To say last season was a disappointment for the Seattle Seahawks would be putting it mildly. Though their record remained static from 2022 to 2023, their point differential dipped from +6 to -38 last season and they ended up missing the playoffs. That result had big ramifications. Long-time head coach Pete Carroll stepped down and Seattle hired Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald to replace him.

Seattle will look to make sure they don't miss out on the playoffs again in 2024. As a result, the Seahawks have been very active in NFL free agency. Some of the moves they've made, like re-signing tight end Noah Fant, look quite prudent. But others, like trading for Sam Howell, had many asking questions. These decisions add up to the best and worst moves Seattle has made so far to start NFL free agency.

Best move: Re-signing Noah Fant

Noah Fant entered the NFL with plenty of hype coming out of the tight-end factory that is the University of Iowa. He began his professional career by making good on that hype, too.

As a rookie, Fant brought in 40 of the 66 targets thrown his direction for 562 yards and three scores. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception, which ranked second among all tight ends that season according to Fant also ranked inside the top 16 in yards per route run in each of his three seasons in Denver.

The move to Seattle was an adjustment for the Iowa product. In two seasons in the Pacific Northwest, Fant has produced his lowest yards per route run averages to date in his career. He's also posted the two fewest yardage totals in a season in his two seasons as a Seahawk. So why would re-signing Fant constitute the best move Seattle has made this offseason?

Perhaps that is because the Seahawks have left meat on the bone with Fant and his usage over his time there. He played at least 50% of Seattle's offensive snaps in a game just 11 times out of 17 games played last season. That was because of how crowded the tight end room was in Seattle. Not only was Fant there, but the team also frequently deployed Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson because of their prowess as blockers, even though Fant is no slouch as a blocker himself.

Dissly and Parkinson are both gone, however. Both went to Los Angeles during the offseason, with Dissly off to the Chargers and Parkinson signing with the division-rival Rams. Seattle did sign Pharoah Brown as a backup tight end, but only to a modest one-year $3.2 million deal.

Fant is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL and has already shown he can be an explosive weapon in the passing game. It makes sense to feature Fant more in the offense. Getting him on a two-year $21 million deal could end up as a very prudent signing by the Seahawks' brass.


Worst move: Trading for Sam Howell

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) sits on the field after throwing an interception against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at FedExField.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell was an OK quarterback for the Washington Commanders in 2023. That was his first season as a starter in the NFL, and his numbers were decent within that context. He completed 63.4% of his passes and ended up with 3,946 yards on the year. However, he also threw 21 interceptions and took 65 sacks, which both led the NFL in 2023.

Growing pains were to be expected with Howell, a former fifth-round pick embarking on his first stint as a starter. But he quite simply made too many mistakes last season, and it resulted in him getting benched multiple times mid-game down the stretch of the 2023 season.

That begs the question, why did the Seahawks give up legitimate draft capital to trade for him?

Yes, this trade was effectively a pick swap, but the 78th overall pick in any NFL Draft is a pretty valuable pick. Moving down 24 spots from the third round to the fourth and 27 spots from the fifth round to the sixth is not nothing.

The worst part is that this seems completely unnecessary on the part of the Seahawks. Drew Lock was their backup last season and won them a game on Monday Night Football against a playoff team. He signed a one-year deal for $5 million. Justin Fields got traded for just a conditional sixth-round pick.

Perhaps the Seahawks view Howell as a legitimate starting quarterback down the road. But backup quarterbacks weren't all that expensive to sign this offseason. This just felt like an unnecessary overpay considering what the market rate for backup quarterbacks was.