I’ve been intentionally saving this position for last; not because I have anything ground breaking to say about this unit, but because writing about them is rather depressing. Linebacker was clearly the Seahawk’s biggest weakness in 2011, and the Seahawks are going to have to invest a lot of resources into the position this offseason in order to fix the problem.
KJ Wright is the only significant linebacker on the team who is still under contract for 2012. Wright was a pleasant surprise this past season, when he managed to beat out Aaron Curry for the starting job on the strong side. Wright played well over the rest of the season, and will definitely be starting in 2012. He can also play the middle linebacker position, and could be moved to that spot for next season.
David Hawthorne is a fan favorite, and one of the better run stopping linebackers in the league, though he’s not particularly good at pass defense. He’s more suited for the weak side linebacker spot, as he’s undersized for the middle linebacker role he been playing for the past couple years. Hawthorne is considered a high priority free agent for the Seahawks.
Leroy Hill was the third starter, and played on the weak side. As the one of the last remaining players from the 2005 superbowl team, Hill is popular among the fans. The problem is that his on field production down’t match his popularity. He’s spent much of his career sidelined with injuries, and has been mostly ineffective when he has been on the field. In 2011, the Seahawks ranked last in the league against running backs on passing plays. Covering those backs is mostly the job of the weak side linebacker. It’s no wonder why backups like David Voroba and Matt McCoy was eating into Hill’s playing time. Hill is a free agent, and I’ll be surprised if he returned to the Seahawks.
David Voroba and Matt McCoy were both important backups at the start of the year, and both were lost to injuries before mid-season. I expect both back next season, even though Voroba is a free agent and will have to be re-signed. He’s a perfect fit for Carroll’s scheme, and will be a big asset as a backup and special teams player.
Heath Farwell is another free agent, and another player who saw the field plenty in 2011. With all the other injuries to the linebackers, Farwell became the primary backup for whenever one of the starters needed a break. I doubt Farwell will be back in 2012, but the Seahawks should still consider re-signing him.
Mike Morgan, Adian Moten, Malcolm Smith are a trio of rookies who the Seahawks brought in as injury replacements. All three found roles on the special teams unit, but none of them earned a chance
Allen Bradford spent most the season on Seattle’s practice squad. Bradford was a RB in college for Pete Carroll at USC, but converted to linebacker once he signed on to the Seahawk’s practice squad. He’s still learning the job, but he’s a great athlete and my gut tells me he’s on the 53 man roster next season.
Jameson Konz is a weird case. He’s a good athlete, but he’s also a man without position. The Seahawks have listed him as a FB, TE, H-Back, DE and LB. He’s spent his entire career on the practice squad with the exception of 1 game in which he got hurt and ended up on IR.
Prediction: David Hawthorne will re-sign and be moved to the weak side to accommodate a first or 2nd round draft pick who was selected to play in the middle. Voroba and McCoy will also both return, as will Bradford. Konz, Morgan, Moten, and Smith will battle it out for the final roster spot with an undrafted player who makes some noise in camp.