2024 NFL Offseason Primer: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

Projected Cap Space: -$10.3 million

Draft Picks: 7 

  • 1st (No. 16)
  • 3rd (No. 78)
  • 3rd (No. 81, NO)
  • 4th (No. 119)
  • 5th (No. 151)
  • 6th (No. 194)
  • 7th (No. 233)

Notable Free Agents: 

Top Three Needs

1 – Safety

Fixing the defense is Seattle’s top priority this offseason and played a major role in why they targeted former Ravens DC Mike Macdonald as the next head coach. Right now his scheme is the one that presents the most difficulty for opposing offenses, just like the old Seahawks system was a decade ago. 

Macdonald’s scheme has its roots in the same tree as Rex Ryan and Dean Pees, longtime NFL defensive coordinators with stints in Baltimore. However, Macdonald is a lot more opportunistic with his blitz calls and prefers to send only four or five, often with games to try and scheme up a free rusher. The defining attribute of his scheme is probably deception. Macdonald’s defenses thrived off of making offenses think they were getting one thing, only to face something else once the ball was snapped. 

That puts a lot of stress on the safety position with all the different coverage rotations, and that’s a major reason why I would expect the Seahawks to prioritize the position, maybe more than other teams would. The other factor is both Seahawks safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are legit cap cut candidates, and both looked like they might have lost a step last year whether it was due to injury or age. 

It’s not realistic for Macdonald to find another Kyle Hamilton, who’s one of one for Baltimore at the position. But as he sculpts his vision for the defense, it would be fair to expect safety to feature prominently in that. 

2 – Linebacker

Looking at the rest of Seattle’s depth chart on defense, there are a lot of pieces that would fit well with what Macdonald wants to do at cornerback and up front. It’s not that the Seahawks couldn’t stand to improve at edge rusher or on the interior — especially if they lose Williams — but the Ravens had a lot of success with a committee approach and Macdonald can generate pressure without a name-brand elite rusher. 

Things at linebacker are bare right now. Both Brooks and Wagner are set for free agency, and Macdonald’s scheme relies a lot on quality linebacker play. The Ravens’ defense started to take off after trading for LB Roquan Smith in 2022 and they also had former first-round LB Patrick Queen

Queen is someone to keep an eye on as a pending free agent, maybe even to pair with Brooks if Seattle re-signs him. That would be expensive but we’ve already seen this is an important position in Macdonald’s defense, and the Seahawks have a lot of starters on rookie contracts elsewhere to be able to balance things out. 

3 – Interior OL

The Seahawks offense was way more inconsistent in 2023 and some people attributed that to QB Geno Smith turning back into a pumpkin after a career renaissance in 2022. Statistically, Smith did take a step backward, most notably throwing only 20 touchdowns compared to 30. Most importantly for some, the Seahawks missed the playoffs. 

But the stats can lie — or at least not tell the full picture. Pro Football Focus’ individual player grades can be controversial but they do provide an apples-to-apples comparison, and PFF graded Smith higher in 2023 than it did in 2022. Overall, Smith played well in 2023, especially considering the revolving door in front of him on the offensive line. Seattle had major injury issues at just about every spot up front and it impacted their performance. Seattle allowed the fifth-most pressures in 2023. 

Smith is at his best when he has time to throw, but he did a masterful job of navigating the increased pressure. His sacks went down from 46 to 31 despite being pressured on more than 25 percent of his dropbacks, up from 22 percent in 2022. But his pocket time remained exactly the same at 2.4 seconds and his pressure to sack rate was among the best in the NFL. 

I say all of this because while it wouldn’t hurt for Seattle to have one eye on the future given Smith is 33, quarterback was not anywhere near the biggest problem for the Seahawks last year, especially not compared to the offensive line. Seattle gets tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas back but all three interior starters are on expiring contracts which gives the team an opportunity to upgrade. 

One Big Question

What will be Seattle’s new identity?

This is the first year since 2010 that the Seahawks won’t have Pete Carroll roaming the sideline. You can’t tell the story of football in the last decade and a half without a heavy mention of Carroll’s Seahawks teams, who came achingly close to dethroning the Patriots as a dynasty and featured one of the best defenses in NFL history. 

Even in the past few years as Carroll struggled to replicate that success in another decade, he showed he wasn’t as out of touch as a lot of people thought. His gambit on Smith as the successor to Russell Wilson was masterful and Carroll was still as energetic and charismatic as ever. But ownership’s patience ran out, and now it’s time for the next era. 

The Seahawks will look a lot different in 2024. There’s a brand new coaching staff implementing new schemes on both sides of the ball that will have different prototypes for players and value different things than Carroll. But with GM John Schneider still running the whole operation, there remains a real link to Seattle’s past.

The best Seahawks teams of the 2010s were physical, imposing teams who beat up on opponents on both sides of the ball. The new-look Seahawks will do things a different way, but you can bet Schneider wants the same results. 

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