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Seahawks Mailbag: Potential Trades, Linebacker Depth & More

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The Seahawks are halfway through the preseason, and are back on the practice field today to begin preparation for Saturday night’s game in Los Angeles. But before we shift our focus to this week’s game, it’s time once again to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if we weren’t able to get to yours this time around. And remember, you can now submit questions online, in addition to on Twitter, by going to Seahawks.com/Seahawksmailbag. While there, you can also sign up to have our mailbags delivered to your email inbox.

@flashdash007 asks, “Any chance the Seahawks are looking at trades to help fill roster spots?”

A: Short answer: Always.

Longer answer: This is a time of year when teams are constantly keeping an eye on rosters around the league, knowing that all 32 teams soon have to cut their rosters from 90 to 53 players. While the Seahawks, like other teams, will look to the waiver wire a day after cuts are made, they are also open to the possibility of giving up a draft pick if it means getting a player a team either isn’t going to cut, or might cut, but would likely be claimed by other teams higher on the waiver priority list. They’ll also listen to calls from other teams about their own players. For an example of Seattle’s willingness to deal this time of year, look no further than the past few years in late August and early September.

Last year, the Seahawks added quarterback Brett Hundley and safety Shalom Luani before roster cuts, and also sent receiver Marcus Johnson to Indianapolis for tight end Darrell Daniels. In 2017, the Seahawks traded receiver Jermaine Kearse and draft picks to the Jets for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, they added tackle Matt Tobin and cornerback Justin Coleman, and they sent cornerback Tramaine Brock to Minnesota and defensive end Cassius Marsh to New England. In 2016 the Seahawks added linebacker Dewey McDonald. And in 2015, the Seahawks traded receiver Kevin Norwood to Carolina, added safety Kelsey McCray in a trade with Kansas City, and sent running back Christine Michael to Dallas. And again, those are just the moves made in late August and early September.

And to those of you who have asked about the Seahawks potentially acquiring specific players via trade, I see your questions, it’s just not appropriate for the team website to speculate on specific trade scenarios. But is there a good chance the Seahawks could add or trade away players between now and their regular-season opener? Of course.

Lachlan Keyton from Melbourne, Australia asks, “Do you believe Cody Barton has a future with the Seahawks seeing that he could be behind Bobby Wagner for the next four years?”

A: While you’re right that Wagner’s contract extension appears to block Barton’s path to an obvious role on defense right away, I definitely believe he has a future with the team, and a bright one at that. Barton has been impressive throughout camp and the preseason, and it’s telling that while he has spent the majority of his time at middle linebacker, the Seahawks have moved him around to other linebacker spots, including one day with the No. 1 defense at strongside linebacker while Mychal Kendricks was out.

If Barton shows the versatility to play all three linebacker spots, then he could essentially become the top backup for three different spots, meaning that due to the unfortunate reality of injuries in the NFL, he would have a very good shot at seeing the field this year. And it’s also worth remembering that draft picks aren’t made looking just one year ahead, so even if Barton has to bide his time this year, he still could figure prominently into Seattle’s defensive plans a year or two down the road, as Wagner is Seattle’s only starting linebacker under contract past 2020.

@MeepleBunker asks, “Who do you think is the standout undrafted player in camp this year?”

A: The easy answer here is Jazz Ferguson thanks to his big performance in Week 1 of the preseason, and the big receiver is definitely in the mix in a deep position group. But there are other players who play positions where it’s more difficult to shine who have also enjoyed strong camps. For example, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll singled out defensive tackle Bryan Mone last week, noting that the Michigan product “has shown he can contribute (at defensive tackle). We need some more games from him to see what happens, but at 350 or whatever he is, he’s a monster in there. The thing I like about him, he played for a really good college team and played great run defense—he was right in the middle of all that. He has shown why he was a factor there, and we’re excited to see if he can contribute.”

@Michael Simmons from Bellevue asks, “John Urusa has been looking very much like a guy who has what it takes to succeed on this team, what does he need to accomplish in the next two preseason games to make the roster?”

A: You’re correct that Ursua has been impressive, but he’s also competing at a very deep position. For him to make the team, the best things he can do are: 1. Stay healthy between now and cut day. That sounds obvious, but unfortunately-timed injuries, even somewhat minor ones in these final couple of weeks of the preseason, can make all the difference for a player on the bubble. 2. Prove to be a difference maker in the slot. 3. Prove himself on special teams. That last item in a lot of ways is the most important one for any receiver battling for a fifth or sixth spot at that position, or for any bubble player for that matter. In all likelihood, Seattle’s No. 5 and No. 6 receivers (if they keep six) won’t have big roles in the offense when everyone else is healthy, so they need to make themselves indispensable in other ways, namely by being a bigtime contributor on special teams. 

@charliewilsonST asks, “Is this the deepest linebacker corps the Seahawks have had in the Pete Carroll era?”

A: Carroll has said on a few occasions that it is, so yeah, I’ll go ahead and defer to the head coach about his defense. And it’s easy to see why Carroll is so excited about that group. The trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks is as good as Seattle has ever had, and the depth is also very impressive. Austin Calitro and Shaquem Griffin both got significant playing time last year, and then Seattle went and added Barton, who we talked about earlier, and Ben Burr-Kirven in the draft. Barkevious Mingo, last year’s starting strongside linebacker, can also be counted as linebacker depth, though for now his focus is on defensive end. One could argue that the trio of Wagner, Wright and Bruce Irvin rivals this year’s trio in terms of talent, but I would counter that Wagner and Wright have developed into better players than they were earlier in their careers.

Matthew Cruz from Gig Harbor asks, “I’m assuming Lockett and Brown are going to be our outside receivers. Who is going to be the slot receiver?”

A: While I’d agree that Lockett and Brown are both going to be big contributors on offense, I wouldn’t necessarily assume they’re the two outside receivers and that someone else will play in the slot. Yes, both have played a lot on the outside, but both are more than capable out of the slot as well, so if the Seahawks think their top three receivers are those two and someone else, say David Moore or DK Metcalf, then you could see Lockett or Brown in the slot in three-receiver sets. That’s what Seattle did when the starting offense was on the field last week, frequently putting Brown in the slot while Moore and Lockett lined up outside. And last year, Lockett saw a lot of playing time in the slot while Doug Baldwin was hurt.

If, however, the Seahawks decide they want Lockett on the outside with Brown or Moore or Metcalf on the other side, two options who fit the more traditional small/shifty slot receiver mold are Keenan Reynolds and John Ursua.

@yo_ger asks, “Who do you see making the jump for the defensive backs?”

A: The most obvious answer is Tre Flowers, who started at cornerback as a rookie despite playing safety throughout his college career. Given that he now has a full season of NFL experience at corner, plus an offseason working at his new position, it stands to reason that Flowers should be a lot better in 2019 than he was as a rookie, when he was pretty darn effective despite a lack of experience.

Another player I’d point to is Seattle’s other starting corner, Shaquill Griffin, who was hard on himself for his play in 2018, and who reported for offseason workouts slimmed down and with a new approach to his game.

Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' second preseason game of 2019 against the Minnesota Vikings.

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