The 6-1 Seahawks have been on fire this whole NFL season. A statement win against the 49ers, coupled with a Packers loss at home, proved that Seattle has all it takes for a place at Super Bowl LV. All of this – mostly due to Russell Wilson’s masterpiece of a campaign that sees him as the top contender for his first MVP award.
But Wilson’s success might have more impact than people think. The Seahawks’ defense, in contrast to the passing game, has failed miserably. Despite loading on players in the offseason, Seattle’s defensive unit has so far allowed the most yards per game in the NFL. The secondary has stood out as a major issue, especially after Jamal Adams’s injury. What’s more, they recently suffered a huge blow in the running game, with both Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde missing the SF clash.
The Seahawks are a scary opponent for any team in the NFL. Yet, they certainly can use a couple of impactful trades to establish consistency and balance between the team’s components. This deadline’s trade market isn’t very rich in Seattle’s needs but there are a few trades that the championship hopefuls can look to make before the Tuesday deadline.
The unlikely option: Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots
Gilmore is the best cornerback of the past half a decade when you combine his numbers from the last three seasons. The former Bills first-rounder has made the All-Pro First Team in each of the last two years. Furthermore, he has not shown any signs of slowing down in 2020, despite an injury that kept him sidelined against his former team in Week 8. As the Patriots’ loss dropped them to 2-5, their chances of missing the postseason for the first time in nine years are getting bigger by the week. Therefore, Bill Belichick and New England are in a rare position of sellers at the trade deadline. Gilmore, meanwhile, is one of the few players that have the value of giving NE a good return in a deal.
For the third straight campaign, Stephon Gilmore has posted an allowed passer rating of under 80.0. Albeit not as impressive as last year’s 44.1, he has only conceded a rating of 74.0 in 30 targets. Although he is on pace to have recorded his smallest workload in three years, this is still a figure indicative of a great dominance against all kinds of productive wideouts.
Gilmore’s contract has a year and a half left with him owed half of his $13-million salary, nearly $150,000 of per-game bonus, and $17 million in 2020. The Seahawks need to sacrifice a lot to negotiate a Gilmore deal. Firstly, the Patriots certainly have the leverage to demand a first-round pick in return for 1.5 years of Gilmore’s services. Seattle currently doesn’t have one, not at least in 2021 after they flipped it to the Jets for Adams. Secondly, Seattle will be forced to cut down on salary as they have just $306,135 in available cap space, the least in the league.
However, it’ll be worth it and Gilmore would be a significant improvement over the current Seahawks secondary. Quinton Dunbar, acquired from Cincinnati in the offseason, has been solid with an allowed passer rating of 92.1. Shaquill Griffin, on the other hand, has had many problems which have cost Seattle through the air en route to being the worst passing defense. Griffin’s 113.1 surrendered rating in coverage is amongst the highest in the team, with the former UCF prospect having the most targets with 48. Injured safety Jamal Adams, in addition, hasn’t been much better.
Seattle needs an upgrade in their secondary. This is clear both by the unit’s numbers and individual struggles. A trade is very unlikely at the moment as Gilmore is surely worth more than a second-round pick. However, they should at least try their luck and call the Patriots first for Gilmore.
The must-make deal: Desmond King, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
UPDATE: Traded to the Tennessee Titans for a sixth-round pick
There’s no question on whether King or Gilmore is the better cornerback. Yet, as mentioned above, a Gilmore deal is very unlikely unless the demand for Gilmore is too low. In the meantime, the Seahawks have to add a good cornerback. Otherwise, they face the threat of their secondary throwing a promising season set up by Wilson and a terrific air raid.
Desmond King could be easy to acquire on a half-season rent before he hits free agency. The former Iowa corner will leave the Chargers after the conclusion of the season. In full cap hit, he will receive a little over $2 million in 2020.
King is young, subsequently cheap, but he has also been quite consistent over his three years in the NFL. The allowed passer rating of 74.9 is the best of his short career after he posted 81.0 on 87 targets in 2018. Moreover, he has played just 17 targets in coverage in 6 games, 3 of which starts. He hasn’t been a regular part of the defense of the 2-5 LA Chargers. King is very likely to be dealt away from Los Angeles. Seattle should be the most active negotiator if John Schneider wants to give SEA defensive stability.
The necessary afterthought: Jordan Howard, RB, Miami Dolphins
Myles Gaskin’s increased role in Miami came as a sharp surprise to many. After all, GM Chris Grier added Howard and Matt Breida in the spring to form a running stable. However, Breida has spent time on the sidelines injured. Meanwhile, Howard has had only 18 rushing attempts.
This comes after a campaign in which Howard was a perfect member of a split-workload committee. Registering 119 carries, 60 fewer than Myles Sanders, Howard averaged 4.4 yards per rush, the second-most in his career. He was supposed to be at least in the same role in Florida behind Breida. Perhaps he would have been as good as he was last year.
Howard’s deal with Miami was for three years. However, the Seahawks, or any suitor, can easily get rid of him after this season. The running back is owed $1.75 million for the 2020 NFL season. After the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, his team can opt out of the deal. This move would clear $5 million in 2021 cap space.
Neither Chris Carson nor Carlos Hyde will be 100 percent healthy by Tuesday. Therefore, it will not be a foregone conclusion that the Seahawks will use a Carson/Hyde duo on the ground. Next up on the depth chart are Travis Homer, also injured, and rookie Deejay Dallas.
Jordan Howard is better than both when it comes to consistency across the field and is a low risk/high reward option. Howard and Duke Johnson are virtually the only two backs on the market with any upside. Johnson has posted just 111 rushing attempts since 2019 and, if anything, won’t be worth Houston’s asking price.