Seahawks Roster Analysis: The Defense

Published on December 31, 2008 by     Seahawk Fanatic

span class=”storybody”>Defensive Line

#55 – Darryl Tapp (DE)
Age: 24
Contract status: Signed through 2009
2009 salary: $530,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $810,000
Probability of return: 100%

Tapp lost his starting job to rookie Lawrence Jackson in training camp, but regained it by mid-October. Tapp finished with a career-high 55 tackles and tied for the team lead with 5 ½ sacks. Tapp is heading into his contract year, and with a healthy Patrick Kerney, could be poised to have the breakout season the Seahawks thought he’d have in 2007 and 2008.

#72 – Kevin Brown (DT)
Age: 23
Contract status: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 100%

After signing with the team as an undrafted free agent, Brown bounced on and off the Seahawks roster before getting an invite to training camp after Chris Gray was placed on injured reserve. Brown was one of the final cuts and was re-signed to the practice squad. Brown was released a week later, but was brought back to the practice squad in December. A bit on the small side (6-2, 294), Brown showed a knack for making plays during the preseason. He could earn a repeat trip to training camp in 2009.

#79 – Red Bryant (DT)
Age: 24
Contract status: Signed through 2011
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $495,375
Probability of return: 100%

Bryant had an injury-plagued rookie season, missing most of training camp with a knee injury and injuring his ankle during the season. Bryant is big (6-5, 330) but was often described as being “green as grass” by head coach Mike Holmgren. Bryant should benefit from spending an off-season in an NFL weight-lifting program.

#90 – Brandon Miller (DE)
Age: 22
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $385,000
Probability of return: 100%

Seattle claimed Miller off waivers from Atlanta in November. Miller was active for just one game this season, but was credited with a tackle on one of the few defensive snaps he was in on. Miller missed the regular season finale with a wrist injury of unknown severity. Miller played inside linebacker at Georgia, so he’s relatively new to the defensive end position.

#91 – Baraka Atkins (DE)
Age: 24
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $460,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $568,125
Probability of return: 100%

After being inactive for the first seven games, Atkins was pressed into action when Patrick Kerney injured his shoulder. Though Atkins didn’t start, his playing time increased with each game. Atkins finest game in 2008 was when he got his first two sacks in the NFL against New England in December. Atkins was solid in run support from both end positions and should be expected to play a larger role on early downs in 2009.

#92 – Brandon Mebane (DT)
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $460,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $630,250
Probability of return: 100%

Mebane avoided the sophomore slump in 2008, starting 15 games, making 39 tackles and finishing tied with Darryl Tapp for the team lead with 5 ½ quarterback sacks. Mebane will return as a starter in 2009, though who’ll start beside him is unknown at this time.

#93 – Craig Terrill
Age: 28
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $1,150,000
2009 cap number: $1,450,000
Probability of return: 100%

Terrill isn’t kept around because owner Paul Allen needs someone to jam with. Not blessed athletically, Terrill is a solid rotational tackle who gives everything he has on every play. Terrill finished 2008 with 21 tackles, 2 quarterback sacks and a fumble returned for a touchdown. He’ll back in 2009 as part of the defensive tackle rotation.

#94 – Howard Green
Age: 29
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 50%

After his disruptive performance in the playoff game against Washington last January, Green’s 2008 season was disappointing. Green won a roster spot coming out of camp, but he was a healthy scratch by mid-season and likely wouldn’t have returned to the active roster if Bryant been injured. Green has good size (6-2, 320), but turns 30 in January and Seattle may look elsewhere for defensive line depth.

#95 – Lawrence Jackson
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2012
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $1,605,000
Probability of return: 100%

Jackson’s rookie season wasn’t a resounding success, but it’s possible that expectations placed on the 1st rounder from USC were a bit too high. Jackson was expected to win the starting right defensive end job and slide inside to play defensive tackle in nickel and dime packages, like Justin Tuck does for the New York Giants. For a rookie, that’s a lot to ask and Jackson didn’t have the benefit of playing alongside elite pass rushers as Tuck did. As a result, Jackson finished his rookie season with just 2 sacks. Furthermore, the experiment of using Jackson at defensive tackle on passing downs was abandoned after 10 games. Jackson may never be the elite pass rusher who annually posts double-digit sack totals, but he’s got the talent to be a starter in the NFL.

