MIKE SALK

Salk: Seahawks’ best trade route to help D may not be at edge

Oct 25, 2023, 1:26 AM

Seattle Seahawks New York Giants Leonard Williams...

Leonard Williams of the New York Giants reacts during a Sept. 21, 2023 game against the 49ers. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The moment Uchenna Nwosu left Sunday’s game with a pectoral injury, the Seattle Seahawks’ defense took a major hit.

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Nwosu has been one of the steadier players on this roster, which is why the Seahawks chose to reward him this past offseason with a new, upgraded contract. Not only did he lead them in sacks last year, but he is a steadying presence on the edge, a spot where they have some serious athletic talent but not nearly as much veteran savvy.

So when faced with the prospect of seeing a lot more of the inconsistent Darrell Taylor, the newer-to-football Boye Mafe and the rookie Derrick Hall, it isn’t surprising that most of us immediately started checking the trade possibilities to see if there is a reasonable fit.

Who could be Seattle Seahawks trade options with Nwosu out?

As it turns out, there are a few. Washington could part with Chase Young or Montez Sweat. Carolina might deal Brian Burns. Maybe Minnesota would consider dealing Danielle Hunter (especially if the Vikings lose this weekend). All of those players would fit in Seattle. All of them would provide some semblance of veteran presence and would allow the young pups to stay in the roles that are currently allowing them to thrive.

I would be tempted to deal for any of those four players. But before I would give up much, I’d have to know a few things.

Is this a one-year fix or a candidate to sign a long-term deal? If it’s the former, I would probably lean towards Hunter, a much older player. If it’s the latter, I would have concerns. Burns is going to be very, very expensive, and the Seahawks have not shown a desire to spend long-term at that position. Young is an injury concern that would make a long-term commitment quite risky. Sweat might be the most intriguing in that situation.

Do they even have room for another edge player after this season? My answer would be a soft yes. My assumption is that Nwosu will return without incident (this isn’t a leg injury) and that Taylor will move on. In theory, that leaves one spot open in a four-man rotation, but whomever you trade for would be an every-down player at an every-down price. It’s hard for me to see how that makes sense given the presence of Nwosu, Mafe and Hall.

What other needs must be filled? Even without Nwosu, there is a legitimate argument to be made that the edge is not one of the chief concerns on this roster. The defense has outperformed the offense, and the pass rush has been tremendous after the disaster of the first week. Do the Seahawks have enough weaponry and depth at wide receiver? How healthy can their beat-up offensive line remain? All of those position groups might require more attention – and that’s before you start considering which players might be leaving in free agency (Taylor, Jordyn Brooks and Damien Lewis are among those on which the Seahawks need to decide upon).

You could certainly make a compelling argument for trading for one of the available edge players, but I think there are just enough question marks to push me in the other direction. Instead, I’d like to see them try to get better in the middle of that defense. I’d like to see them trade for Leonard Williams.

The Giants’ defensive tackle is a perfect fit in Seattle. New York isn’t going anywhere, and he is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound monster who can play all across the defensive line. He’s not yet 30 years old and has been productive throughout his entire career. He’s had as many as 11.5 sacks in a season and as many as 81 tackles. He has played the end, nose and tackle spots on the line. And while Jarran Reed, Dre Jones and the rest of Seattle’s defensive line has improved over last season by leaps and bounds, they lack ideal depth, and it is a position where you can never have enough talent because you can rotate your best players through and keep them fresh.

We have less than one week until the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline. The Seahawks are 4-2 and within striking distance in the NFC. And they are about to play an eight-game stretch against some of the better teams (and best defenses) in the NFL. There are lots of players they should consider, but a chance to upgrade the defensive line both short and long-term would still be my top choice.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Video: Football 101 – Where defense still has holes to fix
Seahawks showing signs of a defense that can win games
Carroll: Seahawks’ Witherspoon ‘left his mark’ again in Week 7 win
Carroll: Bobby Wagner ‘having a blast’ as D develops
Is Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith’s play a cause for concern?

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