JOHN CLAYTON

Clayton: Seahawks’ holes on defense mean they need to add more offense

Mar 14, 2018, 4:36 PM
The Rams' defense was tough for the Seahawks even before they added two star cornerbacks. (AP)...
The Rams' defense was tough for the Seahawks even before they added two star cornerbacks. (AP)
(AP)

The toughest part of the Seahawks’ re-stocking project is figuring out whether to emphasize offense or defense.

On the surface, fixing the defense should be the priority, but don’t be surprised if offense gets a little more attention.

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For the defense, the Seahawks figure to lose their two best pass-rushing defensive ends, a starting strong-side linebacker and possibly defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to go with previous departure Richard Sherman and the injured Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. But left tackle Duane Brown raised an interesting point the other day on the NFL Network, saying the Seahawks need to stress more additions on offense. It’s an interesting concept.

The NFC West landscape has changed. The Los Angeles Rams added two shutdown cornerbacks: Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. The San Francisco 49ers signed Sherman. Both of those teams will be hard to pass on, particularly the Rams.

Giving Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips two star cornerbacks gives him the ability to shut down an opponent’s two best receivers. If Phillips can limit passes going to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, what third option can emerge after the departures of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson?

That’s why getting Jordy Nelson, who was released by the Packers, might be a good idea. He catches everything and has the ability to go deep. Plus, he’s an outside receiver. Nelson is visiting Seattle after spending a day in Oakland talking to the Raiders.

The Seahawks are very active in the tight end market. They met with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and are scheduled to have a visit from Ed Dickson. They still can re-sign Luke Willson, too.

Running back also remains a key. The Seahawks elected not to put the restricted free-agent tenders on Thomas Rawls and Mike Davis, so they are left with Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise in the backfield. They can re-sign Davis or Rawls, but not tendering them points to Seattle thinking of signing a released veteran running back.

Keep up: Seahawks free-agency tracker

Recently-cut running backs have been shuttling between the New York Giants, Detroit Lions and the Seahawks for visits. The Giants signed Jonathan Stewart, but Demarcus Murray remains an option, Latavius Murray might be cut by the Minnesota Vikings, and Doug Martin is also on the street.

The Seahawks’ options are drying up. The top four running backs in unrestricted free agency filled up openings in Cleveland, San Francisco, Tennessee and the New York Jets. Chris Ivory signed with the Buffalo Bills as a backup. A strong running back draft also has teams in need of backs buzzing.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear he wants a big-time running game. He’s changed coaches to get that. If the Seahawks can’t run the ball, imagine the extra difficulty of trying to pass in a division that has some of the best cornerbacks in football: Peters, Talib, Sherman and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson.

As Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said on SiriusXM NFL radio Tuesday night, the amount of change on the team even caught him off guard. Naturally, general manager John Schneider is putting a big emphasis on trying to fix holes on defense. But it also becomes important for the offense to score more points until the defense can turn things around.

Schneider said at the combine this will be a challenge. The first move was to sign linebacker Barkevius Mingo to a two-year, $6.8 million deal. He can help at linebacker and with the pass-rush.

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Clayton: Seahawks’ holes on defense mean they need to add more offense