Wyman & Bob: Which free agent Seahawks must re-sign no matter what

Jan 27, 2022, 11:51 AM | Updated: 12:01 pm

Seahawks LT Duane Brown...

Duane Brown of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during warm ups against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Elsa/Getty Images)

(Elsa/Getty Images)

After a disappointing 7-10 season in 2021 that resulted in a last-place finish in the NFC West, the Seahawks will look to get back on track for 2022, and a lot of that will start this offseason.

Wyman & Bob’s ’21 Seahawks Awards: MVPs, best newcomer

Many are excited at the prospect of Seattle adding big-name players in the draft, through trade or in free agency, but head coach Pete Carroll made it clear after the season ended that the Seahawks will be focusing first on retaining their own players who are set to hit the open market.

When asked by Mike Salk about his team entering the offseason with some of the most available cap space in the NFL, Carroll quickly noted that the number is misleading because of the amount of players they want to re-sign.

“We have to keep our guys. So that space that you’re talking about, we’ve got to keep these guys around, we’ve got to get our guys to come back to us,” Carroll said during the final Pete Carroll Show of the 2021 season. “We have a lot of players that are going to be free agents that need to be on this team next year, and so that money goes real very quickly there. So (everyone thinks we say), ‘Well, we have all this cap space, we can make all these moves and all that.’ Well, that’s not necessarily how people should look at it. They should be clear that we’ve got some wonderful players on this team that need to come back and so that money will go faster than you think and won’t be quite as free as it looks like right now.”

Currently, the Seahawks have 25 players set to hit free agency in some form, per Spotrac. Many are going to be unrestricted free agents on the open market while others are either pending restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents. The latter two categories typically result in returning to the team.

So among the Seahawks’ pending unrestricted free agents, which player must they bring back no matter what? Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Wyman and Bob tackled that question on Wednesday, and they each pointed to opposite sides of the ball.

Dave Wyman: LT Duane Brown

Wyman, a former NFL linebacker who now serves as color commentator on Seahawks Radio Network broadcasts, somewhat suprisingly didn’t go with defense. Instead, he pointed to offense and in the trenches.

“I’ve got to say probably Duane Brown,” Wyman said.

Brown, 36, has been Seattle’s starting left tackle since the team acquired him during the 2017 season. Brown has earned one Pro Bowl nod and one All-Pro selection since joining the Seahawks, and he’s been a Pro Bowl alternate each of the last two seasons.

“The reason why is because, again, as you have mentioned, the phrase ‘waiting in the wings,’ I think is what you said, Bob,” Wyman said. “There is no left tackle heir apparent … There’s nobody that can play that position.”

The Seahawks selected left tackle Stone Forsythe in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but it’s unclear if he’s ready to start at a premium position in 2022 while protecting quarterback Russell Wilson’s blindside.

Related: Ray Roberts on if Stone Forsythe can be Seahawks’ LT of the future

Additionally, the mix of Brown’s position and his play means more to Wyman than some of Seattle’s other top pending free agents.

“Obviously you can go out and get a player in free agency, but I feel like (left tackle) is the most glaring need because I feel like you can get a free safety,” Wyman said. “Corners are hard to get, but I don’t think D.J. Reed is that good that you’re like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to keep him.’ I think he’s a really good corner and I think he’s promising. It would be (Reed), it would be (free safety) Quandre Diggs or Duane Brown. And I think you have to say Duane Brown right now because he’s protecting the blind side of your most important asset, by far, and that’s Russ.”

Wyman said that aside from San Francisco with Jimmy Garoppolo, the playoffs have shown over the past two weeks that “it pays to have a franchise quarterback.”

“So you’ve got to protect that guy,” Wyman said.

Wyman said Brown “wasn’t that great last year,” but that it’s unknown if he took a step back in play, didn’t get the help he needed from his teammates, or if the offense being run by first-year offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was a factor.

The fact that Brown is still an above-average left tackle is extremely important, though.

“I always say you’ve got to have three players that you really want to have, that you don’t even want to have to worry about,” Wyman said.

The first two players, Wyman said, are a good cover corner who can match up with elite wide receivers and a kicker because you don’t want to stress about field goals and extra points.

“And then the third one – especially if you are one of the rare 25% of the league that has a franchise quarterback – it’s the blind side tackle, and that’s Duane Brown,” he said.

Bob Stelton: FS Quandre Diggs

Stelton went with the defense and chose the player he has routinely said was the brightest spot on that side of the ball for the Seahawks in 2021.

“I think Quandre Diggs is just a difference maker on that defense,” Stelton said. “And I understand the importance of each position, but when you’ve got suspect corners, when you’ve got suspect linebacker play, when you don’t have much of a pass rush to speak of – and this is assuming everything is the same as it was this year (because) we don’t know what steps they’ll take to to fill those needs on the D-line. We’ve talked about the pass rush being really inconsistent and the linebacker play being really inconsistent, cornerbacks, same thing. So those safeties are absolutely crucial and Quandre Diggs (had) five picks. He’s just a playmaker. Is he the greatest in the league? No, but the guy is getting all the consideration outside of Seattle. He’s getting that attention, that acknowledgement.”

For the second year in a row, Diggs was named to the Pro Bowl. Since joining the Seahawks partway through the 2019 season, Diggs has 13 interceptions and has helped the defense prevent explosive plays deep downfield. That was again the case in 2021, which was arguably Diggs’ best year since coming to Seattle.

“We’ve just seen that he was easily the best defensive player on this team at any position, in my opinion, this past season and was the most consistent,” Stelton said. “When we were sitting there scratching our heads going, ‘What is going on? What is happening with his defense?’ and we kept hearing about communication and all that, he was the one guy we never really had (to worry about). It doesn’t mean he made every single play … but for the most part he was a stud and he has been that guy since he’s been here. So for me, when you’ve got so many questions in other spots, I think he becomes even more crucial to what they want to try to do defensively.”

Listen to the entire fourth hour of Wednesday’s Wyman and Bob at this link or in the player below.

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