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32 Teams in 32 Days: The Cinderella Story Isn’t Over Yet for Geno Smith’s Seahawks

After a surprise season in 2022, Seattle is back with its QB1 and a plethora of recent star draft picks to take on the NFC West.

Welcome to 32 teams in 32 days. To get us through the offseason, we’ll be taking a closer look at every team in the league, in order of projected 2023 win totals. Up next: the Seahawks.

Nobody was a bigger Cinderella last year than the Seahawks.

Seattle, picked by many pundits to finish with one of the league’s worst records, went 9–8 behind a stunning Pro Bowl season from quarterback Geno Smith. Although the Seahawks were handled in the wild-card round by the 49ers, there’s reason to believe Seattle has found its next contention window.

Last offseason was highlighted by the trading of star quarterback Russell Wilson, but the real treasure was the draft. Seattle landed one big talent after the next in 2022, including offensive tackles Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross, corner Tariq Woolen, and running back Kenneth Walker III.

Abraham Lucas puts his hand out for a high five; Geno Smith holds the ball in one hand getting ready to throw; Kenneth Walker III runs with the ball under one arm, with his hand pointing up to the sky

The Seahawks open their season against the Rams at home.

This spring it appears general manager John Schneider might have done it again. The Seahawks had two first-round picks as a result of the Wilson deal, and they used them on corner Devon Witherspoon and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, arguably the best prospects at their respective positions.

Factor in a fruitful free-agency period, which saw the additions of safety Julian Love, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones and linebacker Bobby Wagner, and Seattle is primed to make a real run at San Francisco for the NFC West title.

Biggest gamble this offseason: Giving Geno Smith a multiyear deal

By signing Smith to a three-year deal, Schneider gave himself the ability to sign free agents, as the cap hit was smaller than a franchise tag would have been.

However, Smith is now tied to Seattle for three years and $75 million, including $40 million guaranteed. The deal isn’t one that could hurt the franchise if Smith regresses to his previous form, but Seattle is still paying out cap hits of $31.2 and $33.7 million in 2024 and ’25, with dead money totaling $26.1 million if he’s released.

Schneider is showing his faith in Smith, who, at 33, has seemingly found himself. And if that’s the case, the Seahawks have a Pro Bowl quarterback on a cheap deal. However, should Smith revert, Seattle is locked into meaningful money without any young option behind him. 

Toughest stretch of the season: Weeks 12 to 15

The Seahawks might have the toughest four-game stretch in football.

Seattle has an early bye in Week 5 and then will run through a majority of the AFC North before arriving at Thanksgiving, when it will square off with the 49ers at Lumen Field. The next Thursday, Seattle travels to face the Cowboys before a mini-bye and subsequent return engagement with San Francisco, this time at Levi’s Stadium. Finally, it’s a date with the NFC-champion Eagles at home before finishing up with three winnable games.

Seattle could be determining whether it’s a wild-card team or a division winner within those four weeks.

Breakout player to watch: DE Darrell Taylor

Few NFL fans would be able to tell you which team Taylor plays for, but that should change soon.

In two years with the Seahawks, the 2020 second-round pick from Tennessee has totaled 16 sacks, including 9.5 last year, despite playing less than 50% of the team’s defensive snaps in both of his campaigns.

With Jones, Taylor and Uchenna Nwosu to account for, the Seahawks should have a wicked pass rush, allowing both to tee off without consistently facing double teams. Look for Taylor to break through and have double-digit sacks, pushing for his first Pro Bowl berth.

Position of strength: Receiver

It’s hard to argue that more than a few teams can compete with the Seahawks on the perimeter.

Tyler Lockett is in the air with the ball in his hands

Seattle is loaded with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf on the outside, who combined for 174 receptions, 2,081 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. They’re now joined by Smith-Njigba, who starred for the Buckeyes in 2021 with 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine scores. However, he was limited to only three games last season due to a hamstring injury.

If Smith-Njigba stays healthy and assimilates well to the offense, Seattle will have an elite combination of dynamism and size for any quarterback to target.

Position of weakness: Interior offensive line

If there’s one area of the roster that can derail hopes of a postseason push, it’s the guard-center-guard combination on the inside.

Seattle did a great job to find Lucas and Cross at the tackle spots, but questions abound regarding guards Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes, and center Evan Brown. Schneider added competition and depth this offseason, drafting Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi along with signing undrafted free agent Kendall Randolph.

Among all those bodies, Seattle must find a trio that can keep Smith from facing inside pressure while opening running lanes for Walker and rookie Zach Charbonnet.

X-factor: The 2023 draft class stepping up

After seeing last year’s rookie crop make such an impact for Seattle, it’s hard not to wonder about what the Seahawks have this year, led by the aforementioned Smith-Njigba and Witherspoon.

Seattle is poised to make a deep postseason run in the wide-open NFC, but only if the rookies can contribute to a meaningful degree. While Lockett and Metcalf are phenomenal, getting a third weapon going in Smith-Njigba would greatly increase the odds of Smith having another terrific season.

Defensively, Witherspoon has a chance to be part of a special tandem with Woolen. Factor in the safety duo of Love and Quandre Diggs, and the secondary could be something very impactful.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is tackled by Seattle Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs

Seattle’s secondary should present plenty of options for coach Pete Carroll.

Sleeper/fantasy pick: RB Zach Charbonnet

I fully expect the Seahawks to keep Walker atop their backfield depth chart, but Charbonnet could put a slight dent into his touches. The rookie was drafted in the second round, and while that doesn’t guarantee him a big role, Charbonnet is talented enough to have stand-alone flex value. —Michael Fabiano, SI Fantasy

Best bet: Take the over on Walker’s 950.5 rushing yards

I’m not out on Walker because I don’t think Pete Carroll is, either. Take the over on 950.5 rushing yards. Walker would only need to average 56 yards per game to clear this, and even with Charbonnet taking some touches, that is very achievable for the talented second-year back. —Jennifer Piacenti, SI Betting

Final record: 12–5, second in NFC West