STACY ROST

Rost: The 3 most pressing needs for the Seahawks this offseason

Mar 3, 2023, 10:34 AM | Updated: 12:47 pm

Seahawks Austin Blythe...

Austin Blythe of the Seattle Seahawks prepares to snap the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 24, 2022. (Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

(Jason Hanna/Getty Images)

Have you ever been struck by what’s lying underneath the floorboards during a home improvement project? It’s a strange analogy for an article about the Seahawks’ greatest needs, I know.

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Offseason fodder and whatnot. But let me explain: when a room is otherwise in great condition, finding mold or water damage underneath a cabinet or carpet is the kind of nasty surprise that throws a wrench (no pun intended) into those projects because it means you have a bit more work to do than you expected.

It’s an imperfect analogy for the Seahawks’ greatest needs, but I use it because those holes are gaping despite a surprisingly solid year – and a successful decade – from this team. They’ve made the playoffs in 10 of the last 13 seasons, but take a peek under the floorboards and you’ll find some glaring holes on the roster. They’ve found success in spite of them, but how much farther could they get with those needs filled?

One need is no secret at all to Seattle fans, two are also pressing, and all three must be addressed this offseason:

Defensive tackle

No fan is surprised to hear this one. Seattle’s secondary saw improvement after back-to-back years of allowing the second-most passing yards per game, but the team struggled up front. The Seahawks allowed the third-most rushing yards per game and despite their top-10 ranking in sacks (45) they had a pressure percentage of 20.8%, putting them in the bottom half of the league, and quarterback hurries per dropback were at 5.4%, which was fifth worst.

The Seahawks need to be better, bigger, and younger here. Poona Ford is set to become a free agent. Al Woods and Shelby Harris remain under contract but are two of the oldest players on the roster at 35 and 31, respectively.

The need for a defensive lineman has been a converesation all season long, but Seattle has been badly in need of stellar play from this unit for years. Including edge rushers in their 4-3 defense of years’ past, no defensive lineman has had double-digit sacks since 2018 (Frank Clark and Jarran Reed) and none have been named to a Pro Bowl since 2017 (Michael Bennett).

Inside linebacker

Seattle didn’t have an issue here for the better part of 10 years. There was a rotation at SAM, but perrenial All-Pro Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright held down the other two spots with more consistency than any other defensive unit. The Seahawks looked to transition to a new era when they drafted Jordyn Brooks in the first round in 2020, but a late-season injury for Brooks leaves a hole in the front seven .

Brooks underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in January. Meanwhile, fellow inside linebacker Cody Barton is a pending free agent after an uneven year. Brooks’ injury could mean another shot for Barton, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for the position group as a whole. Adding another starter in free agency or adding to this group with a day two pick is a must.

Center

We knew Seattle would need a center. Austin Blythe, last year’s starter, was entering free agency already but then announced his retirement this week. But much like defensive tackle, this is a position that’s had a deficit for years – despite some top-10 finishes for Seattle on offense.

The Seahawks found two great rookie tackles last year. They’ve got a third-round pick invested in guard Damien Lewis. Gabe Jackson remains under contract though has a notable cap hit in 2023. Seattle may well return him, which means having four of five starters back. It’s a big step toward consistency as a group, but Seattle has been trying to find consistency at center alone since 2015.

“It’s so important to the cohesiveness of that offensive line,” Michael Bumpus said. “If you have a center who understands what’s going on at all times, can identify the box and make these calls, guess what it does? It takes pressure off that quarterback. It gives the quarterback more time to look at the second and third level. Now, the quarterback needs to know what’s happening in the box, too… but if you have a center who can take pressure off of him, especially if you have a young guy at quarterback this year, (it compliments him).”

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