Author’s Note: I submitted this article for publication a few hours before the Seahawks traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and subsequently released Bobby Wagner. I have made some edits based on those moves (ex. RW3 is no longer my prediction for QB1 and I am now expecting Noah Fant to be the starting Tight End) but, for the most part, the rest of this article remains in its original form. Enjoy!
Free agency hasn’t officially started and the NFL Draft is still almost 2 months away. So why am I looking 6 months into the future and making predictions about who the Seahawks’ starters will be when the 2022 season kicks off?
One word: Boredom.
The slightly longer explanation is that the current regime (aka Pete Caroll and John Schneider) seldom does anything terribly exciting in free agency and one can only run so many mock drafts before dozing off from, well … boredom.
Yes, the offseason is an interminable abyss for yours truly.
So, without further ado, I present to you, my fellow 12s, FTR’s way, way, WAY too early roster projection for the 2022 edition of our beloved Seattle Seahawks.
Note: I absolutely, positively guarantee that I will be off on some of these projections. But I also expect to be right on most of them.
Yeah … I originally had Russell Wilson’s name here because I didn’t think there was any way the Seahawks would be crazy enough to trade him. SIGH.
That said, I do not (not, not, NOT) think that Drew Lock will be the starter come Week 1. Who will be? I have no idea. But I will go out on a limb and say that it will be someone that wasn’t on the team last year and isn’t on the team right now.
Running Back: Rashaad Penny
After teasing us with his “potential” for 3-1/2 years, Rashaad Penny finally showed what he was capable of at the end of his 4th season. Was it a mirage or was it “the real Penny”? And how much of a role did Adrian Peterson play in Penny’s performance over the final 6 weeks of the season? Personally, I think it’s worth about $3M (maybe $4M) a year (on a 2 or 3-year contract) to find out the answers to those questions – especially with Seattle’s “default” RB1, Chris Carson, working his way back from a season-ending neck injury. Assuming Penny is re-signed and both he and Carson are healthy, I’m giving the starter’s reps to Penny to start the season and hoping that he picks up where he left off last year.
Wide Receiver #1: DK Metcalf
Throughout much of the last 2 seasons, there has been a debate about whether DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett was Seattle’s #1 receiver with the default answer being “both” – 1A and 1B, so to speak. In 2022, I’m taking a stance and saying that DK is WR1. And he’s going to ink a contract (within the next 6 months) that proves that the front office agrees.
Wide Receiver #2: Tyler Lockett
Normally, a wideout who has had 3 straight 1,000-yard seasons and 4 straight seasons with at least 8 touchdowns would be the team’s unquestioned #1. Especially when they’re the 9th-highest paid receiver in the league (by APY). Welcome to Seattle.
Wide Receiver #3: Newcomer
No, I’m not writing off / giving up on D’Wayne Eskridge after one injury-marred season. I am, however, not putting all of my eggs in his unproven basket. Recent reporting indicates that Seattle has been “asking around” about WRs. Some reports have indicated that Seattle is looking at “Tier 2” wideouts to “complement” Metcalf and Lockett. When all is said and done, I think Seattle will add some competition at the WR3 spot – through free agency and/or the NFL Draft – and I’m not currently expecting D’Esk to win the job.
Tight End: Gerald Everett Noah Fant
Everett set career highs last year for targets (63), receptions (48), receiving yards (478), and touchdowns (4). He’s also the player on Seattle’s roster that has the most familiarity with the system that Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron wants to run. Could he leave in free agency? Sure. Will he? I don’t think so. Now that the Seahawks have Noah Fant … yeah, probably.
Here’s the thing: There ain’t no reason to give Everett an estimated 3-year, $22.5M contract with an APY of $7.5M and $13M guaranteed when the Seahawks now have a guy with better numbers (68 receptions on 90 targets for 670 yards with 4 TDs in 2021 with almost identical numbers in 2020) for a fraction of the cost ($2.2M in 2022).
Left Tackle: Duane Brown
Yes, he’ll be 37 when the 2022 season starts. And, yes, his play has declined some in recent years (PFF gave him the second lowest overall grade of his career in 2021). Duane Brown is still Seattle’s BEST offensive lineman though, and there’s no one on the current roster that is ready to replace him. There also aren’t many, if any, free agents that could be seamlessly inserted in his place for a comparable amount of money. Seattle does need a succession plan, but they don’t need it (and likely won’t have it) before Week 1.
