Quick Takes: Seahawks Training Camp

A few thoughts and quick takes with Seahawks Training Camp underway.

Duane Brown signs 3-year, $36.5 million extension

This locks him up for the next four years. Good on Duane for earning one last lucrative long-term contract after holding out and getting traded last year. Here’s how the deal compares to other Left Tackle contracts handed out this offseason:

Seahawks Training Camp - 2018 LT Contracts

Not bad.

Brown arguably matches or surpasses the on-field impact made by most (if not all) on that list. To sign him for such a comparatively affordable per-year rate seems like a bargain on the surface. While he may not be an elite lineman anymore, he was still rock-solid in less-than-ideal circumstances last season. Now fully immersed in the program and fit as a fiddle, it’s fair to expect Pro Bowl-level play from the franchise LT.

Brown turns 33 in a month, so the deal isn’t without its risks. The new contract runs through his age-36 season after all. We see how tentative Seattle is to extend Earl Thomas into his 30’s (more on that to come), especially given the disastrous Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett extensions. Father Time can hit hard and fast, and it’ll come for Brown eventually too.

That said, we’ve seen other top tackles maintain a high level of play into their mid-30’s recently, such as Andrew Whitworth, Joe Thomas and Donald Penn. The Rams gave Whitworth a very similar deal last year, who was 35 at the time. It’s already paid dividends for them, and Brown can make the same type of impact for Seattle.

We don’t know the guarantees as of this writing, though they should be reasonable. Perhaps his entire 2018 salary plus a good chunk of 2019 will be guaranteed. Seattle will likely have an easy out in each of the last two years.

*EDIT* – This ProFootballTalk report suggests the guarantees total $16 million, which sounds about right. Even at Brown’s age, it’s a very team-friendly deal.

Pete Carroll’s already gushing about Brown’s talent and leadership qualities at Training Camp. He’ll be a steadying presence at the most important position on the offensive line, at the very least. And the whole left side of the line (including Center) now appears set for the foreseeable future. Significant issues remain on the right side, but I digress.

I’ve seen some fans upset that this happened instead of a Thomas-extension. Regardless of how you want that to play out, Brown’s deal should be viewed independently of that situation. Any way you look at it, this seems like a strong move for the Seahawks. Wilson’s blindside should be well-protected for at least the next two years.

Earl, PCJS locking horns

Seattle and Thomas are at a frustrating stalemate as he continues to hold out of Training Camp. The latest nuggets leaked our way suggest the Seahawks won’t address the contract under any circumstances, Thomas is done with Seattle, and he’ll sit out into the regular season (barring a trade):

This is gearing up to be one of the league’s most acrimonious contract disputes in recent years. It’s an incredibly unfortunate situation, with the player-team relationship disintegrating perhaps to the point of no return. There’s no real sense in blaming one side or the other, as they’ve both dug their heels in with surprising parallels:

– Thomas already recovered from a near career-ending leg injury and saw how Chancellor wasn’t so lucky. He knows the financial risk of playing another down without his next contract signed. On the other hand, the Seahawks don’t want to make the same guarantees they did with Chancellor. A mistake which has them on the hook for crushing cap hits the next two seasons. They’re right to have concerns over another aging star with a checkered history (injury + retirement talk), especially after Lynch’s “retirement” cost them as well.

– Thomas also rightfully feels he’s due for an extension, which is commonplace for franchise icons still producing at an elite level. It’s only natural for him to stand on principle here. Whereas the Seahawks have made it perfectly clear they’re prioritizing leadership, humility and guys who put the team first. Thomas’s public tactics have clearly rubbed Carroll and John Schneider the wrong way, which is likely why they refuse to negotiate at this point. They’re standing on principle as well, something they’ve wavered on a bit the last couple years (ahem – Always Compete).

– We also don’t know if (and to what extent) the Seahawks low-balled him during earlier negotiations. And at the same time, we don’t know if (and to what extent) his contract demands were/are unreasonable.

I understand why Thomas wants an extension or trade so badly, though I question the effectiveness of his methods. Hopefully they can come to an amicable agreement or find a generous trade partner. Seattle could sure use the future Hall-of-Famer on the field this year and beyond, though the odds keep dropping. I’ll miss him dearly if he’s played his last down in Seattle.

Who starts at Safety?

I suspect the Seahawks feel comfortable stonewalling contract talks in part because of the talented Safeties on the roster.

With Thomas out, they’ve cycled through Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and Maurice Alexander with the 1’s at Training Camp. Bradley McDougald is virtually guaranteed a starting spot at either FS or SS, leaving an important battle for the other full-time Safety position.

Alexander is an explosive hard-hitting SS with starting experience, though he’s struggled through inconsistency in his young career. Ultimately, I expect the competition to come down to the mid-round picks from last year’s draft. I watched both extensively in college and noticed how each can make an impact in the NFL.

Thompson is a FS with first round skills and a JAG athletic profile. He only has 4.60 speed, so Seattle would likely rotate to more 2-deep looks with him as the starter. The poor speed is mostly hidden on film however, as he showed tremendous instincts and anticipation for attacking deep passes. And better yet, his ball skills are outstanding. The best of any DB I scouted in the 2017 draft class. While his instincts extended to the run game as well, he was far too bashful and ineffective taking on blocks at Colorado. I think he can develop into a solid NFL starter, but his physical limitations cap his upside.

Hill was the 95th pick in the 2017 Draft, and IMO, was an absolute steal for the Seahawks. He was a stud for Michigan, making every bit the impact Jabrill Peppers did for that defense. Though not nearly as flashy, he stood out as an incredibly well-rounded and NFL-ready SS. At 6’1, 220 lbs with mid-4.4 speed, he’s terrific covering the slot (particularly in press coverage), an outstanding open-field tackler, thinks the game like a seasoned veteran, and is physical in the box. The opportunity is there for him to emerge as a building block in the secondary with Seattle’s LOB Safeties out of the picture.

Thompson’s made some splashy plays early on at Training Camp after reportedly having a strong offseason. All while Hill fell behind with a nagging injury, making for a really competitive spot. Don’t be surprised if Hill ultimately wins the starting gig, despite the hype trending in Thompson’s favor.

Chris Carson impressing at Running Back

Carson continues to stand out at Camp as the most impressive RB, according to most reports. It’s an intriguing wrinkle to a suddenly competitive RB-room. 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny figures to inch his way up the ladder as the season approaches, while I expect C.J. Prosise to beat out J.D. McKissic for primary 3rd-down duties. Mike Davis showed enough last season to consider keeping him as well.

However the snaps are split, I’m loving the look of Seattle’s RB-stable after two years of misery at the position. ICYMI, here’s my article back in April on Penny:

Rashaad Penny is Seattle’s best 1st round draft pick since Earl Thomas.

Wide open battle for Wide Receiver spots

The top three WR spots are essentially set in stone (Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett & Jaron Brown). With the Seahawks likely to keep 6 on the final roster, that leaves 3 spots up for grabs. And it’s difficult to gauge who has the inside track to earning one of those WR4-6 spots.

My rough ranking right now is (in order of most-to-least likely to make the roster): David Moore – Amara Darboh – Marcus Johnson – Keenan Reynolds – Brandon Marshall – Tanner McEvoy – Damore’ea Stringfellow. This competition should go deep into the preseason.

Shaquem Griffin

The Seahawks stole Shaquem in the 5th round (I graded him in R3). He won’t play much this year barring an injury to the Pro Bowl starters at LB, but he has a bright future in Seattle: