Monthly Archives: July 2017

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he Seattle Seahawks could have as many as four new starters when the NFL season opens. Here’s a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Russell Wilson): The Seahawks struggled to protect him last year, and Wilson battled through three different injuries. He deserves credit for his toughness, but he wasn’t the same guy, rushing for a career-low 259 yards. The focus for Wilson will be on staying healthy and regaining his form from the second half of 2015, when he dissected defenses from the pocket and threw 25 touchdowns against two interceptions during an eight-game stretch.

Running back (Eddie Lacy): The Seahawks aggressively pursued him in free agency, and given that Lacy signed a one-year deal, he has a lot riding on this season. Assuming he keeps his weight down, Lacy is the favorite to start over Thomas Rawls, who will still have a role. At a minimum, C.J. Prosise will be the third-down back and a big factor in the passing game.

Wide receiver (Doug Baldwin): He set career highs with 94 catches and 1,128 yards a year ago. Only Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown have more touchdowns than Baldwin (21) over the past two seasons.

Wide receiver (Jermaine Kearse): Last year was a struggle. Kearse caught just 51.3 percent of his targets, had one touchdown and was called for a league-high six offensive pass interference penalties. He’ll need to bounce back to hold on to the starting job. Paul Richardson, who played well down the stretch last season, could make some noise here.

Wide receiver (Tyler Lockett): He suffered fractures to his tibia and fibula (right leg) in December but should be ready for the start of the season. If healthy, Lockett has the skill set to be the Seahawks’ top vertical threat.

Tight end (Jimmy Graham): He finished third among tight ends with 923 receiving yards last season and led all players at his position with a yards-per-catch average of 14.2. But the Seahawks need to do a better job of finding Graham in the red zone, where he had just six receptions last season.

Left tackle (George Fant): He was put in a tough spot last year, starting 10 games after having barely played any football since the eighth grade. Fant bulked up to 320 pounds (from 296) in the offseason and is the favorite to protect Wilson’s blind side.

Left guard (Luke Joeckel): He’ll compete at either left guard or left tackle. Joeckel played four games at guard with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season and is coming off of a knee injury. Like Lacy, he’s on a one-year deal.

Center (Justin Britt): He was easily the Seahawks’ best offensive lineman last year. Entering the final year of his contract, Britt will look to earn an extension.

Right guard (Mark Glowinski): He’ll make the switch from left guard and will look to improve on an inconsistent 2016 campaign.

Right tackle (Germain Ifedi): The 2016 first-round pick will switch from guard to tackle and has to make the second-year leap. Rookie Ethan Pocic could push both Ifedi and Glowinski for playing time.


Defensive end (Michael Bennett): He missed five games last season but has been consistently one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the NFL. Bennett plays DE in the Seahawks’ base defense and slides inside to tackle when Seattle is in nickel.

Defensive tackle (Ahtyba Rubin): He doesn’t get a lot of attention, but Rubin’s play on the interior has been key to the Seahawks’ strong run defense.

Defensive tackle (Jarran Reed): He started five games at nose tackle as a rookie and will look to develop into a consistent contributor in his second season.

Defensive end (Cliff Avril): He has 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons and has started every game since 2014. Avril, Bennett and Frank Clark give the Seahawks one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing units.

Weakside linebacker (K.J. Wright): He made his first Pro Bowl last season. Teammates and coaches consistently point to Wright as one of the Seahawks’ smartest and most underrated defensive players.

Middle linebacker (Bobby Wagner): He led the NFL with 167 tackles last season and plays a key role in getting the Seahawks lined up properly pre-snap.

Strongside linebacker (Michael Wilhoite): This is a part-time position in the Seahawks’ defense that is replaced by a cornerback when the team moves to nickel. Wilhoite and Terence Garvin will compete for the job.

Cornerback (Richard Sherman): After a tumultuous offseason that saw the Seahawks shop Sherman around the league, he’s still with the team. Sherman will undoubtedly be in the spotlight this season, but he is still one of the NFL’s top corners.

Cornerback (Jeremy Lane): Most likely, he’ll start on the outside and slide inside when Seattle is in nickel. But Lane will have to hold off rookie Shaquill Griffin and others for the starting right cornerback job.

Strong safety (Kam Chancellor): He’s entering the final year of his contract and it’ll be interesting to see if Chancellor receives an extension before the start of the season. Chancellor is the leader of the defense and played at a high level in 2016.
Free safety (Earl Thomas): He broke his leg on Dec. 4 and the defense fell apart without him, allowing 12 touchdown passes with one interception. He’s ahead of schedule in his recovery and will be ready to go for the start of the season, barring any setbacks.

