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5 things I want to see from the Seahawks in preseason finale against Cowboys
Seaside Joe 1269: Offensive weapons, defensive liabilities, and kicking problems
The Seattle Seahawks face the Dallas Cowboys six hours after I hit ‘send’ on today’s newsletter. I did not want Friday’s Seaside Joe to be so timely, most of the value of today’s read will expire as soon as the game kicks off unfortunately, but catching up to work after a busy week at the newsletter has left me with little choice.
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Can Dee be 3?
The focus for Dee Eskridge and the reason for drafting him in the second round is to be a pass-catching/yards-creating weapon in the offense and that could come in a variety of ways as both a receiver and a runner. Obviously that is what fans are hopeful to see and anticipating when Eskridge makes his 2022 debut after so many weeks of “working on the side” at practice.
But as often pointed out by Matt Waldman on Twitter, Eskridge has a complementary skills package that goes beyond his ability to catch and run. He also likes to run block.
He also likes to play special teams.
He’s exciting in a variety of ways but none of that will get the hair standing on the back of your neck if he’s not playing. That will change on Friday night against the Cowboys and while it will be encouraging to see him catch one or two passes—Eskridge had 10 catches for 64 yards over 187 snaps last season—he can earn Seattle’s #3 job over Marquise Goodwin and Freddie Swain by being a presence in every phase of the job. Whether that’s on offense or special teams.
The Seahawks will also get the debut of Goodwin on Friday and while he is in the thick of the race (and potentially already sewn up a spot on the 53-man roster), it’s hard for me to not think of the countless late-stage veterans in NFL camps who failed to make an impact that season, if they even made the team. I don’t want to say Braylon Edwards and Brandon Marshall but…they’re just so right there for the picking.
Bo Melton, Dareke Young, and Cade Johnson should all be neck-and-neck based on camp reports and preseason performances. But we don’t even know if there’s a spot for one of them or if Seattle hopes to sneak at least two onto the practice squad. I know that Melton and Young seem snap-uppable, however other teams also have wide receiver rooms that they’re high on and giving up a 53 spot to a seventh round rookie who they don’t know very well would be a little surprising.
Jason Myers setup for a long FG attempt
There have been no reports on how Jason Myers is kicking in camp, but he’s looked awful in the two preseason games, doinking one for a make and then missing from 47. Given his struggles in 2021 and his $4 million non-guaranteed base salary in 2022, Myers can’t be guaranteed a season-long job with the Seahawks.
You’d never hear of a team intentionally stalling a drive around the 30-yard line but I do hope that Seattle ends up giving Myers at least one attempt from the 45 to 55-yard distance range. It’s not good enough for Myers to technically make it like he did in Week 1, let’s see if he can nail one from long-distance…that’s what you’d expect from one of the NFL’s highest-paid kickers.
The Patriots are holding a competition between Nick Folk and Tristan Vizcaino, the Packers are challenging veteran Mason Crosby with Ramiz Ahmed, the Bucs have both Ryan Succop and Jose Borregales, and the Lions are choosing between Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson. Then on Thursday, the Texans signed Matt Ammendola following a minor injury to Ka’imi Fairburn.
I know that replacing a veteran kicker with somebody who loses a competition or is a current free agent seems risky. Was it risky when the Chiefs signed Harrison Butker two weeks after the Panthers decided to go with Graham Gano instead? Butker was a late signing and for the last five years he’s been one of the best kickers in the league.
Teams are just bad at choosing kickers sometimes. Will the Seahawks regret choosing Myers this year?
Defensive line snap counts
Maybe my most unpopular take is not quarterback-related, but the way that I’ve constantly hinted at how strange it could be for Poona Ford to be Seattle’s highest-paid player at a time when his position could be obsoleted. (Yes, I looked it up, you can use obsolete as a verb.)
The Seahawks have been treating Al Woods like the king of the defensive line and he played in 52% of the snaps last season. I could see that number going up, even if Woods is one of the oldest players in the league. The team also extended Bryan Mone, brought back Quinton Jefferson, and they’re high on Myles Adams. Giving Jarrod Hewitt a little love too, the Seahawks may have four defensive tackles—and a practice squad reinforcement—ready to go for two places on the defensive line and that’s before you get to Ford’s $7.9 million salary.
