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Seahawks should consider trading 2023 first round pick
John Schneider should steal strategy from a longtime rival: Seaside Joe 1393
The Seattle Seahawks will have their most draft capital in over 40 years when the 2023 offseason begins and there will be many mock drafts, write-ups, and analysis of what the team should do with that power when it is officially obtained. Perhaps Seattle’s best strategy though would be to wield it into more power in the future at the cost of immediate returns, even though the Seahawks surely need a lot more help right now.
Since 2020, there have been 30 trades in the NFL that involved at least one first round pick. Most of these transactions were for teams to move up in draft order for a specific prospect, and 13 of them were trades to acquire a veteran player: Stefon Diggs, DeForest Buckner, Jamal Adams, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Orlando Brown, Russell Wilson, Davante Adams, Deshaun Watson, Tyreek Hill, Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown, and Bradley Chubb being those veterans.
The most unique of these 30 trades will be one that many won’t remember because it didn’t involve a move up for a big name like Justin Fields (the Bears traded picks 20 and 164 in 2021, then lost picks seven and 112 in 2022 to move up to 11 for Fields) or for a veteran quarterback like Stafford, Wilson, or Watson.
And it’s also the trade that has most general managers in the NFL wondering why they didn’t think of it first.
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John Schneider and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman were both hired in 2010, so they’ve had the opportunity to be compared to one another for 13 years, not only by the rest of the NFL, the fans, and media, but certainly inside of their own heads. Schneider’s success was much more immediate, earning praise for the 2010-2012 draft classes, the Russell Wilson pick, and winning the Super Bowl in his fourth campaign.
Roseman had to survive a lot more dire situations prior to Philadelphia’s 2017 Super Bowl win, including a 4-12 season in 2012, the firing of Andy Reid, the Chip Kelly era, and just two years ago the Eagles were back to 4-11-1.
Now Roseman boasts the best record in the NFL this season, the number one scoring offense, a cheap Pro Bowl quarterback, and to top it all off the Eagles own a potential top-10 pick by way of the New Orleans Saints in 2023. How Roseman landed that draft pick, as well as the Saints second rounder in 2024, is a case study for Schneider and every other GM in the league right now.
The Seattle Seahawks must weigh if it is better for them to have two first round picks in 2023 (current Seahawks 2023 draft order here) or to put it on the trade block for more draft capital in 2024. Could the Seahawks get back into playoff contention next season without their own 2023 first round pick, thereby putting them into a similar position as the Eagles are in right now?
Or is the present situation so dire that Seattle must start stocking the roster with better impact players as soon as possible? And should the Seahawks be open to picking up the phone for teams looking to trade into the top-3?
Let’s start with how it all started for Howie Roseman to get to where he is right now.
The Eagles had the number six pick in the 2021 NFL Draft following that 4-11-1 season that I mentioned earlier. Not unlike the 2022 Seahawks, Philadelphia's 2020 season was somewhere between above and below-average, as the Eagles could have much better—or worse—than their final record would indicate. Philly’s biggest issue was turnovers (31st) and three of their four wins were by five points or less; but also four of their 11 losses were by less than a touchdown.
A luckier Eagles team could have gone 9-7. But Carson Wentz threw 15 interceptions and fumbled 10 times in only 12 starts.
With three quarterbacks guaranteed to go in the top-three of the 2021 draft, the Eagles landed in a strong position at sixth overall to take one of the most elite position players in a loaded class, but instead they got a strange phone call: The Miami Dolphins were trading down with the San Francisco 49ers to drop from three to 12, but they didn’t want to fall that far in the order.
Roseman agreed to trade picks six and 156 to the Dolphins in exchange for picks 12, 123, and a 2022 first rounder. The move came only nine days after the Eagles traded Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for the inexplicable return of a conditional 2022 first round pick and a 2021 third round pick, 84th overall.
Now keeping count, the Eagles held the 12th overall pick in 2021, their own first round pick in 2022, a 2022 first round pick from the Dolphins, and a conditional 2022 first round pick from the Colts.
That’s four first round picks in two years, as long as Wentz played in 75% of Indy’s snaps the following season. As hard as it has been for me to fathom the confidence that many people had for Wentz, there was nobody standing in his way of playing that many games for the Colts other than himself; Wentz started all 17 games that year and Philadelphia got a first rounder for a quarterback who was flipped again in 2022 for essentially the equivalent of two day two picks.
Come 2021 draft day, Roseman got eager to assure himself a top tier wide receiver before the New York Giants could pick him at 11, so the Eagles made an intradivision pick swap by trading up to 10 with the Cowboys to select DeVonta Smith.
In actuality, three-fourths of the NFC East made out like bandits: Philly got Smith, Dallas got Micah Parsons, and the Giants recouped a bounty from the Bears for Fields. (New York struck out with picking Kadarius Toney at 20, but should be happy with getting Evan Neal in 2022 thanks to Chicago’s pick.)
Cut to 2022 and the Eagles were coming off of a 9-8 season under head coach Nick Sirianni, feeling themselves as getting closer to Super Bowl contention after reaching the playoffs with Jalen Hurts. They also had three first round picks: 15th overall (via Miami), 16th overall (via Indianapolis), and 19th overall (their own).
