The Seahawks unfortunately are in offseason mode earlier than they have been in years past, so instead of talking about a Divisional Round playoff game for a sixth straight season, it's instead time to look ahead to what figures to be an eventful offseason. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@Lilwanz04 asks, "What are the Seahawks' draft priorities." @ItsAircool asks, "Who are we taking in the first round? Or are we trading back to receive more picks?" And @Rjones3438, @Phnxspr, @TrushisTold2U and others also all asked about potential draft needs.
A:Given that a lot of moves can happen between now and the start of the draft, it's a little hard to say what the biggest priorities are, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did mention running back in particular when talking about his team going forward, saying, "we need to make that position group more competitive." The Seahawks like a lot of the talent they have at that spot, but they've been unable to stay healthy there over the past three seasons, so that's certainly one area where they could look to add depth.
And if we're talking about what the Seahawks might do with their first pick, as @ItsAircool noted, trading back is a real possibility because that's something the Seahawks have done regularly with their top pick under Carroll and general manager John Schneider. And with the Seahawks currently not in possession of a second- or third-round pick in this year's draft, a trade back to acquire more draft ammunition could make a lot of sense. Whether the Seahawks do pick at No. 18 or move back, it's hard to guess what position group, let alone player, they might choose, as Seattle has been notoriously unpredictable when it comes to the draft. But if you're looking for a guess, a player who lines up on the line of scrimmage could be a good place to start. The Seahawks used their first two picks last year on defensive lineman Malik McDowell and offensive lineman Ethan Pocic, they used their first two picks the year before on offensive lineman Germain Ifedi and defensive lineman Jarran Reed, and in 2015 they used three of their first four picks on linemen, taking defensive end Frank Clark with their top pick, and offensive linemen Terry Poole and Mark Glowinski in the fourth round.
On a related note…
@DonnieJonester1 asks what draft picks the Seahawks currently have in 2018 following trades made in the last year.
A:The Seahawks have been involved in a lot of trades that involve draft picks over the past year, so it's a little hard to keep track of what they have heading into the 2018 draft. The short answer to this is that the Seahawks currently have seven picks, just not the same seven they would have had without making trades: their own first-rounder, which is the 18th overall pick, one pick in the fourth round, three in the fifth round and two in the seventh round.
As mentioned in the previous answer, trading down in Round 1 to add more picks is certainly an option given Seattle's history under Schneider, and in this case, the team's lack of Day 2 picks, but as things stand now, the Seahawks have seven picks. Here's how they got to those seven:
Seattle's second-round pick went to the New York Jets along with Jermaine Kearse as part of the trade for Sheldon Richardson, and those teams also swapped seventh-round picks, improving Seattle's value a bit since the Jets finished with a worse record than Seattle. The Seahawks sent their third-rounder this year as well as a 2019 second-round pick to the Houston Texans for Duane Brown, and also gained a fifth-rounder as part of that deal.
Seattle has its original fourth round pick. The Seahawks sent a fifth-rounder to Philadelphia for offensive lineman Matt Tobin and a seventh-rounder, but added fifth-rounders in trades for Brown, Marshawn Lynch and Cassius Marsh. The Marsh trade with New England also netted Seattle a seventh-rounder, while the Seahawks sent a sixth-round pick to Oakland as part of the Lynch deal, so they don't currently have a sixth-rounder.
The Seahawks sent a seventh-rounder to New England for Justin Coleman in what ended up being a great bargain, sent a seventh to Kansas City for tackle Isaiah Battle, but got sevenths back for Marsh and Tramaine Brock, as well as from Philadelphia as part of the Tobin trade.
@aclsiegmund asks, "What is the Seahawks number one priority this offseason?"
A:The Seahawks want to clean up a lot of things, including penalties and their slow starts in first halves of games, but Carroll made it pretty clear in his end-of-season press conference that one of his biggest priorities is getting the running game back on track after two straight seasons of struggling in that area.
"We have a real formula for how we win, and we've been unable to incorporate a major aspect of that, and that's to run the football the way we want," Carroll said last week. "There are tremendous examples around the league of teams that have turned their fortunes around, and they've turned it around with a formula that should sound familiar to you: teams running the football, teams playing good defense and doing the kicking game thing. That's the formula that has proven historically the best in this game. We have been committed to that from the start, but unfortunately we have not been able to recapture it the way we have in years past. Last year Russell (Wilson) was banged up all year long and couldn't contribute the way he normally did. Look what he did this year—he ran for 500 yards and was a huge factor throughout the year. We needed that 500 last year to go along with what he had and we might have had different fortunes. This year we weren't able to compliment the other end of it like we want to, for some obvious reasons, but we're also disappointed we weren't able to pull it off."
