Following a disappointing first-round exit despite a 12-4 finish and NFC West title, the Seahawks continue to make noise well into the second week of free agency. Entering the offseason with one of the worst salary cap situations in the NFL, they've now made 13 acquisitions and 14 transactions in total within the past 11 days.
With the majority of the focus on how they would address their heavily scrutinized offensive line in the first week, this week's theme has switched over to the defensive side of the ball, particularly along the defensive line. They kicked things off by re-signing LEO Benson Mayowa and plucking five-tech/big end Kerry Hyder Jr. from the 49ers - both of which I graded on Wednesday - and have made three more transactions within a 24-hour span.
In between, they also made a pair of moves to address their offensive line depth. Going by chronological order, we'll be getting into these first before the real meat and potatoes of the week for the Seahawks.
Re-signed G Jordan Simmons to one-year contract
The financial details are unavailable at the time of this writing despite the Seahawks making the signing official earlier in the day. However, the general range the deal should fall in won't deter me on my grade; this one is pretty straightforward.
When Jordan Simmons has been healthy, he's flashed some solid work out of both guard spots in Seattle. As is the case for many Seahawks players, the way the 2020 season ended was a tough pill to swallow for Simmons after he put up two rough outings against Aaron Donald and the Rams. To be fair, Donald and Los Angeles' front seven make life tough for most interior linemen of all talent levels.
Health is ultimately the key to this one, and with Simmons and Phil Haynes as the lone backups at guard for now, the Seahawks aren't necessarily boasting the model of dependability behind starters Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson. Overall, though, Simmons's maintains continuity in the offensive line unit and gives them a good chance to get by if either one of Lewis or Jackson goes down for an extended period of time.
Re-signed OT Cedric Ogbuehi to one-year contract
Like the Simmons deal, this one has also been officially announced by the team but the actual contract numbers are not publicly available. Still, I don't really see a realistic number that would change my feelings on this.
Some voiced displeasure with this signing after it was first reported on Wednesday. I don't understand that. With the loss of George Fant last year, the Seahawks needed a new swing tackle and Cedric Ogbuehi proved to be a proper replacement.
Having to fill in at right tackle for the injured Brandon Shell in four starts, including the team's important three-game stretch against Washington, the Rams, and 49ers from Weeks 15-17, Ogbuehi played well. In those last three games, he posted Pro Football Focus pass and run blocking grades of 68.8 and 74.0, respectively. Given that momentum, retaining Ogbuehi felt like one of the more underrated moves they needed to make this offseason.
Released DT Jarran Reed, saving $9 million in salary cap space
It was only a matter of time before the Seahawks would have to cross this bridge or one similar to it. As noted at the top of this article, they had one of the worst cap situations in the league entering free agency, yet they've been one of the busiest teams on the market. Those moves, in turn, put them at the very bottom of the NFL in cap space, most recently placing them north of $6 million over the legal limit before the additions of Ogbuehi and Simmons.
Restructures and extensions are still very much on the table, but the most immediate solution was to cut or trade one of their higher-paid players. With limited options around the roster, one name that made quite a bit of sense was defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who was set to enter the final year of his contract this season. Though it stings to lose his ability as both an interior pass-rusher and run defender, the Seahawks feel good about their depth at defensive tackle and just re-signed Poona Ford to a two-year, $14 million deal. They also clearly had a contingency plan with their most recent addition of Al Woods, which I'll touch on later.
Having to cut Reed instead of trading him is disappointing, however. It didn't make a difference from a cap standpoint; trading or releasing him would have netted $9 million in cap savings and a dead cap hit of $5 million. But for a team with just three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, Reed - after putting up one of the best years of his career - seemed to give the Seahawks a decent opportunity to not only free up space but acquire some draft capital as well. While it was an expected and fairly necessary move, their inability to get at least a day three selection for Reed is going to be a letdown for many fans.
Re-signed DE Carlos Dunlap to two-year, $16.6 million contract
Shortly after reports indicated Reed was on his way out, the Seahawks put the money they saved to good use by re-signing veteran pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap to a two-year, $16.6 million deal with $8.5 million in guarantees. Acquired from Cincinnati for a seventh-round draft choice and center B.J. Finney near last year's trade deadline, the Bengals' all-time sacks leader helped change the face of a Seattle defense that was struggling at a historic rate.
With 5.0 sacks on 14 pressures in the second half of 2020, Dunlap not only boosted Seattle's defensive line production on his own, but opened up more opportunities for his teammates as well—Reed included. While getting healthier also played a factor in the Seahawks' defensive turnaround, most of their front line put up their best numbers of the year following Dunlap's acquisition.
Initially cutting Dunlap to save $14.1 million in cap space prior to the start of free agency, the Seahawks allowed the veteran to pursue other opportunities before circling back and retaining him at a much more affordable number. With this move, the Seahawks have established the deepest pass-rushing group they've had in nearly half a decade as Dunlap joins Benson Mayowa, Darrell Taylor, Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, and newcomer Kerry Hyder Jr.
Signed DT Al Woods to one-year, $3 million contract
Right before Reed's release became official, news broke that the Seahawks found their answer to some of the depth concerns his departure caused at defensive tackle. Once again reuniting with a player they're very familiar with, they inked veteran defensive tackle Al Woods to a one-year, $3 million deal.
Choosing to opt-out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Woods was released by the Jaguars - whom he signed a one-year contract with last March - earlier this offseason after his deal with them rolled over to 2021. The last time he stepped onto an NFL field was with the Seahawks in 2019, so, in a way, this is somewhat of a pseudo re-signing.
Before serving a four-game suspension at the end of the season, Woods played exceptionally well as a run defender in 450 snaps for Seattle. He earned a 77.7 run defense grade from PFF, putting up 32 tackles - three for a loss - and 1.0 sack, as well as two forced fumbles. Adding some experience and insurance to a relatively young group is a nice get for Seattle at this stage. The continuity he brings with his familiarity with the system and the boost he gives against the ground game, which was a massive problem for the Seahawks in their wild-card loss to the Rams this past January, helps solidify an upgraded defensive line in Seattle.