Players are reporting for training camp this week all around the NFL, but a busy week for the Seahawks got off to an early and very interesting start over the weekend with Seattle acquiring All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in a trade with the New York Jets. With that in mind, it's time for an unscheduled mailbag to answer questions from you, the fans, about Seattle's newest acquisition.
@MAVmachine asks, "With Adams now a Seahawk, how does Marquise Blair fit in?" @Scotch4life1 also asks about Blair's role, while @spalding_troy asks about a potential "big nickel" package of Quandre Diggs, Adams and Blair.
A: The Seahawks obviously added Adams under the assumption that he'll upgrade their secondary, but I'm not sure the move changes much for Blair in 2020. Bradley McDougald, who was part of the trade with the Jets, was a returning starter at safety along with Quandre Diggs, so unless Blair was going to unseat one of those two, the 2019 second-round pick likely would have been in the same position he's in now—a very talented backup looking for other ways to get on the field.
And that brings us to Troy's question about the "big nickel" package. Even before this trade, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear that he wanted to give Blair a shot to find a role in nickel packages. Blair, who started three games last season, wasn't able to lock down a regular role on defense as a rookie, but he showed enough potential that the Seahawks definitely are interested in finding ways to get him involved. If you go back to 2017 when the Seahawks added McDougald while Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas were both still on the team, the Seahawks used a three-safety "big nickel" package somewhat regularly, not so much because they were looking to make scheme changed, but rather because they wanted to get three of their best defensive players on the field at the same time.
If Blair shows in camp he's ready for a bigger role—and he'll have to compete with, among others, fellow 2019 draft pick Ugo Amadi for playing time in a nickel role—then an Adams, Diggs and Blair trio could be very intriguing. What makes that particular three-safety look so interesting is the versatility all three players bring, particularly the two veterans. Diggs has played both safety spots in his career, and was also a nickel cornerback in Detroit, while Adams is technically listed as a strong safety, but is the type of player who makes a difference all over the field, from deep in coverage, to blitzing at the line of scrimmage—he had 6.5 sacks last season. While Blair doesn't have the experience of those two, he did spent time at both safety spots last season, meaning the Seahawks could have a ton of options with those three on the field together.
Karen Gilmore from Logan Lake asks, "With the Jamal Adams trade, does it make sense for the Seahawks to sign Jadeveon Clowney?"
A: I don't think the Adams trade necessarily changes anything when it comes to adding more help on the defensive line, be it Clowney or some other veteran. Adams is still on his rookie contract, meaning for now at least swapping him for McDougald doesn't change much, financially, and in terms of long-term considerations, most veterans signing at this point of the season are generally looking for short-term contracts, so again, if the Seahawks still want to sign Clowney or anyone else, the Adams trade shouldn't change that.
If anything, one could argue that the Seahawks might be more apt to push for another defensive piece to maximize their chances of winning in 2020 after making such a big investment in Adams. That being said, you'll never hear Carroll or John Schneider talk about their team being in "win now" mode, because the goal is to be a championship-caliber team every year, not just in the upcoming season—hence making such a big draft-pick investment in a player who is still only 24 and who has two more years remaining on his rookie contract, including the fifth-year option that comes with first-round picks.
@Dago_keeper expresses his concern about the defensive line, only in less kind language.
A: Look, I get it, there's real reason to have questions about the defensive line. That unit struggled to provide consistent pressure last year, and Clowney remains a free agent, while Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods both signed elsewhere. And while the Seahawks can't guarantee anything, they do feel good about the pieces they've added to that position group, both in the draft and free agency.
I will also add this regarding the Adams trade, an elite secondary can absolutely make a pass rush better without the pass rush actually adding any talent—though again, the Seahawks like the talent they've added. Assuming Adams upgrades the Seahawks secondary, a fair assumption to make of a first-team All-Pro, that will make things easier on the players up front. The Seahawks expect young corners Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers to only continue to improve—the status of Quinton Dunbar is uncertain after he was placed on the Commissioner Exempt List on Monday—and with Adams joining Quandre Diggs on the back of the defense, it's reasonable to think that coverage overall will be better, which in turn can lead to more pressure if opposing quarterbacks have to hold the ball a bit longer.
And it's also worth noting that Adams can help the pass rush not just through coverage, but also his own pass-rush abilities. Adams had 6.5 sacks last season, and according to Pro Football Focus, he has the most sacks, quarterback hits and pressures of any defensive back since coming into the League in 2017.
Finally, there also exists the very real possibility that the Seahawks aren't done adding to their defensive line. A number of talented veteran free agents remain unsigned as of Tuesday, including Clowney, and as last year's addition of Clowney showed, the Seahawks are always willing to explore trades before the start of the season as well.
