Seahawks 2021 Free Agent Primer: Benson Mayowa

Though he got off to a slower start than anticipated, Benson Mayowa found his groove in the second half chasing down opposing quarterbacks. Will a strong finish lead to him returning to the Seahawks in 2021?
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Following an early Wild Card round exit, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into an offseason that could be one of the most significant of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era.

When the new 2021 league year kicks off in March, Seattle will have a whopping 24 players set to become unrestricted free agents. Four players will be restricted free agents, while six will be exclusive rights free agents and several others will be entering the final year of their current contracts ready to negotiate extensions, including safety Jamal Adams.

Over the next several weeks, I will break down each and every one of the Seahawks' unrestricted free agents by revisiting their 2020 seasons, assessing why they should or should not be re-signed, breaking down an ideal contract, and making an early prediction on whether or not the player will return in 2021.

Up next in the series, Benson Mayowa recovered from a sluggish start to play a vital role in Seattle's second half defensive revival. But will a strong finish be enough to justify bringing him back for 2021.

Season In Review

Earning a starting role at the LEO defensive end spot for the Seahawks out of training camp, Mayowa registered a sack and a key fourth down pass deflection in the team's Week 1 win over the Falcons. However, he only produced one sack and four quarterback hits over the next five games before suffering a high ankle sprain that cost him three games. Once he returned, he split starts with newly-acquired Carlos Dunlap and wrapped up the season on a tear, generating 4.0 sacks and five tackles for loss in Seattle's last six games.

Why Seattle Should Re-Sign Him

Though his sack numbers didn't materialize as anticipated early in the season, Mayowa still came through with multiple clutch plays in the first half as Seattle raced out to a 6-2 start. Upon his return from an ankle injury in Week 11, he flashed as a consistent edge rushing presence down the stretch for a suddenly stifling defense, including producing nine quarterback pressures and a pair of sacks in the final two regular season games. From Week 15 to Week 17, he earned the sixth-best pass rushing grade (88.1) on Pro Football Focus.

Why Seattle Should Let Him Walk

As has been the case throughout his career, Mayowa seemed to perform more effectively both as a run defender and pass rusher as a rotational reserve. He amassed 7.0 sacks with the Raiders in 2019 while playing only 30 percent of the team's defensive snaps. With that in consideration, it shouldn't be surprising he wasn't as productive taking on a more expanded role starting for the Seahawks and seemed to be worn down. Once Dunlap arrived and he returned to the role of complementary rusher, he played his best football while logging significantly less snaps. If asking for much more than his contract last year, he may be expendable given his role.

Ideal Contract

1 year at $4 million

Prediction

The decision to re-sign Mayowa may hang on what the Seahawks choose to do with Dunlap, who remains under contract but carries a cap hit north of $14 million. Given the organization's tight cap situation, such a contract isn't tenable, so he will either need to be extended, traded, or released to create financial flexibility. If Dunlap doesn't return, Mayowa will likely be a top priority to re-sign. Assuming Dunlap is a part of 2021 plans, however, even with a lowered cap hit, trying to keep both players may be too pricey. Still, Mayowa loves playing in the Pacific Northwest and with other teams battling the same financial strife when free agency opens, expect Seattle to find a way to keep him on an affordable one-year pact.

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