Seattle Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney (90) celebrates a 17-9 win after knocking out Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz in an NFC playoff game on Jan. 5. Signing Clowney, who is a free agent, to a contract is a top priority for the Seahawks this offseason. (Tribune News Service)

Seattle Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney (90) celebrates a 17-9 win after knocking out Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz in an NFC playoff game on Jan. 5. Signing Clowney, who is a free agent, to a contract is a top priority for the Seahawks this offseason. (Tribune News Service)

Ranking the Seahawks’ top areas of need as offseason heats up

  • Tue Feb 18th, 2020 5:35pm
  • Sports

By Bob Condotta

The Seattle Times

Editor’s Note: Seattle signed Olsen to a one-year, $7 million deal on Tuesday afternoon.

The postseason NFL lull that followed the Super Bowl is just about at its end.

While some teams already have begun making a few moves, activity will begin to pick up markedly now with the NFL scouting combine set for next week (on-field drills are Feb. 27 to March 1) and then the free agent signing period begins March 18.

Expect the Seahawks to be as active as anyone in the free agent period — and in contrast to many years of late — as they attempt to make moves to get over the division-round playoff round hump they’ve been stuck in since their last Super Bowl appearance following the 2014 season.

Seattle has 48 players under contract (teams can have a max of 90 in the offseason) and about $50 million in available effective cap space, 15th most in the NFL according to OvertheCap.com, with the ability to make a few moves to get more (such as cutting tight end Ed Dickson, which would net $3.25 million more in cap space).

Last week we wrapped up a 10-part series reviewing each Seahawks position group heading into the offseason (which you can find here).

Now it’s time for our annual rankings of the position groups by need as we enter the heart of the offseason.

1, Defensive line: Of the players on the line who had the most snaps in 2019, four of the top six now are free agents — Jadeveon Clowney, Quinton Jefferson, Jarran Reed and Al Woods. Clowney obviously is the top priority, both on the defensive line and on the entire team. But even if Seattle re-signs Clowney, there’s lots of improving that needs done to beef up a pass rush that had just 28 sacks and a run defense that allowed 4.9 yards per carry, 28th in the NFL.

2, Offensive line: Two starters are free agents — right tackle Germain Ifedi and left guard Mike Iupati — as is supersub/eligible tackle George Fant, while center Justin Britt is rehabbing an ACL injury and could possibly be a cap casualty or restructure candidate (the team could save $8.75 million if he’s released). Coach Pete Carroll said after the season he’d like to keep the line intact as much as possible but logic dictates there is going to be some change. And regardless, there’s always room for some upgrades.

3, Tight end: As this is written, it’s still unclear what veteran free agent Greg Olsen will do. He visited Seattle, Buffalo and Washington in the past week or so and also could pursue TV opportunities. If Olsen signs with the Seahawks, then obviously Seattle has another big and proven target for Russell Wilson and some huge insurance at the tight end spot as Will Dissly rehabs from an Achilles injury. But even with Olsen, adding another tight end — and preferably a younger one — seems like it might be necessary.

4, Cornerback: The end of the season showed the jury is still out on starting right corner Tre Flowers, and the Seahawks also need to solidify the nickel corner spot — adding someone to compete with Ugo Amadi, who ended the year handling that role, seems a given.

5, Receiver: The need here is for a third receiver to complement Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Veteran Jaron Brown, who started last season in that role, is a free agent and would seem unlikely to be back and David Moore and Malik Turner showed last year they still have some growing to do in that role. Adding another weapon or two for Wilson seems a priority.

6, Running back: The need here is for some depth/competition with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny each coming off injuries. Carson says he’ll be ready for the season but it’s unclear when Penny will be. And with C.J. Prosise now a free agent, Seattle also will need to add another third-down/two-minute player to compete with/supplement Travis Homer.

7, Safety: Seattle is set with starters Bradley McDougald and Quandre Diggs, and Marquise Blair is a promising young player, but the Seahawks might want to find some competition for Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill, and maybe another young player to take over down the road.

8, Linebacker: Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are back at the middle and weakside spots and Cody Barton is the heir apparent at strongside linebacker with Mychal Kendricks a free agent and also rehabbing an ACL injury. But it’ll be interesting to see if Seattle adds someone else to compete at the strongside spot, and also maybe to serve as an edge rusher.

9, Quarterback: Wilson is under contract through 2023, but Seattle might want to stop the merry-go-round at the backup spot, where a different player has held the role each season since 2015 (Tarvaris Jackson, Trevone Boykin, Austin Davis, Brett Hundley, Geno Smith). Smith now is a free agent.

10, Kicker/punter/special teams: Kicker Jason Myers, punter Michael Dickson and snapper Tyler Ott are all under contract for at least two more years.