Despite entering the 2021 season with championship aspirations, the Seahawks lost five of their first eight games and never fully recovered, finishing in last place in the NFC West with a 7-10 record.
With the arrival of a new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and his pupil Gerald Everett from the Rams, the Seahawks expected to utilize tight ends more heavily in the passing game. While Everett put up decent numbers in his first season with the team, however, that didn't come to fruition as hoped with quarterback Russell Wilson sidelined for three games due to injury and the offense as a whole unable to get untracked until late in the season.
Looking back at the season in retrospect, how did Seattle's tight ends perform as a group in 2021? And what comes next at the position?
2021 Stats: 48 receptions, 478 receiving yards, four touchdowns
Overall Season Grade: B- (81.5)
What Went Right: Bringing much-needed toughness and physicality to their passing game, according to Pro Football Focus, Everett finished ninth among tight ends with 50 or more targets averaging 5.2 yards after the catch per reception. Breaking through arm tackles and bowling over cornerbacks and safeties with regularity, he was credited with 11 missed tackles forced. The fifth-year veteran also proved himself capable of generating explosives and stretching the field in the passing game while catching seven passes of 16-plus yards, including a 41-yard catch and run versus the Steelers in Week 6. He finished the year ranked third on the team in receptions and receiving yardage behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Despite being just 240 pounds, he also exceeded expectations as a blocker, giving up just two pressures on 35 pass blocking reps and earning a respectable 63.5 run blocking grade from PFF.
What Went Wrong: Though he set career-highs in all major receiving categories, Everett produced 15 or less receiving yards in five of the 15 games he played in. He also had six games with two or fewer receptions, far too often becoming an afterthought in the passing game. Drops weren't a consistent problem looking at his season holistically, but he couldn't corral a pair of gimme touchdown receptions against the 49ers and Cardinals in the second half of the season, with the former resulting in an interception. In that same game against San Francisco, he coughed up a pair of fumbles, struggling with ball security in a close game.
Closing Thoughts: Everett will turn 28 years old in June, so he's in the midst of his prime and still has time to develop into an upper echelon tight end. As he did with the Rams in his first four seasons, he turned in several spectacular plays creating yardage in chunks after the catch. But he has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career and while the Seahawks would love to bring him back, it will have to be at the right price considering his erratic play at times.
2021 Stats: 22 receptions 231 yards, one touchdown
Overall Season Grade: C (75.0)
What Went Right: Continuing to be an important part of Seattle's ground game as an inline tight end, Dissly turned in another strong season as a run blocker. For the year, Pro Football Focus graded him out as the eighth-best run blocking tight end (69.9) with 220 or more snaps. As a receiver, he posted his third straight season with a catch rate above 80 percent, reeling in 21 out of 26 targets from Russell Wilson. Though he missed a pair of games in December with COVID-19 and a heel injury, he managed to play in at least 15 games for the second straight year after suffering a torn patellar tendon and ruptured Achilles tendon in his first two seasons.
What Went Wrong: Dissly played over 500 offensive snaps for the second straight year, but he once again went through extensive droughts between receptions and wasn't involved much in Seattle's passing game. He played in six games where he received one or zero targets, including the last two games he appeared in. Though his catch percentage remained impressive, he dropped three passes after only having two drops in his first three seasons combined. Dissly was largely a non-factor in the red zone, catching a single touchdown for a career-low and receiving just three targets inside the opposing 20-yard line. The veteran also took a bit of step back as a pass protector, tying a career-high allowing five pressures on 32 less snaps than in 2020.
Closing Thoughts: Beloved in the locker room and a consummate team player, Dissly commands the respect of coaches and teammates for the adversity he has conquered recovering from two severe injuries and excelling at the dirty work in the trenches. But he has never returned to form as a receiver since his Achilles injury and considering he may have reached his ceiling in that department, the Seahawks won't break the bank to retain him. A return on an affordable short-team deal could be in the best interest of the player and team, depending on how his market shapes up in free agency.
2021 Stats: Five receptions, 33 yards
Overall Season Grade: D+ (65.0)
What Went Right: Showing off a more chiseled 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame, Parkinson impressed during the first two weeks of training camp, making at least one or two long receptions in each practice session. Injuries kept him from translating that production into regular season games, but he did exhibit growth as a blocker, earning at least a 60.0 grade from Pro Football Focus in that department in six of Seattle's last eight games.
What Went Wrong: Unfortunately, Parkinson broke the same foot that cost him half of his rookie season in mid-August, halting the positive momentum he built early in training camp. Upon his return from injured reserve in Week 4, he struggled to see the field, playing more than 10 offensive snaps in just five games. With limited playing time, he didn't get many chances to show what he could do as a receiver, catching a grand total of two passes through Week 16 and oddly spending most of his time blocking. He ended a disappointing campaign failing to hit 40 receiving yards and didn't score a single touchdown, failing to emerge as the red zone threat the team envisioned him becoming when they drafted him two years ago.
Closing Thoughts: For most of his sophomore season, Parkinson might as well have been inactive, as the Seahawks didn't make any efforts to get him involved in the passing game and he barely played. But if there's a silver lining heading into the offseason, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and quarterback Russell Wilson started to get him involved in the final two regular season games when he caught three out of four targets for 26 yards. It's a baby step in the right direction and with Everett and Dissly both slated to hit free agency, the former Stanford standout might finally have an expanded role if he can stay healthy in 2022.
Seahawks 2021 Positional Report Cards
Offensive Tackle - Coming 1/25/22
Guard/Center - Coming 1/27/22
Cornerback - Coming 1/24/22
Safety - Coming 1/26/22
Specialists - Coming 1/28/22