2019 Seattle Seahawks
2019 Seattle Seahawks

This article is part of our Team Previews series.

Seattle Seahawks

THE SKINNY

After a surprise postseason appearance last year, the Seahawks officially cut ties with several key contributors to their run of success this decade. A retooled roster with Pete Carroll at the helm and Russell Wilson at QB will seek out double-digit wins for the seventh time in eight seasons.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

LIFE AFTER BALDWIN
Tyler Lockett increased his profile in 2018 while Doug Baldwin battled injuries, racking up 10 touchdowns and averaging 13.8 yards per target. The latter is an NFL-best mark since 1992 for players with at least 60 targets in a given campaign. In the wake of Baldwin's retirement, Lockett is the No. 1 wideout in Seattle, and his role is set to change. Because reps in the slot are more available, Lockett should get regular work inside, necessitating an increase in his career mark of 69 targets per year. Subsequently, his average depth of target will diminish, but more attention from Russell Wilson should help Lockett flirt with 1,000 yards yet again. Beyond Lockett, the pecking order in the receiving corps is unsettled. David Moore is the most notable holdover after earning 58 percent of the offensive snaps last season. But outside of a 22-413-5 stat line on 36 targets between Weeks 4 and 12, he was targeted just 17 times. With Baldwin's situation in mind and little talent behind Lockett, the Seahawks bolstered the group with second-round pick DK Metcalf and fourth-rounder Gary Jennings. The 6-3, 228-pound Metcalf has the wheels (4.33 40) to take advantage of Wilson's deep throws. Meanwhile, Jennings claims experience in both the slot and outside, perhaps giving him a better shot to contribute right away.

YET ANOTHER RUN-FIRST SCHEME
The Seahawks averaged 33.4 rushes per game – the second-highest rate in the league – last year. Chris Carson garnered close to half of those carries while Mike Davis and 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny split the bulk of the rest. In the offseason, Davis left for Chicago, leaving Carson and Penny to man the backfield ahead of J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise and rookie Travis Homer. Coach Pete Carroll was quick to roll with the hot hand last season, and he's reinforced that thought process by saying he hopes Carson and Penny form a one-two punch in the fall. Both running backs have positive indicators. Carson ranked behind only two featured backs (Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey) with 61 broken tackles in 2018. On top of that, Carson reeled off 3.4 yards per carry after contact en route to 1,314 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns in 14 games. Penny's sample size in his first year was far smaller, but he also posted 3.4 YPC after contact and flashed big-play ability with four runs of 20-plus yards. With Carson and Penny expected to take on most of the backfield snaps in some fashion, there isn't much room for another relevant ballcarrier without an unforeseen event. Among those who would benefit, though, Homer is the most interesting. Over the past two seasons at Miami, he rattled off nearly 6.0 YPC and had a 66 percent catch rate.

AN ERA IS OVER
Slowly but surely, the Legion of Boom has lost its most distinguished members. Richard Sherman tore his Achilles in Week 10 of the 2017 campaign and inked a deal with the 49ers the ensuing March. Amazingly, Kam Chancellor was diagnosed with a stinger in the aftermath of that same game and hasn't played an NFL down since. With those two out of the picture, Earl Thomas engineered a holdout last offseason, only to report in time for the opener and suit up for four games before breaking his left leg. In March, the five-time All-Pro finally got his wish for a new home when the Ravens came calling with a four-year, $55 million contract. The Seahawks have been preparing for life without the trio, investing heavily in each of the last three drafts. The 2017 class included cornerback Shaquill Griffin and free safety Tedric Thompson, 2018 yielded another starting corner in Tre Flowers, and the Seahawks used a 2019 second-round selection on safety Marquise Blair. In their first season together, Griffin, Flowers and Thompson were key members of a unit that allowed its most passing yards per game (240.1) and totaled its second-fewest interceptions (12) since 2010, Pete Carroll's first year in Seattle. Overall, growth from these defensive backs will be key to establishing their own era.