Left Guard: Damien Lewis
Lewis is one of only 2 starters on the offensive line who are currently under contract for 2022 and there is no one on the current roster that is capable of supplanting him. The only question I have is whether the coaching staff might opt to move him back to the right side since he was much better at RG in 2020 than he was at LG in 2021.
Center: Ethan Pocic
Raise your hand if you think Seattle is going to shell out the funds it would take to sign a quality Center in free agency. Obviously I didn’t raise my hand. Now raise your hand if you think Seattle will use a draft pick on someone that can push Pocic to the bench. Yeah, I didn’t raise my hand for this one either. What I did do is read (and watch) John Morgan’s recent 4-part analysis of the Seahawks’ beleaguered Center (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Conclusion) and … I’m more or less okay with this.
Right Guard: Gabe Jackson
You already know what I’m going to say. Gabe Jackson is one of only 2 starting offensive linemen under contract right now and there is no one behind him that can push him to the bench. Personally, I would flip Jackson and Lewis though and have the 8-year veteran start at Left Guard in 2022. I am not, however, predicting that will happen.
Right Tackle: Jake Curhan
Jake Curhan gave up 4 sacks, 4 hits, and 20 total pressures on 230 pass-blocking snaps across 10 games during his rookie season. However, 2 of the sacks + a hurry came during the Week 13 game against the 49ers when Curhan played Left Guard. Subtract that game from the equation and Curhan is accountable for 2 sacks, 4 hits, and 17 total pressures on 192 snaps across 9 games as a Right Tackle.
Comparatively, Brandon Shell gave up 3 sacks, 4 hits, and 21 total pressures on 354 pass-blocking snaps across 10 games last year and he gave up 3 sacks, 4 hits, and 19 total pressures on 460 pass-block snaps across 11 games in 2020.
So why am I predicting that Jake Curhan will be the starting RT in 2022? Three reasons. #1: Brandon Shell has missed 12 out of 33 games since coming to Seattle. #2: Shell will be a free agent next week and is expected to sign a multi-year contract with an annual average around $6M whereas Curhan is already under contract and his cap hit in 2022 is a mere $834,500. #3: Who am I kidding? #1 + #2 are enough.
Nose Tackle: Poona Ford
With Seattle (reportedly) switching to a 3-4 base defense, there’s only one “starting” role for a defensive tackle and Poona Ford is the clear choice. By default. Right now, the only other DTs under contract are Jarrod Hewitt and Niles Scott. Bryan Mone is expected to return since he’s an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (meaning he can only “negotiate” with the Seahawks and will end up signing whatever contract they put in front of him). And, yeah, Seattle could address DT via free agency and/or the draft. At the end of the day though, Poona still gets the nod as Seattle’s starter.
Bonus prediction: Seattle will sign Poona Ford to an extension before the season starts, both to “reward” him for another stellar season and to lower his $10.075M cap hit in 2022.
Defensive End #1: Carlos Dunlap
Dunlap led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks in 2021. Unless Seattle “makes a splash” with a pair of free agent signings, I am pretty confident in Dunlap being one of the starting EDGE rushers come Week 1 of the 2022 season.
Defensive End #2: Newcomer
Right now Before the trade with Denver, the 2 starting options for this position are were Kerry Hyder Jr. and L.J. Collier. While neither player is a super-terrible option, I expect both to be in backup roles in 2022.
Note: The simple truth here is that the Seahawks need to upgrade their pass rush and THIS is the spot to do it. And, yes, that applies even IF the Seahawks re-sign Rasheem Green (which I am not sure they will).
Additional Note: I am not ignoring Shelby Harris, who Seattle just acquired; I just think the Seahawks STILL need an upgrade and this is STILL the spot to do it.
Outside Linebacker #1: Benson Mayowa
Honestly, I almost went with Alton Robinson here. Or “Newcomer.” But when push comes to shove, I think the wily vet gets the starting nod from the coaching staff.