On one hand, Roseman could make three picks and hold three opportunities for immense value on a rookie contract, should each prospect pan out.
On the other hand, three first round rookies means three valuable prospects under the microscope who you have to focus on for development; three lottery tickets who may never pan out; three players due for contract extensions at the same time if they do; three reasons to fire Howie Roseman in the near future if the picks go south like some of his recent first round selections such as Jalen Reagor and Andre Dillard.
Having that many first round picks in one year always makes my mind tread back to the historic draft capital of the 2000 New York Jets. That year, the Jets picked Shaun Ellis at 12, John Abraham at 13, Chad Pennington at 18, and Anthony Becht at 27.
For Jets fans or draft fans, this type of one-year capital sounds even better than winning the Super Bowl. That’s how the excitement of your team making a first round pick can truly warp the mind and expectations for what’s “good” and what’s “bad”. For me, the only thing that matters is how your team does on game day, so it wouldn’t matter to me if the Seahawks held the top-five picks in a given year.
It would only matter to me if those players were going to help the team reach the Super Bowl. We know that the NFL has rarely worked that way. Most top-five picks will never get to the Super Bowl.
The Jets didn’t even have a bad team when they made those picks. New York had gone 12-4 under Bill Parcells in 1998, then 8-8 the year before the 2000 NFL Draft. They weren’t good, but they also were not terrible, so you would think that four first round picks should push them over the edge and into Super Bowl territory. Remember all those winning seasons that the Jets had in the 2000s?
Abraham had a borderline Hall of Fame career, Ellis twice reached the Pro Bowl, Pennington had a moderately good career that was significantly impacted by injuries, Becht played in the league until he was 34. New York’s 2000 draft return was anything but a bust.
However, there has to be some lesson learned from the 2000 Jets draft class on what New York could have done differently to push themselves from average to great.
I think Roseman may have been the only GM trying to find the answer to that.
With three first round picks in 2022, the first thing that Roseman did was push back some of his draft obligations into 2023: The New Orleans Saints held pick 18, but wanted to come out with two cost-controlled rookies in order to fortify the offensive line following the free agent loss of star left tackle Terron Armstead and a continuing issue with their salary cap.
On April 4, 2022, the Saints traded picks 18, 101, and 237, plus their 2023 first round pick and a 2024 second round pick to the Eagles in exchange for picks 16, 19, and 194.
Roseman turned picks 16 and 19 into pick 18, but also swapped out a sixth rounder for a third and a seventh, while adding a future first and a second. The risk is that the Saints would be a good team in 2022 and that the Eagles would turn picks 16 and 19 into picks 18 and 30, but even in the worst case scenario the value difference should come out as roughly equal—which at least bought Roseman an extra year to develop one of his first round picks.
In the best case scenario, New Orleans would stink sans Drew Brees/Sean Payton and Roseman would land a top-10 pick. At the moment, the Saints 2023 pick going to the Eagles is 10th overall.
With two first round picks left in 2022 and two more in 2023, Roseman could rest on his laurels and come out of the draft with an impact defensive player and a cost-controlled wide receiver who may or may not develop into the next A.J. Brown. After tremendous missteps with Reagor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Roseman was clearly tired of gambling.
Instead, the Eagles took the #18 pick received from the Saints and traded it plus a third rounder (101 overall) to the Tennessee Titans for a proven commodity in A.J. Brown, ignoring the “moneyball” strategy in favor of paying him a four-year, $100 million contract. It’s great to be a smart GM.
It’s stupid to be an “outsmart” GM. Far too many fans are trying to be “outsmart” GMs instead of focusing on the very basic principle of attempting to land good players.
In addition to trading pick 18 for Brown, Roseman also traded picks 15, 124, 162, and 166 to the Houston Texans to move up five spots for defensive tackle Jordan Davis.
When April 28, 2022 began, the Eagles had picks 15 and 18, with two first round picks in 2023.
When April 28 was over, the Eagles had Davis and Brown…with two first round picks in 2023.
And if the Eagles beat the Saints this coming Sunday, Philadelphia will clinch the number one seed in the NFC while simultaneously improving the top-10 draft pick coming back to them by way of New Orleans, presently a 6-9 team.
I know we should prioritize judging Roseman’s process more than his results, and maybe a couple of years from now we’re back to criticizing the Eagles again, but these are some damn good results. Brown has 1,304 yards and 10 touchdowns, Davis is a fine defensive tackle prospect to be developing, and Philadelphia will again have a mountain of options before them leading into the 2023 NFL Draft…even if they win the Super Bowl. Which they might.
How can the Seahawks use this knowledge to their advantage?
For argument’s sake, let’s say that Seattle’s 2023 draft picks are the same as they are today: 3rd overall, 12th, and two picks in the top-half of the second round. Realistically, the difference between a first round pick and the second rounder coming from the Broncos is only in contract terms and how fans will talk about him, even though going 30th or 34th is truly just an arbitrary measurement.
For most intents and purposes, the Seahawks have roughly the same value of three first round picks, including one that is all but assured to be in the top-5.
