3 Realistic Trades for Seahawks to Upgrade Pass Rush
With six weeks in the books, the Seahawks remain the only undefeated team in the NFC and atop the NFC West with a 5-0 record. But despite their unblemished record, the team has been far from perfect, particularly on the defensive side of the football.
As the November 3 trade deadline quickly approaches, even with limited draft capital after dealing for Jamal Adams back in July, Seattle could certainly be a buyer in the next two-plus weeks. Specifically, general manager John Schneider may be spending a bunch of time scanning the pass rushing aisle as he attempts to shop for upgrades.
While the Seahawks have made noticeable improvements with 33 quarterback hits, which was sixth-best in the NFL entering Week 6, as well as producing a 45 percent pass rush win rate as a team per ESPN, the team still ranks near the bottom of the league in sacks. Making matters worse, only seven of those nine sacks have come from the defensive line.
Due to limited cap space, Seattle won't be able to reel in a big fish such as J.J. Watt. But there are a few realistic options on the market that could help address the team's biggest flaw heading into the second half of the season.
Here are three trades Schneider and the Seahawks could pull off to land much-needed pass rushing help prior to the deadline.
Option 1: Seahawks trade 2021 fourth-round pick to Washington for Ryan Kerrigan and a 2021 seventh-round pick.
After drafting Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick in April and using a 2019 first-round pick on Montez Sweat, Washington looks to be phasing the 32-year old Kerrigan out. Though he's been lauded by coach Ron Rivera for his leadership, the four-time Pro Bowler played a grand total of seven snaps against the New York Giants on Sunday. On the season, he's only logged 143 defensive snaps and has only played more than 30 snaps in one game so far this year. In the final year of his current contract, he doesn't appear to be in the franchise's plans beyond 2020.
Though he isn't the same player who amassed double-digit sacks in four out of five seasons from 2014 to 2018, Kerrigan has remained productive with his limited opportunities this season. He has 3.0 sacks on less than 150 snaps, which would be the most on the Seahawks roster currently. Thrust into the middle of a race for the top seed in the NFC, joining a far more talented team could rejuvenate the veteran and make him well worth the investment of a mid-round pick.
Option 2: Seahawks trade 2021 fifth-round pick and Jamarco Jones to Bengals for Carlos Dunlap and 2021 seventh-round pick.
Frustrated by a diminished role for a struggling 1-4 Bengals squad, Dunlap has played less than 50 percent of the defensive snaps each of the past two weeks after starting the team's first four games. Like Kerrigan, the 31-year old defensive end has lost playing time to younger players on a rebuilding franchise that isn't going anywhere this year and would welcome the opportunity to play for a contender at this stage of his career. He's coming off a strong 2019 season in which he registered 9.0 sacks, 21 quarterback hits, and eight pass deflections.
With two years left on his current deal, trying to make a deal for Dunlap may be a bit trickier for the Seahawks. However, the Bengals need help anywhere they can find it when it comes to protecting rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who has been ambushed so far this season. Seattle has great depth in the interior offensive line, allowing the flexibility to include Jones in a trade package to help facilitate a deal for the productive veteran, who could play either end spot in Carroll's defense and would instantly add a proven disruptive rusher to the fold.
Option 3: Seahawks trade 2021 fifth-round pick to Falcons for Takkarist McKinley and 2021 seventh-round pick.
Just two years ago, McKinley looked to be on the verge of breaking out as one of the NFL's top young pass rushers. He produced 13.0 sacks and 25 quarterback hits in his first two seasons, but his numbers took a dive in 2019, as he produced a career-low 3.5 sacks and dealt with nagging injuries. The former first-round pick out of UCLA currently is dealing with a groin injury and has only played in three games so far this season.
But if McKinley is healthy, he's only going to turn 25 years old next month. He's still a very young player with great upside and started this year strong with six quarterback hits against the Seahawks. The Falcons are 1-5 and set to embark on a full-scale rebuild, so they should be open to moving him, especially since they didn't pick up his fifth-year option. This could be a great opportunity for the Seahawks to take a flier on an uber-athletic edge rusher who has the size and traits to fit well into their scheme and could potentially be part of future plans given his youth.
Wild Card: Seahawks trade 2021 fifth-round pick and Jacob Hollister to Eagles for Brandon Graham and 2021 seventh-round pick.
Since Philadelphia currently is in second place in the dreaded NFC East, they're not likely going to be selling at the trade deadline. However, Carson Wentz has once again tried to keep an injury-ravaged offense afloat and now tight end Zach Ertz will miss at least three weeks on injured reserve, if not more. Desperate for help at the skill positions, Hollister may be intriguing enough given his youth and production for Seattle last season to facilitate a trade for pass rushing help.
In this case, the Eagles have a savvy veteran in Brandon Graham who currently leads the team with 5.0 sacks and nine quarterback hits. Though he recently signed a new contract extension, he's now 32 years old and with the team entering salary cap hell next year, moving his salary now would be a wise move to land a day three draft pick. On the flip side, Hollister could step in right away as a viable pass catching option for Wentz at the tight end spot as the Eagles try to stay in the hunt in the worst division in the NFL.
The biggest reason this trade would be a wild card is Graham's contract. He carries a cap number north of $17 million in 2021 and would need to have his contract restructured to fit into the Seahawks plans beyond this year. But for the rest of this year, he'd be extremely affordable with a cap hit of roughly $3 million.