What does Al Woods release tell us about Seahawks’ defense?

Mar 21, 2023, 12:46 PM

Seahawks DT Al Woods...

Seahawks DT Al Woods reacts to a defensive stop during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Lumen Field. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks are undergoing a big change in the trenches this offseason, and that continued Monday when veteran nose tackle Al Woods was released.

Seahawks continue D-line revamp, release NT Al Woods

Woods, who will turn 36 Saturday, was one of two defensive captains for the Hawks last season, and he was released ahead of the final year of his contract.

Woods is the third defensive lineman Seattle has cut this offseason, joining Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson. Additionally, Poona Ford is a free agent, as is 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier. The Seahawks have signed D-linemen Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed in free agency this offseason.

While Bump and Stacy host Stacy Rost wasn’t surprised by the release of Harris, Jefferson or veteran guard Gabe Jackson, Seattle parting ways with Woods did catch her by surprise.

“One of the moves I did not necessarily see coming was the release of Al Woods,” she said. “The team continued their overhaul of the defensive line by releasing the veteran nose tackle. The move frees up $3.6 million in cap space – that’s not a lot. And it also raises a question, Bump: Who’s your nose tackle? It’s a pretty important thing to figure out and is something you need especially for a 3-4 defense.”

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Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus said that Bryan Mone, who is coming off a major knee injury, is the only nose tackle on Seattle’s roster.

“He’s injured right now. You do not have a nose tackle,” he said.

Like his co-host, Bumpus was not expecting Woods to get released this offseason. He explained what it means especially with Seattle owning two first-round picks, including No. 5 overall, in the NFL Draft next month.

“I thought they would do all they can to keep the guy. It’s not like he had a huge cap hit,” he said. “So with that move being made, this tells me that free agency isn’t over … We thought it was over. We thought, ‘OK, the big moves have been made, let’s focus on the draft right now.’ But with the release of Al Woods, you have to go and get somebody else … And then it makes you look at the draft now. I look at that No. 5 pick now and go man, if they do not go defensive line and they go quarterback (with that pick), something’s up.”

So what does Woods’ release mean for the Seahawks?

“It tells us that they’re not playing with that defensive line,” Bumpus said.

The Seahawks went 9-8 and made the playoffs last year, but the defensive line was a big weakness.

Seattle’s secondary was a bright spot with rookies Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant showing play-making ability alongside Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs, but the Hawks’ defensive front struggled mightily to stop the run, which sank them both partway through the regular season as well as in the playoffs.

“They saw what we saw, and they said, ‘If we cannot control the line of scrimmage, it doesn’t matter who we have at linebacker, it doesn’t matter who we have in the secondary – there’s always gonna be pressure on this defense,'” Bumpus said. “So they said unfortunately, ‘Poona, my guy … not going to have you here anymore. (Jefferson), my guy … unfortunately, there’s no space here for you.’ And then Shelby, as well. So that shows me that they’re taking the needs of this defense very seriously and they are going to attack it in free agency even more, and they should attack it in the draft.”

For Rost, the release of Woods makes her hesitate due to the Seahawks playing a 3-4 scheme.

“What did we say all year long?” Rost asked. “This is before they were making any of these changes along the defensive line and it was before the season even ended. It was always, ‘Hey, Bump, they switched to a 3-4, what are some of the issues?’ And it was, ‘Well, do they have the big bodies up front? Al Woods is really the only guy that like purely fits this defense.’ And now he’s gone.”

So what are the Seahawks currently losing with Woods being released?

“What Al Woods brought to this defense is a guy who can two-gap. Two-gap get means I can play both A-gaps, so I’m gonna get my hands on the center, I’m probably gonna get double-teamed a lot of the time, but my job is to stalemate,” Bumpus said. “If I can stalemate this line of scrimmage, that’s gonna keep bodies off my linebackers and they’re able to work.”

Woods’ release now highlights the addition of Jones on the Seahawks’ defensive line even though he plays a different position.

“I look at the other two linemen other than the nose (tackle), and those have to be versatile guys,” Bumpus said. “They’ve got to be able to play inside, they’ve got to play outside. That’s what you got out of Dre Jones, so they are making a true personnel shift. As scary as it might sound, we all know that it was completely necessary.”

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