PIVOTAL PLAYER: Russell Wilson
The Seahawks deploy a run-dominant offense, but they still made Wilson the highest-paid player in NFL history this offseason. The development comes after he turned his fewest number of passes since the 2013 campaign into a personal-best 35 TDs. Wilson will be challenged to repeat that without Doug Baldwin for the first time in his career.

BAROMETER

RISING: Rashaad Penny
Penny struggled for reps as a rookie, but Mike Davis' exit to Chicago freed up playing time in Seattle's run-heavy offense. As a 2018 first-round pick, Penny will attempt to begin fulfilling his potential.

FALLING: David Moore
Aside from a fruitful eight-game stretch in the middle of the season, Moore rarely was heard from last fall. Doug Baldwin has moved on, but the addition of two rookie wideouts threatens Moore's depth chart standing.

SLEEPER: Will Dissly
A fourth-round selection in 2018, Dissly's campaign began with a flourish but ended in agony when he tore his patella tendon Week 4. Upon regaining his health, he may serve as a sneaky red-zone target for Russell Wilson.

KEY JOB BATTLE – DEFENSIVE END
Seattle signed Ezekiel Ansah this offseason to help fill the void of the departed Frank Clark, but Ansah's status for Week 1 is up in the air due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. There has been a running competition for reps at defensive end opposite Ansah, as the Seahawks drafted L.J. Collier (TCU) in the first round to join Quinton Jefferson and Cassius Marsh. Both Jefferson and Marsh have shown glimpses, with three-sack campaigns as members of the Seahawks. Meanwhile, Collier is considered a reach because he was short on production in college while showcasing suspect athleticism, but the Seahawks have "reached" before and turned up gold (see Russell Wilson), so it's tough to write him off. At the moment, there's no clear frontrunner in the race to start opposite Ansah. Nevertheless, it's certain that the winner will be as integral to replacing Clark as Ansah.

KEY ACQUISITIONS:
DK METCALF – WR (Rd. 2, No. 64 – Mississippi)
Took a freefall in the draft but is undeniably a downfield threat.

GARY JENNINGS – WR (Rd. 4, No. 120 – West Virginia)
His combo of size and college output intrigues post-Doug Baldwin.

TRAVIS HOMER – RB (Rd. 6, No. 204 – Miami)
Has the skill set to contribute on passing downs, at the very least.

KEY DEPARTURES:
DOUG BALDWIN – WR (retired)
Hanging up the cleats after a productive eight-year run.

MIKE DAVIS – RB (to Bears)
Turned an opportunity in Seattle into a payday elsewhere.

EARL THOMAS – S (to Ravens)
The leader of the Legion of Boom departs after a season-ending injury.

FRANK CLARK – DE (to Chiefs)
Too expensive for the team after racking up 35 sacks in four seasons.

KAM CHANCELLOR – S (FA)
A stinger in 2017 was ultimately the turning point in his playing career.

THE INJURY FRONT
Chris Carson, RB – Carson battled injuries throughout his first two years in the league, playing in just 18 games as a result. The struggle continues, as he had surgery on his knee in May and ended up missing June minicamp. Although he should be fine for Week 1, if not training camp, his absence allows Rashaad Penny to toil with the first-team offense and push for the No. 1 job. Penny was expected to increase his offensive reps either way, and a one-two punch with the two backs could keep Carson healthy and fresh.

Will Dissly, TE – After a promising start to his rookie campaign, Dissly injured the patella tendon in his right knee and missed the remainder of the year. Despite the severe nature of the issue, there's an expectation he'll take the practice field a few weeks into training camp. Once he returns, Dissly will be given every opportunity to maintain the No. 1 tight end role ahead of Nick Vannett and Ed Dickson.

Bradley McDougald, SS – After suiting up for every game in 2018, McDougald underwent surgery to address a partially torn patella tendon. Considering he said he'd be able to play if the season started in June, there doesn't seem to be much doubt that he'll be ready for Week 1. At that time, McDougald will continue to lead a Seahawks secondary that moved on from Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor this offseason.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Mazzara
Jordan produces NFL and NHL content for RotoWire. He's the beat writer for the St. Louis Blues and Seattle Seahawks. Jordan started writing for RotoWire in 2017.
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