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Better, worse or the same? How the Seahawks’ offense has changed this offseason

When the Seattle Seahawks open their 2020 season at the Atlanta Falcons, quarterback Russell Wilson could have:

  • As many as four new starters along his offensive line

  • .

  • A new No. 1 tight end

  • .

  • A new No. 3 wide receiver, which is effectively a starter in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense

  • .

  • A new No. 2 running back and/or third-down back

  • .

That’s at least one new player at every position other than quarterback.

New doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse. With that in mind, let’s continue the NFL Nation trend and examine the Seahawks’ offense by position group with a verdict on whether each is better, worse or the same as it was last season.

Receivers

Additions: Phillip Dorsett II (New England Patriots), Freddie Swain (sixth round), Aaron Fuller (UDFA), Seth Dawkins (UDFA)

Losses: Josh Gordon (suspended/unsigned), Jaron Brown (unsigned), Malik Turner (tender rescinded)

Returners: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, David Moore, John Ursua, Cody Thompson, Penny Hart

Better, worse or the same? The same.

That verdict depends on how you count Gordon in last season’s equation. And it would change if he ends up back in Seattle.

Dorsett looks like an upgrade over Brown, who caught only 16 passes despite playing the third-most offensive snaps (349) among Seattle wideouts. Dorsett caught 29 passes in 527 offensive snaps (second among Patriots wideouts). But Gordon, who was suspended indefinitely after five games last season, is the most talented of the three.

Lockett and Metcalf give the Seahawks one of the league’s top receiver tandems. Dorsett will compete with Moore for the No. 3 job. He’s the more accomplished of the two, but Moore has played three seasons with Wilson. That means Dorsett will be playing catch-up in terms of building chemistry with his quarterback and will have fewer on-field reps because of the coronavirus pandemic condensing NFL offseasons. That could make it harder for a rookie like Swain to make the team over someone like Ursua, let alone make meaningful contributions right away.

However those battles shake out, Wilson will have no shortage of speed at the position. Lockett (4.40-second 40-yard dash at the 2015 combine) has become one of the league’s top deep threats. Metcalf and Dorsett both ran a 4.33. Moore was in the high 4.3s at his pro day and has averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 career catches. That speed aligns well with what might be Wilson’s biggest strength — throwing the deep ball.

Gordon has applied to the NFL for reinstatement. A reunion would make sense for both sides if and when that happens, which might not be for some time. What about Antonio Brown? With the Seahawks, never say never.

Tight ends

Additions: Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers), Colby Parkinson (fourth round), Stephen Sullivan (seventh round), Dominick Wood-Anderson (UDFA), Tyler Mabry (UDFA)

Losses: Tyrone Swoopes (not tendered)

Returners: Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson

Better, worse or the same? Better.

What group wouldn’t be better with the addition of a three-time Pro Bowler in Olsen? He was productive at 34 years old last season, catching 52 passes, with all but 12 of them coming from Kyle Allen. Dissly is something of an addition himself, as he played in only six games last season. He caught 23 passes — four for touchdowns — before tearing an Achilles.

The Seahawks could be so loaded at tight end that Hollister might end up being their No. 3 option after leading the position with 41 catches in 11 games last season, third most on the team. But that would happen only if Olsen and Dissly stay healthy, which is hardly a given. Olsen is 35 and missed a combined 18 games over the past three seasons. Dissly has played in only 10 career games because of major injuries in each of his first two seasons.

How much Parkinson factors into the mix figures depends largely on Olsen’s and Dissly’s health. Dissly might not be ready by Week 1.

All of that that helps justify the $3.259 million the Seahawks are set to pay Hollister on a second-round tender as a restricted free agent. He’s the surest thing they have at the position.

Running backs

Additions: Carlos Hyde (Houston Texans), DeeJay Dallas (fourth round), Anthony Jones (UDFA), Patrick Carr (UDFA)

Losses: Marshawn Lynch (unsigned), C.J. Prosise (unsigned), Robert Turbin (unsigned)

Returners: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, FB Nick Bellore

Better, worse or the same? Better.

Penny’s recovery from a torn ACL makes it a tough call between better and the same. The Seahawks fear that he’ll have to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would mean missing at least the first five games (Seattle’s bye is Week 6). In the meantime, the tandem of Carson and Hyde looks about the same as last year’s tandem of Carson and Penny. But the position group will have three strong options whenever Penny returns. He was coming on when he tore an ACL last December.

Carson has topped 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, and Hyde hit that mark for the first time last season. Dallas is in line for third-down work.

Offensive line

Additions: B.J. Finney (Pittsburgh Steelers), Brandon Shell (New York Jets), Cedric Ogbuehi (Cincinnati Bengals), Chance Warmack (UFA), Damien Lewis (third round), Tommy Champion (UDFA)

Losses: D.J. Fluker (released), Justin Britt (released), Germain Ifedi (Chicago Bears), George Fant (Jets)

Returners: Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Joey Hunt, Ethan Pocic, Phil Haynes, Jamarco Jones, Jordan Simmons, Chad Wheeler, Kyle Fuller, Kahlil McKenzie, Jordan Roos

Better, worse or the same? Better, but with a caveat.

The Seahawks rightfully believe they’ve made their offensive line better. Finney is known as a smart player and is much stouter than Hunt, who filled in capably at center for Britt last season but was susceptible to getting pushed around with his smaller frame. They see Shell as a clear upgrade at right tackle over Ifedi, who got only a minimum-salary deal and might play guard in Chicago. Lewis and Warmack are candidates to start at right guard. The Seahawks were underwhelmed enough with Fluker’s play there last season to cut him despite a manageable cap number.

They’d have a fourth new starter on their offensive line if Haynes can beat out Iupati at left guard. Ogbuehi will take over for Fant as the swing tackle/oft-used sixth offensive linemen in heavy packages.

Continuity is as important to that position group as any. It would be enough of a challenge for the Seahawks’ offensive line to gel with that many new pieces under normal circumstances. That group will have to do so without all the on-field reps it never took over the offseason program and whatever it might miss in a shortened preseason.

“I remember that that might have been the area that takes the biggest hit because of all of the intricacies and the continuity of it,” Carroll said, thinking back to how the Seahawks struggled up front coming out of the 2011 lockout. “So I’ve learned that that will be an area of great focus and concern when we come back just recognizing and respecting that that may be the last group that really can get tied together …”

Quarterbacks

Additions: Anthony Gordon (UDFA)

Losses: None

Returners: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith

Better, worse or the same? The same.

Wilson could conceivably be better with another season’s worth of experience in Schottenheimer’s system. This will be their third year together. Smith, back for his second season in Seattle, could similarly be in better position to step in if needed.

The Seahawks usually carry two quarterbacks on their active roster, so Gordon is most likely competing for a spot on the practice squad.

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