Seahawks excited about future after surprising playoff berth
“What’s happened over the course of this season has been tremendous progress that we’ve made,” said Carroll. “We have achieved so much growth and there is still so much that needs to happen in the next turnaround.”
Seattle’s season ended in a 41-23 wildcard round loss to San Francisco on Saturday, but even making the playoffs has been one of the NFL’s biggest upsets this season. After trading quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver and firing linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks should be floormats.
Instead, Carroll and his crew won just enough to sneak into the postseason while relying on a bevy of younger players who will eventually become the core pieces of Seattle’s future.
The Seahawks also believe they’ve solved their quarterback situation in the short term with Geno Smith’s performance, though the sides need to find common ground for a meaningful contract.
Seattle’s job this offseason is to hone its talent at the line of scrimmage and fix some of the defensive issues that have cost the team games during the regular season. All of this can help close the gap with the 49ers in the NFC West.
“As long as we’re consistent in our approach and what we’re doing, I think the guys can really grow and figure out what we need to do,” said Seattle safety Quandre Diggs. “I just think the guys have to understand that you can’t come back with the same player that you were this year. You have to get better.”
All of the attention Smith’s redemption season received will likely include another future in Seattle.
Smith will be an unrestricted free agent but will come as a surprise when he joins free agency at the start of the new league year. Seattle wants Smith back and that could come through a multi-year deal or possibly franchise tag if the sides can’t come to an agreement.
Smith’s final month of the regular season included some shaky moments, but his overall performance was a revelation. Smith set franchise records for yards and completions, and led the NFL in completion rate.
Smith has never been able to cash in on a big deal in his career, and this might be the only time it’s happened. And stabilizing the position appears to be a priority for Seattle, as backup Drew Lock is also an unrestricted free agent.
“I think our quarterback position is great, but he’s going to be a free agent so we’ve got a lot to do,” Carroll said. “We’ve never had the chance to see Drew, but I’ve seen a lot of him and I like what he’s doing too. I think our quarterback situation is a great situation going forward if we can sign (Smith).
Finally, the 2022 draft for Seattle could be considered as effective as the 2012 draft. The Seahawks turned to their youth and they thrived. Running back Kenneth Walker III could become offensive rookie of the year after rushing for more than 1,000 yards. Cornerback Tariq Woolen is in the running for defensive rookie of the year after taking the NFL lead with six interceptions. Offensive tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas became the first rookie tackles to start the first 15 games of a season since 1970. Coby Bryant was Seattle’s nickel cornerback in the starting XI and Boye Mafe had three sacks in limited playing time.
The Seahawks even received season-ending contributions from seventh-round wide receiver Dareke Young. The wealthy class has a chance to lay the foundation for Seattle’s future.
“From my arrival to today, it’s been crazy because I’ve taken a lot of steps and surpassed a lot of adversity and expectations,” Woolen said. “People thought I was going to be an experiment, and I still have a lot of stuff to work on.”
Seattle will have some key questions to answer in free agency, but very few will be in the skill positions. Key unrestricted free agents include defensive lineman Poona Ford, center Austin Blythe, guard Phil Haynes, linebacker Cody Barton, kicker Jason Myers, running back Rashaad Penny and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Safety Ryan Neal is also a restricted free agent.
Seattle has a wealth of draft picks in the first two days of the draft, setting the stage for another influx of young talent to come with what appears to be a hugely successful 2022 draft.
It took three draft classes in Seattle before Carroll and general manager John Schneider first arrived to revise the Seahawks into Super Bowl contenders, and they might be back on the same path. Seattle will have two first-round picks, including No. 5 overall, and three top-40 picks.
There may still be drama surrounding the quarterback this offseason, but that will have more to do with the structure of the deal he’s trying to strike with Smith.
Expect Seattle to also have a heavy focus on the line of scrimmage. Seattle has been dominated at times this season on both offense and defense. A revamp of these spots could be the most significant position group roster change this offseason.
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