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Bob Condotta: With the roster just about complete, have the Seahawks made themselves better?

UPDATED: Wed., May 27, 2020

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine Feb. 25, 2020, in Indianapolis. (Michael Conroy / AP)
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine Feb. 25, 2020, in Indianapolis. (Michael Conroy / AP)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – There’s only one real offseason goal for any NFL team, such as the Seahawks – get better.

Whether the Seahawks or any NFL has done that obviously can’t be known until games are played.

Also, the offseason never really ends.

While we’re past the draft and the bulk of free agency, there’s still lots of talent that can be acquired between now and the first game of the season.

A partial list of players the Seahawks have acquired in May or after just since 2017 includes offensive linemen J.R. Sweezy and Duane Brown, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah and Sheldon Richardson, receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Justin Coleman.

The team you’re seeing today may not be the one that lines up Sept. 13 against the Falcons in Atlanta, let alone the team that will play in November or December.

In general, the 90-man roster the Seahawks have assembled is pretty much the one they’ll have once training camp begins in July.

Which makes it a good time to try to answer that central question of this offseason – are the Seahawks indeed better?

Let’s take a look at each position group and decide if it is better, worse or the same.

Quarterback

Russell Wilson figures to again be backed up by Geno Smith, who was officially re-signed last week, with Washington State’s Anthony Gordon on hand to give Smith some competition for the No. 2 spot. But in this case, being the same means the Seahawks still have one of the best QB situations in the NFL, which covers up an awful lot of other problems. SAME.

Running back

Friday’s addition of Carlos Hyde raised some eyebrows among those who wondered if the money might have been better spent elsewhere. But considering the injury issues the team had last year in the backfield, and the uncertainty over when Rashaad Penny will be available, the view here is that it makes sense. A Carson-Hyde 1-2 punch to start the year, with Penny joining, maybe, at midseason, and with Travis Homer in a third-down role and rookie DeeJay Dallas mixed in somewhere seems like an upgrade. BETTER.

Receiver

This time last year, there was the question of whether Tyler Lockett could be a true No. 1 receiver and how quickly DK Metcalf could transition to the NFL. There’s no questions about either now. There remains the question of what else the Seahawks have – all they have really done with the WR corps is replace Jaron Brown with Phillip Dorsett as a veteran option at the third WR spot with David Moore and John Ursua still in the mix. That the Lockett-Metcalf duo has a year under its belt, and that there’s reason to think Dorsett and his undeniable speed will be a better fit with the Seahawks, makes this group BETTER.

Tight end

The Seahawks opened last season with two tight ends – Will Dissly and Nick Vannett. The Seahawks could have four this year on its opening 53-man – Dissly, Greg Olsen and maybe two of Jacob Hollister, Colby Parkinson and Luke Willson. Assuming Dissly is healthy, as everyone involved has said he will be, then this group is definitely BETTER.

Offensive line

OK, there’s little question the depth is better with 18 offensive linemen on the roster, and the Seahawks should be able to avoid what happened in the playoff loss to Green Bay that undoubtedly helped lead to the stockpile of linemen – having to play the second half with a rookie at left guard (Phil Haynes) who had never seen action. But the more relevant question is whether a potential starting lineup of, from left to right, Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, B.J. Finney, Damien Lewis and Brandon Shell is better than last year’s starting unit of Brown, Iupati, Justin Britt/Joey Hunt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi. And with Cedric Ogbuehi possibly replacing George Fant in the eligible tackle role. Lewis is a rookie, Finney has never been a full-time starter, and whether Shell is an upgrade from Ifedi isn’t statistically definitive. In other words, there’s some gambles and projections that are going to have to hit. Simply put, the Seahawks are essentially replacing four of their top six linemen from last year with unknown quantities. This is a hard call to make, but until we see how that all comes together, we’re going to have to say it’s WORSE.

Defensive line

This feels like the most unfinished part of the team as it would be a surprise if the Seahawks don’t make another addition or two (possibly even reeling in Clowney), including a veteran tackle. But as of today, the likely starting DL would be Rasheem Green and either Benson Mayowa or Darrell Taylor at ends (if you consider Bruce Irvin an LB, as he’s listed), and Jarran Reed and Poona Ford at tackles. Is that better than last year’s line of Clowney and Quinton Jefferson at ends, and Reed and Ford in the middle? That’s obviously having a lot of faith that a rookie can develop quickly and that Mayowa (and Irvin) can replicate the big seasons they had last year. Until the next move comes, it’s hard to say this group isn’t WORSE for now.

Linebacker

We know Bobby Wagner will start at middle linebacker. But how the rest of this group comes together remains uncertain. Irvin will be used as a strongside linebacker in the base defense, but the Seahawks might also use K.J. Wright and Cody Barton there. And first-round pick Jordyn Brooks will be given a chance to supplant Wright at weakside linebacker. But until that happens, Wright – who is coming off shoulder surgery – still has to be considered the primary player there. Still, the additions of Irvin and Brooks to make up for the loss of Mychal Kendricks, and a year of experience for Barton, has us thinking this group is BETTER.

Secondary

This was unquestionably better until the recent news of Quinton Dunbar’s legal issues. But assuming he’ll be available, then there’s no question a starting secondary of Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin at corner with Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald at safety is an upgrade from what the Seahawks had a year ago this time. They also have better depth if you assume Tre Flowers will be in a reserve role and with Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi having a year under their belt. BETTER

Special teams

The kicking battery is the same – Jason Myers, Michael Dickson and Tyler Ott. A little more consistency from Myers and Dickson and this group could be among the better ones in the NFL. The real key will be having better return and coverage units. The Seahawks relied a lot on rookies last year in those roles. Of the seven players with the most special-teams snaps last year, five were first-year players. All of those players (Blair, Amadi, Barton, Homer and Ben Burr-Kirven) figure to again have substantial special-teams roles but will be a year older, which should help smooth out some of the early-season mistakes of a year ago (such as the New Orleans game). Call it BETTER.

That’s more betters than worses. But that both sides of the line are where the biggest question marks remain – especially on the defensive line – makes it harder to say the Seahawks have definitively improved.

Remember, we’re talking about improving a team that won 11 games and another in the playoffs last year.

This looks like a team with the ability to get back to that level, but one that will have to have some significant things go right to do much more.

But get back to us in August.

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