Missing Pieces Seattle Seahawks Could Still Land
Is it me, or has this been the longest offseason ever for the Seattle Seahawks?
Don't get me wrong: I mean that in a good way, as it has certainly been an exciting ride thus far. Between the free-agent signings of pass-rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, the trade for receiver Percy Harvin, and most recently the addition of 20 college prospects via the NFL draft and afterwards, there hasn't been a dull moment for weeks.
Yet with the draft now over and training camp still a few months away, it's getting harder and harder to remain patient, knowing the potential for this season.
It's around this time that you start to perhaps over-think things a bit by...
Wondering whether players are staying in shape and keeping focused.
Questioning if the team's draft picks are as talented as promised and capable of making the team.
Pondering if the front office has plans to find any additional missing pieces to help fill out the final roster.
Over the course of the last week, it's the last issue that continues to keep me guessing.
While it's hard to argue that the 'Hawks have addressed just about every need and want for a team looking to contend this offseason, I get the feeling that there are still one or two pieces missing.
Who exactly would the Seahawks look to add at this point?
My best guess is that the team would look to add some more veteran leadership, perhaps a player capable of challenging for a open starting position, and/or another player to provide some experienced depth at positions that still look a little thin.
Depending on your point of view, any one of these theoretical players could be a priority, but for today I'd like to see where both general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll could continue to tinker with their roster by discussing some potential puzzle pieces the 'Hawks could end up adding by training camp.
Eric Winston, Right Tackle
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In the weeks leading up to the draft, the cries from fans for the Seahawks to draft help for the right side of the offensive line steadily grew. But alas, it wasn't until the seventh round that the team decided to make a move.
Yet beyond those three draft picks and two undrafted free agents, do the 'Hawks have everyone they need?
“We’re able to just kind of plug in where we left off,” Cable said. “Then the newness and the new things we want to add to it, we’ll put some focus to that. But it’s really been pretty good how they’ve competed just to bring it back with them. It’s made it a lot easier for us.”
The back-to-square-one teaching that Cable excels at will come next week when the three linemen who were selected in the seventh round of last weekend’s NFL Draft and two others who were signed after the draft report for three three-day rookie minicamp.
On the surface that may sound all well and good, but I still can't shake the notion of adding someone like right tackle Eric Winston to the mix.
Winston certainly comes with his own set of issues, yet at the same time currently ranks sixth on NFL.com's list of "top available free agents" while being projected as a one-year pickup for the Dolphins:
Winston has started 96 consecutive games and always fares well in Pro Football Focus' ratings, but he's been released by two teams in two years. The Dolphins would be better off keeping Jonathan Martin at right tackle, but Bryant McKinnie is off the market and the Branden Albert trade talks are dead. Winston could be a one-year stopgap in Miami.
However, it appears that Miami opted for former Atlanta Falcon Tyson Clabo instead.
Could the 'Hawks, or perhaps should the 'Hawks swoop in to see if a one-year deal could get Winston to Seattle?
I doubt this will happen, yet it certainly leaves me curious.
Kyle Bosworth, Linebacker
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Speaking of a position which I'm still surprised the 'Hawks decided to wait until Round 7 to address, does anyone feel confident about the situation at linebacker?
While I'd like to believe the team will find a starting linebacker between veteran Mike Morgan, last year's fifth-round pick Korey Toomer, this year's seventh-round pick Ty Powell, and undrafted free agents John Lotulelei and Craig Wilkins, I get the feeling this is Malcolm Smith's job to either win or lose.
The problem with that theory, according to Ben Harbaugh over at Fieldgulls.com, is that Smith looks more like a cog in the system, rather than a stud playing for one of the league's top defenses:
Smith leaves a lot to be desired as a tackler, but still contributes a lot of positive play in both run support and pass coverage. He's a cog. Even if Smith really steps up, wins the job, and plays well this season, I still think his ceiling is as a good backup who can start when called upon. Maybe we can view him as a younger, linebacker version of Paul McQuistan. Steady, a solid contributor, a good guy to have around, but ultimately a player at a position at which the Seahawks could seek an upgrade.
