What would it take to make the Seattle Seahawks a true contender in 2023? The answer to some of that is known. Quarterback Geno Smith needs to be even better in the second half of 2023 than he was in the second of 2022. The run defense has to be leagues better. The rookies and second-year guys need to play near their maximum potential.
But one place where the Seahawks have a huge concern that would not only be resolved but massively upgraded by a potential trade to Seattle of Aaron Donald would be in the middle of the defensive line. Maybe Donald isn't the same player he was three years ago. He is 32 years old after all, and is coming off of a season where he missed the most games of any season in his career (Donald missed six games, four more than he had missed in his entire career up until last season).
But even an Aaron Donald that is 80 percent of what he was - and that is a worst-case scenario - in 2021 - is much better than most other teams have along their defensive line. Donald can help shut down run games and can get to the quarterback arguably better than anyone else ever has from an interior defensive line position. But could a potential trade of Donald to the Seahawks work out?
Should the Seattle Seahawks try to trade for Aaron Donald?
The easy answer is "no," of course. There is the matter of Donald's contract, for one. His cap hit is $26 million in 2023. Seattle, and hardly any other teams, have that kind of cash to spend still. Donald does have a potential out on his contract after this coming season, but his dead cap would still be $33.5 million in 2024 and that is way too much for the Seahawks to take on.
Seattle could still create a bit of cap room if they released a player like Jamal Adams and saved $8 million or so, but that's still not enough to add Donald. Plus, a healthy Adams (if he can ever be healthy again) can disrupt from the secondary like few players in NFL history. There's no guaranteeing that adding Donald and getting rid of Adams, if both players are healthy, makes the Seahawks defense that much better.
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One of the final issues is that trading a player inside the division can be tricky. Let's say the Rams are OK with moving Donald to Seattle. That might help Seattle now, but in the long-term Seattle would have to give high draft capital and likely good young players. Winning a season or two now instead better than the potential to be good for the next 5-10 seasons.
So, yes. The idea of adding Aaron Donald is fun to think about, it's really not practical. Plus, hopefully the Seahawks will be just fine without him.