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What Should Seahawks Do With Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green If Aldon Smith Is Cleared to Play?

After landing in legal trouble again, the chances of seeing Aldon Smith in a Seahawks uniform appear slim-to-none. But if he is able to return to the football field, how could that impact the 2021 outlooks of Rasheem Green and Alton Robinson?

Signing Aldon Smith was the cherry on top of the Seahawks' pass rush overhaul this offseason. Given the depth they had at the time - and still have - it felt more like a luxury than a necessity. But it was a move over a year in the making, with Seattle aggressively pursuing Smith on multiple occasions following his reinstatement from an initial one-year suspension that turned into four. 

As Smith went on to have a solid comeback campaign with the Cowboys in 2020, the Seahawks continued to keep tabs on him. They attempted to trade for him at the deadline to help bolster a struggling group of edges, but landed on veteran Carlos Dunlap instead. 

It's since become clear the Seahawks feel there's room for both Dunlap and Smith on their roster. After retaining the former to a two-year, $13.6 million contract that seemingly solidified their defensive end position, rumors began to swirl about their continued interest in the latter. Those rumors eventually came to fruition when Smith visited the Pacific Northwest, coming to an agreement with Seattle on a one-year deal.

Fully aware of Smith's troubled past, which includes several instances of alcohol abuse and an act of domestic violence, the Seahawks were willing to take on the risk—and, given the team-friendly contract he signed, there wasn't much of one to begin with. After all, Smith as a rotational pass rusher amongst the likes of Dunlap, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder, and Darrell Taylor would be a scary sight for opposing offensive lines. But it appears unlikely that becomes reality now that Smith has found himself in legal trouble once again.

Just four days after signing his deal with Seattle, Smith had a warrant out for his arrest in the St. Bernard Parish of Louisiana. Wanted on allegations of second-degree battery, he turned himself in on April 21 and was subsequently released on $25,000 bond with an arraignment set for July 14.

While things certainly appear less than favorable for Smith at this time, no guarantees can be made about his future in football—both positive or negative. The Seahawks are going to play the long game with this after opting not to release him, perhaps as a sign the 31-year old may be able to dodge the likely end to his NFL career. 

If so, and Smith is able to re-join the team at some point this year, that brings up an important question put on the back burner by his arrest: what is the Seahawks' plan with Rasheem Green and - to a slightly lesser degree - Alton Robinson? 

Looking at Seattle's roster right now, both would stand to lose the most if Smith is cleared to play. Robinson, after impressing in a limited role as a rookie last year, would likely see his playing time diminish even further. And there may not be a roster spot available to Green, who's had his moments but has overall disappointed as a former third-round selection.

Over the past five seasons, the Seahawks have rostered more than five defensive ends on their initial 53-man squad just one time (2019). Right now, they have eight players vying for spots with Dunlap, Hyder, Mayowa, Taylor, Robinson, Green, Smith, L.J. Collier, and Marcus Webb. 

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As unlikely as it may be, keeping seven of the eight isn't necessarily an impossibility, especially if Taylor earns the starting job at strongside linebacker. That could be further assisted by limiting the amount of "true" defensive tackles they bring along, instead moving Collier and/or Green inside more often than in years past. 

A trade feels more likely, however, and that may be true whether Smith returns or not. 

In the specific case of Green, it may be what's best for both sides. With Hyder and Collier in tow, Green's spot on the roster feels rather redundant. The Seahawks have two players clearly ahead of him for snaps in the big end/five-tech role, and may carry four traditional interior players as well. Playing time will be hard to come by for him with or without Smith because they're not even comparable in terms of role—Smith plays on the opposite end of the line, at the LEO position.

The possibilities of Smith never playing for the Seahawks and Green exiting this summer can co-exist rather than one being dependent on the result of the other. 

Of course, trading Green - if possible - is not going to net Seattle much in return. The 24-year old is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract and has been inconsistent at best through the first three. At most, the Seahawks are probably looking at a 2022 seventh-round draft pick.

Robinson, on the other hand, could potentially reel in a little bit better value, but not by much—perhaps a slight boost from a seventh to a sixth-round selection. While Smith's presence would take away from his opportunities in 2021, the fact that Robinson is still under team control through the 2023 season cannot be ignored. And after the rookie year he put forth, letting him continue to develop behind a strong group of veteran pass rushers could do wonders for his and the team's respective futures. 

With all of this said, it also shouldn't be assumed Smith makes the team if he's able to play. Per, cutting him would cost the Seahawks just $137,500 in dead money and save them $850,000. 

If it comes down to a battle in camp, however, Smith and Robinson likely have the inside edge over Green. Smith gives them upside in their depth at LEO for 2021, while Robinson offers more long-term value. That, of course, assumes they carry two of the three. 

At the very least, it's a good problem to have, but one that's predicated on a long series of "ifs." And the biggest "if" in all of this is Smith's status, though it isn't exactly the domino that needs to fall to determine Green and Robinson's futures in Seattle.