STACY ROST

Rost’s Seahawks Q&A: The big decisions Seattle now faces

Dec 23, 2021, 10:24 AM
Seahawks DK Metcalf...
Seahawks WR DK Metcalf warms up before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Seahawks’ playoff hopes might have ended with a loss to the Rams on Tuesday night, but there’s still something to play for over the next three weeks.

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Ask a player or coach what that might be, and he’d tell you he’s playing for his teammates or for pride. But ask a fan – or, maybe an owner – and they might instead tell you this team is playing to sort out some big decisions that must be made this offseason.

That, and more, in today’s Seahawks Q&A (all questions submitted via Twitter):

@wharrison51: Who is the one pending free agent that Seattle must re-sign?

It’s hard to argue that anyone but free safety Quandre Diggs belongs at the top of this list. Originally acquired for just a fifth-round pick in a midseason trade with Detroit, the former Lions captain has been Seattle’s leader in interceptions for two seasons (five this year and five in 2020), and he tallied three picks in five games in 2019. He’s allowed the lowest passer rating (56.9) of any Seahawks defender this year, and according to Pro Football Focus has recorded an interception on more than 20% of passes thrown into his coverage since 2019, which ranks first among all safeties. For his efforts, he was one of two Seahawks players named to the 2022 Pro Bowl on Wednesday.

Diggs might not command Jamal Adams-type money this March, but he’s added a few million to his free agency price tag since coming to Seattle. Diggs could always command more, but even a deal worth $13.5 to $14.5 million per year would put him well within the top 10 safety deals in terms of average annual value.

The problem for Seattle? It has already inked the league’s top safety contract, a $17.5 million per year deal for Adams, and sinking that much money into one position group means making a sacrifice elsewhere. That’s really the case for any roster – sinking $35 million into a quarterback and $18 million into a middle linebacker (like the Seahawks have with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, respectively) means there’s less money to go around for two top-paid cornerbacks or pass rushers, for instance. So, if Seattle were to ink Diggs to a new deal (and more importantly, if Diggs wants to stay in Seattle), then the Seahawks will need some more contributions from younger defenders on rookie deals to make up for holes elsewhere.

A few other impending free agents: three of five offensive linemen (LT Duane Brown, C Ethan Pocic, RT Brandon Shell), plus DT Al Woods, DT Bryan Mone, RB Alex Collins, TE Will Dissly, RB Rashaad Penny and CB DJ Reed.

@awkong90: How does Seattle address DK Metcalf’s contract this offseason?

Metcalf is one of the brightest young stars in the league and is coming off a 1,000-yard campaign in 2020. With 805 yards and three games to play this year he’s got room to reach that mark again, and even if he doesn’t, with just 65 more yards he’ll pass Joey Galloway for the most yards in any Seahawks’ first three seasons.

Unsurprisingly, he’ll likely be looking to be paid like one of the league’s top receiver talents.

Right now, the top deals in total value belong to Amari Cooper (five years, $100 million, $20 million per year), Michael Thomas (five years, $96.2 million, $19.2 million per year), and Mike Evans (five years, $82.5 million, $16.5 million per year), while the top yearly salary is owned by DeAndre Hopkins (two years, $54.5 million, $27.2 million per year).

Unless Seattle decides to tear down after a rough season, it’s been assumed the team will make every effort to retain one of its best draft picks of the last five years. Metcalf has received his share of criticism for his catch percentage, but here’s one safe bet: if Seattle isn’t willing to make Metcalf one of the league’s top-paid receivers, another team will. But both Seattle and Metcalf will need to consider whether Metcalf staying in Seattle is dependent on the quarterback under center (and for any top receiver, that’s going to be one of the biggest deciding factors).

Related: Carroll addresses Russ, DK struggling to connect

@Rosebug_22: Happy Holidays, Stacy! How much do the final three games have an impact on what changes come in the offseason?

Happy holidays! The Seahawks aren’t playing to save their postseason hopes anymore, but I think the remaining games are still important when it comes to some of the decisions that need to be made this offseason.

There are, of course, the big ones. Can Russell Wilson finish with three strong outings after what’s been his most uneven season? I wrote about that following Tuesday’s loss to the Rams. Wilson’s struggles have only added fuel to offseason trade rumors, and Seattle’s ownership and front office will need to decide whether they believe this is simply a down year for a franchise star that’s been their most consistent performer for a decade, or whether it’s time for both parties to cut ties and move on. Perhaps both parties’ minds are already made up – whether that’s to remain together or trade – but I think Wilson’s final three performances can make that decision a whole lot more interesting.

Sticking with offense, I think the final three games are also very important for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. Seattle has consistently struggled on third down, and even without top running back Chris Carson, the offense has too many weapons to be ranked in the bottom third of the league in so many categories. Creating a No. 1 offense might not have been the expectation for Waldron, but improvement is always the measuring stick for new coordinators, and I would imagine Pete Carroll would like to see some steps forward on third down and in time of possession over the next three contests. The Seahawks were 27% on third down against the Rams. Getting closer to 40-44% against two struggling teams would be a massive boost.

@rory63: Are the CBs moving into next year on the team now? And does Turf need a helper?

If you asked most fans to project both starting cornerbacks next season, D.J. Reed and Tre Brown would top the list. But two things are true about the Seahawks cornerback room right now. First, outside of Reed, no player’s job feels penned in, and secondly, outside of Brown, no outside cornerback is under contract in 2022.

Reed, Sidney Jones, Bless Austin, Ryan Neal, and John Reid are all unrestricted free agents (nickel corners Ugo Amadi and Marquise Blair will still be on their rookie deals). Unless the Seahawks move on from some bigger contracts, it’s hard to see them sinking a ton of money into a new corner in free agency this year. Is it possible? Absolutely, especially for the defensive-minded Carroll. But Seattle showed this past season that it is comfortable entering the season with question marks at corner, and I’d expect that to remain the case if it sticks with most of the current roster and opts instead to spend at edge rusher or offensive line (as noted above, three of their five offensive linemen are entering free agency).

As for the second question, Turf the dog has a new friend that was with him at training camp this year but I’m sure he could always use more help with the VMAC grounds. That’s one big facility! I’d tell you to tweet at him and ask but I’m not sure that he could respond (lack of opposable thumbs and all).

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