Mike Macdonald's recent comments should make Seahawks WR Dee Eskridge very happy

Seattle wide receiver Dee Eskridge has not accomplished much in three years but that could change in 2024.
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D'Wayne Eskridge, the artist also known as Dee, has without a doubt been a second-round bust. He was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2021 NFL draft, one of only three choices Seattle had that year, and Eskridge has missed more games than he has played in his career. When he has played he has been extremely ineffective.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, Eskridge flashed an unexpected skill in 2023. Whether 12s were more shocked to learn that Eskridge could return kickoffs well or that he was playing at all is open for debate, of course. What is not up for argument is that Eskridge was good at something.

Through his first two seasons, Eskridge had returned nine kicks but with a long of 29 yards. Last year, he returned eight kicks for an average of a very good 28 yards a return. He also had a long of 66 yards and two others close to 40. He simply could not stay healthy enough to keep building on his own momentum to cement his role as Seattle's main kick returner.

Dee Eskridge could be a dangerous threat for the Seattle Seahawks in 2024

Seattle could have released Eskridge this offseason and saved more money than it takes to keep him on the team. Sure, the team could still release him, but after new head coach Mike Macdonald's recent comments, while speaking to the media at OTAs, Eskridge should be expected to have a great chance at making the team. The reason is the new NFL kickoff rules.

The new rule states a team's kicker will kickoff from their own 35-yard line, the same as in past seasons, but the rest of the kicking team will start at the opponent's 40-yard line. The receiving team will have a minimum of nine players lined up in the "setup zone" (between the 30-35-yard lines) and a maximum of two players in the "landing zone" (inside the 20-yard line). The kicking team's players cannot move until either the ball bounces or a returner touches the ball. This gives the kick returner a head start.

When asked about the new rule, Macdonald said, "We have a lot of...I don't want to say experimentation, but that's kind of what it is. What works in terms of alignments and how we can play things, and who can block what, the schemes. It will be interesting to see because we're not sharing secrets on how we're going to operate and we'll have to adapt."

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What is clear is that Seattle is making every effort to make the new rule an advantage. Besides Eskridge, the Seahawks signed Laviska Shenault, Jr. in free agency and Shenault has shown a decent ability to return kicks well in limited returns. Seattle also signed Tennessee's Dee Williams as an undrafted free agent this offseason.

Eskridge should have the best chance of taking on the role of the Seahawks' primary kick returner, however, as general manager John Schneider, who makes the final roster decisions, has seen Eskridge perform in a Seattle uniform while Shenault and Williams are new to the team. Now the receiver/kick returner just needs to prove he can stay healthy.

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