While Seattle didn’t get Jared Allen, there remain free agents out there for the Seahawks, or any other team, to sign, to bolster their defensive line.
Here’s a list and rating of the best available players at all positions from NFL.com.
But at this point, there aren’t any many players left that — on paper, anyway — would have the kind of impact of the ones Seattle has appeared to show the most interest during free agency but has not signed, notably Allen, who today signed instead with the Chicago Bears.
And who knows if Seattle can get a player in the draft that would make a huge immediate impact, especially picking at No. 32?
So there’s a decent chance that what the Seahawks have on their roster right now will make up most of what will be their defensive line in 2014, one that has been depleted by the losses of Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald, who combined for roughly 1,500 snaps in 2013.
All of which makes it a good time to break down what that depth chart might look like at the moment:
LEFT DEFENSIVE END: Michael Bennett, Greg Scruggs
LEFT DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Tony McDaniel, Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Michael Brooks
RIGHT DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Brandon Mebane, D’Anthony Smith, DeWayne Cherrington
RIGHT DEFENSIVE END: Cliff Avril, Benson Mayowa, Bruce Irvin, Kenneth Boatright,
First off, the above is just my guess, and I’m mostly putting the players where they were listed on the Seahawks’ depth chart last year.
And one thing to recall is how much, and willing, the Seahawks are to move guys around. A number of guys last year played both end and tackle spots and surely figure in the team’s plans at multiple spots going forward.
The LDE spot is where Bryant sarted last season, playing mostly in obvious run downs, with Bennett coming in in passing situations. Seattle, though, found out that Bennett could play the run well, one reason they were willing to make the move to let Bryant go and re-sign Bennett. Expect him to play more in run downs this year, and simply more overall. Still, Seattle will need someone else to step up there. Scruggs and Hill are probably the most obvious candidates, though I’ve listed Hill at tackle since that’s where he was usually listed by the team in 2013.
McDaniel was re-signed and returns at the LDT spot (or as the team calls it, the three-technique tackle, lining up over the shoulder of the guard) where he was the regular starter in 2013. Seattle will need Hill to progress, though first he has to get healthy, having battled a pair of biceps injuries in 2013. Williams is a wild card, missing last season after having surgery on a troublesome knee that the team hopes will clear it up for good. He’s said to be on pace to be ready for OTAs and mini-camp. Williams could play at either tackle spot.
Mebane returns at the RDT spot (or nose tackle). Gone, though, is valuable reserve McDonald, Williams could be a factor there, too, and the team recently re-signed both Smith and Cherrington, who were with the team in varying roles throughout 2013 (Smith, recall, played well in the first win over the 49ers).
Of most intrigue might be the RDE spot, or what the team calls its LEO position, where the end lines up on the weak side, the prime pass-rushing spot.
Clemons and Avril essentially shared this spot in 2014. Avril will be happy to play more, and no doubt that’s probably the early plan, to increase his time there. It was intriguing that Irvin appeared to play almost solely at this spot in the Super Bowl. Pete Carroll said that was solely a gameplan thing and that Irvin will continue to also play some linebacker. But it seems an easy solution to depth issues to simply have Irvin play more at that spot. the team thought enough of Mayowa to keep him on the active roster all season, and Boatright was on IR last year.
So, there’s lots of bodies, and lots of players the team knows well. Their track in evaluating players and making them fit has obviously been good. Filling out the defensive line in 2014 looms as yet another test.