And finally, a couple of non-Adams questions…
@Destroyer15_YT asks, "Do you think DK Metcalf will make a big improvement this season?"
A: Metcalf exceeded a lot of expectations in 2019 by catching 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, but despite those impressive numbers, yes I do see Metcalf being even better in 2020. Metcalf showed continued growth throughout the season, and after an entire NFL season, plus some extra time working with Russell Wilson in the offseason, Metcalf should only be more comfortable with the offense. Just as important for a receiver, Wilson will have even more confidence in Metcalf because the rookie earned that trust last year, and that should only lead to more targets in 2020.
"There are a number of ways that he will get better," Carroll said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "He is a really diligent worker and because of that he has already made consistent progress through the season. He will come back I would think with a new level of confidence after getting through the year and having a good successful rookie season and all of that. Consistency, taking advantage of his opportunities with the matchups that he has and the calls that we have. Really getting more opportunity to build the chemistry with Russ; that is so important, just the little fine tuning stuff. He's got such a great example to work with with Tyler (Lockett) showing him all of the ins and outs of all the stuff that it is to work with Russell and to understand that. So it's just a big ascent that he's on and we are excited about that."
@UnintendedMax asks, "What's the outlook on Tre Flowers this year?"
A: The Seahawks' trade acquisition of Quinton Dunbar earlier this offseason caused some fans to write Flowers off a bit, but it's worth remembering that, despite a few bumpy stretches, he showed considerable improvement from his rookie season to last year, and the growth should again be significant in Year 3 consider he only switched from safety to cornerback as an NFL rookie. Regardless of Dunbar's status, Flowers was going to push for a significant role, and with Dunbar currently on the Commissioner Exempt List, Flowers will head into camp in the same position he has been for most of the past two seasons—Seattle's top right cornerback. And don't rule out what competition can do for a player as well. There's no way Flowers won't be motivated by the Seahawks adding another starting-caliber player at his position, so between that extra motivation as well as the growth that should continue in his third season at a new position, I'd expect Flowers to be an improved player in 2020.
Michael McBride from Avondale asks, "With both centers with any starting experience gone (Justin Britt and Joey Hunt), who do you think will hold down that position for the Seahawks in 2020?"
A: For those who missed it, the Seahawks released a number of players on Sunday, including Hunt, which along with the release of Britt earlier this season, leaves the Seahawks without the two centers who started for them last season, as Michael notes.
The current Seahawks roster lists three players as center/guard, B.J. Finney, Kyle Fuller and Ethan Pocic. I'd imagine all will get a serious look in camp at center, but of those three, Finney might be the favorite for now as the most experienced lineman, having started 13 games over four seasons in Pittsburgh, and has experience at center, right guard and left guard. Pocic too has versatility to play multiple spots, though his last game action at center came when he was at LSU. The Seahawks also have a lot of depth at guard, so there's always the possibility that they try one of those players at center in camp if they see it as a way to get the best five linemen on the field.
Also, it's always worth noting, depending on if Hunt signs elsewhere, that the Seahawks almost always keep open the door to reuniting with players who they've let go, so if the Seahawks didn't like what they were seeing out of other players by the end of camp, and if Hunt were still available, that could be a possibility as well.
@Rich0364 asks, "What happens if a player tests positive and they have been in contact with the whole squad?"
A: Nobody knows how the NFL season will play out in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the league is taking a ton of precautions to try to keep everyone as safe as possible. As Carroll has detailed in a couple of different media interviews, a lot will still be done virtually in terms of meetings to minimize time players are in close contact, and testing will be rigorous, but again, there's no way to know for sure what will happen.
As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to fans this week, "Players and coaches will be tested for the virus regularly, including every day for a while. Preseason games have been canceled. Everyone in the team environment must follow rigorous health and safety protocols to keep themselves and each other safe. When there is a positive test, strict regulations will be enforced to isolate and care for that individual and to contain the virus before it spreads. Even the sideline will look different. And, state and local health guidelines will help determine whether fans will attend the games. These adjustments are necessary to reduce the risk for everyone involved."
Will those protocols guarantee that no player misses time this season due to COVID-19? No, but the Seahawks, like the rest of the league, will be taking a lot of steps to make sure that everyone stays healthy and that procedures are in place to keep the virus from spreading if there were a positive case.
Photos of Jamal Adams during this time with the New York Jets. Adams, an All-Pro and Pro-Bowl safety, was acquired by the Seahawks in a trade on July 25, 2020.