Since Jimmy Graham exited stage left as a free agent following the 2017 season, the Seahawks have struggled to maximize on the talent of their tight end group in the passing game. Over the past four years, they haven't had a single player at the position eclipse 500 receiving yards or four receiving touchdowns.
But as Seattle gears up for the 2022 season with a new quarterback under center, all signs point towards tight ends playing a far more significant role in the passing game in offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's scheme. Newcomer Noah Fant, who arrived in the blockbuster trade sending Wilson to Denver in March, has called the system "tight end friendly," while coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Drew Lock have gushed about the position group in general this spring.
"The position is really strong, and they've got some particular strengths," Carroll said following Seattle's mandatory minicamp earlier this month. "But yet they're versatile too, so we've got a lot of flexibility with these guys and they're going to be a big part of what we're doing.”
Heading into their annual six-week moratorium between organized team activities and training camp, how does the Seahawks tight end group look? Diving into the depth chart, here's an updated look at the projected starters, a sleeper to watch, a potential wild card to keep an eye on, and a player squarely on the roster bubble.
Projected Starters: Noah Fant, Will Dissly
One of the key pieces received in return for Russell Wilson in March, Fant had long been on the Seahawks' radar, as general manager John Schneider admitted the team had his name ready to select in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft before the Broncos picked him ahead of them. An athletic move tight end possessing excellent speed, quickness, and ability to create after the catch, his receiving talents haven't been fully maximized in Denver's offense in his first three seasons, preventing him from eclipsing 700 yards or four touchdowns in a season. Playing in coordinator Shane Waldron's 12 personnel-heavy offense, particularly with a quarterback not named Wilson under center, he should receive a healthy amount of targets and could have a career year on tap.
Despite being widely respected by coaches and teammates alike, one of the Seahawks more surprising moves this offseason was handing Dissly a three-year, $24 million extension. Many fans and analysts viewed that as overpay for a tight end who had failed to hit 500 combined receiving yards and scored only three touchdowns during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. But much of Dissly's value comes as a stalwart blocker, which doesn't always show up in the box score, and his importance specifically in the run game cannot be understated. Now more than two years removed from an Achilles injury, it's possible his receiving numbers could see a slight uptick with Geno Smith or Drew Lock throwing to him and he will remain a key cog in the ground attack.
Sleeper: Cade Brewer
With Fant's arrival and Dissly being re-signed, it will be a challenge for an undrafted newcomer to make any noise in training camp. With that said, Brewer couldn't have done much more to impress during Seattle's offseason program, reeling in a contested touchdown catch from Geno Smith during mandatory minicamp and also snagging a couple nice receptions along the sideline where he exhibited plenty of toe drag swag. Weighing only 238 pounds, he's not a pure inline blocking tight end and his best asset is his positional flexibility, as he can line up in the slot or in the backfield as an H-back along with contributing on special teams. If he can build off of a strong May/June and plays well once the pads come on in August, he has a fighting chance to pass Tyler Mabry on the depth chart and earn a practice squad spot, if not more.
Wild Card: Colby Parkinson
Since being drafted in the fourth round out of Stanford two years ago, the Seahawks have patiently awaited a breakout from the 6-foot-7 Parkinson. But a pair of foot injuries sidelined him during training camp in successive seasons, halting his progress and preventing him from playing up to his potential. When healthy, he's flashed immense playmaking ability on the practice field using his size and speed to create mismatches and was enjoying a stellar camp before re-breaking his foot last August. Carroll and Lock both raved about his upside during mandatory minicamp and if he can avoid the durability issues that plagued him over the past two seasons, he may finally have a legitimate shot to emerge as a viable red zone threat, if not more, in Waldron's offense.
On The Bubble: Tyler Mabry
Compared to most undrafted players, Mabry already has been a success story lasting two seasons with the Seahawks. After spending his entire rookie season on the practice squad, he spent a brief spell on the 53-man roster in 2022, playing 22 offensive snaps and 81 special teams snaps in six games. He's made a handful of highlight reel-worthy plays in practices each of the past two training camps, including hurdling over Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs in one of their mock scrimmages at Lumen Field as a rookie. With that said, he has yet to make a catch in the NFL and offers a similar athletic skill set to Brewer, so he will need to fend off the undrafted rookie to maintain his spot in the pecking order and keep his hopes alive to break through for a spot on the roster.
Seahawks Post-Offseason Depth Chart Reviews