Seahawks Takeaways: NFL Draft, updates on Jamal Adams, K.J. Wright
Just a day ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider spoke to the media for the first time this offseason on a number of different topics.
The draft, of course, was a key topic, especially since it will be different for the Seahawks this year as Seattle has just three picks due to multiple trades over the past few years.
Here’s what Carroll and Schneider had to say about the draft and two star defenders from the 2020 season.
‘Hazy’ 2021 draft played part in trading picks
The Seahawks made one of the biggest moves of the 2020 offseason when they shipped two first-round picks, a third-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald to the New York Jets for safety Jamal Adams and a 2022 fourth-round pick last summer. Adams was a first-team All-Pro for the Jets in 2019.
One of the first-round selections as well as the third-round pick are in this year’s draft, and that move along with a few others has Seattle sitting at just three picks, with its first coming in the second round.
While other teams will be having fun Thursday night in the first round, the Seahawks, in their own way, already have their 2021 first-round pick on the roster.
“Our No. 1 pick is Jamal Adams. That’s a heck of a pick,” Carroll said, later in the press conference adding, ” … If you can imagine, our draft pick right now, the No. 1 pick right now, played for us last year. That’s freaking great and he had a terrific football season and he’s going to play for us this year as a legit star. It’s an enormous pick that we gained value in and I’m just thrilled Jamal is part of our team. And he’s going to get way better, too. He’s going to improve a tremendous amount.”
Part of what makes the 2021 draft unique is that the COVID-19 pandemic limited the amount of games some prospects played in college last season. Some prospects also opted out, and teams have less information and access to these prospects than in usual years.
Both Carroll and Schneider indicated that factored into the Seahawks spending major draft capital for Adams.
“There’s no question it’s been a unique year. It definitely came into the equation,” Schneider said. “That was part of the equation with Jamal last summer as we were previewing and trying to project (the draft prospects) and trying to project what the fall was going to look like. Working with the Jets and (GM) Joe Douglas, it just became apparent that if there was a chance to go for it, this was probably the year to go for it.”
Added Carroll: “I know right back when the conversations (about acquiring Adams) came up and the possibilities of all this happened, John was already making reference to this draft and understanding what it was going to be like. We made a major decision to (get Adams) with all of that information in our back pocket.”
Schneider said that even though there are strange circumstances around this year’s draft, the team’s approach to drafting hasn’t changed.
“We evaluate for our team, we don’t evaluate for the league,” he said. “… We have to do what’s best for the organization all the time … When you look at this draft in particular, we had to really say to ourselves ‘What kind of questions are we going to have answered by the time we get to next spring, what’s that going to look like?’ Things just felt too hazy so we just made an organizational decision.”
What also works in the Seahawks’ favor, Carroll said, is the amount of talent on the current roster.
“We’re not going into the draft with great needs or big spaces that we need to fill,” he said. “… We feel really good about (the roster), but hopefully we’ll get some help (with these draft picks).”
Jamal Adams still seen as a long-term piece
Going back to Adams, he’s been a player heavily discussed by the media this offseason as he’s entering the last year of his contract and is due for a long-term deal. Adams led the Seahawks in sacks with 9.5 in 12 games, which set an NFL record for sacks in a season by a defensive back, and was named a second-team All-Pro.
There haven’t been any major reports about the Seahawks and Adams talking about an extension, but Schneider made it clear they want to keep Adams, 25, in Seattle for a long time.
“Absolutely,” Schneider said when asked if the team views Adams as a long-term piece of the defense. “We’re going to be celebrating Jamal tomorrow evening, right? We want him to be here long-term, for sure. He’s a great player. I’m really glad we made the trade to get him and he’s going to be a very important part of our future.”
Part of why the Jets and Adams parted ways was that Adams was upset that the team didn’t want to negotiate a long-term deal ahead of the 2020 season. Now, Adams will play on the fifth year of his rookie deal, but there’s no worry in Schneider’s eyes that Adams won’t suit up for the Seahawks if a deal isn’t reached by Week 1.
“No, we’re not into that. No,” he said.
Door still open for K.J. Wright
The Seahawks have done a nice job this offseason retaining most of their key players who hit the open market.
Seattle has lost two big-name starters in cornerback Shaquill Griffin and defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who was cut as a cap casualty, but one player still available for any team to sign is veteran linebacker K.J. Wright.
Wright, who will turn 32 in July, has been Seattle’s longest-tenured player as he’s been with the team since being drafted in 2011. He also had a great year in 2020.
“Quite frankly, there are so many coaches that were on our staff that are at different places that we thought he would be signed by now,” Schneider said.
With the draft being this week, Schneider expects another “phase” of free agency to be coming up soon, which Wright may be a part of.
“We call this phase two, which is right around draft time,” he said. “I think a lot of teams are going to see what they do in the draft and then kind of come around to some of these veterans that are still available in free agency. We have the utmost respect for him. He’s done a ton for this organization and he’s a great person, a great leader.”
Carroll said he and Wright have spoken in the last week about the future for both Wright and the Seahawks,
“I had a really good sit down with him the other day to bring it all together of where we’re coming from and we needed to hear where he’s coming from and talk about the future and what’s possible moving forward,” he said. “We’re nose-to-nose on this deal … The door is not closed to us (with) what we’re doing going forward. We’re really clear about that and we feel really good about where we are with (him).”
Something worth noting is that not only do the Seahawks have a good linebacker tandem in All-Pro Bobby Wagner and 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, but Carroll signaled that other linebackers will fight for more playing time.
Carroll said in the press conference that he wanted to do a better job this offseason of giving younger players more opportunities to compete for playing time and starting roles. Two players he pointed to quickly? Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven, linebackers the Seahawks selected in the 2019 draft in the third and fifth rounds, respectively.