Seattle Seahawks’ biggest roster need heading into 2020 season
As it stands today, the NFC West remains primed to serve as one of the best all-around divisions in the NFL for the 2020 campaign. With the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona Cardinals all currently slated to challenge for at least an NFC Wild-Card spot next season, each NFC West game will surely become must-watch television.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, though, who typically sit atop or near the top of the divisional standings, both 49ers and Cardinals seemed to improve in a huge way this offseason as the Rams are just a few seasons removed from an NFC West title, NFC Championship and an appearance in the Super Bowl. For the first time in quite some time, it appears as though there is a legitimate possibility that the Seahawks finish the year in either third or fourth place in the always challenging NFC West.
Because the Seahawks play in such a tough division with a slew of talented and up-and-coming signal callers, one reigning Rookie of the Year in addition to the last two NFC Champion quarterbacks, Seattle must be able to rush the pass in 2020. However, the team has not improved very much in this category throughput this offseason while actually managing to get worse along the defensive front — on paper, anyway. In fact, both of the Seahawks’ most notable pass rushers from last season in Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah remain unsigned as unrestricted free agents.
As a result, the Seahawks’ biggest need ahead of the 2020 campaign no doubt resides at the pass rusher position. Luckily for the heralded NFC West franchise, though, there are more than a few options out there.
Of course, bringing the aforementioned Clowney back would make the most sense in terms of long-term success, while this would obviously serve as the most expensive option as well. After spending his first five NFL campaigns as a member of the Houston Texans, Clowney spent the 2019 season in Seattle after the Seahawks originally acquired him via trade from the AFC South franchise. In 13 regular-season games as a member of the Seahawks, Clowney tallied 31 total tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception, and three pass defenses.
Even though Clowney underperformed in terms of recording sacks during what could become a one-year stint in the Pacific Northwest, his presence alone would elevate the team’s defense as it did a season ago, without Clowney in the picture, the Seahawks will now be forced to turn to soon-to-be second-year pass rusher L.J. Collier, who was initially selected by the franchise with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of TCU, in a big way com 2020. It is also worth noting that with a less than stellar group up front on defense, the Seahawks did manage to bolster its linebacker core by selecting former Texas Tech standout Jordyn Brooks at No. 27 over this past spring. The Seahawks will also lean on a reunion next season as the team brought back longtime pass rusher Bruce Irvin, who has since suited up for a few teams from around the league despite never really producing as he did during his prime in Seattle.
One thing remains abundantly certain, though, the Seahawks still do not have nearly enough firepower at the pass rusher position and need to address this issue before this offseason comes to a close. Even if retaining Clowney ultimately becomes an impossible task due to money or another issue that arises, there are more than a few other options out there at the moment.
In addition to Clowney currently serving as an unrestricted free agent, the aforementioned Ansah is also available on the open market and would certainly come at a much lower cost than his former teammate. Not only that, but all signs point to Clowney wanting a long-term contract this offseason as Ansah wouldn’t necessarily require such a commitment. Last season, Ansah produced 2.5 sacks across 11 regular-season games in what may become his only go-round with the Seahawks. A former top-five NFL Draft pick, Ansah notably spent his first six seasons as a member of the Detroit Lions.
Yet another possible reunion aside, there remains more than a few formidable options for the Seahawks with July now looming large. In addition to the tandem of Clowney and Ansah, journeyman pass rusher and former Super Bowl Champion Jabaal Sheard and former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen are both unrestricted free agents as well.