In the eight months since they were handed their helmets by the Rams in the playoffs’ first round, the Seahawks worked around COVID-19, a firing of the offensive coordinator, a controversial burst of public petulance by Russell Wilson, the tiniest draft haul in club history, losses in free agency led by CB Shaquill Griffin, and free agent signings that snapped the heads of no one in the NFL.
Did the workarounds get the Seahawks anywhere?
Projecting from the 53-man roster that was turned in Tuesday by NFL order (and assuming LT Duane Brown and FS Quandre Diggs report for duty Sept. 12), the answer is an equivocal yes: They got somewhere, but probably not far enough.
On offense at the moment, they have three new starters: TE Gerald Everett, RG Gabe Jackson and C Kyle Fuller. Four, if third receiver Dee Eskridge is included in the lineup.
Special teams are perhaps the NFL’s best.
On defense at the moment, the Seahawks have four new starters: DE Kerry Hyder, LB Darrell Taylor, DT Al Woods and CB Ahkello Witherspoon.
Regarding the latter position, let’s add this qualifier.: Or Tre Flowers. Or Tre Brown. Or Sidney Jones. Or D.J. Reed. Or somebody else around the league who looks fast in the backpedal.
The Seahawks upgraded nearly all of their positions of need. But they haven’t fixed cornerback, the void since mid-March when Griffin scored a three-year, $40 million deal from Jacksonville.
Evidence for the absence came Monday, when the Seahawks traded a 2022 sixth-round draft pick to Jacksonville for Jones, 25, the former Washington Huskies star whose NFL career has been a disappointment largely because of injuries. Since being drafted by Philadelphia with the 43rd pick in 2017, he’s started 14 of a possible 64 games, including six of nine with the Jaguars last season.
Nothing in Jones’ pro history suggests he’s an answer for the Seahawks at left cornerback. What his acquisition does suggest is desperation.
The original Seattle plan was to fill the Griffin void with Witherspoon, who signed a one-year free agent deal for a guaranteed $4 million, even though his four-year tenure with San Francisco was the acme of inconsistency. The right corner spot was assigned to D.J. Reed, another 49ers refugee, who started eight games a year ago and impressed all despite being 5-9, atypical of the Seahawks’ profile for the spot.
Apparently, the plan has changed.
Meeting with reporters after practice Tuesday, Reed disclosed that he had been moved to the left side, apparently supplanting Witherspoon, while Flowers was starting on the right side.
Asked if that was permanent, he said, “From what I could tell, that’s probably what I’m doing right now. Unless something changes –I’m adaptable — I feel like that’s what I’m doing.”
Reed, however, missed all three preseason games with a hip-muscle strain, although he said, “I feel good now.”
The late switch, he said, was not a big deal because “playing left corner, actually that was the first thing I played (last season). I played nickel and then left corner, then I played right corner towards the end of the season.”
Flowers, who lost his starting job to Reed in 2020, has had an inconsistent preseason, matching his career arc. But he has three years of experience over rookie Brown, taken in the fourth round, who also missed time in camp with a sore knee. The Seahawks also traded earlier for another cornerback, second-year vet John Reid, sending a conditional seventh-round pick to Houston. But Reid was cut Tuesday, although he may get a spot on the practice squad.
Entering this speed shuffle Wednesday will be Jones, a two-time All-Pac-12 selection for the Huskies, who tore his Achilles tendon during the UW pro day in March 2017. He was forecasted to be the first or second cornerback taken in the draft, but never fully recovered his elite level. The Eagles cut him after three seasons.
Where he fits, if at all, isn’t clear. But there’s no mistaking the desperation.
Jake Curhan lives the dream
The Seahawks have always taken pride in their sleuthing for undrafted free agents. This year, they found another one — from Pete Carroll’s high school in Marin County. Yes, Jake Curhan said, they will at some point sing the fight song.
“We were actually talking about it in stretch lines today,” Curhan told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to get together and go over that.”
A 6-6, 330-pounder who played tackle at Cal, Curhan went undrafted largely because of a heart irregularity that has not impeded his play. The Seahawks were sold on his ability to play either guard or tackle, which allowed them to cut veteran backup Jordan Simmons.
“I didn’t get a call yesterday, so that was a good thing,” he said of the cut-down day drama. “Then I came in this morning and was kind of just watching the clock for a little bit. At around 11 o’clock (offensive line coach Mike Solar) gave me a call congratulating me.
“I felt a lot more relaxed after 11 o’clock today.”
Curhan said he was not consumed by the anxiety.
“I’m usually the kind of guy that’s like, ‘I did what I could do and at that point it’s out of my hands,’” he said. “That’s how I was until it started getting closer. Then it was building up a little bit. But at the end of the day there’s nothing I could have done at this point. “
He had a choice of teams, but the Seahawks history won out.
“The track record of giving guys a chance,” he said. “I know not every team will — they might sign you, but there’s not always a real opportunity there. I knew there would be here, because I knew it was a great organization. Through the whole pre-draft process I had great conversations with the coaches here. I knew they liked me as a player.”