Special teams

Kicker (Blair Walsh): The Seahawks let Steven Hauschka walk in free agency and are counting on Walsh to replace him. He’ll have to prove this summer that he’s up for the challenge.

Punter (Jon Ryan): He’s back for his 10th season with the Seahawks and is in the second year of the four-year deal he signed last offseason.

Long-snapper (Nolan Frese): He’ll have to hold off Tyler Ott for the job.

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Here are three numbers that matter pertaining to the Seattle Seahawks’ 2017 season.
Russell Wilson faced pressure on 35 percent of his dropbacks in 2016, according to Football Outsiders. Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports
1: Where Russell Wilson has ranked statistically (defense-adjusted value over average) from 2012 to 2016 on plays in which he’s not pressured, according to Football Outsiders. The website recently broke down quarterbacks’ performances on plays when they were pressured compared with plays when they weren’t. Wilson’s numbers suffered a drop-off when pressured, but he was still second leaguewide in that category.

The Seahawks’ goal for Wilson is to get him back to his 2015 form, when the quarterback threw 25 touchdowns and two interceptions in the second half of the season. He did his damage during that stretch primarily from the pocket. But to get back to that, protection has to hold up.

Per Football Outsiders, Wilson was pressured on 34.9 percent of his dropbacks last year. Only Tyrod Taylor and Jared Goff were pressured more frequently.

73.1: Wilson’s QBR last year when he played behind an offensive line of George Fant, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi and Garry Gilliam. That would have ranked fifth in the NFL. With that group, Wilson completed 66.1 percent of his passes, averaged 8.65 yards per attempt and threw 12 touchdowns with two interceptions on 251 dropbacks.

Why do those numbers matter? Because four of those five offensive linemen could be starting in Week 1. Glowinski is moving from left guard to right guard, and Ifedi is moving from right guard to right tackle. Gilliam signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

But Wilson played behind that five-man unit mostly later in the season, and while the offense still had issues, the numbers suggest they weren’t dire. With that five-man unit up front, the Seahawks averaged 6.04 yards per play, which would have been fourth in the NFL.

Luke Joeckel is expected to start at left guard or left tackle. Second-round pick Ethan Pocic could compete for playing time at right guard or right tackle. And while it’s not a huge sample size (388 plays), the numbers reflect why the coaches likely think a healthy Wilson can be enough to provide a significant upgrade to the offense in 2017.
27: The number of “defeats” credited to Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright last year. That was tops on the team and tied for eighth-most leaguewide. Football Outsiders defines a “defeat” as: “a tackle that results in a loss of yardage, including sacks; any play that results in a turnover, including tipped passes which are then intercepted; any tackle or tipped pass that leads to a stop on third or fourth down.”

Seahawks players consistently point to Wright when asked about the team’s most underrated defenders. He hasn’t missed a game in three years and rarely comes off the field. Only Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman played more snaps than Wright among Seahawks defenders last year.

One more note on defeats: Kam Chancellor was tied for fourth among safeties with 16, and he missed four games. Chancellor is entering the final year of his deal, and the Seahawks will have to make a decision about whether to extend him, but the veteran played at a high level in 2016.

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It’s time for another Seattle Seahawks mailbag. Let’s get right to the questions.

@SheilKapadia What’s Kearse’s salary cap impact if released, and is he in danger of losing his spot based on drafted/signed WRs

— On tha flipside (@homechix) May 2, 2017
Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was the subject of a bunch of questions this week. He’d likely admit that 2016 didn’t go the way he wanted. Kearse was coming off a career season and struggled, catching just 41 of 80 targets (51.3 percent) for 510 yards and a touchdown.


He also led the NFL with six offensive pass interference penalties. Football Outsiders ranked Kearse 91st out of 93 wide receivers in terms of efficiency.

At wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson are locks to make the roster. Amara Darboh, a third-round pick, likely will as well. That probably leaves one or two spots for Kearse, Tanner McEvoy, Cyril Grayson, Kenny Lawler and David Moore.

But given the way Kearse’s contract is structured, cutting him wouldn’t give the Seahawks much cap relief. They’d save only $366,666 by releasing him.

They could bump that number up to $2.2 million by using a post-June 1 designation on Kearse. But that would defer $1.8M of his remaining cap charge to next offseason.

Bottom line: neither option is ideal.

But there’s also the issue of pure cash charge. Kearse is due $2.2 million in base salary for 2017. If the Seahawks simply determine that the other wide receivers are better options than Kearse and replace his roster spot with a rookie, they could save roughly $1.735 million in cash.

So where does that leave us?

