5 draft picks the Seattle Seahawks gave up on too soon

Two of the players have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Peter G. Aiken/GettyImages
1 of 3

The Seattle Seahawks are just a week away from the 2024 NFL draft. One thing we can be sure of in the draft is that many of the players will not work out long-term. The key is to see the specialness of a player early and not let him go once he begins to develop.

In the five cases that follow, Seattle ultimately let the players go too early. Some had a few good seasons with the team, but the player would be even better after leaving the Seahawks. Maybe some of the seasons they missed would have been different had they stuck with the franchise.

Two of the following players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One could be. Another is an all-time great in the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks gave up way too soon on these draft picks

Kicker returner Michael Bates (drafted in 1992)

Bates had a weird start to his NFL career. Seattle chose him in the sixth round of the 1992 draft but as contract negotiations were different in 1992 than they are in 2024, the Seahawks and Bates could never come to an agreement on a deal. Bates missed what would be his rookie season while he was waiting on contract terms. This actually helped the player, however, as he had been a sprinter at the 1992 Olympics and he needed to get into football shape.

Bates was never going to be very productive as a receiver, but he had elite skill as a kick returner. He took a little time to develop in that area, however. After two seasons with Seattle and being solid on special teams, he was waived and picked up by the Carolina Panthers. Carolina then traded Bates to Cleveland only to have Bates return as a free agent in 1996. This is when Bates began to serve notice to the NFL about how impactful he could be as a kick returner.

From 1996 through 2000, Bates made the Pro Bowl every season as a kick returner. In 1996 and 1997, he led the league in average yards per kick return and he returned five kicks for touchdowns in his Pro Bowl seasons. Seattle had a weak offense in the 1990s and having Bates would have helped give the team a better field position, at least.