Outside Linebacker #2: Darrell Taylor
Right now, Taylor is 3rd in line at OLB behind Jordyn Brooks and Benson Mayowa. However, if Seattle moves to a 3-4 alignment for their base defense, as many expect they will, that should open a path for Taylor (with Jordyn Brooks moving to ILB). Look for him to improve upon the 6.5 sacks he had in 2021.
Inside Linebacker #1: Bobby Wagner
Yeah, I know that Seattle released him, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise given the 20.35M cap hit he had for 2022 and the $16.6M Seattle saved by letting him go. Plus, releasing Bwagz doesn’t mean that JSPC don’t want him and won’t find a way to have him in the starting lineup come Week 1. It may be a long shot at this point, rooted in a mixture of denial and grief, but until he officially signs with another team, I’m keeping Bobby Wagner in my roster projection.
Inside Linebacker #2: Jordyn Brooks
Jordyn Brooks is Bobby’s heir-apparent and the team’s single-season record holder for tackles (albeit because Seattle’s defense had a season-long inability to get off the field + Bwagz missed the Week 18 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals). Unless something catastrophic happens (and it won’t!), there ain’t no way Brooks isn’t one of the Seahawks’ starting linebackers next season. That said, there is a (teeny tiny) chance that he could start at outside linebacker.
Right Cornerback: D.J. Reed
This is the biggest question mark for me. Should the Seahawks re-sign D.J. Reed? Absolutely! 100% Yes! Will they? That’s the question. My gut says, “No; not if the APY of his multi-year contract approaches 8 figures.” And, given what he’s done (at RCB) during his stay in Seattle, an 8-figure APY isn’t out of the question. That said, I’m being optimistic and penciling him in as Seattle’s starter for 2022 (and beyond).
Left Cornerback: Sidney Jones
Seattle’s coaches may see Tre Brown in this role and I wouldn’t fault them if that’s the case. But Jones did a great job during the last part of last season (i.e., once he knew the scheme and jelled with the guys around him) and he shouldn’t cost too much to retain (est. $4M-ish). Plus, retaining him (and Reed) lets Seattle address their weakest CB spot with an in-house candidate …
Slot / Nickel Cornerback: Tre Brown
I haven’t completely written off Ugo Amadi (bad, bad 2021) or Marquise Blair (bad luck on the injury front) but IF Seattle retains both D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones, it provides an opportunity for the Seahawks to put their 3 best corners on the field together. And even with what little we saw of him in 2021 (162 coverage snaps), I would definitely put Tre Brown ahead of Amadi and Blair.
Strong Safety: Jamal Adams
You don’t make a guy the highest-paid player at his position and then let someone else start in front of him. And there isn’t anyone on the roster that could usurp Adams anyway.
That said, I did consider writing Adams’ name next to one of the linebacker spots and, ultimately, I think that might be a direction Seattle ends up taking with him. At the end of the day though, I’m not comfortable writing another name (from the current roster) in as the starting SS.
Free Safety: Quandre Diggs
If Seattle doesn’t sign Diggs to an extension before the legal tampering period opens on March 14th tomorrow then someone needs to lose their job. Not because they didn’t manage to re-sign Diggs this offseason, but because they (insert your favorite negative adjective here) chose not to last offseason.
Kicker: Jason Myers
Last year was rough, but the guy was perfect on field goals in 2020. And while the Seahawks would “save” $4M by moving on, who they’d move on to is a big ol’ question mark with no guarantees that it would be an improvement. My guess is that Pete will stick with Myers in 2022.
Punter: Michael Dickson
Unless the Jacksonville Jaguars offered Seattle the #1 pick in this year’s draft for “the Australian weapon” (and wouldn’t that be something if they did?), there ain’t no possible way that the Seahawks head into the 2022 season without this guy holding the ball on field goal attempts.
Long Snapper: Tyler Ott
Question: Will the front office bring someone in to compete against Ott? Answer: No.
I know that the prevailing theory right now is that Seattle is (or should be) in full-blown rebuild mode. I don’t believe that. I don’t think Pete Carroll’s “Always Compete”-iveness would allow him to do anything but “retool.”
Contrary to my introduction, I don’t think this offseason is going to be boring.