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Seahawks DT Jarran Reed
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Clayton: What the Jarran Reed suspension means for the Seahawks

Jarran Reed's suspension leaves the Seahawks with a huge hole in sack production. (Getty)

Monday’s news that Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed was suspended for the first six weeks of the season for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy caught everyone by surprise.

Seahawks DT Jarran Reed suspended 6 games by the NFL

This goes back to an incident from April 2017 in which Bellevue Police investigated an alleged assault on a woman. Police determined there was no charge or arrest, but the NFL ruled on Friday there was enough evidence to merit a six-game suspension.

This is a huge blow to a Seahawks defense that already had plenty of questions. It’s hard enough figuring out who will be starting at the two defensive end positions until Ziggy Ansah is healthy coming off shoulder surgery. Now who starts at defensive tackle for the first six games?

Frank Clark, who was traded to Kansas City, had 13 sacks last year while Reed had 10.5. So the Seahawks will enter the season minus two players who accounted for more than 50 percent of their 43 sacks last year.

Reed’s suspension means Quinton Jefferson is the only defensive line starter from last year who will be available to start the season.

The suspension also means Reed, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, probably won’t be getting an extension anytime soon. Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett just signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension, and a second 10-sack season could have put Reed in position to command that kind of a deal. Now he’s only available for 10 games, and to think he could average a sack a game is unreasonable.

To make matters worse for the Seahawks, just look at the quarterbacks they’ll face early on this year. During Reed’s six-game absence, the Seahawks face Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, the Rams’ Jared Goff and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield – all quarterbacks who can get rid of the ball quickly. The Seahawks’ defense needed an inside pass-rusher who could get to the quarterback in those games, but if they do have one in those games, it won’t be Reed.

Replacing Reed creates a two-way problem for Seattle. The first problem is stopping the run. The Seahawks could go into the season with Poona Ford and Al Woods as the run-stopping starters at defensive tackle, or they could sign Ahtyba Rubin, who came in for a visit earlier this month. They also have Jamie Meder, who was a good run-stuffer in Cleveland in his first couple of years.

The Seahawks could look to sign Muhammad Wilkerson or Corey Luiget, the two best tackles on the street. There is a question about Wilkerson, who was arrested in June on a drunk driving charge and could get a one-game suspension if found guilty.

The other problem is filling the void for Reed on the pass rush. Nazair Jones has the best chance to advance during Reed’s suspension. He’s tall and has the ability to bat down passes, but the Seahawks would need him to get better at rushing the passer. They could also rotate Jefferson, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green and Brandon Jackson at defensive tackle in pass-rush situations.

The Clark trade created an uphill battle for Seattle’s defense. The Reed suspension only makes it tougher.

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