Now that the 2020 NFL season has officially come to an end with Tampa Bay winning Super Bowl LV, it's time to look ahead to the offseason that will help shape Seattle's success in the 2021 season. With free agency beginning next month, and the draft to follow later in the spring, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where the team stands. So far we've looked at the offensive and defensive lines, and today we focus on tight end. Tomorrow we'll turn our attention to linebacker.
The Seahawks got solid play out of their tight end group, but not quite the production people were expecting heading into the year following the addition of Greg Olsen, who gave the Seahawks a strong trio with Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister.
Perhaps the best thing to happen for this group in 2020 was that Dissly, who saw his first two seasons derailed by serious injuries, made it through the season healthy, but Olsen missed five games with a foot injury, and no one in that trio had more than 25 catches (Hollister) or 251 yards (Dissly).
Of course, pass-catching is only part of the job for tight ends, and that group, and Dissly in particular, also played a role in Seattle's run-game success while also chipping in in pass protection.
Biggest question to answer this offseason: Dissly, Colby Parkinson, and who else?
Of that trio mentioned above, only Dissly is a sure thing to be back in 2021. Olsen announced his retirement last month, ending a decorated 14-year career, and Hollister is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month, meaning the Seahawks could have to replace a lot of playing time and production this offseason.
One player the Seahawks will be counting on to step up is 2020 fourth-round pick Colby Parkinson, who missed much of last season with a foot injury, appearing in only six games. Parkinson will be expected to take on a bigger role, but if Hollister were to sign elsewhere, the Seahawks will need to add reinforcements, particularly if new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron wants to involve tight ends in the offense as much as his former team, the Rams, have in recent years. Last season, Rams starting tight end Tyler Higbee played 72.7 percent of L.A.'s offensive snaps, while Gerald Everett played 56.8 percent, and those two combined to catch 85 passes for 938 yards and six scores.
"Really fired up about Colby Parkinson helping us at the tight end spot with Dis," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in his end-of-season press conference.
Biggest reason for optimism in 2021: A healthy offseason for Will Dissly.
Dissly, best known as a blocking tight end in college, surprised just about everyone when he caught eight passes for 156 yards and two scores in three-plus games as a rookie, a promising start that was cut short by a patellar tendon injury. Dissly picked up where he left off in 2019, recording 23 receptions for 262 yards and four touchdowns in six games before an Achilles injury ended his season. Dissly's production didn't match that level in 2020, but what is very encouraging is that he got through the season healthy, meaning this spring and summer can be spent getting ready for the 2021 season instead of rehabbing from a serious injury and subsequent surgery. Neither Dissly nor Carroll used that injury as an excuse for a dip in pass-catching production, but there's no doubt that he'll be better, physically, in 2021 because he got through the year healthy. Add to that a new coordinator who comes form a tight-end friendly offensive scheme, and it's reasonable to expect an uptick in production from Dissly in 2021.
"Dis will be better next year than he was—two straight years of major surgery to overcome," Carroll said. "He'll be better, he's such a great worker."