Rost: 3 biggest questions Seahawks face to complete their roster

Mar 28, 2023, 12:14 AM

Seahawks Kenneth Walker III...

Kenneth Walker III of the Seahawks celebrates with teammates after a touchdown on Nov. 27, 2022. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seahawks entered the offseason with several big questions, and thankfully most have been answered.

Is Geno Smith returning? Seattle locked up last year’s starting QB with a new three-year contract and re-signed backup Drew Lock for insurance.

Who are the starting inside linebackers? Former first-round pick Jordyn Brooks suffered a torn ACL late last season and faces a recovery that will likely keep him sidelined into the regular season. Fellow starter Cody Barton signed with Washington. Seattle’s solution wasn’t just to bring in ex-Steelers starter Devin Bush Jr. but also bring back longtime star Bobby Wagner.

How do you fix a horrible run defense? This answer is a work in progress, but it started with a near total revamp of the defensive line, including signings of Dre Jones and Jarran Reed.

A team that many thought would be in a years-long rebuild didn’t just make the playoffs in 2022, but has also since made moves in the offseason to continue to improve. The good news is several of the most important questions have been answered. It’s not bad news that there are questions remaining – it’s only March, after all. But here’s where the Seahawks still have needs.

Who replaces Al Woods?

Seattle’s greatest need heading into the draft is at defensive line, though quarterback has also been mocked as their first selection (with a 33-year-old Geno Smith, future planning would be wise here). Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. are the top two DL prospects available, but neither truly fills the very large hole vacated by Al Woods.

Woods was released last week as part of Seattle’s continued efforts to revamp its defensive line, though his release was the most surprising of those moves. Because while Woods was one of Seattle’s oldest players at 36, the defensive captain also has the more traditional size for Seattle’s 3-4 defense and a salary cap hit that was easier to swallow than the eight-figure hits owned by the recently released Shelby Harris and offensive lineman Gabe Jackson (though as explained by general manager John Schneider in one moment, Woods’ cap situation was more complicated than that).

The Seahawks’ need in the middle is even more evident considering Bryan Mone, the only other nose tackle under contract, suffered a torn ACL in Week 15, putting his status in question for the start of the 2023 season.

Seattle has a few options here, one of which is a reunion with Woods on a cheaper deal.

“There’s a ton of different accounting mechanisms that go into this thing,” Schneider told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob last Thursday on his weekly show. “And we just felt that at this time while we wouldn’t shut the door on Al coming back, we needed to create some space to try to get something done. We’re still working through some of those issues in how we can use that cap room and the cash effectively.”

Where’s the Seahawks’ RB depth?

The good news is the Seahawks have a 1,000-yard rusher and 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate returning for his second season in Kenneth Walker III. That’s a nice step forward from last offseason when Chris Carson was retiring and Rashaad Penny brought promise but also a lengthy injury history.

The Seahawks still need to find some depth, though, and two options – Penny and special teamer Travis Homer – have moved on in free agency. Still under contract is DeeJay Dallas, though Seattle could certainly afford more at the position. Might they consider using a Day 2 pick in the NFL Draft on a running back for a second consecutive season?

Texas’ Bijan Robinson, this year’s top rushing prospect, won’t be available in the late first round, much less Day 2. But other electric options remain, including Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs (1,370 yards from scrimmage and 10 combined touchdowns), UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet (1,359 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022), Texas A&M’s Devon Achane (1,102 yards and 11 combined touchdowns), UAB’s DeWayne McBride (the nation’s leading rusher with 1,713 yards and 19 touchdowns) and Auburn’s Tank Bigsby (1,150 yards from scrimmage and 10 combined touchdowns).

How do the Seahawks get more money?

It’s not a garage sale.

Salary cap issues feel less pressing than depth at times, but Seattle may need to make a move here to free up some additional space. Over The Cap has Seattle $746,786 in the red in effective cap space, meaning cap space that also calculates for contracts for drafted rookies.

We’ve seen plenty of calls to release safety Jamal Adams from frustrated fans on our station textline, but a pre-June 1 cut carries dead cap. That, and Seattle knows Adams is one of their more talented athletes when healthy. Look instead for a potential restructure for Seattle’s priciest players – including both starting safeties – or an extension.

Fann: Seahawks cutting Jamal Adams is an option, albeit unlikely

“They could do an extension (for linebacker Uchenna Nwosu),” Seattle Times Seahawks reporter Bob Condotta told us on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy last week. “So just add a year to the end and bring down the cap hit. I think he’s a guy who’s going to be in your plans for awhile so you can go ahead and extend him with what he did last year and his age.

“A restructure is simply turning the base salary into bonus, so you can spread it out. So with Adams you take the rest of that almost $9 million remaining in salary and just turn that into bonus and spread it out over the final three years and then bring down his cap hit for 2023. And that’s something players don’t have to agree to, teams just do. It’s not the player taking less money; in fact, it can kind of be viewed as a benefit since they get that money immediately.”

Hasselbeck: How Seahawks may use Bobby Wagner differently in return

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