

    Improvement indeed. The pickups are good guys, it would seem, but they appear to be just that…”guys.” There’s a little too much hope (not a strategy) that these guys will come back from injury, be better than they have been, or can stand a whole season rather than filling in. So we come to this: with a top QB and an excellent WR core, the lines need stars. Without Clowney, I don’t see how that happens if we continue to trade down. In this draft, other than WR, everyone past the first tier appears to be another group of “guys.” The team exceeded expectations last year on the back of the QB; no guarantee that happens time after time after time.

    • art thiel

      Generally speaking, “guys” make up about 80-90 percent of every free agent class. Not coincidentally, “guys” make up 80-90 percent of NFL rosters. Many of the 10-20 percent of difference-making players tend to get locked up in longer contracts and don’t reach free agency until they’re 34, like TE Greg Olsen.

      The relative handful of guys who reach free agency in their primes make memorable headlines, and some may make a difference for their new teams (Reggie White to GB). But the track record in the NFL suggests the ROI on big FA deals is not great. Also keep in mind that every player who’s been in the NFL for four or five years is, by definition, damaged goods, some worse than others.

      • Husky73

        Edie–Who was that? Terry–I don’t know. Some mug…..Those “mugs” are now “guys.”

      • Cory Hume

        So the upshot is pass on Clowney?

        • art thiel

          They sill want him but won’t overpay. He needs to accept the fact of a one-year prove-it deal, but his ego won’t allow it.

  • Husky73

    I had a jolting flashback of the Penguins at St. Bernadette. Thanks for that.

    • art thiel

      Didn’t mean to pick a grade school scab.

  • woofer

    Dunbar appears to be the only clear upgrade. Given their franchise history, trading the first rounder for more shots at the brass ring in later rounds should be an almost mandatory move. Is Cleveland still in the Clowney picture? The longer he remains unsigned, the better the Hawks’ chances to coax him into another short-term deal.

    • art thiel

      My guess is Clowney will wait until NFL travel restrictions are lifted so he can get physicals with interested teams. They all want to know why Seattle hasn’t pulled the trigger.

  • jafabian

    The longer Clowney delays signing with the Hawks the better the chance for Ansah to return. It seems as though the team has put a take-it-or-leave-it offer on the table and his response was “Let me get back to you.” IMO, King, Smith and Kendricks have a good chance of coming back and Turbin and Lynch are being discussed since the RB position is in flux. Think we’ve seen the last of CJ because of his injury history.

    Despite the recent signing of David Moore I’m expecting a WR to be drafted with their early picks because it’s a good class for them though unless the player is a high pick (1st or 2nd round) the Hawks haven’t had good luck drafting them. I was surprised when they let Gary Jennings go last season. I’m expecting John Schneider to trade out of the 1st round for a 2nd and a lower pick. His MO the past couple drafts has been to collect as many picks as he can. One of those draftees has to pan out he figures. Last year that worked with Metcalf. But really they need linemen. Another position where they’ve drafted a lot but have had questionable success.

    • art thiel

      I don’t think Ziggy is an “ansah” for the pass rush. Sorry. Not sorry.

      If he were healthy the Seahawks would have signed him.

      Newcomer Finney makes the release of Britt plausible. Just don’t know his condition after knee surgery.

  • Husky73

    OK, Art….last year you hit paydirt with Metcalf. Who’s gonna be “the one” for the Seahawks this year?” Inquiring minds want to know.

    • art thiel

      Coming up. Be patient.

  • Kirkland

    I’m just amazed that the NFL is the only sports entity which has actual sports-related “activity”, as compared to the suspension of seasons and waiting around on government and health authorities like the other sports are. The Super Bowl happened before the pandemic was a worry here, free agency and the draft are proceeding on schedule, and there’s a small chance social distancing will end in time for training camp. How they keep staying in front of the sports news cycle is incredible, even not counting Goodell’s bumbling.

  • Stephen Pitell

    The Seahawks’ needs are many and draft picks few, so there is really no choice but to trade down into the mid second round and get an extra mid third round pick. They are relatively desperate for an instant impact DE, but there are almost none that deserve a first round pick. Trading down allows us to get any reliable OT that might fall into the 40’s, or we could trade down a bit more and still get a difference making DT, RB, WR, and if we are lucky someone like Weaver or Uche will fall to us somewhere and become useful in his first year. Which is unlikely.

    But do to the dearth of talent at DE, to use our native first round pick (27) for any of the DE’s available then will likely as not be redshirted a year anyway. So trade down and get some middle round picks for some very nice players that can make a difference this year. I am thinking of a nickle cornerback that can be had in the third round. Arik Robertson. He’d be an instant upgrade to our DB’s weak spot.

    I’m thinking of kajillions of WRs of every color and stripe. RB’s for this year and beyond like Moss or even Edwards-Helare. Tackles, and guards. Even QB’s. I don’t hear much about LBer strength in this draft, but DT’s can be had in the 45-90 range that can and will start on day one.

    As long as we sign either Clowney or Griffen, we will have upgraded our DL considerably, and it will perform loads better with a significantly upgraded DB group. Someone needs to do a study on what percentage of sacks are because no one is open? Last year they were seemingly always open for 5-15 yards. Largely picking on LBers and our nickle CB, Tre Flowers was also targeted successfully alot, and we have a replacement that is a major upgrade.

    Anyways, that’s my take.

    • Archangelo Spumoni

      Well done. More posts, please.

      I am hoping DE L.J. Collier can do something this season and un-bust himself. I fully realize he’s not really a bust but . . . it would be great if he could produce commensurate with his pick spot.

      No surprise here id they trade down, then when it’s time, trade down again. They love to trade down even in later rounds.
      Irrational hope: find another Kam Chancellor late. A real find and a great citizen besides, and if Marshawn hadn’t earthquaked the Saints, Kam would be better known for his defense in that very game. He even stated this one. There was a crucial pass breakup that showed he understood the scheme.

      Keep up the posting, please. Your opinion is valuable, at least to me.