Rost: What Seahawks’ moves in free agency tell us about their 2023 plans

Mar 31, 2023, 11:32 AM

Seahawks Dre'Mont Jones...

Denver's Dre'Mont Jones celebrates a sack against Houston on Sept. 18, 2022. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Actions speak louder than words. So, when it comes to the Seahawks’ moves in free agency, what do their actions tell us about their plans in 2023?

They’ve had it with struggles on defense…

Pete Carroll and John Schneider have stated multiple times that upgrading the defense would be a primary goal of the offseason, but even then, it’s fair to be surprised by what’s been their biggest overhaul yet.

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That’s not overly common for this group. They don’t often make drastic changes, nor are they overly-reactive to fan criticism. Calls for the firings of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. long preceded their eventual termination; meanwhile, years’ long critiques of offensive line play haven’t led to many major free agent OL signings.

So when the Seahawks left the 2020 and 2021 seasons as the second-worst team against the pass and left the 2022 season as the third-worst unit against the run, it was fair for fans to wonder how different that side of the ball would be in 2023. This wasn’t a one-off issue; Seattle’s defense hadn’t been elite for years and a number of moves — a trade for an All-Pro safety, a switch to a 3-4 base defense, a shift on the defensive coaching staff — had yet to catapult them back into a top-five group.

But this offseason brought one of their biggest free agent additions and most drastic overhauls. They signed ex-Broncos defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones to a three-year, $51 million contract, making him the most expensive free agent in the Carroll/Schneider era. Then they parted ways with the entirety of the defensive line, releasing Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, and Shelby Harris. Defensive tackle Poona Ford remains a free agent. In their place, Seattle brought in former second-round pick Jarran Reed for a second stint.

“It’s told me they’re not afraid to spend some money,” Michael Bumpus said during Wednesday’s show. “Because you have to go and get Jones. Typically they don’t spend a lot of money on free agent additions. They rely on the draft and on finding diamonds in the rough. This offseason they were like we have to go get somebody. We have to get somebody who’s resume says he’s more than likely to repeat what he did last year and help change this defense.”

… but they’re serious about potentially drafting a QB at No. 5

The Seahawks need help on defense. But the temptation to take a quarterback with the highest pick Schneider and Carroll have ever owned is real.

John Schneider on Seahawks drafting a QB: ‘We don’t know yet’

Seattle brought back Geno Smith on a three-year deal to secure the position this offseason, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of drafting a passer. Carroll has said it, Schneider has said it. But with years’ long struggles on defense, it’s fair for fans to wonder whether their tour of top QB pro days is a ruse to drum up value for their pick in a potential trade.

But those visits are useful in more ways than one, starting with the fact that insight into the league’s top quarterback prospects is beneficial whether you’re drafting them or not (which they almost certainly won’t in the case of CJ Stroud and Bryce Young, two stops on the pro day tour that’ll be off the board by 5). Potentially available could be Florida’s Anthony Richardson, who could give Seattle a chance to get its franchise passer of the future with a draft opportunity the team may not have again.

Huard: What to make of Seahawks’ apparent interest in top draft QBs

Whatever doubts you have about a quarterback at five, if Carroll and Schneider have proven anything, it’s that if they fall in love with a player they’ll make a risky move. That was true for Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, Jamal Adams, and it’s been true for a number of high-round draft picks.

“Maybe it’s all some elaborate ruse to make that pick more valuable,” Stacy Rost said during Wednesday’s show. “But the Seahawks have made surprising moves, they’ve made surprising draft picks. I might think I know what they’re going to do, but if I’ve learned anything about Pete and John it’s that they’re pretty hard to predict sometimes and if they love someone, they take him. That’s the only thing I’m sure of with the Seahawks. So why would I not think that there’s a possibility there’s a quarterback at five? That’s not just what this offseason has told me, it’s what the last ten years of this front office has told me.”

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