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Seahawks Off-Season Primer – All Set In The Backfield

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

 

When the Seattle Seahawks went to the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014 they had the reliable combination of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson play all 38 games (regular season and playoffs). With Chris Carson emerging in 2018, for the first time since Lynch (temporarily) retired, the Hawks will go into the season feeling good about their backfield.

Quarterback Position

Under Contract – Russell Wilson (FA in 2020) & Paxton Lynch

Free Agents – Brett Hundley (unrestricted)

Departed – Alex McGough (Signed with Jacksonville Jaguars)

Russell Wilson has unfortunately become a victim of his own success, no different than Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger before him. He’s put up great numbers and was third in the NFL in passer rating in 2018 but he hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in a while and for all the things he does well, fan groaning is getting louder as he takes unnecessary sacks (valid criticism) and is not great with the intermediate passing game (also true). Wilson will get a huge contract extension soon and eat up a lot of the Seahawks’ cap, but in his defense, he was grossly underpaid as just the 11th highest paid QB in the NFL in 2018. The Seahawks will not let Wilson go, even if it means slapping the franchise tag on him, and it’s the right call. You still need a QB playing at an elite level to win consistently; ask Jacksonville how easy it is to find one.

The Seahawks made some noise around NFL circles for signing Paxton Lynch as a possible backup but I don’t read much into it. Wilson has thrown every pass for the Seahawks two years in a row now, and Pete Carroll has a bit of a reputation for trying to revitalize the career of flamed out 1st round picks (see Luke Joeckel, Dion Jordan, Mike Williams, Brady Quinn). Lynch has a lot of physical tools, something the Seahawks like in a QB but I expect them to bring in other QB’s to compete.

Hundley has starting experience with the Packers so I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs somewhere where he has a better chance of starting. McGough was on the practice squad but rather than sign a futures contract with Seattle bottled to Jacksonville where there is QB uncertainty.

Running Back Position

Under Contract: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, CJ Prosise (FA in 2020), Bo Scarbrough

Free Agents: JD McKissick (Restricted) and Mike Davis (Unrestricted), Fullback Tre Madden (Restricted)

Carson had a great season with 1,151 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns but missed two games due to injury. He missed 12 his rookie year and was oft-injured in college, so the Seahawks will want to have a stable of backs to spell him.

Penny was up and down his rookie year with some exciting runs, but the one concern is whether he will ever be more than a change of pace back. The two backs taken after the #27 overall pick, Sony Michel (931 yards, 4.5 ypc and 6 TD) and Nick Chubb (966 yards, 5.2 ypc and 8 TD) won starting jobs while Penny finished the season as the Hawks #3. Carson and Davis are solid backs but while Penny might be the most physically gifted, his game needs to mature.

Penny’s success could make Mike Davis expendable. Davis has been a reliable back for the Hawks; he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well but he’s a good receiver, doesn’t fumble and can make people miss from time to time.

In an ideal world, former 3rd-round pick CJ Prosise would finally stay healthy and play like he did as a rookie when he caught 17 passes and averaged 5.7 yards per carry in 6 games back in 2016. Prosise has missed 32 out of 48 possible games due to injury; you have to think the Hawks would be silly to rely on him.

Enter JD McKissick, who missed most of last season recovering from a broken foot. He is not the biggest back, but he’s got electric quickness and was initially signed as a receiver. The Seahawks love to motion McKissick out wide and throw to him when he has a linebacker on him.

Regardless of what happens with McKissick and Davis, I don’t expect the Seahawks to draft a RB, they signed Bo Scarbrough off the Jaguars practice squad late last season and so if Davis departs he could be the one to push the other returning players.

Madden also could return as the fullback, but he on average played only 10 plays a game. With their emphasis on the run I don’t expect the Hawks to fully phase out the fullback position just yet but they have gone through several bodies at the position ever since Pro Bowler Mike Robinson retired after they won the Super Bowl.

 

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