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Seahawks training camp notes, 7/26: Don't Panic!
Devon Witherspoon, Tariq Woolen not practicing, Pete Carroll gives updates on Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks: Seaside Joe 1607
Over the last 12 years of covering the Seattle Seahawks, it has become apparent that part of the job is what I would call “petting the offseason narratives”. Like I do with my dog Clark when fireworks are a-poppin’, sometimes all a sports narrative needs at times of apparent panic is a comfortable squeeze and soft strokes down its back.
If everything that caused panic in the 2022 offseason came to fruition, then DK Metcalf would have held out for the entire year (Seaside Joe constantly predicted that he would be extended and even got the exact dollar amount right), the Seahawks would have traded for both Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield (we said that the team would hold firm with low-risk, low-reward QB options), and drafting Ken Walker would have caused the collapse of the entire franchise (SJ loves Kenny!).
Sure, sometimes your worst fears are confirmed.
Rashaad Penny can’t stay healthy, the Seahawks can’t stop a dead battery from running, and Jamal Adams found new muscles to break. But in the “find reasons to make people pay attention to you NOW!” business of the modern news cycle, things are rarely as bad as they seem.
Devon Witherspoon is the only rookie in the entire NFL who hasn’t signed a contract, he reportedly wants more money upfront than Seattle wants to give him, and he didn’t show up for the first day of training camp.
I first found out that first-year contracts weren’t as simple as they seemed after the 2011 lockout led to a rookie wage scale when Joey Bosa heldout with the San Diego Chargers in 2016. The third overall pick in the draft, Bosa didn’t sign with the team and report to practices until about a month into training camp. The situation got so bad that Bosa’s mom said at one point that she wished her son had “pulled an Eli”, referencing Manning’s refusal to play for the Chargers.
It was a legit stalemate and some people thought that the two sides were off to such a bad start in the relationship that it was doomed to fail.
But Bosa signed, reported, posted 10.5 sacks and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa has a discouraging injury history, which seems besides the point, yet he’s made four Pro Bowls and signed a five-year, $135 million extension in 2020. I’m probably one of the few people who still think of “holdout” when I think of Joey Bosa, but it did happen and is also long forgotten.
So when I hear that Seattle’s top-5 pick is holding out, my first instinct is to grab the thundershirt and put this narrative into a soothing comfort bath.
What’s the hold-up?
I saw a lot of replies on Twitter that drastically misunderstand the situation, so let me clear it up as much as I possibly can:
Devon Witherspoon’s entire rookie contract IS guaranteed. There is no dispute over guarantees, his four-year deal is fully-guaranteed, as that is what all first round picks get
He will receive a $20.1 million signing bonus and hold a $5.7 million cap hit in 2023, there is nothing either side can negotiate to change that
The top-three quarterbacks got 100% of their signing bonus payments up front (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson), while the top-non QB drafted (Will Anderson) got 85% up front. Reportedly, the negotiation is over how much CASH Witherspoon will receive when he signs his contract. If he wants as much as Anderson, that would be $17,085,000 in cash.
As an example—this is not inside information, just an example—it could be that the Seahawks want to give Witherspoon $15 million upfront and $6 million next year, while Witherspoon wants all $21 million right now.
Why would an NFL team worth billions care about $6 million? “Cash flow” situations and “escrow” and those types of words go over my head. But maybe Seattle’s slush fund is running low, perhaps they still have a big splash move in mind (the Seahawks just opened up a sizable amount of cap space and only have 89 players on the roster), and they just want Witherspoon to wait for the money because of an accounting situation. Or they just don’t want to set certain precedents.
I don’t know, but here’s the kicker:
I don’t care!
A lot of people are going to try and interject their worst fears onto Witherspoon’s situation—”He won’t be ready”, “He’s being selfish”, “The Seahawks are a clown show”—and no amount of rational speak will curb their apathy. As soon as this situation is resolved…and it will be resolved…the fears will simply transfer to another cause for pessimism and concern.
Lucky for them, Seattle showed up to the first day of practice with issues that go beyond their highest draft pick since 2009 being the last draftee to sign his contract.
