Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks have checked just about every box off of their offseason to do list.

They’ve:

- Bolstered the pass rush (Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa, second-round pick Darrell Taylor and fifth-round pick Alton Robinson).

- Added quality and depth to the offensive line (B.J. Finney, third-round pick Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell are all expected to be new starters on the o-line in 2020).

- Improved at corner (Noteworthy trade with the Redskins for Quinton Dunbar).

- Found Russell Wilson more targets in the passing game (Greg Olsen, Philip Dorsett and fourth-round pick Colby Parkinson most notably).

But the two areas of the roster that remain unaddressed are signing a star pass rusher and improving at nickel corner. The former seems to be at a standstill while the Jadeveon Clowney merry-go-round continues to circle without much meaningful headway at this juncture. Thus, we’ll focus on the latter in this piece.

Pete Carroll said back at the NFL Combine that the nickel job was Ugo Amadi’s to lose, but he indicated that the Oregon product wouldn’t be given the job without competition. And yet, Seattle didn’t pick up a nickel corner in free agency or the draft.

I asked Carroll about the state of the position following the draft and thought his response was intriguing on a number of levels.

Here’s Carroll’s full answer:

“You’re going to see us create the challenge there for (Amadi). There’s some things that we’re working on, I don’t want to tell you all of it right now, I’d like to keep it under wraps. But there’s some different things that we’re going to try. He did a nice job his first time out, he really didn’t have much competition there once he got in there which was the way it worked out. But he is going to have some this time around and hopefully he’ll just continue to get better. He did a reputable job. We want to try some different combinations. If you remember, from one extreme, we had linebackers playing in the nickel spot. Mychal Kendricks was out there last year. And that worked out pretty well for us for the most part. From that extreme, all the way to some other guys that we’re going to give some shots to. Let us show you when we get there. But I’m looking forward to it.”

 

It's understandable why Carroll played coy, but it’s still fun to try and decipher what he meant by “there’s some things we’re working on.”

When I heard it live, I took it as Seattle had a potential deal in the works, presumably for a veteran. Darqueze Dennard is likely the top option left on the market. Brian Nemhauser was recently discussing his potential fit in Seattle.

But as you look back and read the transcript, it doesn’t feel like Carroll is hinting toward a transaction. Instead it sounds like Seattle’s coaching staff is going to get creative when it comes to the nickel spot in 2020.

As Carroll noted, it was Kendricks who essentially occupied the role in 2019 as Seattle utilized its base defense at a far greater rate than any other team in the league. Cody Barton and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks could potentially fill Kendricks’ shoes and assume that role.

It seems more likely to me, though, that Seattle has a plan that could be fluid throughout the season depending on each week’s matchup. That would make sense unless Amadi shows he’s the clear-cut top option and warrants being on the field in all nickel situations regardless of matchup.

There’s plenty of room for creativity with Seattle’s top three corners: Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers. Griffin said back during Super Bowl week that he wants to “travel” with opponents’ top receivers in 2020. Dunbar has experience covering in the slot. And while he’d likely prefer to predominantly play outside as an impending free agent in 2021, he could be open to spot duty at nickel this season.

Then there’s Flowers. The college safety-turned-corner could be an intriguing option in the slot depending on the matchup. There’s a chance Seattle could tinker with getting all three corners on the field at the same time, especially if Dunbar avoids the injury bug and Flowers takes a marginal step forward in Year 3.

 

Finally, the Seahawks are going to have to find a way to get Marquise Blair reps if their 2019 second-round pick continues to improve. Blair showed flashes of his physicality and playmaking ability as a rookie but lacked consistency, and he failed to earn the trust of the coaching staff to play within the framework of the defensive scheme. He’s currently slated to backup both Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald.

All of this is to say that there’s enough interesting names in Seattle’s secondary to wonder what Carroll was eluding to during his post-draft presser. I, for one, am looking forward to finding out in what I believe will be one of the top training camp storylines this summer.