Clayton: Seahawks’ offseason is going to plan — with DE the exception
Tuesday was quite a busy day in the NFL.
On a conference call, NFL owners voted to expand the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams in 2020. There will be three wild-card games in each conference, played on the first Saturday and Sunday of the playoffs. Only the No. 1 seeds get a bye week.
The NFL also said the plan is for the 16-game season to go on starting at the regular time in September. International games are still in the plans. The full schedule will be announced no later than May 9.
As for the upcoming NFL Draft, for now the league will allow teams to have 10 people in a war room, but no more than 10. That should allow John Schneider, the Seahawks’ general manager, to have enough people answering the phone in order to make trades.
The changes to the playoffs help the Seahawks and other teams in the NFC because it allows seven teams to make it in a conference that has 10 or 11 teams with playoff team talent. With the exception of the NFC East, each NFC division has as many as three playoff contenders.
That’s not the case in the AFC. With all the young quarterbacks, it’s hard to say there are six teams with playoff talent. Look what happened in one year. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson established themselves as the best quarterbacks in the conference. Deshaun Watson is one of the top four or five quarterbacks in the AFC, but Houston has been having a hard time getting more than nine wins in a season.
On the Seahawks’ front, after bringing in eight new players through free agency and a trade, they’ve started making some cap casualties. There were down to $11 million under the cap. With the defensive end problems still unsolved, the Seahawks needed to make room if they wanted to fit a Jadeveon Clowney contract or a Yannick Ngakoue trade onto the salary cap.
So on Tuesday the Seahawks released safety Tedric Thompson and tight end Ed Dickson. That saved $5.144 million for 2020. Center Justin Britt could be a casualty with the Seahawks’ agreement to sign B.J. Finney and the returns of Joey Hunt and Jordan Roos. Plus, the Seahawks could use Ethan Pocic as a center.
The safety position is so loaded that Pete Carroll isn’t sure how much time Lano Hill and Marquise Blair will spend on the field this year. And don’t forget about Ugo Amadi, who can play free safety. The starting safety combination of Quandre Diggs and Bradly McDougald is a good one for Carroll.
When Dickson played, he played well, but injuries marred his two-year Seahawks career. His fate was sealed when the Seahawks signed Greg Olsen to a one-year, $7 million deal.
With the exception of the Clowney situation, Schneider has had this offseason go much the way he wanted. He wanted to sign Finney and Brandon Shell for the offensive line. He was able to add two more veterans for the line and got Phillip Dorsett at wide receiver for the NFL minimum at $887,500 in cap number. He grabbed Olsen and pass rusher Bruce Irvin. The Quinton Dunbar deal put this offseason over the top as long for the Seahawks – as long as Schneider can get something done at defensive end. He also still has to grab a backup quarterback and add depth in the backfield.
More offseason Seahawks coverage
• Wyman: Hawks have had more success in recent drafts than you’d think
• Do Seahawks need to give Clowney a firm deadline to re-sign?
• Huard has ‘a little apprehension’ about Hawks signing Dorsett
• Bumpus: The longer Clowney is unsigned, the better it is for Hawks
• 2020 offseason tracker: Signings, departures and more
- Tune in to 710 ESPN Seattle on Saturday mornings for The John Clayton Show.