Clayton: Seahawks couldn’t afford not to have their impressive last 2 weeks in free agency

Mar 26, 2021, 3:16 PM

Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...

The Seahawks' strong moves in free agency have been matched by other NFC West teams. (Getty)


Seahawks general manager John Schneider is taking care of business.

Rost: Three thoughts on the Seahawks’ big D-line shuffle

First he fixed the offensive line. He re-signed center Ethan Pocic and traded for guard Gabe Jackson, then he filled backup roles by bringing back guard Jordan Simmons and tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. That box is checked.

This week, he took care of the pass rush. He re-signed defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa and signed fellow DE Kerry Hyder. To make all those moves came with a price, thought. They couldn’t afford to keep defensive tackle Jarran Reed and instead replaced him with 34-year-old Al Woods, who agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract. It’s not out of the question to bring Reed back if he can’t get a good deal elsewhere, But Schneider checked the box on the defensive line.

It was an interesting decision. Dunlap wanted $10 million a year, which was too rich in this market. Nevertheless, the Seahawks did step up and gave him maybe around $8 million. Say what you want – Dunlap was one of the big reasons the Seahawks’ defense got so much better in the second half of the season. After a horrible start, the pass rush turned into one of the better teams in terms of sacks after Dunlap debuted in Week 8.

Now the Seahawks are deeper at defensive end. They can start Hyder, who had 8 1/2 sacks last year, at the five-technique position. Dunlap can start as the Leo, and he will have plenty of backups who will be in the rotation.

The only downside is that the defense is older. They lost two of their younger defenders in cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who left in free agency, and Reed. Without question, though, the Seahawks are gearing into trying to get back to the Super Bowl, and their roster is strong.

It better be, though. The NFC West continues to get more aggressive. The San Francisco 49ers are having a great offseason. They re-signed four of their key free agents, and then on Friday they traded with Miami to move up to the third pick in the draft. They could easily take the third quarterback in the draft, who most people think could be Trey Lance. Trevor Lawrence is expected to go No. 1 to Jacksonville and Zach Wilson may have locked up the New York Jets’ endorsement for the No. 2 pick with his strong throwing workout Friday.

The Los Angeles Rams traded for Matthew Stafford. The Arizona Cardinals have been aggressive with signings and trades, adding big names like J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson. How competitive is it in the NFC West? Due to trades to improve their rosters, the Rams and 49ers don’t have first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, and the Seahawks don’t have one this year or next year.

To stay ahead of pack in this division, Schneider needed to take care of business.

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