Seahawks training camp kicks off today, a big day as the team begins its preparation for the 2023 season. But before we turn our attention to the action on the field this week and beyond, it's time once again to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took time to participate in this week's mailbag, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to your question this time around. And remember, in addition to asking questions on Twitter or X or whatever the heck we're calling it the next time we do one of these, you can also submit questions online at Seahawks.com/mailbag.
Bruce D from Redmond asks, "The Seahawks have more starting-caliber cornerbacks than starting spots. Do you think they'll trade one?"
A: You are correct that the Seahawks have a lot of talent at cornerback, particularly after selecting Devon Witherspoon with the fifth overall pick in this year's draft. Both of last year's starters, Pro-Bowler Riq Woolen and Michael Jackson are back, as are nickel corner Coby Bryant, who can also play outside, by the way, and Tre Brown, who looked really good as a rookie before suffering a season-ending knee injury after taking over the starting job at left corner. Then there's also veteran Artie Burns, a former first-round pick and a starter with other teams who looked poised to win a starting job last year before suffering an injury in camp. So yes, there is going to be a good competition there. As for the possibility of a trade, you can never rule anything out, but to me, it seems too early to start thinking about that. Depth is important at cornerback, just like any other position, so it's not a bad thing to have more starting-caliber players than starting spots, and unfortunately injuries do happen, so the situation could look different in a month than it does now, as was the case last year when injuries to Burns and Sidney Jones IV opened the door for Woolen and Jackson to take over starting jobs they would never give up.
Ultimately, the goal of any front office when it comes to building a 90-man roster is to be deep enough that other teams want your players, even those who don't make the 53-man roster. Never was that more evident than in 2013 when many of Seattle's roster cuts were quickly snapped up by other teams, while three-time Pro-Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield retired prior to the final roster cuts. That's not to say this year's team is going to be as good as the greatest collection of talent in franchise history, but it is a good sign if, at some positions at least, it looks like there are starting-caliber players who will be fighting for roster spots.
William Henderson from North Pole, Idaho asks, "Is it just me, or does a 3-2-6 defense with three safeties put our best combination of players on the field?"
A: It's not just you who thinks three safeties might be Seattle's best look on defense. Pete Carroll more or less said as much this spring when he said the plan was for Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Julian Love to all play together a lot this season. And prior to his Week 1 injury last season, the Seahawks were using a lot of three-safety looks in training camp.
Three safeties doesn't necessarily mean the Seahawks will have six defensive backs on the field, however. They'll do it some, particularly against pass-happy teams, but they can also use their safety trio in a "big nickel" look that uses two corners and three safeties, something that is even more viable given Love's versatility. Also worth noting is that the Seahawks might sometimes have six defensive backs on the field, but one of them might be playing more like a linebacker. Prior to last year's injury, Adams sometimes lined up like an off-ball linebacker with Seattle having five other defensive backs and only Jordyn Brooks at inside linebacker. It's something of a semantics argument if you're counting Adams as a linebacker or safety in that situation when counting up the linebackers and defensive backs on the field, but regardless of how you want to label it, it's safe to assume that, whenever Adams is all the way back from his injury, he, Diggs and Love will be on the field together quite a bit.
@phillipschris12 asks, "What position group are you most excited to see at training camp?"
A: Sticking with the theme of the last two questions, I'm going with defensive back. Not just because of the talent and depth at both cornerback and safety, but also because there are a lot of different ways Carroll and defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt can deploy those players. As we just covered, Adams, Diggs and Love are all expected to play together a lot this season, and the versatility of both Love and Adams gives the Seahawks a lot of options when it comes to finding ways to make things difficult for opposing offenses.
At cornerback, the flexibility of Witherspoon and Bryant to play inside or out gives the Seahawks a lot of options. I'd also be willing to bet that Michael Jackson, one of the standouts of offseason workouts, will have a great training camp to make decisions even harder. Jackson earned a starting job in part due to injuries last year, but when other corners came back from injuries, Jackson held off other challenges. Now, he's facing a situation where a Top 5 pick is likely competing with him for a starting spot, and based on what we saw from Jackson last season, as well as in offseason workouts, it is evident he isn't going down without putting up a heck of a fight.
Take a look back at former linebacker Michael Jackson through the years. Jackson played eight seasons in the NFL, 1979-1986, all with the Seattle Seahawks.
@Ciancr asks, "Will part of training camp be viewable on the Seahawks YouTube page or via the website like previous years?"
A: Indeed, Training Camp Live is back in 2023, giving fans a chance to watch part of five practices while also getting insight and analysis from Seahawks Legends Ray Roberts, Paul Moyer, Robert Turbin, Bryan Walters and Michael Bumpus, as well as Seahawks sideline reporter Jen Mueller, and on at least one unfortunate occasion, this writer who functions much better behind a keyboard than on camera.