With the third overall pick, the Seahawks could do what most fans are pleading with them to do, which is to draft Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter if he’s available or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson if he isn’t. Either one of these players will be compared to elite defensive stalwarts like Quinnen Williams and Von Miller.
I can’t see myself arguing against that as a strategy either.
If the Seahawks are willing to pick up the phone for trade offers (spoiler alert: they are) like Roseman in 2021, which started Philadelphia’s ongoing spoils of draft capital, it would probably require that several quarterback prospects have been remarkably impressive in the pre-draft evaluation process: Could two or three of Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis become “that guy”?
Yes. The answer is yes.
Other than Young, I’m not telling you which other quarterbacks will earn that respect—because I don’t know—but that is a definite possibility.
The Texans could choose Young, the Bears could choose Carter, and then the Seahawks could have their phones ringing off of the hook as teams attempt to jump over others for one of these other quarterback prospects: Right now the Colts are at five, the Falcons are at six, the Lions are at seven (via LAR), the Panthers are at eight, the Raiders are at nine, the Texans are back on the board at 10 (via CLE), the Titans are at 13, the Patriots are at 14, the Jets are at 15…
You get the point.
One really out there scenario is that Houston falls in love with Jalen Carter and decides that they have to have him, so they pick Carter first overall…then trades back up from 10 to select a quarterback. The Texans are the only team in the NFL right now with multiple first round picks in 2024.
But you don’t have to have multiple first rounders in the future in order to trade up, it’s just one way to identify teams that might feel confidence to start moving up the draft board. We constantly see teams get aggressive when it is time to draft a quarterback, from the 2016 draft (Rams, Eagles make huge trades up for a QB), the 2017 draft (Bears, Chiefs, Texans all traded up for a QB), the 2018 draft (trades up for Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson), the 2020 draft (Jordan Love), and of course 2021 (Trey Lance and Justin Fields).
If Seattle doesn’t fall in love with a quarterback, or if they just don’t value the position as highly as most others due, which has always seemed to be the case, then other teams could and they might push hard to convince Schneider to deal down and to sacrifice the opportunity at Carter or Anderson.
It’s a risk, as is anything else you can do in the draft.
But the pro side to the con side is that if the Seahawks end up with multiple first round picks in 2024, if not multiple first round picks in 2025 if a team becomes as aggressive as the 49ers were when they felt they had to come out of the 2021 draft with a top QB prospect, then they might end up getting an even better quarterback—or other prospect—in the future…
At a time when they will probably need it even more than they do now. Maybe even someone like USC’s Caleb Williams.
I know that many people take offense to proposing that a future QB prospect might still be great in the future—in b4 “Matt Barkley!” comments—but there are many reasons to believe that the 2024 quarterback class will be superior to the 2022 and 2023 iterations. If he were eligible for next year’s draft, all we’d be talking about today is how teams are “tanking for Caleb Williams” which is something we haven’t really had to deal with since Andrew Luck.
Not even Trevor Lawrence was quite as hyped as that.
But beyond Williams, I think you could definitely argue that UNC’s Drake Maye would be the number one pick in 2023 if he were eligible, while names like Quinn Ewers, Bo Nix, Michael Penix, and yes, Seaside favorite Grayson McCall, will also do no less than increase the interest for the 2024 draft in the coming months.
Similar to how the 2022 QB class was immensely boring compared to the 2023 class, even the underwhelming results of this coming draft class give reason to believe that teams will continue to hold out hope for the future when it comes to 2024.
Including the Seahawks.
Of course, the Seahawks could also choose to keep their first pick and use it on a blue chipper, which would definitely make me as happy and excited as the rest of you Seahawks fans. Then they will be able to make another potential move for a trade with their other pick, although the further you get down the order, the less likely it is that a team will sacrifice a future first round pick to move up.
If you want to trade into the top-three, it’s going to cost you a lot.
If you want to trade up to 12, it might net you a future first rounder, but that’s usually not without falling way down the order in the present. Still, it’s something that the Seahawks have to consider: Roseman was able to turn two mid-round picks in 2022 into one 2022 mid-round pick and one 2023 first round pick, one that is likely to be an improvement into the top-10.
It’s enough to think that if the Eagles wanted to draft a quarterback (back off of me, Jalen Hurts fans, I’m just being hypothetical), they now have the capital to trade up for one.
And that’s reason to believe that if the Seahawks wanted to give themselves an outside shot at a premium quarterback in the 2024 draft—without having to be supremely terrible next season—then making a trade with one of their 2023 first round draft picks is the way to do that. There are risks that come with such a decision, but also several immediate and obvious benefits, such as saving 2023 cap space and holding more draft capital in the future.
You just never know when a team that thinks they’re on the brink of success—like the Broncos, the Rams, the Saints, and the Browns, all of whom have losing records but traded away their 2023 first round picks—is actually on the brink of self-destruction.
What have the Seattle Seahawks learned from this season? That they can compete right away with a stellar draft class? Or that they can compete for a long time if they invest their draft capital into well-rounded NFL portfolio?
Maybe it’s at least time for Roseman and Schneider to trade ideas.