Seahawks took a big risk letting Godwin Igwebuike walk in free agency

The NFL kickoff rule change could have meant Seattle no longer had interest in Godwin Igwebuike.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No, you can't keep every player you like. That's life in the NFL with a salary cap. Still, I wish the Seahawks had kept return specialist Godwin Igwebuike on the roster. I hope that decision doesn't burn them as the season goes on.

It isn't every day that you'll bemoan the loss of a journeyman running back. This player signed as an undrafted free agent at safety in 2018 with the Buccaneers and was out of the league in 2019. Now throw in that he played in the XFL in 2020, then got a shot with the Lions in 2021. It was in Detroit that he saw his first action at running back and as a return specialist. He only played five games with the Seahawks, but Godwin Igwebuike was terrific in those contests. I'm afraid Seattle made a big mistake letting him go to another team.

I'll admit Igwebuike wasn't exactly a superstar. After all, he only got onto the field for five games. The Hawks did press him into service at running back in one game versus the Jets. He had three carries and one catch, netting the grand total of seven yards. So it's safe to say he didn't bring a lot to the team as a running back, despite his 4.44 speed. But as a return specialist, well, that's a different story.

Godwin Igwebuike gave the Seahawks an explosive return game

Godwin Igwebuike was the Seahawks best return man since Leon Washington. Yes, I'm saying he was even better than Tyler Lockett in his first few seasons with the Seahawks. Yep, I know the Realtor was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro largely on his return game. I still say Igwebuike was better. Washington has him beat, as he returned three kickoffs for scores in 2010, and had another score in 2012 along with a 29.0 return average. Washing made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist in the latter year. Even if you want to give the edge to Lockett, you're not risking him to return kickoffs.

True, I'm basing this on one year of work - actually just five games - but for those five games, Igwebuike was electrifying. He returned 11 kicks for 308 yards, an average of 28.0 yards, the longest being 50 yards. His best game was against the Panthers, his first for the Hawks. He returned three kicks for a total of 104 yards, putting Seattle in scoring position every time he touched the ball. After that, opposing teams definitely had him on their radar. He only got one return opportunity in each of his last two games.

So why do I say the Seahawks made a big mistake in letting him go? Well, I'm not exactly the only one singing his praises. Igwebuike wasn't signed by the Falcons until the end of July. The real issue is that Seattle plans to use DeeJay Dallas to return punts and kickoffs. He's fine, but he isn't as explosive as the former Wildcat.

The bigger problem is that as of now, Dallas is listed as the Hawks number two running back. Yes, we expect Zach Charbonnet will be ready by the start of the season and hope that Kenny MacIntosh will be ready as well. As thin as Seattle is at the position, they can ill afford the added injury risk to Dallas.

Hopefully, by game one, Dallas will be at third-string. I picture that if MacIntosh had not gotten injured, he'd be the fourth-string back. Sure, the Hawks have a lot of players they want to keep, including about 27 cornerbacks. Listen, if DeeJay takes a return to the house, I'll be the first to cheer for him. I just wish the Seahawks had the foresight to keep the explosive Godwin Igwebuike on the roster.

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