The NFL offseason is well underway, with trades and free agency changing the look of rosters across the NFL, including that of the Seattle Seahawks. While teams still have a long ways to go when it comes to building their 2018 rosters—the draft is still more than three weeks away—now is a good time to look at what the Seahawks have done so far, and what is still to come this offseason. So with that in mind, it's time once again to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who submitted a question, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@kube00 asks, "Why weren't the Seahawks more aggressive on free agency?
A: If by aggressive you mean spending top dollar during the first couple of days of free agency, that has never really been how the Seahawks have operated under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. Under the current regime, the Seahawks have tended to sit out the early bidding wars and look for bargains a bit later in the process, which is how, among other players, the Seahawks ended up landing defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in 2013 and safety Bradley McDougald last offseason. And this year in particular, the Seahawks have been tight on cap space—the consequence of having so many Pro-Bowl caliber players who earned lucrative contract extensions in recent years—leading to some of the tough decisions made this offseason.
All of that being said, the Seahawks have still been active in free agency, and even if they haven't necessarily spent big dollars on marquee names, they're very excited about what they've added to the roster. D.J. Fluker has a chance to provide a physical presence, particularly in the running game; Barkevious Mingo has a chance to contribute at strongside linebacker, as a pass-rusher and on special teams; Ed Dickson is a tight end who can help as a blocker and a downfield threat; Jaron Brown is a receiver Carroll spoke highly of for his size and speed, which translates not only at receiver but on special teams; Carroll raved about safety Maurice Alexander's toughness; and a pair of former Vikings, Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen, should help solidify the interior of the defensive line.
"If you look at all the guys we've signed and re-signed, we know they all have a chip on their shoulder, they have something to prove, and they're all football guys, so we're excited about it," Schneider said last week in Orlando. "All these guys, every single one of them we signed.
"Just the way we started. Smart, tough reliable guys that love football and have a chip on their shoulder."
@IsaacFudge asks, "What is the likelihood of Seattle drafting offensive line in Round 1?"
A: Presuming the Seahawks actually pick in the first round this year—and their history under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll shows that's far from a given—it's certainly possible the Seahawks could use that pick on an offensive lineman. Three times since Schneider and Carroll took over the franchise, Seattle has used its first pick on an offensive lineman, taking Russell Okung in 2010, James Carpenter in 2011 and Germain Ifedi in 2016. The Seahawks have also taken offensive linemen in the second round on two other occasions, selecting Justin Britt in 2014 and Ethan Pocic last year, so there is clearly a willingness to invest draft capital on the offensive line.
But while it would hardly be a surprise to see Seattle address its line early in the draft, it's also worth noting that the Seahawks are pretty excited about what they currently have on the roster there. Obviously there will be competition in training camp, but if they wanted to do so, the Seahawks could start four players who were starters last year, Duane Brown at left tackle, Pocic at one of the guard spots, Britt at center and Ifedi at right tackle, with Fluker a strong candidate to start at right guard. That's a level of continuity that the Seahawks haven't had on the line in recent years, and it's a group that includes a Pro-Bowl caliber left tackle thanks to last season's trade to acquire Brown.
"We haven't had a guy like Duane Brown in some time," Carroll said last week at the annual league meetings in Orlando. "Duane coming back is a great plus. He barely got started with us last year, then he got hurt and struggled through an ankle and all of that. But his return, the consistency that he brings, the experience that he brings, the toughness that he brings. The growth of Ifedi on the other side—he's going to get better, he's going to make a big jump. I think the best thing that ever happened to him is there's a transition here for him where he can get a new start and really get going with (new offensive line coach) Mike Solari. Britt is going to be the best he has been, Pocic is going to be better than he has been, then D.J. coming in. Then there's George Fant returning to us. George was really poised to have a bigtime second year, and he has had a fantastic offseason working, I see him every day in the building, so he's going to factor into the competition.
"This is the best we've been in some time. A little quietly it's emerging that it's a very good group and it's going to be one that we're going to look forward to seeing some real progress made… It hasn't been mentioned that much, but we feel like we have continuity. We haven't said that in so many years, but we feel like we have some continuity on the offensive line, so we're looking forward to it."
@HolliWinters asks, "Who is going to be Russell Wilson's backup?"
A: This is a relevant question because, as of now, the Seahawks have only one quarterback under contract. Whether through the draft or free agency or both, expect that to change by the end of this month. Oddly enough, the Seahawks have drafted only one quarterback under Carroll and Schneider, but that hasn't been by design as much as it has just been the way the draft has fallen in relation to their draft board. Perhaps this is the year the Seahawks draft a quarterback, or perhaps they sign an undrafted rookie as a free agent. There are also some veteran options available who could be signed before the draft as well, some of whom have experience under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, including last year's backup, Austin Davis.
