Analysis: Forecasting Future for Seahawks 9 Defensive Free Agents

CorbinSmithNFL

Following a 28-23 road defeat to the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, the Seahawks’ 2019 campaign has officially reached its conclusion.

General manager John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll, and the rest of Seattle’s front office will now turn the page to start preparations for the 2020 season. Though the Seahawks are projected to have close to $60 million in cap space to work with, they’ll face several difficult looming decisions in free agency, which opens on March 18.

Here’s a look at each of Seattle’s nine defensive unrestricted free agents and an early prediction on where they’ll be playing in 2020.

Jadeveon Clowney

Analysis: Yes, Clowney only had 3.0 sacks in the regular season, but he was far more impactful for Seattle’s defense than his statistical production indicated. He also battled through a core injury when he easily could’ve gone on injured reserve to get healthy for free agency. He’s a monster defending the run and at full strength, he has a chance to see his sack and quarterback hit numbers spike dramatically next season. He will likely hit the market and the Seahawks will have to open up the checkbook to keep him, either matching or exceeding another lucrative offer.

Chance of Returning: 60 percent

Prediction: Seahawks re-sign Clowney on four-year, $81.25 million deal.

Jarran Reed

Analysis: Set back by a six-game suspension to open the season, Reed couldn’t rediscover his 10.5 sack form from 2018, finishing with just 2.0 sacks and eight quarterback hits in 10 games. The decline in pass rushing production may cost him millions in March, but still only 27 years old, he’ll likely still be pushing for $10-12 million per year on a long-term deal. Given the prohibitive price of the franchise tag, the Seahawks will likely let him test the market and hope interest is lukewarm enough that he can be brought back at a cheaper rate.

Chance of Returning: 50 percent

Prediction: Reed departs for three-year, $35 million deal.

Ziggy Ansah

Analysis: Ansah wound up collecting $8.5 million to produce just 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits in his first, and what could be his last, season with the Seahawks. Set to turn 31 this summer, his best days look to be behind him after a myriad of injuries and unless he’s willing to re-sign for a bargain rate, it seems unlikely Seattle will bring him back in 2020.

Chance of Returning: 15 percent

Prediction: Ansah departs for one-year, $5 million deal.

Quinton Jefferson

Analysis: He may not be one of the bigger names on Seattle’s defense, but Jefferson has been invaluable along the defensive line due to his versatility and overlooked ability to rush the passer. He’ll need to recover from offseason foot surgery, but the Seahawks will likely value him more than other teams in free agency and if Reed leaves, they’ll need another interior defender who can collapse the pocket. It’d make a great deal of sense to keep the veteran for around $3-4 million per year.

Chance of Returning: 70 percent

Prediction: Seahawks re-sign Jefferson on two-year, $9 million deal.

Mychal Kendricks

Analysis: After suffering a torn ACL late in the season against the 49ers, Kendricks faces a tall task being able to make it back in time for the 2020 season. He also still has a looming sentencing hearing for insider trading charges that was previously postponed four times. Thanks to the emergence of Cody Barton, he may be expendable, though Carroll recently expressed interest in bringing him back.

Chance of Returning: 40 percent

Prediction: Will remain unsigned until training camp, could return to Seahawks

Al Woods

Analysis: Signed to a one-year deal last May, Woods filled in admirably as a starter while Reed served his suspension. At 340 pounds, he’s still a solid run stuffing defensive tackle who can be a disruptive force in the middle and the Seahawks have some depth concerns in the interior without him. But he’ll be 33 next year and drew his own suspension late in the season, so those factors may keep Seattle from bringing him back.

Chance of Returning: 50 percent

Prediction: Seahawks re-sign Woods to one-year, $2.25 million deal.

Akeem King

Analysis: Evolving from a practice squad player into a reliable reserve, King has enjoyed some fine moments as a sub-package player for the Seahawks. But that appears to be his ceiling, as he’s struggled in a few opportunities as a spot starter at outside cornerback and didn’t win the nickel cornerback job las August. He’ll be affordable enough to bring back if the Seahawks want him.

Chance of Returning: 60 percent

Prediction: Seahawks re-sign King on one-year, $1.5 million deal.

Neiko Thorpe

Analysis: Widely regarded as one of the best gunners in punt coverage in the NFL for a few years, Thorpe wasn’t able to stay healthy in 2019 and played in just seven games before landing on injured reserve. Soon to be 30, he’s a veteran who doesn’t offer much value as a defender and waited until late to re-sign with the Seahawks last year. It’s possible that could happen again this time around, as offers may not be flying in for an aging special teams ace.

Chance of Returning: 33 percent

Prediction: Thorpe remains unsigned into May, eventually signs with another team.

Dekoda Watson

Analysis: Watson re-signed with Seattle after Josh Gordon was slapped with an indefinite suspension and dressed for three total games with the Seahawks, producing no statistics as a special teams player. He’s going to turn 32 in February and won’t be in the team’s plans for 2020.

Chance of Returning: <1 percent

Prediction: Watson goes unsigned and isn’t on a roster in training camp.

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