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Seattle Seahawks 2024 NFL offseason primer: Mike Macdonald era begins with questions on defense — and maybe at QB

In Sports
February 23, 2024

Seattle Seahawks‘ 2023 season: 9-8, missed playoffs

Overview: The Seahawks missed the postseason in what proved to be the last year of Pete Carroll’s head coaching tenure, starting well but digging too deep a hole with a 1-5 stretch from early November to mid-December.

Geno Smith signed a three-year, $75 million extension last offseason and was a Pro Bowler again this year, though his numbers dipped from his breakout 2022 campaign. The run game dried up, the decorated 2022 draft class stalled a bit, and a defense that gave up the sixth-most yards per play and second-most rushing yards in the NFL now has question marks at every level.

Enter new head coach Mike Macdonald, whose work as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens was universally lauded. Macdonald was one of the top names on the market, and now he’ll take the baton from Carroll, who oversaw the most successful period in Seahawks franchise history.

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Key free agents

DL Leonard Williams
LB Bobby Wagner
QB Drew Lock
LB Jordyn Brooks
G Damien Lewis
G Phil Haynes
TE Noah Fant
C Evan Brown
LB Devin Bush

Who’s in/out: Williams cost the Seahawks a second- and fifth-round pick when they traded for him midseason, which suggests they’ll prioritize re-signing him this offseason. Wagner is a franchise legend but he turns 34 this summer and is “not sure” he’ll return, though he wants to. Brooks, meanwhile is coming off a career year — which came off a torn ACL in early January 2023, which is why the Seahawks didn’t pick up the 2020 first-round pick’s fifth-year option. Look for the front seven to be an area of emphasis here, especially under Macdonald.

Does Leonard Williams have a place in new head coach Mike Macdonald's defense, and can the Seahawks afford to keep him? (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

Does Leonard Williams have a place in new head coach Mike Macdonald’s defense, and can the Seahawks afford to keep him? (Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images)

Key free agent needs

Offensive line
Defensive line

Why the holes? The Seahawks have to decide if they want to bring back Jamal Adams, who’s scheduled to make nearly $27 million and has been both an impact player and a lightning rod for controversy who’s struggled to stay healthy. Additionally, both starting guards are free agents, and Seattle’s pass-blocking received the fifth-lowest grade from PFF, so some retooling and upgrading is due along the offensive line. In the front seven, they might struggle to bring back Leonard Williams, Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner cap-wise.

Do they have the money?

Seattle will need to clear some up. They’re a projected $1.6 million over the cap currently, according to Spotrac.

Potential notable cuts

WR Tyler Lockett
S Jamal Adams
S Quandre Diggs
DE Dre’Mont Jones
TE Will Dissly

Why they might be gone: Money, money, money. Lockett’s production dipped in 2023 and he’s scheduled to have a $27.8 million cap hit next fall, when he’ll turn 32. Adams has missed 24 games the past two seasons and is due $26.9 million against the cap, while Diggs ($21.3 million), Jones ($18.2 million) and Dissly ($10.1 million) are all cap-heavy players who the Seahawks might cut to clear up space.

Draft picks

1st round: No. 16
3rd round: No. 78
3rd round: No. 81 (from Saints)
4th round: No. 119
5th round: No. 151
6th round: No. 194
7th round: No. 233

Good draft fit

Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois

Why him? The Seahawks need to shore up their interior defensive line, and Newton is one of the few premier prospects at that position in this class, according to Yahoo Sports NFL Draft expert Charles McDonald. Newton isn’t bulky or an eye-opening athlete, but he’s explosive off the snap and could help new coach Mike Macdonald answer some questions.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

Seattle’s offense took a step back last season despite adding Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of the draft. Geno Smith went from being a top-five fantasy QB in 2022 to barely top-20 last season. Kenneth Walker, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Smith-Njigba also all disappointed their fantasy managers. Mike Macdonald replaces long-time coach Pete Carroll in 2024, and while he comes from a defensive background, new OC Ryan Grubb has a history of a highly aggressive passing attack in college. Seattle’s roster on offense should look mostly the same in 2024 (Drew Lock and Noah Fant are UFAs). The pieces are certainly there for a big Seattle rebound next season – JSN started to emerge down the stretch after suffering a broken wrist just before the season started. Hopefully, the new coaching staff injects some life into the offense. — Dalton Del Don

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