#97 – Patrick Kerney
Age: 32
Contract status: Signed through 2012
2009 salary: $4,000,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $8,666,667
Probability of return: 75%

Kerney was well on his way to another double-digit sack season before a torn labrum sent him to Dr. James Andrews and subsequently to injured reserve. This is the second time Kerney has torn the same labrum since signing with Seattle in 2007. Kerney could miss all of training camp after undergoing his third major upper-body operation in as many years (pectoral in 2006, two labrum procedures in 2008). Kerney was averaging 51.8 snaps per game before re-tearing his labrum in October. Now that he’s 32, Kerney may be entering the “pass rush specialist” portion of his NFL career.

#99 – Rocky Bernard
Age: 29
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 50%

Bernard is coming off a 2008 season where he posted a career-high 55 tackles and had 4 quarterback sacks, his highest total since signing a 3-year contract extension in 2006. Bernard has started 44 games in the last three years, but working against Bernard is his age (he turns 30 in the off-season) and an off-season arrest that resulted in a league-issued one-game suspension.

Linebackers

#50 – Lance Laury
Age: 26
Contract status: Restricted free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 95%

Laury was signed as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina and has been a core special teams player for the Seahawks in the last 2+ years, earning him a captaincy in 2008. To retain Laury, Seattle can offer a tender on the low-end ($1,010,000) for the right of first refusal, or they can tender him at the 2nd round ($1,545,000), 1st round ($2,198,000) or 1st and 3rd round ($2,792,000) levels. Or they could always try to reach a multi-year extension with him. Whatever they choose to do, Laury’s value on special teams makes him worth re-signing.

#51 – Lofa Tatupu
Age: 26
Contract status: Signed through 2015
2009 salary: $1,350,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $6,166,667
Probability of return: 100%

2008 was a forgettable season for Tatupu, who posted career-lows in tackles, sacks and failed to make the Pro Bowl for the first time in his brief NFL career. If he gets to play without a bulky cast on his hand, Tatupu should be expected to have a bounce-back season in 2009.

#53 – Wesly Mallard
Age: 30
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 0%

Although FOX listed Mallard as the starting middle linebacker who was wearing the radio helmet during Seattle’s Week 5 game against the New York Giants, Mallard was actually placed on injured reserve on August 5th. FOX may have confused Mallard with a three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, but that would be the only time anyone has done so during Mallard’s six-year NFL career.

#54 – Will Herring
Age: 25
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $460,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $500,775
Probability of return: 100%

Herring missed all of training camp in 2008, but still moved from the special teams to starting strong-side linebacker when both Leroy Hill and D.D. Lewis went down with injuries in the final two weeks. Herring played fast and occasionally played well, making 11 tackles over his two starts and delivering several big hits on opponents. It’s obvious that the coaching staff views Herring as a player with starting potential.

#56 – Leroy Hill
Age: 26
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 75%

(See companion piece.)

#58 – D.D. Lewis
Age: 29
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 60%

Because of Lewis’ age (he turns 30 next week) and the play of Herring, Laury and David Hawthorne, Lewis’ return in 2009 may hinge upon what happens with Leroy Hill. If Hill is retained, Lewis may look for an opportunity for playing time elsewhere, like Kevin Bentley did last off-season. If Hill isn’t retained, Lewis may come back to compete for a starting job with Herring.

#59 – David Hawthorne
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2009
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $385,000
Probability of return: 100%

Hawthorne was a star of the 2008 preseason, lighting up opponents with fumble-forcing hits that eventually won him a roster spot. Hawthorne had 12 special teams tackles in 2008 and figures to be a core member of those units in 2009.

#98 – Julian Peterson
Age: 30
Contract status: Signed through 2012
2009 salary: $6,500,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $8,800,000
Probability of return: 100%

Peterson’s 86 tackles rank second on the team, but as a pass-rusher, his production tailed off significantly in 2008. After posting 10 sacks in 2006 and 9 ½ sacks last season, Peterson’s sack total dropped to 5 in 2008. The biggest reason for Peterson’s drop in QB sacks: Patrick Kerney’s torn labrum. Peterson had one sack in the 9 games after Kerney was injured.

