With the NFL draft poised to kick off in Chicago this Thursday, it’s finally safe to say most of the big moves taking place during the offseason have pretty much wrapped up. Barring Colin Kaepernick heading to the quarterback-needy Broncos or Sam Bradford’s trade request being honored in Philadelphia, the offensive free-agent market has cooled down ahead of the draft and start of training camps in late July.
Even though the Seattle Seahawks didn’t make as many splashy trades or free-agent signings as they did last year, there have been some solid additions to the offense that will help counter the inevitable departure of veteran players that comes with being a successful NFL team like the Hawks.
Free agency in the NFL is never easy to grade until after the season commences. That being said, it is never too early to judge how a team has managed their offensive personnel and salary cap while looking ahead to the new tide of college graduates coming into the league.
The Seahawks are one of the luckiest teams in the league in this department. Heading into his fifth year, 2013 superbowl-champion Russell Wilson is coming off his best season yet and looks poised to expand on his growth in 2016. Wilson completed a career high 68.1 percent of his passes last season with 34 touchdowns and a 110 quarterback rating, the highest in the league. The biggest test for Wilson will be how he can adjust to another green offensive line, something we’ll address later on. Look for the Hawks to resign backup Tarvaris Jackson before the start of training camp.
Many pundits and fans alike expected doom for Seattle after Marshawn Lynch was injured at the beginning of last season. To everyone’s surprise, rookie undrafted-free agent Thomas Rawls stepped into the starting role in stride and turned out to be one of the best rookies in 2015. Rawls broke his ankle versus the Minnesota Vikings on December 6, but General Manager John Schneider expects him to be ready to go in week one. Look for the Seahawks to draft one or more running backs in the later rounds of the draft, possibly even reaching for Derrick Henry of Alabama if he falls to the later rounds.
The Seahawks are again sitting well in a very important position group with both tested veterans and promising youngsters locked in for the 2016 season. Doug Baldwin is coming off his best season, Tyler Lockett has the looks of a superstar in the making and both Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson are expected to be ready for week one. An added bonus is the resigning of Jermaine Kearse, a homegrown veteran who was widely expected to move on after the end of last season. The Hawks have been known to go after wide receivers late in the draft or as undrafted free agents, so definitely don’t be surprised if the position group grows in coming weeks.
This is where the Seahawks run into very real problems going into next year. The Hawks lost starting left tackle Russell Okung, right guard J.R. Sweezy and utility player Alvin Bailey to free agency. With these departures, Seattle has no remaining starting offensive linemen from the 2013 championship team. Pete Carroll and Schneider will definitely need to add several linemen in the upcoming draft as well as make some last minute free agent signings to keep Russell Wilson healthy and effective in 2016. Look for the Hawks to go after Germain Ifedi if he falls to Seattle, but don’t be surprised if they trade their first rounder to acquire more picks later.