Three 2023 free agents the Seahawks must target on defense

Cincinnati Bengals At Buffalo Bills Afc Divisional Jan 22 463
Cincinnati Bengals At Buffalo Bills Afc Divisional Jan 22 463 /
1 of 3

While the Seahawks were a pleasant surprise in 2022, they’ll have to be much more consistent on defense to improve this season. The Hawks are only missing a few key pieces; these three players can unlock that potential in 2023.

Last year, the Seahawks defense was: oh, how can you describe this defense? Winston Churchill probably put it best, when he said the Hawks D was “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Okay, he was talking about Russia – and it still applies – but how else would you describe a unit that surrendered over 500 yards twice, but close out the season with three straight sub-300-yard performances? Especially when one of those was against the Chiefs?

Want more evidence of their Jekyll and Hyde nature? The Seahawks held Saquon Barkley, who ran for 1,312 yards last season, to just 53. This same defense allowed both Taysom Hill to go off for over 100 yards and the post-McCaffrey Panthers to rumble for 223 yards on the ground. Then it all came tumbling down against the Niners in the playoffs. The Hawks gave up over 500 yards and 41 points. That was just the third time Seattle gave up that many yards and points all year.

Seahawks free agent target no. 1: Dalvin Tomlinson

We’ve already floated a couple of names out there that would be instant upgrades to the defensive line. As Lee Vowell wrote, Daron Payne would give a massive boost to both the pass and rush defense. If you did your homework and read that article, you also saw he’d come with a high price tag. In fact, the Commanders just placed a franchise tag on him. It’s a non-exclusive tag, but that just jacked the price even higher. Dre’Mont Jones is another great fit – again, check out Lee’s writeup – but he’d also be on the pricey side at approximately $17 million per year, for four years.

I’d love for the Hawks to go with either of those, players, but for significantly less money, we could get almost the same result. At first, I thought about Dalvin Tomlinson, but he basically replicates the skillset and production of both Al Woods and Poona Ford; at least Ford when he’s playing in the right position. But Woods will be 36 years old, Ford was inconsistent last year and is a free agent himself. Bryan Mone is recovering from surgery for a torn ACL, and there’s no set timetable for his return.

So, Dalvin Tomlinson makes sense after all. He’ll be 29 at the start of the season, while both Payne and Jones will only be 26. Then again, that’s a key factor in Tomlinson’s market value being set at only $8.5 million, less than half of what the other two are expected to command. As for his production, the 6’3″ 325-pound tackle is one of the best run defenders in the game. He has the third-most tackles for loss or no gain in the league since 2017. Now he may not get to the quarterback as often as you’d like, but an average of three sacks and 9.5 QB hits over the past four years is more than solid, especially for a guy who often plays the nose.

His overall grade of 77.1 from Pro Football Focus (a subscription site, yes) reflects both aspects of his game. Compare that grade to Woods’ 68.2 and Ford’s 56.2. Even Ford’s 2021 season, 73.0, doesn’t quite measure up. Add that Tomlinson hasn’t been graded lower than 74.9 in the past five years, and you have a very consistent monster in the middle.