@Scarlett_Ang asks, "What's up with regards to kicker?
A: The Seahawks signed Jason Myers earlier this offseason, but Carroll has said that he expects there to be competition at that spot in training camp, so look for the Seahawks to add at least one more kicker at some point between now and the end of July.
@RAYKation asks, "What should our hockey team be called?"
A: Apparently there's a list of odds for the name of a potential Seattle NHL team, and Emeralds is the favorite. Of the other names on that list, I'd personally prefer Totems or maybe Sockeyes. Rainiers would also be great if it wasn't already a pretty established baseball name in this region. On a somewhat related note, bring back the Sonics!
@ZachSpoon asks, "What's next for the receiving corps?"
A: With Paul Richardson moving on in free agency, the Seahawks have an opening for a starting receiver opposite Doug Baldwin. Tyler Lockett, who has been one of Seattle's top receivers since joining the team in 2015, would seem like the most likely candidate to fill that spot, but the Seahawks have a few other intriguing options, and that's before making any potential additions in the draft.
One player to keep an eye on in training camp and beyond will be Amara Darboh, a third-round pick in last year's draft who, with Richardson moving on, has a real chance to take on a big role. He is one of several players Schneider mentioned at the combine when talking about second- and third-year players who the team is hoping can make a leap this year.
The Seahawks also added a pair of players who could contribute at receiver, acquiring Marcus Johnson in a trade with the Eagles, and signing former Cardinal Jaron Brown.
"I'm really excited about Jaron," Carroll said last week. "We've seen him do a lot of great stuff in the division over the last few years. His versatility, his style of play, the mentality that he brings—he's got a big chip on his shoulder about proving it... Really excited about him coming to us."
@SeaCoug8606 asks, "In your opinion, best Ralph Wiggum non-sequitur?"
A: I'd like you tell you that this question didn't lead to me watching a bunch of old Simpson's clips on YouTube, but, well, I don't want to lie to you all. There are too many good ones to pick a favorite, though I will single out, "I'm Idaho!" because "Ralph Wiggum as Idaho" was my favorite last-minute, zero-effort Halloween costume one year. Side note: not very many people got my costume that year.
@Ondarness asks, "Will we seen an uptick in boys being named Barkevious in the coming year?"
A: Not sure we'll see that happen, but I can tell you the Seahawks are excited about what Mingo can bring to the defense and on special teams. A former first-round pick, Mingo has the athletic ability to play both strongside linebacker and defensive end, and figures to also be a core special teams player.
"A big role," Carroll said when asked about Mingo. "This is a very versatile football player. Just start off with he's got a tremendous motor and because of that he has been a big factor on special teams, so right off the bat he is going to be a core special teams guy. We are going to start him at SAM linebacker with the thought of using him there in base defenses and then also as a rush guy. He's been able to be very versatile as a rusher. He's been an edge rusher, he has great speed and a great motor to bring off the edge. He also has done a lot of things in terms of moving in and out and being able to move him around especially in aspects of the third down package, so I'm looking forward to that."
@KBottom2 asks, "Who will be the leading tight end this year? Nick Vannett or Ed Dickson?"
A: As mentioned earlier with Darboh, the Seahawks are hoping some of their recent draft picks are ready to take on bigger roles, and you can definitely include Vannett, a former third-round pick, in that group. With Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson both leaving in free agency, Vannett will get every opportunity to make that leap, but the Seahawks are also counting Dickson being a big factor as well.
"Ed's a real versatile football player," Carroll said. "Kind of a situation where he's played behind such a great player in Greg Olsen that we haven't seen him maybe as much. But again going back to knowing Ed through the recruiting process and kind of watching him grow, always known about his athleticism. He's an all-around player can play the Y position as well as the X position where he moves around. Good athlete, good downfield catcher. A guy you can go to in regular situations and normal ball control situations and also down the field, so he's a really, really interesting addition."
Given the frequency that two-tight end offenses are used in the NFL these days, both of those players could have big roles this season depending on what else happens between now and the start of the season.
@Hawks_Canuckfan asks, "Do we have any injury updates on Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor or Malik McDowell?"
A: Unfortunately there was nothing new from Carroll and Schneider when they were asked last week about those players.
On Chancellor and Avril, who both finished the 2017 season on injured reserve due to neck injuries, Schneider said, "We are hoping and praying for both of them. As soon as we know from a scan standpoint, and the experts and all the doctors and what they say, we are going to go with. Both total professionals that obviously we didn't see this coming. You can plan for a lot of things and that's one of them you can't. Both those guys, their situations you can't plan for, especially Malik's too, summer accident like that on an ATV."
On McDowell, Seattle's top pick in the 2017 draft, Schneider said, "We are just waiting for more scans… I'm just going with what (doctors) say."
Check out which college players from schools in Washington state will take part in the 2018 NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis.