Is Seahawks’ big investment on D-line a good strategy?

May 28, 2024, 10:33 AM

Seattle Seahawks Uchenna Nwosu Giants 2022...

Uchenna Nwosu of the Seattle Seahawks sacks Giants QB Daniel Jones in 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have made a significant investment in their defensive line.

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In March, Seattle re-signed Leonard Williams to a three-year, $64.5 million deal that made him one of the highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the league. Dre’Mont Jones is entering the second season of a three-year, $51 million contract. Uchenna Nwosu is heading into the first season of a three-year, $45 million extension that he signed last summer.

According to Over The Cap, the trio of Williams, Jones and Nwosu account for three of the top seven 2024 salary cap hits on the Seahawks’ roster. They have a combined cap hit of $36,389,999 this season, which is 14.2% of the NFL’s $255.4 million salary cap. Seattle also made a major investment in draft capital last month, when it selected defensive tackle Byron Murphy II with the No. 16 overall pick.

On a recent edition of Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy, former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus and show producer Curtis Rogers discussed whether the Seahawks’ defensive line investment is a good strategy.

“I love the investment in this position,” Bumpus said. “It starts with the big boys up front. You control the line of scrimmage, you can control the game. … If you can keep that pressure on the quarterback and stop the run, it helps the ‘backers, helps the back end. I like the way (they’re) building this defense.”

A different approach

This strategy is a contrast from the Legion of Boom days under former head coach Pete Carroll, when the Seahawks spent heavily on their famed secondary trio of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. That, of course, led to a historic run of defensive success that produced the franchise’s lone Super Bowl title.

However, as injuries derailed the LOB, Seattle’s defense deteriorated. The Seahawks haven’t finished in the top 10 in scoring defense since 2017. They finished 25th in 2022 and 24th last season.

“It kind of goes opposite of how Pete Carroll used to fill out this roster,” Rogers said. “He would kind of go cheap on the defensive line and offensive line, go with a lot of first- and second-year players, some minimal additions in free agency, and he would spend a lot more building up that secondary. When that formula worked, it worked wonders because you had a generational secondary, and then you also got tons of production out of (defensive linemen) like Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.

“(But) I think it’s kind of overdue,” he added. “We’ve seen this defense kind of come up with the same results, different parts, over the last few years. Why not change it up? Like, there’s a different formula out there that I think this defense should be doing. And I think investing this much into your defensive line is a big way in getting to that different outcome that you’ve been so desperately searching for, so much so that you were willing to let go of the most successful head coach in franchise history in order to find better success on that side of the ball. That side of the ball has been the biggest reason why I think the Seahawks haven’t been able to reach their fullest potential in quite some time.”

The most glaring problem last season was Seattle’s run defense, which finished 28th in yards allowed per carry. That came with Nwosu playing just six games before a season-ending injury and Williams playing 10 games with the Seahawks after coming over from the New York Giants in a midseason trade. With a full season of Nwosu and Williams – plus a cutting-edge defensive scheme under new head coach Mike Macdonald – the hope is Seattle’s defensive line investments can start paying off this season.

“I do think that if this Seahawks team is going to fix their biggest issue, which is stopping the run and making sure that they get the ball back on third down and they just don’t get gashed the way they do, you’re going to have to make investments on that defensive line,” Rogers said. “And they’ve done so.”

Listen to the full conversation from Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Bump and Stacy airs live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

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• Salk’s Observations: What we saw at Seahawks’ first open OTA practice
• Lofa: What stands out with Seahawks LB Tyrice Knight
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