With Seahawks training camp set to kick off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 12 of the team's most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2020 season. Today we look at what veteran tight end Greg Olsen might bring to the offense, and tomorrow we'll look at special teams and whether or not the Seahawks will take Tyler Lockett out of the return roles, and who might take over those spots if they do.
Greg Olsen turned 35 this spring, and Seattle's new tight end has already been on the receiving end of jokes from his new teammate DK Metcalf, who makes fun of Olsen's age due to the fact that Olsen was once teammates with DK's dad, Terrence Metcalf, when Olsen was a rookie with the Chicago Bears.
But "old" or not—and we're talking NFL standards here, not real-life old—there's a reason the Seahawks signed Olsen not long after he became available, and that Olsen decided to sign with the Seahawks instead of transitioning to the lucrative broadcasting career that awaits him whenever he does decide to hang up his cleats.
Olsen, a three-time Pro-Bowler with the Carolina Panthers, is confident he can still play the game at a very high level, and the Seahawks believe he can be a bigtime weapon for Russell Wilson and the offense this year.
"If I wanted to go to TV, if I wanted to move on, I could have done it three years ago," Olsen said earlier this offseason. "I've been fortunate to have those opportunities, but this is really what I like doing. This has really been my passion my whole life. I've done it since I was a kid, I grew up with this game. And I know I can play, I know what I'm capable of. I know in my career what I've been able to achieve, but there's some things I still haven't been able to achieve, and that was really my main message to the teams that reached out (after he became a free agent). I said, I'm not just doing this to collect the paycheck and just extend my career. I've done all that; I'm looking to go somewhere and win and perform at a high level and contribute. I'm not looking to ruin my career's work by just being a shell of myself in year 14. If I thought that was the case, I would have retired. I know what I can still do. I know how my body feels, and there's nothing that I can do now that I haven't been able to do you know years back."
Olsen battled injuries in 2017 and 2018, but was mostly healthy last year, and in 14 games he caught 52 passes for 597 yards in an offense that was missing starting quarterback Cam Newton for all but two games. And while the Seahawks really like what they've seen from Will Dissly in limited action, and were thrilled with what Jacob Hollister brought to the offense last year along with veteran Luke Willson, they also know Olsen brings a level of experience and playmaking that can help even at an already talented position.
"Really excited about Greg," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Thought that was a really important get for us, to be solid at the tight-end spot. I'm loving Will Dissly, I'm loving what Jacob Hollister did. But (adding Olsen) is another step in solidifying—a big, 6-5 target to get the ball, knows routes, understands the game, which really complements Russ' mentality. It's going to be a great duo, I think."
Olsen should also bring considerable leadership not just to his position group but to the entire offense, given his experience and the success he has had in his career. Though he doesn't equate being a leader to being a player willing to take a back seat late in his career.
"While I'm going to be an open book and share where I can share and help where I can help, I told the team, 'Don't bring me in if you just want me to be like the big brother in the locker room," Olsen said. "I'm here to play, first and foremost. I'm here to play. I'm here to perform at a high level and contribute, because I'm a big believer that your voice doesn't really matter if you can't play. And these guys don't care what I did years ago, they want to know, what can this guy do now? And I think the quickest way you can earn that respect to earn that validity in the locker room is by going out and playing and showing them what you can still do, and then the mentorship kind of comes from there."
With Olsen joining Dissly, Hollister and Willson on the roster this spring, followed by the selection of Colby Parkinson in this year's draft, the Seahawks have a lot of depth at versatility at tight end, so it's hard to say exactly what that position group will look like come September, but particularly exciting is the potential for two-tight end sets that include Olsen, one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in NFL history, and Dissly, a player who has shown a ton of potential both as a blocker and pass-catcher in two injury-shortened seasons.
The Seahawks have always used a lot of two tight-end sets, but Olsen combined with a healthy Dissly could give the Seahawks another level of talent and production at that spot that they've had in past seasons.
"I don't think there's any question," Carroll said when asked if Dissly and Olsen could be a special tandem. "Will Dissly is a really good football player. We've loved everything that he's done. He just hasn't had enough time to really stack up numbers and all of that, but there's no doubt that Will can play the game at the line of scrimmage and downfield, and catching and running, he's done all of that. A marvelous kid and competitor, and all. So he was thrilled to hear that Greg was coming, for obvious reasons, because he wants to be great and he wants to learn from Greg. So, they'll both play on the field at the same time, I'm sure. And it will be exciting to see that happen."