Seeking Stars, Which Pro Bowlers Could Seahawks Pursue in Free Agency?
Led by quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks won 11 regular season games, returned to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons, and advanced to the NFC Divisional Round for the first time in three seasons.
Unfortunately, Seattle came up short pursuing a return to the Super Bowl. Since dropping a 28-23 decision to Green Bay earlier this month, Wilson hasn't been quiet about the team's inability to make a deeper playoff run being viewed as unacceptable.
"We got to find ways to get better. We got to find ways to get past just the first or second round of playoffs and get to the final push," Wilson said the day after Seattle's season-ending loss. "That’s the reality. I know that’s why I play the game. I know that’s why a lot of guys in this locker room try to play for that and everything else. We got to get better and we will try to do everything we can to figure that out."
During an interview with ESPN at the Pro Bowl earlier this week, Wilson campaigned for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll to get more "superstars" to Seattle in an effort to get the team over the hump.
"I think we need a couple more. Jadeveon [Clowney] is a big-time guy that we would love to get back on our football team. He was so good in the locker room. He brought so many just havoc plays to the field. Hopefully, we can get a few other players there on the defense. Then also on offense, we have a great offense, but I think we can always add more pieces. I think that's going to be the part that's going to be great with John Schneider and Pete Carroll, as well, in terms of this offseason's free agency. Free agency is very, very key to getting those superstars on your team and try to get great players that can fill the space."
According to OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks enter the offseason with an estimated $59.4 million in available cap space, providing the financial flexibility to try to re-sign Clowney and pursue other marquee free agents.
Looking ahead to free agency, these five Pro Bowlers could be potential targets to fulfill Wilson's wishes of improving Seattle's roster in 2020.
Seattle already has a dynamic receiving duo in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, but there’s a major drop off on the depth chart behind them. David Moore didn’t make the year three jump the organization hoped for, Malik Turner battled through drop issues late in the season, and Jaron Brown won’t be a top priority to re-sign.
After trading a first-round pick to the Raiders for him, the chances of the Cowboys letting Cooper walk seem remote at best. He's coming off an excellent season with 79 receptions for 1,189 yards and eight touchdowns. However, Dallas still has to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal, which may open the door for Cooper to hit free agency. If that happens, the Seahawks should at least explore the possibility of signing him to form one of the league's most dangerous receiving trios. The cost may be prohibitive, however, as he's expected to push for close to $20 million per year.
This name shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Seahawks have already been linked to Hooper by Pro Football Network insider Tony Pauline. Seattle will be counting on Will Dissly bouncing back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, but even if he’s back healthy, the tight end group could use reinforcements. Ed Dickson likely won’t be back after missing the entire 2019 season and Luke Willson will be a free agent as well.
Coming off the best season of his career, Hooper has caught over 140 passes over the past two seasons in Atlanta. At 6-foot-6, 254 pounds, he’s a serviceable blocker and would instantly add another viable weapon to Seattle’s aerial attack. Coupled with a healthy Dissly, the Seahawks could have one of the best tight end tandems in the game to take pressure off of Lockett and Metcalf.
Along with figuring out who will start at right tackle next season, bolstering the left guard spot wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Seahawks either. Veteran Mike Iupati could come back on another one-year deal, but he’s battled injuries and he will turn 33 years old before next season. Phil Haynes showed potential in a playoff loss at Green Bay, but he hasn’t played a single regular season snap in his career.
Considering the aforementioned options, Scherff might be the best option if Seattle wants to prioritize spending to improve the offensive line. He’s a powerful, mauling run blocker who would instantly make life easier for running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny and per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just one sack in 2019. Even if his asking price exceeds $12 million per year, he’d be an outstanding fit for Mike Solari’s line.
Last April, the Seahawks dealt defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs for a first-round pick and a future second-round pick. While the trade helped general manager John Schneider turn four draft picks into 11 new players, the team’s pass rush suffered tremendously without Clark, finishing second-to-last in the NFL in sacks last season.
There could be a number of options on the free agent market capable of solving that problem, with Jones being the most intriguing. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle has been among the most productive pass rushers in the league over the past two seasons, producing 24.5 sacks and 49 quarterback hits. He’s going to command close to $20 million per year, but if Jadeveon Clowney isn’t re-signed, Seattle should aggressively pursue Jones.
As part of the deal to acquire Clowney, the Seahawks dealt second-year edge rusher Jacob Martin to the Texans and struggled to find a situational replacement at the LEO defensive end spot. Shaquem Griffin flashed some potential in that role during the second half of the season, but the team needs an every-down player at the position.
While Yannick Ngakoue may be the biggest name available, he’s also going to be the most expensive. Judon may present a cheaper alternative that fits into Seattle’s budget and provides similar production. The former fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State has transformed into a quality NFL pass rusher, racking up 9.5 sacks and 33 quarterback hits in 2019. At 6-foot-3, 261 pounds, he has the size to play the LEO spot and with at least 7.0 sacks in each of the past three years, he would be a superb complement to Clowney.