Injuries are an unfortunate inevitability and when they occur, it's a bad time for all involved parties. They're awful for the player and the team, and they sure can bring down even the most optimistic of fans.
But as is the nature of the NFL's "next man up" mentality, it all comes down to players stepping up and filling the role created by an injury—no excuses. Some shoes are harder to fill than others, however, and an injury to a key player is something a team may not be able to recover from.
Some players are simply irreplaceable and the Seahawks have a handful of them. But which players would be the hardest for them to replace?
1. QB Russell Wilson
I mean, what did you really expect? Yes, if Russell Wilson goes down with an injury and has to miss games for the first time in his career, Seattle's season would be more or less over. This isn't to demean backup quarterback Geno Smith, but the gap between the two players is as stark as fire and ice. A long-term injury to Wilson would be devastating to the team's postseason and championship aspirations. And while everybody else on this list would be difficult to replace, the Seahawks may be able to function without them. That's not the case with Wilson, however; this team's hopes live and die with him.
2. T Duane Brown
The next four players have a much smaller gap than Brown has to Wilson, but losing their Pro Bowl left tackle would leave the Seahawks in quite a bind. Cedric Ogbuehi would likely slide into the role, and while he did a nice job at right tackle in 2020, left tackle is a completely different set of circumstances. Not only is an injury to Brown devastating for obvious reasons, but it also leaves Wilson more vulnerable to hits and, therefore, increases the odds of an injury to him as well. The scariest part of this rank is that Brown is a prime candidate to miss time. He'll be 36 years old before Week 1 and Seattle is already starting to pull back his weekly reps at practice. There are a lot of miles on the odometer here, the good news is Brown has missed just four games in three-and-a-half years. For the sake of the offense's functionality, keeping that missed time to a minimum will be vital.
3. S Quandre Diggs
This might come as a shock to some, but the value Diggs brings to Seattle's defense isn't easily replaceable. While many would likely pick Jamal Adams as the more irreplaceable safety, fans should feel comfortable with what they saw from Ryan Neal when he filled in for the All-Pro last season. Make no mistake; Adams is an incredibly valuable piece of the Seahawks' success, but they do not have another player who can mask Diggs' absence as well as Neal did with Adams. While fans want to believe in Marquise Blair, he's simply been unable to inspire trust in his ability to stay on the field thus far. Diggs, on the other hand, is not only a ball hawk but he's an enforcer who plays the run and the pass quite well. He's an ideal fit for the Seahawks' scheme and brings versatility that the other safeties on the roster can't quite match.
4. LB Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner's play has been a subject of much debate in recent years. Some will swear that he is just as good now as he's ever been. Others will point to a lack of obvious impact plays (sacks, interceptions, big hits) as evidence that he's lost a step. But one thing nobody will deny is how important he is to the Seahawks' defense. And now, with his long-time partner in crime, K.J. Wright, no longer by his side, losing Wagner would leave Seattle without a leader in its linebacker room. Jordyn Brooks certainly flashed in his rookie season and is expected to be a big-time asset to the defense in 2021. Darrell Taylor, a 2020 second-round pick who didn't play last year, is the heavy favorite to handle the strong-side linebacker position, giving the Seahawks two talented—yet largely inexperienced—linebackers flanking Wagner each week. The Seahawks need Wagner to anchor this unit and he should be up to the task.
5. WR DK Metcalf
It isn't often that a receiver is viewed as an irreplaceable player, particularly when the team has a second pass catching option that's as good as Tyler Lockett. But Metcalf's skillset is so unique that it simply can't be replaced. It's the talent of Wilson and the rest of the weaponry that pushes Metcalf down this list a little, but while the Seahawks may be able to survive without him, they would certainly lose the upside of sustaining a top-five offense. Metcalf has improved every step of the way in his young career and this year should be no different. But for the Seahawks' offense to be an elite unit, they cannot afford to lose him.