Will the Seahawks trade up, trade back or stay put in the first round?
Tuesday’s edition of “Blue 42” included a question about the Seahawks’ options with their first-round pick, No. 26 overall: Will they trade up, trade back or stay put?
It’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty what the Seahawks will do. They’ve been as unpredictable as any team in the draft under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. And that decision will depend on a number of unknown factors, including which players are still available at No. 26 and what the market will be like for that pick.
But we can examine the likelihood of each option based on Seattle’s history and the team’s stated view of this year’s class of players.
Trading up would seem to be the least likely even though Seattle has the capital to do so with nine picks. That hasn’t been the Seahawks’ M.O. under Schneider and Carroll. Of the nine pick-for-pick trades they’ve made since their first draft in 2010, only two have been to move up. The first time was in 2013, when Seattle chose defensive tackle Jesse Williams in the fifth round. The Seahawks moved up in the third round last year to take wide receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett. But the other seven pick-for-pick trades they’ve made were to move back and acquire additional selections.
They’ve done that twice in the first round. In 2012, Seattle went from No. 12 to No. 15 before taking linebacker Bruce Irvin. The Seahawks owned the 32nd pick in 2014 but traded out of the first round then moved back again before taking wide receiver Paul Richardson in the second.
Schneider recently said in an interview with Sports Radio 950 KJR that the Seahawks believe this is the best draft since 2010. If so, they’ll feel good about their chances of getting a quality player at No. 26 – perhaps one rated significantly better than 26th on their board – and would have less reason to trade up. By the same logic, several players worthy of being drafted at No. 26 could still be available at that spot, giving the Seahawks incentive to trade back knowing that they could still land one of them while also acquiring more selections.
Trading back – specifically out of the first round – could have additional appeal to the Seahawks. On the surface, the fifth-year option that comes with first-round picks is a benefit to teams in that it provides an extra year of club control. But Danny O’Neil has raised an interesting point, which is that it can also complicate a team’s plan to lock up a player if the price-tag for the option creates too high a baseline for negotiations on an extension.
Seattle, for instance, would have liked to re-sign guard James Carpenter and Irvin, the only Seahawks who have been eligible for fifth-year options since those were implemented in the 2011 CBA. But had the Seahawks picked up either player’s option, which they did not, any negotiation on an extension would have had to start at a price that the team deemed to already be too high. Both players hit free agency the next year and signed elsewhere.
If the Seahawks consider the option to not be beneficial, and if they feel there wouldn’t be much of a dropoff in the caliber of player they could get early in the second round compared to No. 26, then a move out of the first round would make sense.
Of course, it takes two to trade. So if the Seahawks were interested in moving back, they would have to find another team that not only wants to move up to 26 but is willing to meet Seattle’s asking price.