How the Seahawks can take the next step
The Seattle Seahawks are one of the most consistent teams in all of football. They’ve made it to two Super Bowls in the past half-decade, and have won at least one playoff game in each of the past five years. With Russell Wilson at the helm and the defense playing as well as it always does, the Seahawks are always in contention. However, despite sky-high expectations each year, the Seahawks are a few pieces away from winning it all.
That was abundantly apparent this season as they were bounced by the Falcons in the Divisional Round. The offensive line was whipped, Steven Terrell was embarrassed and Wilson’s best effort still wasn’t enough to beat Atlanta. To take the next step, the Seahawks have to make these five moves in the offseason.
5 Add depth at safety
When Earl Thomas suffered a season-ending leg injury, he shockingly brought up the word retirement. It seemed like a gut reaction and one that he didn’t think out properly, but he’s said several times since then that it’s still in his mind. Although he tweeted he’ll return in 2017, you can never be completely sure about a situation like this one. And even if Thomas does come back as we all expect him to, the Seahawks need depth at safety.
Everyone saw Steven Terrell get juked out of his shoes several times against the Seahawks, and they simply can’t go into 2017 with him as Thomas’ backup – despite the fact that he’s a restricted free agent. He’ll likely return to Seattle, but he hasn’t earned the No. 2 spot just yet. Seattle has to protect itself from a potential disaster, whether it’s another injury to Thomas or his shocking retirement.
4 Shore up the interior defensive line
The Seahawks are set at defensive end with Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Frank Clark anchoring the edges of the line. However, the defensive tackle position is one that needs attention. Ahtyba Rubin and Tony McDaniel played the most snaps at that spot this season, as well as Jarran Reed, but none of them has the ability to generate pressure up the middle.
The Seahawks would greatly benefit from adding a pass-rushing three-technique defensive tackle, one they can pair with Reed on the interior. Generating pressure on quarterbacks is key in the NFL, and we all saw what how crucial that was for the Panthers and Broncos last year, as well as this season. It’s not the top priority, but adding a stud rookie could put the Seahawks over the hump defensively.
3 Draft a cornerback
We all know the Seahawks have Richard Sherman on one side, but they need a reliable cornerback to play opposite him. DeShawn Shead did a decent job of that this season, but he’s a restricted free agent and just suffered a torn ACL, putting the start to his 2017 campaign in question. Not to mention, he’s going to be 29 years old.
It’s time for the Seahawks to find a true No. 2 cornerback to run alongside Sherman. Jeremy Lane typically plays the slot, and keeping Sherman on one side of the field most of the time allows teams to pick on CB2. If the Seahawks can find a running mate for Sherman, their secondary will become even more daunting. Just think about the days when Brandon Browner was second on the depth chart.
Spending a first-round pick on a corner probably isn’t necessary considering the issues Seattle has on offense, but a second- or third-rounder should absolutely be in the discussion.
2 Add a big, possession receiver
One thing the Seahawks seriously lack is a big wide receiver. They have one wideout over 6-2, and that’s Tanner McEvoy (6-6), who played 132 snaps this season. Outside of him, it’s all smaller, quicker receivers like Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Sure, Jimmy Graham is obviously in the picture, but Russell Wilson would greatly benefit from a big presence on the outside.
I’m not suggesting the Seahawks should go out and sign Alshon Jeffery, but can you imagine him in that offense? It would take Seattle’s offense to another level – especially in the red zone where the Seahawks struggled this season.
Wilson has all of the speed receivers he needs at his disposal, but getting a big target to run underneath routes the way Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall do would be huge. Perhaps Marshall will become available in the offseason, providing the Seahawks with a relatively cheap option there.
1 Address the offensive line
There may not be a more glaring hole in the NFL than the Seahawks’ need for offensive line help. They spent less money on that unit than any other team in the league this season, and it showed. The Seahawks’ line allowed 111 quarterback hits, fourth-most in the NFL, while also surrendering 42 sacks (sixth-most).
This offseason, the Seahawks have to address that unit. No more undrafted free agents. No more cheap additions. They need to spend the money to protect their best asset: Russell Wilson. The interior of the line is better than the tackles with Justin Britt playing well and Germain Ifedi figuring to improve in Year 2, but Wilson needs more protection on the edges.
Whether it’s drafting an offensive tackle in the first round or signing a guy like Andrew Whitworth in free agency, the Seahawks simply can’t afford to ignore the offensive line anymore. Shore it up and they’re once again Super Bowl favorites.