With Seahawks training camp kicking off later this month, Seahawks.com is taking a look at 10 of the most intriguing storylines, position battles and players heading into the 2023 season. So far we've looked at special teams and tight end, and today, we take a look at an overhauled defensive line. Check back tomorrow when we focus on running back.
Defensive Line Key Additions: DE Dre'Mont Jones (free agent), DE Jarran Reed (free agent), DE Mike Morris (draft), DE Mario Edwards Jr. (free agent), NT Cameron Young (draft).
Defensive Line Key Departures: NT Al Woods (signed with Jets), DE Shelby Harris (unsigned free agent), DE/NT Poona Ford (signed with Bills), DE Quinton Jefferson (signed with Jets).
When the new league year began in March, the Seahawks, who usually aren't aggressive in the opening days of free agency, made a Day 1 splash by signing defensive end Dre'Mont Jones away from Denver. In Jones, the Seahawks are hoping to add the type of game-wrecking interior lineman that can be one of the most difficult players to find in football.
"We've been searching for that big, long 3-technique, a guy that can be an inside pass rusher with length," general manager John Schneider said at the NFL Annual Meeting. "We were playing against Calais Campbell in Arizona for so long, we were like, 'That body type, that physicality, we need that.'"
The addition of Jones was just one of the many moves the Seahawks made this offseason in overhauling their defensive line. Shelby Harris and Al Woods were released in salary cap-related moves, while Poona Ford ended up signing in Buffalo, meaning all three starters in last year's 3-4 front are no longer with the team heading into 2023. The Seahawks also released Quinton Jefferson, a significant contributor in the defensive line rotation.
In addition to Jones, the Seahawks signed Jarran Reed, who spent his first five seasons in Seattle before stops in Kansas City and Green Bay, as well as veteran defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. In the draft, the Seahawks added nose tackle Cameron Young and defensive end Mike Morris, a versatile player who rushed off the edge at Michigan, but after bulking up after the draft, is expected to be more of an interior player/big defensive end in Seattle's defense.
Despite being a rookie, Young will have a real chance to start following the departure of Woods, and with Bryan Mone recovering from an ACL injury, though the Seahawks have other options there, including veteran Myles Adams, undrafted rookie Jonah Tavai, and former Seattle Sea Dragons standout Austin Faolui.
That level of turnover at one position group may not be the norm in the NFL, but it's not? entirely surprising given that the Seahawks transitioned from a 4-3 front to a 3-4 last year, and as Schneider noted this offseason, it can take some time to get things sorted out from a personnel standpoint when making that switch.
"I went through this with Dom Capers and Coach (Mike) McCarthy (in Green Bay), like two or three years before I came to Seattle," Schneider said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "It took us two good years to be able to say, 'OK, here are your four edge rushers. Here are your seven defensive linemen. And then how do you help your special teams?' It's definitely a balance, especially when you know, you've been an even-front team."
Schneider expanded on that a bit more at the NFL Annual Meeting later in the spring.
"You're transitioning from having—we had three nose tackles on our team last year—so when you sign a three-technique or an inside pass rusher, that guy's got to be able to play the run too and hunker down. And you can get off kilter too if you have three nose tackles out there, but in an odd front, you only have so many numbers active each week.
"So It takes a while. I was talking about, when we hired Dom Capers in Green Bay, you're transitioning from an even front to an odd front, and you're trying to find outside linebackers who can be pass-rushers and can play on (special) teams and stuff like that."
The hope is that with the changes the Seahawks made, and well as any still to come—Schneider has a good history of finding value in veteran lineman additions, so additions could still happen—the Seahawks' personnel will better fit the scheme this year, and in turn help a defense that dealt with some inconsistent play, particularly on run defense, take a step forward in 2023.