My sense has always been that the coaches and people inside the Seahawks’ building value Kearse more than people on the outside — especially when it comes to culture and being a good teammate. Having said that, Pete Carroll did replace him with Lockett in the starting lineup late last season before Lockett injured his leg.

If some of the lesser known receivers outplay Kearse in camp, there is a slim possibility that the team will look to save the cash and let him go. But that seems unlikely, especially considering that Lockett is coming off an injury and Richardson is entering the final year of his deal.

More likely, the team could look to part ways with Kearse next offseason. Doing so then would free up $5 million in cap space.

It’s possible that Kearse sees a diminished role if the players behind him emerge. But more than likely, he’ll stick on the roster for 2017.

@SheilKapadia Who will be starting on the online next year week one?

— Josh Dowdy (@JoshuaDowdy) May 2, 2017
The way I see it, this comes down to Luke Joeckel and the left tackle spot. If that’s where Joeckel sticks, from left to right I think it will be Joeckel, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic and Germain Ifedi.

If the Seahawks decide Joeckel is a better fit at left guard, I think we’re looking at George Fant, Joeckel, Britt, Glowinski and Ifedi.

Looking at the roster overall, eight offensive line spots seem set: Joeckel, Glowinski, Britt, Ifedi, Pocic, Fant, Rees Odhiambo and Oday Aboushi. Odhiambo and Pocic are the wild cards. If they perform especially well at camp, the starting lineup could see a shakeup.

@SheilKapadia Can you give a sense of the DL depth and possible rotations now that we have a bunch of new ones? I think there were a couple UDFA ones too.

— Ryan Mongelluzzo (@rymong) May 2, 2017
I think the starters in base will be Cliff Avril, Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin and Michael Bennett.

The sub packages will be interesting. The most common one will likely be Avril, Bennett, Malik McDowell and Frank Clark.

Nazair Jones should fit in as a rotational defensive tackle. The team still has high hopes for last year’s fifth-round pick, Quinton Jefferson. Dion Jordan will get a look at multiple spots on the defensive line. And Cassius Marsh could still be a factor on game days, given his contribution on special teams.

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RENTON, Wash. — Tyrone Swoopes has no interest in trying to mask the difficulty involved with his transition from college quarterback to NFL tight end.

Asked if he’s ever played tight end before at any level, Swoopes said, “Never in my life.”

What about special teams?

“Never played special teams either,” he said. “All of this that I’m doing is new. This is my first time doing it. But I’m willing to learn and do anything I can to get on the field.”

Swoopes (6-foot-4, 247 pounds) was a four-star quarterback recruit at Texas. He completed 56.3 percent of his passes and threw 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions during his four seasons with the Longhorns.

His career as a college quarterback never quite got on track, but Swoopes found a role in Texas’ “18-wheeler” package, carrying the ball successfully in short-yardage situations. Swoopes ran for 24 touchdowns at Texas, including 19 in the past two seasons. In 2015, he totaled 451 rushing yards and averaged 6.1 YPC.

Now he’s trying to make the Seahawks’ roster as a tight end. Swoopes ran 4.65 at Texas’ pro day, and Seattle added him as one of its eight undrafted free agents.

“He caught a couple of great balls today,” coach Pete Carroll said after the first day of the Seahawks’ rookie camp. “He looked real natural. He’s obviously a great athlete. He caught a terrific pass in the walk-through today, then had a couple of really nice catches out here that show he’s got athletic ability to have a chance.

“We’ll just see how it goes and see how far he can take it. He has been playing a lot of quarterback, so we’re not quite sure how he’s going to block anybody, but he’s willing. He’s a big body and a very talented athlete. That jumped out today.”

The Seahawks have six tight ends on their 90-man roster, and three are locks to make the team: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson and Nick Vannett. But Seattle has kept four tight ends in the past, and if the coaches like Swoopes’ upside, he could have a chance. Graham and Willson are free agents after 2017. The practice squad could also be an option for Swoopes.
“When I signed, my agent, we talked about it and came to the decision it’d be best to use my athleticism on special teams and be able to make plays and block,” Swoopes said. “So we just came to the decision that this was my best chance to get an opportunity at the next level.”

Swoopes said he started watching film of Willson and Graham and how they operate in the Seahawks’ offense. Blocking is entirely new to him.

He needs to show he can catch, but Swoopes said his background as a quarterback should help him as a route runner.

“Just reading coverages,” he said. “Most people don’t get that that’s a huge part of playing quarterback and running routes. Just recognizing zone or man and things like that. So I think that helps a lot.”

At one point last year, the Seahawks had 24 undrafted free agents on their roster. They have a history of giving guys with unique athletic traits opportunities. Swoopes is a long shot, but this summer he will try to become their latest success story.