Which free agent players on defense fit what the Seahawks want to do next season?
The "Wow" moves like Danielle Hunter to the "Fan" moves like K.J. Wright
What will the Seattle Seahawks do next in free agency and/or on the trade market? Right now, the Seahawks have all the money and cap space in the world, if they so choose to do something with it. The salary cap does exist, as do player guarantees, but if the Saints clearing out enough money to acquire Deshaun Watson doesn’t convince you that teams can always afford the players who they desperately want and that the cap is more of a “baseline” than a hard number, then nothing ever will.
So the fact that Seattle has the highest amount of actual cap space in the NFL over 2022-2023 seasons at the moment really emphasizes that John Schneider can spend to his heart’s desire in order to fill out the roster. Will he and what players would I identify as the most obvious “Pete Carroll types” on the market?
What do I think of the BIG names such as: Fletcher Cox, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Peterson, Dante Fowler Jr., Anthony Barr, K.J. Wright, Carl Nassib, Ndamukong Suh, and so on?
I’m going to focus on defensive players only in this post, but first: this is a ‘Regular Joes’ subscribers article. What’s that?
Questions like “What does a Regular Joes subscription get you?” are completely fair but the answers are coming to me organically and in the moment, because Seahawks news has come at us so fast recently that my main focus in that time has simply been on one thing: Writing for you.
Moving forward I can promise you two things:
- I will create a lot of content and the next year of rebuilding/resetting/remembering the Seahawks is going to be so exciting and interesting.
- I have a long and prolific track record of writing about the Seahawks and I really love to do it. Creating a unique Seahawks newsletter with content that you won’t find anywhere else is something that I take seriously and I know it’s my responsibility to make Seaside Joe a place that you love. But if at any time you don’t feel you aren’t getting that, I encourage you to be free to voice what would make it better or to unsubscribe if I fall short of your expectations.
Thank you for being here, it does mean a lot to me and the rest of the Seaside Joe community. Onto the stuff you came here for—I think you will enjoy this one, so I’ll put the first section ahead of the paywall before getting to DT, CB, ILB, OLB, and S.
Seahawks Need? Teams are never truly finished when it comes to adding pass rushers. In less than two years, the Bills have drafted Gregory Rousseau in the first round, A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham in the second round, and signed Von Miller to a six-year, $120 million contract. Okay yes, I will be “shocked” if the Bills draft a pass rusher in the first round again this year… but then I’ll tell myself “Teams are never truly finished when it comes to adding pass rushers.”
And that’s Buffalo that I’m talking about, a good team with good pass rushers. Of course the Seahawks need more defensive end help, because that’s where Pete’s defense generates a pass rush typically. However, it is clear that Carroll expects to get more QB pressure from his linebackers next season as Seattle slides further over to being a 3-4 base alignment. Free agent signee Uchenna Nwosu is a sign of that:
The Seahawks also have Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder, Darrell Taylor, Alton Robinson, and L.J. Collier. Benson Mayowa was released this week. Rasheem Green remains unsigned.
Carroll expressed noticeable excitement for Taylor’s development last season and potential in 2022. The team has high hopes for Nwosu, based on his two-year, $20 million contract. And Dunlap has proven in the past, and at the end of last season, that he can be a highly-productive pass rusher in the right system.
If the Seahawks DEs were a 90’s action movie: Last Action Hero. A lot of the right pieces are there and it is entertaining. But it also feels somehow ‘incomplete’ and there’s a sense of being malnourished when you watch it because you know it had the potential be so much more than what it is.
Basically: There’s a missing piece and Seattle has to go out there and show us proof of concept.
I’m going to break down free agent targets in several tiers, including “Wow” moves, “Safe” moves, “Pete Carroll” moves, and “Fan Request” moves.
Wow: Danielle Hunter
What are the odds that the Seahawks would be the team to trade for elite 27-year-old pass rusher Danielle Hunter?
Odds: Strangely possible, still improbable
As hard as it usually is for writers to sell fans on potential blockbuster trade acquisitions, it’s less hard to do when John, Pete, and a young, elite player hits the market: Marshawn Lynch (24), Percy Harvin (25), Jimmy Graham (29), Sheldon Richardson (27), Jadeveon Clowney (26, but not elite), Jamal Adams (25).
Only Duane Brown (32) could have been classified as a marquee player addition over 29, but Seattle also knew he played a position with relative longevity.
Part of the issue facing Hunter is that people are skeptical he could have longevity, as Hunter has missed the last one-and-a-half seasons with injuries. Thankfully they aren’t knee injuries and Hunter might recover and play 10 more years. He has posted 60.5 sacks and 90 QB hits in 85 career games and won’t turn 28 until October.
But the Minnesota Vikings are struggling with the salary cap and may need to trade him to save themselves. The team that acquires Hunter would owe him very little, but most likely would arrange a long-term extension. The Seahawks can afford it and because the Vikings have lost some leverage here with a deadline, he may come at a draft pick discount.
The competition for Hunter must be rather insane though, so it could still cost a team more than one first round pick to complete the trade. That could be a little rich for Pete and John at this time of roster redevelopment. If they did do it, adding Hunter to the Seahawks defense would change how a lot of people will view Seattle’s 2022 season. And make you wonder, “okay but what about the quarterback?”
Safe: Rasheem Green
Odds: Better as time goes on
He’s in my free agent plan for the Seahawks. But did signing Nwosu change their position on Green? I doubt it. I think Carroll was pleased with Green’s 2021 season and hopeful that he can be retained without overpaying him based on potential instead of production. An incentive-based contract similar to Nwosu’s could fit on the bill.
Pete Carroll: Dante Fowler, Jr.
Odds: That’s why it’s a Pete Carroll move.
Carroll likes players who once had high draft pedigree but are on a downward slope in their careers that lowers their price point. Anything that feels like a “value signing” like Ezekiel Ansah or trading for Clowney. Fowler is 27 and he was signed by Dan Quinn’s Falcons in 2020 after posting 11.5 sacks for the Rams. His Atlanta career was a disappointment and he’s been released, making him a free agent who doesn’t cost a comp pick.
Fans: Carl Nassib
Nassib is 29, he’s tall (6’7), and he’s had moderately productive seasons in the past. But I think he’s gotten a ton of mileage out of a very productive senior year at Penn State. He’s a role player and might be an option down the line, but shouldn’t be a signing priority. Nassib had 4 sacks over the last two seasons with the Raiders.
I might instead expect someone like Isaac Rochell, a 27-year-old former seventh round pick out of Notre Dame who is coming off of one zero-sack season with the Colts. That also feels very “Pete Carroll” like to me.