The injured 6
The Seahawks placed six players on the Physically Unable to Perform list, with no huge surprises but Noah Fant is out for a little while: LB Jordyn Brooks, S Jamal Adams, DT Bryan Mone (all expected), CB Tariq Woolen, TE Noah Fant, DT Austin Faoliu. Seattle is able to activate any of these players at any time and there was optimism about most of these names.
Carroll wouldn’t say that Brooks and Adams will be ready for Week 1, but he made it sound as though they came into camp in better shape than expected and was not going to rule it out.
Woolen had arthiscopic knee surgery and wasn’t expected to miss much, if any, training camp. He starts on PUP but that could be a formality. Without Witherspoon and Woolen, the starting outside cornerbacks on Wednesday were Tre Brown and Michael Jackson. Finally, Carroll said he wasn’t worried about Fant but that the team didn’t want to rush him back from a knee thing.
I wouldn’t be panicked about any of these situations. Either it’s not a surprise or the player(s) in question have over six weeks until the season starts.
No surprises on OL
The starting five of the offensive line was as expected on the first day of training camp: Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Evan Brown, Phil Haynes, Abe Lucas. Brady Henderson called Brown “still ahead” in the center competition as camp begins.
The second unit offensive line was Stone Forsythe, Greg Eiland, Olu Oluwatimi, Anthony Bradford, and Jake Curhan.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba is open “quite often”
I am posting part three of the JSN series on Thursday morning. Part I here. I can’t shake that feeling that Smith-Njigba will be one of the top stories in the NFL this season. Chris Simms talked about the Seahawks on Unbuttoned today and it was brought up that Seattle ranked 25th in 11 personnel (1 TE, 1 RB, 3 WR) last season.
Do you draft the “most natural slot receiver I’ve ever seen” if you don’t plan to run more 11 personnel (Seattle was in 11 personnel on 52% of offensive snaps last season) afterwards?
Jarran Reed at nose tackle?
Carroll mentioned Reed as a nose tackle, which is definitely different than the 3-tech or 5-tech position that people have been expecting him to play. All we knew going into training camp is that the Seahawks had a competition at nose tackle, but was expected to take place between fourth round pick Cameron Young and whoever else emerged. It seems like “whoever else” is Reed, which could mean that Dre’Mont Jones and Mario Edwards are bookending him in Seattle’s base defense.
Seahawks workout Ben Burr-Kirven
The Seahawks are still not satisfied with their linebackers unit, as they reportedly worked out Burr-Kirven on Wednesday. Seattle’s fifth round pick in 2019, Burr-Kirven played 14 snaps on defense total during his four seasons with the team. The news comes days after the Seahawks worked out a few other linebackers, including Frank Ginda, so it seems like that’s a position that will continue to be churned.
Speaking of that, Seattle made more moves: The Seahawks signed outside linebacker Levi Bell and cornerback Chris Steele, while also waiving nose tackle Jonah Tavai. The team is still at 89 players, according to Bob Condotta. (Yes, Witherspoon is one of the 89.)
Tanner Muse made one of the top tackles by any Seahawk in 2022
Speaking of linebackers, did you catch this tackle by Tanner Muse against the 49ers last season? All the credit to All_22_Films, a YouTuber who is killing it and I highly recommend him.
Muse is taken off of his feet, keeps his balance, and pounces back up to jump inside and make the tackle on Christian McCaffrey with one hand. Watch the whole video as this is only a small snippet of his breakdown of Uchenna Nwosu and Muse’s impact on the play.
Seahawks starting defense?
We probably didn’t see the real starting defense on Wednesday, but here’s what we can assume based on early reports and if everyone is healthy (except Adams):
Which, of course, is 12 names, not 11. Coby Bryant is going to compete to be the nickel and he will get extra reps as long as Witherspoon is out. Tre Brown will get more reps outside as long as Woolen is out. Julian Love will get more reps at safety for as long as Adams is out.
But from Wednesday morning’s bonus article on what Pete Carroll said going into camp, we know how much he loves Love and I don’t expect his role to be dramatically diminished if Jamal Adams is ready by Week 1.
Join Regular Joes to read that if you haven’t already—plus MANY MORE bonus articles to come during training camp—as we also get into Ken Walker’s intriguing position versatility, Derick Hall’s first impressions, and why Al Woods didn’t like his role in Seattle’s 3-4 defense.
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