Rost: Seahawks’ 3 biggest storylines for important month of April
The Seahawks have plenty of questions still to be answered throughout this spring and summer, but there will some big answers in April, which will end with the team’s most important NFL Draft in a decade.
These three storylines will dominate April for Seattle.
1. Will DK Metcalf be traded?
The single biggest storyline in April, following the blockbuster trade of Russell Wilson, is who will start at quarterback in his place – right?
I mean, let’s be real here – it’s still a huge question. It’s certainly the biggest question for the franchise moving forward. But with a weaker quarterback draft class, a dwindling pool of free agents and trade targets, and Pete Carroll publicly signaling support for Drew Lock and Geno Smith (the latter of whom isn’t on the roster – more on that in the next section), the search for the guy feels, for lack of a better word, paused.
Very much stirring in March, though, were conversations about whether the team, after moving on from Wilson and Bobby Wagner, would similarly move on from another superstar: wide receiver DK Metcalf.
The question about moving Metcalf has risen from some important context. My colleague Jake Heaps believes Metcalf could be traded prior to the April 28-30 draft, while ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported in early March that Seattle was looking around the wide receiver market (important to note here that this was before Wilson was traded and Fowler believed it was to add additional depth rather than move Metcalf).
Then came a series of massive trades and contracts for star receivers. Actually, some important backtracking first: predating all of the moves this offseason was a stunning 2020 trade that saw the Houston Texans practically gift star receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals for little real return. The Cardinals later signed Hopkins to a two-year, $54 million extension that made him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. No receiver would touch that annual salary until 2022, but it lifted the ceiling for pass catchers to new, if exceedingly rare, heights.
Back to this offseason, which kicked off with the Jaguars signing free agent Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72 million deal. It was a hard-earned reward for Kirk to be sure, though it also set a new floor for the league’s top receivers (Kirk has never surpassed 1,000 receiving yards or six touchdowns in a season). Then, the Packers sent Davante Adams to the Raiders for a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Vegas immediately inked Adams to a five-year, $141.25 million contract with over $65 million guaranteed. Kansas City then shocked the rest of the NFL by dealing Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and more. Hill then signed a new extension with Miami: a four-year, $120 million deal that averages $30 million per year and sees Hill take the crown from Hopkins as the league’s highest-paid receiver.
For his part, Metcalf has said he wants to remain in Seattle and has spoken recently about taking on a leadership role for an offense that finds itself without its two veteran captains. At just 24 years old, the former second-round pick can be a cornerstone for a future iteration of this team. But with wide receiver trades garnering first-round picks and pass catchers signing record-breaking deals, it’s easy to wonder whether both sticker shock and a potential draft pick haul will tempt a rebuilding Seahawks team.
2. Will Seahawks fans find out who the QB is?
Perhaps it’s the return of current free agent Geno Smith. Or maybe the Seahawks will take Liberty star Malik Willis in the draft. There’s Lock, part of Seattle’s return for Wilson. And there’s also the ever-present rumors about a potential trade for disgruntled Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Seattle’s search for Wilson’s replacement will continue into April, but this month could offer some clarity about this team’s direction for 2022.
When it comes to Mayfield, The Athletic’s Zac Jackson sees Seattle as the likeliest landing spot and believes any deal would come after the draft. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Brady Henderson believes Mayfield’s contract could dissuade the Seahawks, instead pointing to their desire to see Lock compete for the role.
“I really cannot see them trading for him and then paying the $19 million that (Mayfield) is guaranteed from the Browns,” Henderson told us on Seattle Sports’ Jake & Stacy. “You could make the case that he’s a better option for them than Drew Lock… but what I know is that they’re very high on Drew Lock – not in the sense that they’re convinced that he’s going to be their long-term guy – but they’re high on him in the sense that they think he’s got that kind of potential. They think he kind of got a raw deal in Denver and they really want to see what they have in him. And if you’re paying Mayfield $19 million, then he’s not competing with Drew Lock.”
The most likely outcome could be a return of Smith and an open competition between him and Lock this preseason. Carroll has been open about his desire to re-sign Smith, who has starting experience in Seattle’s offense.
“He showed us a good deal of command of our offense when he played last year and he has a terrific understanding of it, so he’s out in front of the other guys that are involved in the competition in that regard,” Carroll said on Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk Show last week.
3. What happens at pick No. 9?
Of course, the last storyline belongs to the last big event of April: The NFL Draft.
If the Seahawks aren’t sold on their quarterback of the future, the pick at No. 9 overall (which they acquired in the Wilson trade) better be a defensive playmaker. That’s what Heaps thinks Seattle should do with the highest pick they’ve had since 2010.
“I’d be shocked if (offensive tackle Evan Neal) was available at nine,” Heaps said of his lone exception. “If he’s on the board, I don’t care, take him. He’s your left tackle of the future, a no-brainer. But I don’t think there’s enough of a slam dunk at tackle projected to be there that I’d take over the defensive playmakers in this draft. At defensive end, (the Seahawks should take) Jermaine Johnson II, Kayvon Thibodeaux, or Travon Walker if he was to fall. At defensive tackle, Devonte Wyatt from Georgia, an unbelievable high-motor 3-tech defensive tackle who’s very disruptive. Both defensive tackles from Georgia are absolutely outstanding. There’s Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. at cornerback. There are so many good playmakers that could be available at pick nine, I would be floored if that’s not the direction they would go.”