Three Seahawks defenders desperately seeking redemption in 2024

The Hawks can win without them - but it'll be a lot easier with them
Jarran Reed of the Seattle Seahawks
Jarran Reed of the Seattle Seahawks / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

A poor defense is the biggest reason the Seattle Seahawks have a new head coach in 2024. These three defenders hope to rebound this year and elevate their team.

How far the mighty have fallen, eh, 12s? The Hawks used to be synonymous with defense. Unfortunately, the peak of that performance was last seen a decade ago, even though the team still played solid D for several years after. But the Seahawks defense dropped precipitously in 2017, from 3rd in points allowed to 13th. They never reached higher than 11th. They dropped again to 25th in 2022 and 2023. Hey, random Cowboys fan - precipitously means by a whole bunch.

So, out goes Pete Carroll, in comes Mike Macdonald, whose Ravens defense just happened to rank third and first in points allowed the past two seasons. Macdonald has made a lot of changes to his defensive personnel already. But there are plenty of key holdovers from the 2023 squad, some of whom have a lot to prove this year. Let's not waste any more time on chit-chat. Or in the words of Deadpool, "Let's ---- go!"

The Seattle Seahawks need these three key players to rebound

To be fair to all three players, none of them played poorly last year. Okay, maybe it's safer to say none of them played abysmally, like Darrell Taylor, my favorite punching bag. But all three drastically performed below the reasonable expectations of both the team and the 12s. All three certainly earned their shot at redemption this season.

Defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones

He underperformed in his inaugural season in Seattle. There's no way to argue that he didn't, especially considering that he signed the largest contract ever given to another team's free agent in the Hawk's history. 4.5 sacks and five tackles for a loss was certainly not what Carroll and John Schneider thought they were getting from Jones when they lured him from Denver. When you consider those were his worst state since his rookie season, there's no way to say he didn't underperform.

Of course, there's one little wrinkle to add to the story. Jones played quite a bit better once he was moved outside of the tackle in the last half of the season. Coach Macdonald plans to move Jones - and everyone else, really - around a lot this year, so it's reasonable to expect Jones to hit career highs this year. If he doesn't, the Hawks will save $16.5 million if they cut him in 2025, and he'd be a free agent in 2026 anyway. So this is definitely the year for Jones to step up, from wherever he plays.

Cornerback Riq Woolen

It isn't that Woolen was terrible, not at all. But he did make some terrible plays. He played so poorly at times that he was actually benched. As you've read here before, it often seemed that he was playing to avoid getting hurt. Considering he was dealing with both knee and shoulder injuries, it's understandable.

Understandable for a regular dude, but NFL players are anything but that. Woolen played with wild abandon as a rookie and hit hard. He has to get that mojo back this season to reclaim his spot among the league's elite.

It's hard to imagine for the guy who should have been the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2022, but he'll be fighting to simply keep his starting position on the team. Both Michael Jackson and Tre Brown are capable starters. Add that the Hawks drafted two solid corners in Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James, and Woolen will have to regain every bit of his 2022 form.

He wouldn't exactly save a lot if cut or traded, just $900K in 2024, or $1.1 in 2025. He'd have to play much worse than he did last year to be cut, frankly. But the competition is there for Woolen to step up.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed

The Seahawks' erstwhile nose tackle was as much a victim of circumstance as any player on the squad last year. As noted a few months ago, Reed was simply placed in the wrong position. Yes, I also wrote at the start of the season that the Hawks had solved their problem at nose tackle by sliding Reed over. Mea culpa, once again. Hey, I trusted Clint Hurtt to know what he was doing. All I can say is, of the two of us, one still has a job.

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As with Jones, it was less a performance issue with Reed than a matter of him being played out of position. He still had seven sacks, his most since his breakthrough season in 2018. But at less than 310 pounds, he was simply undersized for the role and got trucked in the running game. Macdonald and DC Aden Durde will move him back to his more natural position, so we can all expect Reed to re-establish himself as one of the better defensive linemen in the league.

If he doesn't look like he can do it by the end of camp, the Hawks could cut $4.9 million off the cap this year. Reed is a free agent in 2025, so this is his year to prove himself again.

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