Every day between now and the start of Seahawks training camp, Seahawks.com will take a look at some of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2018 season. Today, we take a look at how the team's leadership might evolve following the departure of some big-name veterans. Tomorrow, we'll break down the competition at tight end with last year's top two tight ends leaving in free agency.
When the Seahawks were on the field for offseason workouts, things both looked and sounded a bit different than in previous years, particularly on defense. Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, two of the team's most outspoken players, are gone, Sherman in San Francisco and Bennett in Philadelphia. Cliff Avril, while not as vocal, was a presence on the field and in the locker room, and he too is no longer playing due to a neck injury. And Seattle's longtime safeties, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas were also not present during OTAs and minicamp, Chancellor unable to take part because of a neck injury and Thomas choosing to stay away from offseason workouts.
There is no denying that the Seahawks have undergone some significant changes this offseason, both on the roster as well as on Pete Carroll's coaching staff. But despite some big names moving on this offseason, Carroll is not concerned about his team's leadership in 2018. For starters, even with some prominent departures, the Seahawks have accomplished veterans on both sides of the ball who have long been leaders on the field and in the locker room, players like Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Duane Brown and Justin Britt on offense, and Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on defense. And secondly, Carroll is fully expecting some younger players to take on leadership roles as they establish themselves.
"Yeah that's a good question because the dynamics do shift," Carroll said in March when asked about his team's leadership. "They shift every year to some extent, but there is a change. There is a change of sorts. So what it does in our situation is it allows for other guys to kind of step forward and speak up. I think you are going to see Jarran Reed have a bigger impact than ever. I think Frank Clark will be a bigger factor than ever on the defensive line stepping up."
Both Reed and Clark have played big roles on Seattle's defense in recent years, but with established veterans like Bennett and Avril no longer around, Carroll is counting on those two to not just be productive players, but leaders for Seattle's defensive line. At linebacker, Wagner and Wright remain two of Seattle's best players and strongest leaders, while on the back end of the defense, Carroll has seen Bradley McDougald, who he described as "a remarkable kid" emerge as a leader in Chancellor and Thomas' absence this offseason.
Yet while Carroll expects to see new leaders emerge, he also feels very good about the veteran players who are returning to continue in those roles.
"I don't know that you can find a better guy to be a voice and representative of your team than Russell Wilson and Bobby," Carroll said. "Bobby Wagner is as good of a leader as you could ever hope for. He has done everything in terms of consistency and production and toughness and mentality, everything about him. He and Russell are great leaders, K.J. Wright is a fantastic leader, Doug Baldwin is an incredible leader. We have not lacked for those kinds of players who step to the front and are willing to send the message and stand for what we're all about. I have no problem with the leadership aspect of our team at all. We're in terrific shape."