Gallant: Greg Olsen a strong addition with Seahawks in need of TE depth
We all know the most pressing needs for the Seahawks in 2020.
We know they need pass rush help, especially if Jadeveon Clowney leaves in free agency. We know it wouldn’t hurt to bolster the cornerback position. And we know there could be quite a bit of turnover on the offensive line given the expiring contracts of D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, and Mike Iupati.
But before the team signed Greg Olsen on Tuesday, how much thought had you given Seattle’s tight ends?
With the way last season went, it should have been towards the top of their offseason checklist. The Seahawks went into 2019 with Will Dissly coming off of a torn patellar tendon, then traded Nick Vannett early in the season, re-signed Luke Willson in a corresponding move, and seemed overly confident that Ed Dickson’s knee surgery in August would be something he could bounce back from.
The Seahawks obviously couldn’t predict that Dissly would tear his Achilles, but they finished the season with only Jacob Hollister, who had just 16 career targets before 2019, a banged-up Willson, who was dealing with a hamstring and hip injury down the stretch, and extra blocker George Fant on the depth chart at tight end. That wasn’t enough for a position where players take a beating.
Making matters worse? Hollister, Willson, and Fant are all free agents, and Dissly will be rehabbing from another serious injury for the second straight offseason. Before the Hawks signed Olsen to a reported one-year deal worth up to $7 million, it would have been fair to say the team had zero tight ends on the roster.
Someday, Olsen will be in a broadcasting booth full-time, but if he was to continue playing, this was the no-brainer decision of his three options: Buffalo, Washington, and Seattle. Let’s be honest, joining Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll trumps playing with quarterbacks that:
Even better for Olsen? Russell Wilson likes throwing to tight ends and seems to get the most out of them. Dissly, a 2018 fourth-round pick out of UW, wasn’t thought to be a receiving threat out of college, but in 10 career games for Seattle he has 31 catches for 418 yards and six touchdowns. Hollister, who, again, only had 16 targets over two years with the Patriots, racked up 41 catches for 349 yards and three TDs over 11 games with Russ.
If he re-signs with the Seahawks, there’s a chance Hollister can build off his 2019 season, but it’s doubtful he’ll have the impact that Dissly has had. Wilson’s numbers over Seattle’s 11 regular season games without Dissly saw major drops, specifically in completion percentage (from 73% to 63%) and yards per attempt (9.03 to 7.5).
That’s why this Olsen move makes so much sense. Sure, he’ll be 35 next season. But considering he played most of last season catching passes from the likes of Kyle Allen and Will Grier with Carolina, it’s truly impressive that he caught 52 catches for 597 yards and two TDs on 82 targets.
There is a little risk involved here. Olsen’s had some major injuries with his right foot over the past three seasons:
• 2017: Broken right foot, Week 2
• 2017: Re-aggravated the injury in his first game back in Week 12 (though he finished the season and had eight catches for 107 yards and a TD in a playoff loss to the Saints)
• 2018: Re-fractured the foot in Week 1, but only missed three weeks
• 2018: Ruptured his plantar fascia in Week 13, ending his season
Those issues didn’t resurface last season. He missed Weeks 14 and 15 of 2019 with a concussion but returned to finish the year.
Still, the Hawks should be wary of that foot. And considering last season’s injuries, it shouldn’t be the Hawks’ last move at tight end. They should try to re-sign Hollister and maybe draft a young tight end towards the end of April’s draft.
This was a good move by the Seahawks. They brought in a well-liked veteran who had above average production during his 13th season in the league. And given who he was having a catch with last season, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to see him match that production in 2020.
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