Seahawks dismantling defense after missing postseason

 Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson leaps over tight end Luke Willson to pick up a first down during the second half during a game against the Arizona CardinalsThe Seattle Seahawks are going to be a very different team on defense next season. Seattle said goodbye to some of its top defensive players following a disappointing 2017 campaign, leaving plenty of questions as to who will fill those vacant roles in this once-feared unit. The Seahawks missed the postseason for the first time since 2011, and if losing Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, and Sheldon Richardson wasn’t enough of a response, the Seahawks could decide to part ways with Earl Thomas as well.

 

Seattle dealt Bennett to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson while Richardson signed with the Minnesota Vikings, creating a huge hole in the Seahawks’ defensive line. Making matters worse, the neck injury that ended veteran defensive end Cliff Avril’s 2017 season could also potentially end his career, leaving 24-year-old Frank Clark - with 19 sacks over the last two seasons - as the lone star of Seattle’s pass rush.

 

Sherman was released by the Seahawks after the two sides failed to agree on a restructuring of Sherman’s contract, which was entering its final year with no guaranteed money. Sherman promptly signed a three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, ensuring he will face Seattle twice per season. Securing more guaranteed money was a smart move for Sherman seeing as his Achilles injury should keep him off the field until at least May or June and there’s no telling how effective he will be upon his return, but he was still one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks prior to the injury.

 

Seattle could be in a similar situation to Sherman with Thomas, who has expressed a desire to negotiate a contract extension. Thomas has one year remaining on his deal but could hold out for a long-term extension, putting the Seahawks in an awkward position, especially with fellow safety Kam Chancellor out indefinitely with a neck injury. Trading Thomas would allow Seattle to avoid any financial headaches, but the return on any deal would need to be substantial for the three-time first team All-Pro selection.