Each year, the NFL Draft ushers in a new wave of talent to all 32 teams, providing outstanding back stories as prospects fulfill their dreams of playing professional football.
But on the flip side, this time of year isn't a happy time for everyone in the NFL. Immediately after the seventh round concludes, teams revisit their rosters looking for ways to create financial flexibility, leaving many veterans vulnerable to being post-draft cap casualties.
For the Seahawks, that process has already been jump-started, as the team released former starters Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker on Sunday to create more than $12 million in cap space. Neither move proved to be a surprising one, as Britt was coming off a torn ACL and the team drafted guard Damien Lewis in the third round, making Fluker expendable.
Considering Seattle's 2020 draft class coupled with moves made in free agency, which players were the big winners? And which ones could be sweating it out once training camp arrives?
Seattle didn't add any "superstars" as Wilson asked for them to do back in February, or at least hasn't to this point, but the All-Pro quarterback should be quite pleased with what the front office did adding offensive talent in the draft. Though at the expense of Fluker's roster spot, Lewis should have far more upside at a cheaper cost at the right guard position and will have a strong chance of starting right away.
“He’s a grown man," general manager John Schneider commented in regard to Lewis. "I think we talked about it a couple of days ago, [Russell Wilson] wants grown men in front of him and that’s what this guy is.”
One round later, Seattle selected a 6-foot-7 receiving tight end in Colby Parkinson, providing another capable red zone threat for Wilson with enough athleticism to also stretch defenses vertically down the seam. Later on day three, the Seahawks also snagged athletic traits-based prospects in Freddie Swain and Stephen Sullivan, bringing two more receivers into the fold who could develop into quality NFL players.
Despite signing Shell to a two-year contract in March, most draft experts anticipated the Seahawks would use an early pick on a tackle given the talent and depth of this year's draft class at the position. But by the time the seventh round concluded, they hadn't picked a single one, indicating they're confident in the ex-South Carolina standout replacing Germain Ifedi on the right side.
It's not out of the question Jamarco Jones could slide back out to tackle and battle for the starting nod. Former Bengals first round pick Cedric Ogbuehi will also have a chance to compete as well. But after choosing not to select a tackle last week, Shell will enter camp as the presumed favorite and it would be a stunner if he isn't starting in the Seahawks season opener.
Back at the NFL Scouting Combine, coach Pete Carroll told reporters the nickel cornerback role was Amadi's "to lose," but also made it clear the team would be seeking competition for him. He reiterated that stance following the draft, suggesting the Seahawks still had plans to push the second-year defensive back.
“You’re going to see us create the challenge there for him. There’s some things that we’re working on, I don’t want to tell you all of it right now, I’d like to keep it under wraps. But there’s some different things that we’re going to try."
Whether Seattle signs a veteran free agent or makes a late trade, Amadi won't simply be given the starting job and he will have to once again earn it. The Seahawks will surely make at least one move to enhance the competition. But by not picking a defensive back in the draft, the organization gave him a vote of trust, improving his odds of being the starting slot cornerback in 2020.
Luke Willson/Jacob Hollister
The Seahawks entered the draft with four proven veteran tight ends on the roster, but that didn't stop Schneider from selecting two more tight ends to further bolster the competition, which could spell trouble for Willson and Hollister down the road.
Known for his receiving skills at Stanford, Parkinson will need to fill out his frame before he's a true "combo threat," as Schneider coined it. But adding 10-15 pounds of good muscle to help him in the blocking department shouldn't be difficult and his height and athleticism will make him a useful asset in the passing game sooner rather than later. This could make it challenging for Willson to stick around.
As for Sullivan, he's more receiver than tight end at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He isn't known for his blocking, but posted excellent testing numbers at the combine. Sound familiar? With some time to develop, he could replace Hollister's role as Seattle's move tight end with far more athleticism, size, and upside.
Recently signing his original round tender, Jackson has been an incredible story overcoming multiple roster cuts to carve out a lengthy NFL career in Seattle. Due to the fact he can play both end spots and has enough size to reduce inside on passing downs, there's still a decent chance he will be on the opening week roster, especially after losing Quinton Jefferson in free agency.
However, Seattle's decision to draft Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson along with signing veterans Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa creates a bit of logjam at defensive end. And if Jadeveon Clowney or Everson Griffen signs in the near future, the position group will be even more crowded, pushing Jackson further down the depth chart.
Depending what happens on the Clowney/Griffen front, Jackson could be a cap casualty candidate who has the option to return to Seattle at a cheaper price point than the $2.133 million original round tender he recently signed.
After starting both of Seattle's playoff games at strongside linebacker in place of an injured Mychal Kendricks, Barton looked to be a significant part of the franchise's future and he still may very well be. With K.J. Wright entering the final year of his contract, he could be the long-term replacement at weakside linebacker as early as 2021 and his roster spot isn't in jeopardy or anything.
But Seattle's choice to use a first-round pick on Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks isn't necessarily good news for Barton, at least in the short-term. A capable pass rusher with excellent athletic tools and tackling skills, Brooks will be vying for playing time at SAM linebacker right away and offers the versatility to potentially play any of the three linebacker positions if needed.
If Brooks manages to pass Barton on the depth chart, the 2019 third-round pick could return to playing only special teams, which would be a significant step back in his development after logging extensive snaps in the second half of his rookie campaign. In the long run, both players could be starters for the Seahawks, but this is a situation worth monitoring for a player the coaching staff raved about last season.