Seahawks Mailbag: Changes At Receiver, Backup QB Competition & More

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It has been a busy week for the Seahawks, who dating back to last Thursday have signed six free agents, including former Pro-Bowl defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. There has also been some unfortunate news, with receiver Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor having their contracts terminated with failed physical designations. The move was expected in the case of Chancellor, who missed all of last season with a neck injury, but in the case of Baldwin, it signaled the end of a chapter for one of the best receivers in franchise history.

With so much going on, it’s time once again to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I wasn’t able to get to yours this time around.

@Lougheed_E asks, “Any guesses on who will fill the void left by Doug Baldwin’s absence? Who will be our new No. 1 receiver?” @Pier_C_1 also asks about what happens at receiver this year minus Baldwin.

A: The Seahawks aren’t going to ask anyone to step in and be Doug Baldwin, that’s not really fair considering what a talented and unique player he was over the past eight seasons in Seattle. That being said, the Seahawks do have a lot of playing time and production to replace going forward without the two-time Pro-Bowler.

Fortunately for the Seahawks, Tyler Lockett showed last year just how elite of a receiver he can be, putting together an incredibly efficient season in which Russell Wilson had a perfect passer rating when targeting him. But Lockett can’t do it alone, and who emerges as Seattle’s other top receivers will be a big storyline to watch throughout training camp and the preseason.

Of the returning players from last year’s team, David Moore and Jaron Brown seem the most likely to step into bigger roles, but the Seahawks have plenty of young players looking to push for more playing time, including three 2019 draft picks, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua. Lockett’s flexibility to play outside or in the slot does give the Seahawks more options to figure out the best combination of receivers to use on gameday. If the Seahawks want to keep Lockett in the slot, then some combination of Moore, Brown, Jennings or Metcalf outside might make sense, but if they want to use Lockett outside, then perhaps Ursua or Keenan Reynolds or Jennings could take over the slot role. And as Baldwin showed eight years ago, you can’t count out the undrafted rookies (more on that in a bit). Again, this will be a fun position group to watch later this summer.

@walkngirl asks, “Who is better suited to be Russell Wilson’s backup QB?” @Richard12455480 also asks about the signing of Geno Smith.

A: While Paxton Lynch’s career hasn’t gone quite as he would have expected coming out of college, he’s still only 25 years old and is three years removed from being a first-round pick, meaning there’s plenty of upside there. Lynch has impressed so far since signing in January Seahawks coach Carroll said earlier this offseason, but he will still have to earn the backup job, which brings us to this week’s signing of Geno Smith. Smith has significantly more starting experience that Lynch, having served as the New York Jets’ starter for two seasons, and as a second-round pick, he too has plenty of talent to make him an intriguing backup option.

As for who is better suited to backup Wilson, let’s go ahead and wait to see how the preseason plays out to make that call. As the 2017 decision to keep Austin Davis over Trevone Boykin showed, the Seahawks are more interested in keeping whoever they think is the best player over who might be more like Wilson athletically—though Lynch and Smith are both good athletes—so the backup job will go to whoever is the best quarterback in camp and the preseason, not who can be the most like Wilson.

@erik_schass asks, “Can you talk about the resemblance of this team to the 2013 team, because right now they are kind of looking similar?”

A: While I certainly hope you’re right—covering that team was a heck of a lot of fun—I’m going to suggest we slow down on the 2013 comparison for now. The 2019 Seahawks, who are coming off a promising season in which they went 10-6 despite some significant turnover, and yes, there’s a lot of young talent that looks like it could develop, and yes, Russell Wilson has said that last year reminded him of the 2012 season, but it’s really not fair to this year’s team to head into the season being compared to the best team in franchise history and one of the best defenses in NFL history. All of that being said, given the promise shown by some young players, particularly the past two draft classes, and with a 11-man draft class coming in, the depth across the board could be really impressive this year to the point that Carroll compared that element of the team to some of Seattle’s best teams. 

“I think we’re in pretty good shape right now, if everything keeps coming,” Carroll said when asked about the team’s depth after the draft. “We have to keep moving forward, some of our guys have to get well, as they’re rehabbing through the offseason, but I feel like we have competitive players across the board. This was not a draft where we went in and had big holes. We didn’t feel like that… This feels like one of those rosters that we had four or five years ago, maybe about five years ago, when I really felt like there are guys on our team that other people want. And that’s a good spot to be in. It has taken some time to get back to that. We’ve seen the cycle of the roster movement. This is a really exciting spot right now.”

@johnlymantweets asks, “Do you think Doug Baldwin will be willing to raise the 12 Flag someday?”

A: I could definitely see that happening at some point. The Seahawks had Kam Chancellor raise the 12 Flag last season, so it would seem logical that the invitation would be extended to Baldwin at some point, and seeing as Baldwin has strong ties to this area having played here so long, and has built a great relationship with fans, I’d imagine he be amenable to doing that at some point.

@caind312 asks, “Are the Seahawks done with free agent additions?”

A: As general manager John Schneider likes to remind people, roster building is a year-round process, so no, I don’t think they’re done. Will they sign six people in the next week like they have over the past seven days? Probably not. That flurry of signings had to do with the deadline for free agents to count towards the 2020 pick compensatory formula. But there are still plenty of quality players unsigned, and the Seahawks have some cap space to work with, so I would expect to see some moves between now and the start of training camp.

@sunscreenpapi asks, “What will the offensive line look like this year? Any additions?”

A: The Seahawks are returning four starters from last year’s line—left tackle Duane Brown, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi—so the line can look pretty similar if they want it to. If those players all keep their starting jobs, then the competition at left guard will feature the likes of Mike Iupati, a free-agent addition; Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons; both of whom have starting experience; or perhaps fourth-round pick Phil Haynes, 2018 practice squad member Jordan Roos or recent free-agent signing Marcus Martin. 

As for who is new this year, in addition to Iupati, Hanes and Martin, the Seahawks also added undrafted rookie guard Demetrius Knox. And while he is a 2018 draft pick, tackle Jamarco Jones is almost like an added player since he spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve. 

@Rogervanoo asks, “Undrafted rookie most likely to make the opening day roster?” @T_Kearny also asks about undrafted rookies getting playing time in 2019.

A: From Doug Baldwin in 2011 to Poona Ford in 2018, undrafted rookies have made instant impacts on Carroll and Schneider led teams almost every season since those two took over in 2010, so there’s no reason to think that can’t happen again this year. As for who that player will be, it’s way too early to make those predictions, especially since players in the trenches can’t really show what they can do until the pads come on. That being said, Carroll did say that he was impressed with the pass-catchers in rookie minicamp, a group that included two UDFAs, Purdue’s Terry Wright and Northwestern State’s Jazz Ferguson, so perhaps there’s a chance for one of those players to find his way onto the roster. But come back and ask me this question again in late August when we’ve seen a bit more football.

@12*th*_Man_Son asks, “When it comes to chicken wings, do you prefer flats or drummies?”

A: To be honest I don’t eat wings often enough to have a strong opinion on this, and I had no idea this was such a heated debate until this question prompted me to google it. I think I’d lean towards flats, but again, no strong preference here. The drumsticks are definitely easier to eat, but I feel like you get better meat out of the flats… And now I’m hungry for wings, thanks a lot.

Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' voluntary offseason workout program on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

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