Clayton: Seahawks are going scheme-first with moves in free agency

Mar 16, 2018, 11:20 PM | Updated: 11:22 pm
New Seahawks tight end Ed Dickson's blocking can help the team's run game. (AP)...
New Seahawks tight end Ed Dickson's blocking can help the team's run game. (AP)

So far, the numbers aren’t adding up for the Seahawks in free agency.

Jordy Nelson goes to the Oakland Raiders for $7.5 million a year. Sheldon Richardson takes a one-year deal for around $8 million with the Minnesota Vikings. Kicker Caleb Sturgis heads to the Los Angeles Chargers instead of Seattle, where he was scheduled to visit.

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Ndamokong Suh remains an option for the Seahawks, but the Saints cleared some salary cap space by giving punter Thomas Morstead a cap-friendly contract extension that may have opened the door for Suh. Stay tuned.

What’s pretty clear is that the Seahawks are clearing the roster of the past and are re-setting for the future. They are down three Pro Bowlers on defense (Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Richardson) and have two others who may not play next season (Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril). Earl Thomas is available for the right trade, too.

That core group is pretty much gone. What general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are doing is rebuilding slowly around the offense and what remains on defense. From the early look at what they are doing in free agency, they’re trying to be scheme-friendly first and hope to get core group players in the draft or in trades.

Look at this number. If Chancellor and Avril aren’t back, the Seahawks will be down to only six remaining players left from their great 2013 team. That list is made up of Thomas, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright and Jon Ryan.

The four signings in free agency for Seattle far are role players who fit the scheme.

Tight end Ed Dickson, signed to a three-year deal, was brought in to empower the running game. He can block and catch the ball. He wasn’t a pure starter with Carolina but he can help the Seahawks gain yards on the ground.

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo is a role player who can do a lot of things. He can rush the quarterback. He can stop the run. He can be good on special teams.

Wide receiver Jaron Brown, a reported addition, can fit into a similar role that Paul Richardson (signed with Washington) had.

Maurice Alexander can play both safety spots.

Are these core group signings? No. But they fill roles.

What’s amazing is that about half of the Seahawks roster of more than 50 players is made up of players who haven’t been Seahawks for more than one year. Richard Sherman pointed out that Pete Carroll wanted to go back to his USC way of churning the roster every three or four years. He said Carroll wanted to go with younger players.

A lot of the moves this offseason have been done to challenge players from Seattle’s past two draft classes. Dickson will challenge Nick Vannett, and it sure looks as though Luke Willson is gone. The decision on whether or not to trade  Thomas may come down to what they think of Delano Hill and whether they would like him starting at strong safety with Bradley McDougald starting at free safety.

No one anticipated as many changes in the coaching staff as Carroll made, firing eight coaches. This change in the roster is beyond what was expected. The key now is trying to re-establish the Seahawks’ reputation to draw free agents who want to be on a winner.

Looking at the numbers for the Seahawks, it adds up to youth.

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Clayton: Seahawks are going scheme-first with moves in free agency