After finishing first in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA efficiency metric in each season from 2012-15, the Seahawks fell to ninth in 2016. The fact that that ranking was Seattle’s lowest since 2011 speaks to the consistency of the organization, especially at the top (John Schneider and Pete Carroll each finished among the NFL’s top three general managers and head coaches, respectively, in Patrick Daughtery of Rotoworld’s excellent leadership lists). The Seahawks have advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs in each of the past five campaigns, and have shown a remarkable ability to lock up core players in order to maintain their run of success.
That’s not to say Seattle didn’t have areas to address this offseason, however, so let’s take a look at how Seattle fared:
- Luke Joeckel, T: One year, $8MM. $7MM guaranteed.
- Eddie Lacy, RB: One year, $4.25MM. $2.865MM guaranteed. $1.3MM available via incentives.
- Luke Willson, TE: One year, $1.8MM. Fully guaranteed.
- DeShawn Shead, CB: One year, $1.2MM. $1MM guaranteed.
- Bradley McDougald, S: One year, $1.8MM. $750K guaranteed.
- Neiko Thorpe, S: Two years, $1.75MM. $600K guaranteed.
- Michael Wilhoite, LB: One year, $1.55MM. $500K guaranteed.
- Oday Aboushi, G: One year, $975K. $200K guaranteed.
- Terence Garvin, LB: One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K guaranteed.
- Austin Davis, QB: One year, minimum salary benefit. $50K guaranteed.
- Blair Walsh, K: One year, $1.1MM.
- David Bass, LB: One year, minimum salary benefit.
- Arthur Brown, LB: One year, minimum salary benefit.
- Marcus Cromartie, CB: One year, $690K.
- Dion Jordan, DE: One year, $640K.
As I noted when assessing the Seahawks’ most pressing needs heading into the offseason, Seattle’s offensive line could have been listed first, second, and third on a list of the club’s glaring weaknesses. After ranking 25th in adjusted sack rate and 26th in adjusted line yards in 2016, the Seahawks and general manager John Schneider addressed the problem in free agency — something they didn’t do a year ago — by adding former No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel on a one-year pact.
Joeckel received $8MM from Seattle, with $7MM of that total coming as a full guarantee. It’s an astonishing figure for a player who’s been considered a complete bust, and it’s hard to believe Joeckel was drawing enough interest to force the Seahawks to land at that number. Other offensive linemen earning ~$8MM include Marshal Yanda, Mike Iupati, Morgan Moses, and Brandon Brooks, all of whom are in a different stratosphere from Joeckel in terms of production. Former first-round selection D.J. Fluker scored only $3MM from the Giants on a single-season deal this spring, and Joeckel should have come in around the same amount.
Even more surprising is that Joeckel may not even play left tackle! The Seahawks are reportedly considering placing George Fant, who graded as Pro Football Focus‘ single-worst tackle in the NFL last season, on the blindside, meaning Joeckel would likely stick at guard, or perhaps even be forced to act as a reserve. Either way, Seattle’s financial commitment to Joeckel makes no sense if he’s not at least starting at left tackle, as his $8MM salary would make him the 11th-highest-paid guard in the league.
After securing the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft in Joeckel, the Seahawks also brought in the third overall selection from that draft: defensive end Dion Jordan, who’s been an even larger disappointment during his NFL tenure than Joeckel. The 27-year-old Jordan hasn’t played in a game since December 2014, with PED-related suspensions and knee issues delaying his return to the field. Seattle’s gamble on Jordan is more palatable than its Joeckel bet, especially given that Jordan only inked a minimum salary deal with no guaranteed money. If Jordan does earn a roster spot and perform well, the Seahawks can control him through 2018 as a restricted free agent.
While the Joeckel and Jordan risks are based on performance concerns, the main uncertainly with cornerback DeShawn Shead is his health, as he’s coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 15. After being non-tendered and then re-signed, Shead is expected to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, as head coach Pete Carroll said in March he’d be “really surprised” if Shead was able to suit up for Week 1. A 15-game starter a season ago, Shead played more than 1,000 defensive snaps and graded as the league’s No. 37 corner, per PFF.
Joining Shead in the defensive backfield will be Bradley McDougald, an excellent value signing by the Seahawks at cost of only $1.8MM. McDougald, who started 31 games for the Buccaneers over the past two years, will serve as a third safety for Seattle, but could conceivably be forced into action based on injury questions with the Seahawks’ starts. Earl Thomas is expected to be ready for the season opener as he recovers from a broken leg, but complications could certainly arise. Kam Chancellor, meanwhile, is working his way back from multiple ankle surgeries and wasn’t yet at full speed as of March.
Seattle didn’t make many other notable additions on defense, although it did load up on linebackers/defensive backs with special teams experience. While the Seahawks graded among the top half of the league in special teams DVOA, their No. 13 ranking was a ten-spot drop from 2015. Perhaps with the intent of pushing that ranking back up, the Seahawks signed Terence Garvin, Michael Wilhoite, David Bass, Neiko Thorpe, and Arthur Brown, all of whom played on more than 45% of their respective team’s special teams snaps in 2016. Not every member of that cadre will end up making Seattle’s roster, but as a group, it’s a cheap investment with an eye towards special teams improvement.
The Seahawks’ most high-profile signing was former Packers running back Eddie Lacy, whom Seattle landed on a one-year contract worth $4.25MM. Lacy hasn’t posted a complete, healthy season since 2014, and given that his conditioning has been questioned, the Seahawks inserted weight clauses into Lacy’s deal. He passed his first weigh-in last month, earning $55K for tipping the scales below 250 pounds. Lacy, who is still only 26 years old, will join a Seattle backfield that also includes Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, and Mike Davis. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times indicated last month that Lacy and Rawls will likely split basedown touches while Prosise handles passing game work.
After considering Colin Kaepernick, the Seahawks landed on Austin Davis as their free agent quarterback addition. Davis hasn’t played since 2015, and has only attempted only 378 career passes, but it’s not even clear that he’ll in fact be Russell Wilson‘s direct backup. Trevone Boykin, a 2016 undrafted free agent who served behind Wilson last year, has avoided jail time for at least one legal incident and isn’t expected to be suspended by the NFL. If he’s available, Boykin will likely relegate Davis to the No. 3 job (or off the roster).