That said, where should the 'Hawks turn to for an upgrade at this point in time?
Sadly the list of free agents still available (NFL.com) at linebacker is comprised mostly of washed-up veterans, including last year's flavor of the week during training camp, Barrett Ruud.
Perhaps it's my warped sense of humor at play here—given his relation to former 'Hawks linebacker Brian Bosworth, or the fact that he's not pushing 30 quite yet—but Kyle Bosworth could be someone worth giving a call.
Is he an ideal fit?
Probably not; however, at this point I still think the 'Hawks will find one more linebacker with a few years of experience to toss in the mix during training camp with the hopes of pushing the youngsters.
Perhaps another former Jacksonville Jaguar makes more sense instead?
Daryl Smith, Linebacker
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Daryl Smith may be over thirty, but is he over the hill?
Earlier this week ESPN's Jeffri Chadina listed the former Jaguar as one of 10 talented veterans still looking for work as we start the month of May:
Here's another player who should have more of a market. Smith is only 31 and he had been a standout in Jacksonville for most of his nine years with the Jaguars. The most appealing quality for him is his versatility; he can play all three linebacker spots in a 4-3 scheme. The downside: He's coming off a groin injury that limited him to 10 games in 2012.
Prediction: Smith met with St. Louis prior to the draft, but the Rams ultimately used a first-round pick on Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. There will be more teams who come forward in the coming weeks, but like other players on this list, Smith will have to accept less money to keep working.
If healthy and willing to work for the right price, it's hard to argue with having someone capable of filling in for all three spots this season at a position that still feels like it's one piece short.
Charles Woodson, Safety
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Okay, at this point I'm just inspiration shopping, as I wasn't even sure I liked this move a few months ago.
In hindsight, though, with the draft over and only Ray Polk signed as an undrafted free agent to play safety, the idea of adding the No. 85 player on the NFL.com's Top 100 list does sound nice.
The question is: Does safety Charles Woodson have anything left in the tank?
I'll admit I'm still on the fence with Woodson, as my heart says yes, while my head says no.
Yet, if the team has enough confidence to bring in fellow 30-something Antoine Winfield in an attempt to win a ring, then why not add another vet capable of providing leadership at an affordable price?
Until then, we will have to hope that rookie Ray Polk can not only step up, but stay healthy in the process. If not, the temptation to call Woodson or perhaps another veteran safety who remains unsigned may be too hard to resist, to work alongside the likes of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
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Tim Tebow will probably never play for the Seattle Seahawks, neither this season nor any other in the foreseeable future.
For you see, the final piece to the puzzle has yet to materialize, but I imagine it will over the course of the coming weeks, as teams continue to juggle their rosters.
Day after day the merry-go-round continues to spin with players jumping on and off rosters.
Right now, the good news is that the 'Hawks appear loaded, at least on paper, and at several positions have almost too many players.
On the flip-side of the coin, I still see issues at linebacker, offensive line and even in the secondary that seem minor today. While it's nice to see quite a few fresh faces competing for jobs in these spots, most of those players will likely be cut or lucky to make the practice squad.
Hopefully, the likes of a Malcolm Smith or a Ray Polk emerge from the fray to either grab a starting job or provide depth, but unlike years past, I'd like to think the 'Hawks have a "Plan B," so to speak, if none of these players can cut it, given what's at stake this season.
Could any of the veterans mentioned here make the difference necessary to put the 'Hawks over the top?
While none of them look to be long-term fixtures and would only be signed for a rock-bottom price, I could picture Daryl Smith getting a job and serving as a solid rotation player at linebacker.
The rest of the list comes with too many question marks in regards to health and price; therefore, I'm more inclined to believe someone not listed here, either buried on some team's depth chart or recently released, will eventually find his way to Seattle for a chance to compete.
Let's just hope that if it is Tim Tebow, he's trying out for tight end or fullback, otherwise it could be a very, very long season for the 'Hawks.