Carroll noted that nine of the top 10 rushing teams in 2017 made the playoffs and said, "We're not losing the essence of who we are, what we are trying to become, and the formula that is championship. I can't give you more evidence than just look around the league, look at what's just happened, look at Philly, look at the Rams, look at the teams that have just turned this thing around and done so many good things, it's there, it's really clear. There's no secret there. It's a great formula there that a lot of people understand.''
@Teresa4ever12 asks, "Is it possible to keep Jimmy Graham?" @zach_silver98 also asks about Graham's future in Seattle.
A:Jimmy Graham made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year after recording a team-high 10 touchdown catches in 2017, but the tight end is set to become a free agent when the new league year begins in March. So is it possible for the Seahawks to keep him? Of course it is. How likely that is depends on a lot of factors, ranging from how the free-agent market plays out to Graham's own desires to what other moves take place that could affect Seattle's salary cap situation between now and March.
After the season came to an end, Carroll was asked about Graham's future and responded, "We've talked to him. We love Jimmy and we would love for him to be with us."
@LucaBrode asks about the idea of the "Seahawks window closing" as some of the core defensive players get older?
A:With the Seahawks missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and with some of their top defensive players now in their late 20s or early 30s, there has definitely been some "end of an era" or "window closing" talk. I'm not really buying that, and much more significantly, nor is Carroll.
"I'm encouraged about future and where we can go and what we can do," Carroll said. "I hope that was conveyed because I couldn't feel more optimistic about our chances to be really good again. I think there is a championship team sitting in this meeting room right here. Everybody has got to do their work. The challenge went out. The challenge went out. If this is going to be a great team, we need to have a great offseason. Each guy has to contribute a great offseason in his own right. That means he has to come back stronger and faster than ever. And they have to be committed to it. And they have to stay connected. And if we do those things we'll give ourselves a chance to really put it together."
Carroll is particularly excited about some of the young talent he saw emerge in 2017 to complement the veteran leaders on the team.
"I was really able, in the meeting room on our last meeting here (January 1), to talk to these guys like I talked to guys five and six years ago," Carroll said two days after Seattle's season finale. "There is a young nucleus and a new nucleus, guys that have come to us. I don't want to miss that, Bradley McDougald coming to us and Dion (Jordan) coming to us and Duane coming to us, (Terence) Garvin and all those guys that came to us, they're a part of that new class as well and the class from last year, these are good groups of guys now. So we're very optimistic about the roster. We talk about roster depth all year, it's because of those guys, well now those guys are going to be experienced. They all had, for the most part, had a chance to play and contribute where they could grow. (Amara) Darboh, you saw David Moore finally got in a game, those guys are going to be factors. They're going to be factors, they're legitimate factors on this team as we move forward, and they'll compete for more playing time and all that. That's part of what's fueling all of the energy that we have about this looking forward. This is a terrific looking group. (Ethan) Pocic coming in, (Jordan) Roos getting a chance to play, Duane's emergence, Ifedi will be a second-year tackle for the first time. There's a lot of stuff there. Nick Vannett made a really good jump there for us, too. So there's a lot of stuff here, and that's part of why we're so pumped."
Yes, some change is inevitable this offseason; the team will look different in 2018 than it did in 2017, and that could include some big names off of what has been a historically great defense in recent years—Carroll said the futures of both Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril are still uncertain because of neck injuries that ended their 2017 seasons. But a lot of that talent will still be here, as will one of the game's best head coach/general manager partnerships, strong ownership and a still-in-his-prime Pro Bowl quarterback. Do the Seahawks feel like they fell short of their goals in 2017? Absolutely. Is their run of success over? Don't bet on it.
@joesuffP asks, "Are we going to improve the offensive line?"
A:The Seahawks made a big move to improve their line midseason by adding left tackle Duane Brown, and Carroll expects the former Houston Texans Pro Bowler to have a bigger impact going forward as he spends a full offseason with his new team.
Carroll said Brown "is going to be an instrumental factor, not just in what he's affected by already in a short time, but the leadership and the expertise that Duane Brown brings to us is extraordinary and we need it."
The Seahawks are also counting on growth from a unit that included rookie Ethan Pocic, who started 11 games at both guard spots, Germain Ifedi, who moved from guard to tackle in 2017, and center Justin Britt, one of the veteran leaders on the line. George Fant, the starting left tackle before injuring his knee in the preseason, should also be back and be a factor somewhere, and the Seahawks remain high on the upside of guard Jordan Roos. The Seahawks will almost certainly look to add to that group via the draft and/or free agency, and how it will all look come next fall remains to be seen, but they feel good about the prospects for the line to take a step forward in 2018.
Take a look back at some of the best moments captured from our endeavors within the community throughout 2017.