The five practices with a Training Camp Live broadcast are on July 26, July 28, July 30, August 1 and August three, all beginning at 1:30 p.m. Training Camp Live can be found on Seahawks.com, the Seahawks App and the Seahawks YouTube channel.
Glen Porterfield, who is just real Topeka people, man (bonus points if you get that reference) asks, "Is it just me, or when the Seahawks came into the NFL, were they in the NFC West?"
A: It is not just you, Glen, but it does require a good memory or some strong Seahawks/70s NFL knowledge to know that, because Seattle's initial stay in the NFC West was very brief. When the Seahawks came into the league in 1976, they did so as members of the NFC West, while fellow expansion team Tampa Bay was placed in the AFC West, you know, because when you think Florida, you think west. The very next year, Tampa Bay flipped to the NFC, joining the central division (we're getting closer to geographical accuracy here), while the Seahawks moved to the AFC West, where they would stay until the league went through some big changes in 2002 switching to four divisions in each conference, with Seattle moving back to the NFC West. Those two changes in 1977 and 2002 made Seattle the only team since the 1966 NFL-AFL merger to change conferences twice.
@hollzkeefe asks, "Which away game are you most looking forward to?"
A: There are plenty of interesting matchups on this year's schedule when it comes to road games, starting with the first road game in Detroit, a showdown against a team on the rise that just missed the playoffs last season (while also hoping the Seahawks reach the playoffs). In terms of road games that could be the most meaningful in the standings, it's hard not to look at the Week 14 game in Santa Clara against the defending NFC West champion 49ers. The Seahawks worked this offseason to try to close the gap between themselves and the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season, and if the Seahawks are going to get back on top of the division, they very well need to knock off the 49ers late in the season to accomplish that goal.
Now if you're asking me about road games in terms of cities to visit, it's hard not to go with a trip to New York when the Seahawks' play the Giants in Week 4. Even if you don't agree with the Schuyler sisters that New York is "the greatest city in the world," it's definitely up there near the top and is a fantastic place to visit, particularly in the fall. Nashville is also a great city to visit, though I think a lot of Seahawks fans who like to travel to road games would agree that making that trip at a time other than Christmas Eve would be preferable.
@KateOHareWrites asks, "Is anyone on the team faster than DK Metcalf?"
A: If you ask Metcalf that question, I suspect he'd say no, and Cardinals safety Budda Baker might agree, but if you go off of NFL scouting combine 40-yard dash time, then Riq Woolen is faster. If the two were to line up on the field or a track and race, I'm not sure who would win but I suspect it would be close and entertaining. In fact, during a recent appearance on the All Things Covered Podcast, Metcalf said, "This is the going to be the first and only time I'm going to say this, he's probably the only person I'm scared to race."
Both players are absurdly fast, but based off 40 time and just what we saw last year—not to mention Metcalf's own admission that he's afraid to race Woolen—the second-year corner may indeed have the slightest edge. As spectacular as some of Metcalf's big plays have been when it comes to showing off his speed, none more so than the play that saw him chase down Budda Baker to save a touchdown following an interception, it's hard not to watch Woolen run at top speed and determine he's the fastest player on the field, regardless of who else is out there. Woolen's speed showed up on plenty of plays last season, including several of his six interceptions, most notably his pick-six against Detroit.
But to me the two plays that most demonstrated his ridiculous—even by NFL standards—speed were a pair long of touchdowns last season, one scored by Seattle and one given up. In Seattle's loss to New Orleans early last season, Taysom Hill scored a 60-yard touchdown despite an impressive display of Woolen. On that play, Woolen was being blocked, his momentum moving backward, when Hill hit the line of scrimmage picking up speed. By the time Woolen was back to the line of scrimmage, Hill had nearly a 6-yard head start and a full head of steam, but Woolen easily caught up to Hill just inside the 10-yard line. Unfortunately for Seattle, Woolen wasn't able to get Hill down to stop the touchdown, but it was still an example of him showing off speed that is rare even among some of the best athletes in the world. The other play that stood out was Woolen's blocked field goal in Week 2 that was returned for a touchdown by Michael Jackson. Watch the replay of that, and notice how, after blocking the kick, going to the ground and getting back up, Woolen so effortlessly catches up to Jackson, who's no slowpoke himself, even after raising an arm in celebration and basically coasting the last 40 yards.
@ghalbert6 asks, "Will Coach Carroll wear the Chuck Knox snapback Seattle Seahawks cap this year?"
A: Let's hope so. Carroll doesn't wear hats often, but the old Knox-era cap would look great when the Seahawks break out their throwback uniforms this season.
Check out photos of Seahawks fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen from his 2022 offseason in Seattle. The cornerback out of San Antonio was selected No. 153 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.