Poona Ford played the first half in Week 1, then basically saw the field for as many snaps as recently-released Matt Gotel in Week 2. Maybe this is not a big deal, Ford may be refining new assignments and techniques in Clint Hurtt’s defense.
It’s really just the financials that give me pause.
At a time when the Seahawks are eating $49 million in dead money because of the Russell Wilson trade, Seattle has been frugal for most of the offseason and yes they did really extend DK Metcalf and re-sign Quandre Diggs. But those are long-term solutions who are signed long-term at valuable positions.
In a discussion we had in the Seaside Joe comments section the other day, it occurred to us that Bobby Wagner sure seemed like he wanted to stay with the Seahawks. Is it fair to wonder if the team didn’t even want to pay him the same $10 million that the Rams guaranteed him even though the inside linebacker unit looks like the biggest weakness on Seattle’s defense?
A nose tackle with no pass rush in a 3-4 defense is set to carry a $10 million cap hit on a team where nobody makes more than $10 million? During a season that realistically can’t result in a Super Bowl championship without something so miraculous happening that it becomes a Zach Levine movie? And without simply offering Ford an extension that would lower his cap hit and keep him on the team for one or two more years?
By trading Ford, the team would save over $8 million. By releasing Ford, the team would save $5.2 million. However much money the team saves, that’s cap space that Pete Carroll and John Schneider can roll over to 2023, when the team will be making decisions on free agents like Rashaad Penny, Sidney Jones IV, Austin Blythe, Josh Jones, Cody Barton, Travis Homer, Phil Haynes, and maybe even one of these two quarterbacks.
Who wants to make a tackle?
The team cut Iggy Iyiegbuniwe after last week’s game in which he had 26 snaps. Pete said he’s going to go around cutting players, one after one, like some sort of Game of Thrones death match, if they don’t figure out how to make tackles. Joel Dublanko and Lakiem Williams had the most snaps (40, 31 respectively) last week. Will they lead the linebackers again on Friday?
Seattle swapped Vi Jones and Aaron Donkor at outside and inside linebacker. How will they perform in their new roles, if that’s where they are situated on Friday?
At the moment, it seems like Cody Barton is set to start next to Jordyn Brooks (who we won’t see until Week 1) but could there be any last minute change outside of the organization if Pete isn’t pleased with what he’s seeing in practice and against the Cowboys? The least we can expect is for John’s team to be scouring the other 31 camps for depth options at linebacker with Tanner Muse seemingly the only player we can assume will be there.
Unless he gets cut too.
Nick Bellore is not an NFL linebacker and so he’s carrying a $2.1 million cap hit for being the special teams captain. Is that really going to continue?
Maybe the player who invites the most controversy (when it comes to his value) but also flies under the radar is tight end Noah Fant. We know that Fant is capable of producing as a receiver because even with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater as his quarterbacks, Fant had 1,905 yards in his first three seasons after being a first round pick for the Broncos.
We hear that he’s not much of a blocker.
He may also lack NFL-starting-tight-end-first-round-pick-high-pedigree-don’t-get-mad-at-me-for-point-out-a-bad-play focus and concentration.
I think we all get why Fant was a first round pick. I also think we can understand why the Broncos were open to trading a 24-year-old tight end with a relatively cheap price tag if he lives up to the expectations he had coming out of college.
Fant only got 16 snaps last week. With his former/current teammate playing most of the game at quarterback on Friday, will he play more? Will he see more targets? Will Noah Fant firmly establish himself as the TE2 (he’s listed as a “co-starter” on the depth chart but I think Will Dissly ultimately has the lead) or could Colby Parkinson, a very popular red zone target already this preseason, move his way up?
Noah Fant could be one of the most valuable players on the Seahawks. Or he could be an exciting liability similar to the player he’s replacing, Gerald Everett.
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