The Seattle Seahawks are not playing in Super Bowl LVIII this weekend. When the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers take the field in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl at 3:30pm on February 11 on CBS, the Seahawks will be at home watching it. What can the Seahawks do to have a chance to be on the field for Super Bowl LIX next year?
1. They already have the ball rolling in new coach Mike Macdonald.
The Seahawks were willing to be patient in the search to replace the legendary Pete Carrol, and it paid off with the hire of Macdonald. He should immediately re-invigorate the team’s defense and give them long-term sustainability at the head coaching position, considering he is now the youngest head coach in the league. However, what they haven’t done is fill out his staff. The team currently has neither a defensive coordinator nor an offensive coordinator. The defensive coordinator figures to be the less important for a few reasons. First, Macdonald will be calling defensive plays himself next season. Second, the team hired former Vikings coach and long-time NFL coordinator Leslie Frazier as the assistant head coach to Macdonald. However, the team still doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. Several names have made their way through the rumor mill, including former University of Washington (and now Alabama) coordinator Ryan Grubbs, UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly, and Detroit Lions passing game coordinator Tanner Engstrand. However, they haven’t finalized a hire yet. With the Super Bowl this weekend, that could mean they are waiting until they have a chance to interview assistants on the two Super Bowl teams, such as Kansas City Chiefs passing game coordinator Joe Bleymaier, or it could just mean they are doing their due diligence to make sure they get the right fit.
2. Whoever the Seahawks hire as offensive coordinator, they need to ensure that person has a quarterback to coach.
The team can take a few different paths. Current starter Geno Smith regressed across the board in 2023 from his breakout 2024 performance, and his 2024 contract becomes guaranteed at the end of next week. The Seahawks could let him walk and take a 17 million hit in dead cap money, or they could keep him, knowing they can get out of the deal next year if he continues regressing. Smith’s contract for next season is still incredibly team-friendly. His 2024 salary ranks 12th among NFL starting quarterbacks, and most of those below him are either fill-ins or rookie deals. Replacing him would not be easy. The Seahawks could look for a quarterback in the draft, but if they cut Smith, it would be apparent to every other team in the league that they would want one, and drafting in the middle of the first round would mean the Seahawks would certainly not control their own destiny on their draft choice. They could grab a free agent, but the addition of someone like Baker Mayfield, in addition to Smith’s dead money hit, would take up money that could be used elsewhere. Finally, they could turn things over to Drew Lock, Smith’s backup last year, but they would still be paying the dead money tax again. Regardless of who the coordinator is, Smith is probably back next year, and the odds are strong that the Seahawks will grab a mid-round quarterback to groom as the heir apparent. In the here and now, Smith represents the best chance the Seahawks have to make it to the playoffs while still building out a surrounding roster that is competitive.
3. One place the team will likely see turnover is the secondary.
While the team figures to settle its cornerback situation for the long term with Devon Witherspoon on one side and hopefully a revitalized Riq Woolen across from him, the safety position could use some work. Jamal Adams figures to be gone this offseason, three seasons after the disastrous trade that brought him to Seattle. He is no longer an effective safety in any sense of the word while having a contract that pays above what an elite-level defender would command. Between Adams and Quandre Diggs, the Seahawks could save 17 million off the cap next year. They already have one replacement in-house in Julian Love, and if they partner him with a rookie, they could use the money to address other positions. Two other potential cap casualties could come on the offensive side of the board in tight end Will Dissly, who would save the team seven million, and long-time outside receiving threat Tyler Lockett. Lockett has put up some great numbers and been a model player, but the team already has a ready replacement on the roster in Jaxon Smith-Nijgiba, the team’s first-rounder last year who showed flashes of great potential. Those savings would also allow the team to address the offensive and defensive lines, which are currently two of the least expensive in football. They already have numerous young and talented players at skill positions on offense and defense, so bulking up the protection for their quarterback and ability to put pressure on the opposing quarterback should be a priority.
If the Seahawks find the right fit at offensive coordinator, make the smart decision at quarterback for both 2024 and beyond, and fill out both lines through the draft or free agency with their expected cap savings, they should be primed and ready to take a lick at getting to Super Bowl LIX next year.