Defensive Backs

#21 – Kelly Jennings (CB)
Age: 26
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $695,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $1,616,250
Probability of return: 100%

Few players on the Seahawks had as rough a season as Kelly Jennings, who lost his confidence and then his starting job early in the season. Jennings was relegated to nickel corner, and while he showed improvement later in the season, his lack of ball skills remains troubling. Jennings is about to enter his 4th season in the NFL and his one career interception came in late November of his rookie season.

#23 – Marcus Trufant (CB)
Age: 28
Contract status: Signed through 2013
2009 salary: $1,000,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $9,766,667
Probability of return: 100%

Seattle’s 32nd-ranked pass defense makes writing that Marcus Trufant had a fine season seem like a hollow compliment, at best. But aside from what Larry Fitzgerald did to him in the season finale, Trufant really did have a good season. Opposing quarterbacks rarely threw in his direction, so Trufant’s interception total dropped from 7 to 1. Trufant was another member of the defense who played one-handed for much of the season, and with his cast removed, he should play even better in 2009.

#24 – Deon Grant (SS)
Age: 29
Contract status: Signed through 2012
2009 salary: $2,000,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $3,916,667
Probability of return: 100%

#25 – Brian Russell (FS)
Age: 30
Contract status: Signed through 2011
2009 salary: $2,100,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $2,700,000
Probability of return: 100%

Scott Johnson of The Daily Herald reported last week that Seahawks soon-to-be head coach Jim Mora said Grant and Russell have been more consistent this season than they were in 2007. The 59 pass plays of 20+ yards the Seahawks secondary allowed this season suggests otherwise, but I’ll take Mora’s word for it.

#26 – Josh Wilson (CB/KR)
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $460,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $680,000
Probability of return: 100%

Wilson moved into the starting lineup in October and immediately drew the attention of opposing quarterbacks. As a result, Wilson gave up quite a few receptions, though it’s important to point out that after not seeing the field too much in 2007, 2008 was pretty much Wilson’s rookie season. Wilson finished tied for the team lead in solo tackles (76), led the team in interceptions (4) and was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week in Week 16 after sacking Brett Favre once and intercepting the future Hall of Famer twice. Wilson should enter 2008 as the starting right cornerback.

#27 – Jordan Babineaux (CB/S)
Age: 26
Contract status: Signed through 2012
2009 salary: $1,350,000
2009 cap number: $1,850,000
Probability of return: 100%

Babineaux was suspended by the NFL for Week 1 and spent much of the season on special teams or working as the cornerback in dime and heavy base packages. Despite the decrease in playing time, Babineaux still managed to make 60 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown against Miami. Considering the age of Seattle’s starting safeties, it’s possible that Babineaux will get more of a look there this in 2009.

#28 – DeMichael Dizer (CB)
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2009
2009 salary: $310,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $310,000
Probability of return: 80%

Dizer tore his ACL in the first week of training camp and was placed on injured reserve. Depending on his recovery from surgery, Dizer could get a look during the OTA’s to see if he warrants an invitation to training camp.

#29 – Marquis Floyd (CB)
Age: 28
Contract status: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 80%

Like Donovan Raiola, little is known about Floyd. I know that he went to school at West Georgia and played for various arena football teams. The most important thing that’s known about Floyd is that he was on the practice squad the entire season, so obviously someone inside the VMAC is intrigued by him.

#32 – Kevin Hobbs (CB)
Age: 25
Contract status: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 100%

Hobbs was active for 14 games in 2008, seeing time primarily on special teams or spelling an injured cornerback in dime packages, as well as on the rare occasion when the Seahawks used seven defensive backs. Hobbs entered the NFL with the Jim Mora-coached Atlanta Falcons, and should be expected to be in Seahawks’ training camp in 2009.

#36 – Jamar Adams (SS)
Age: 23
Contract status: Signed through 2010
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $385,000
Probability of return: 100%

Adams was a highly productive starter during his time at Michigan and joined the Seahawks after not being drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft. Adams was one of the final cuts at the end of training camp, but was signed to the Seahawks practice squad and joined the Seahawks active roster twice during the regular season, appearing in one game. Adams will definitely get a long look during training camp in 2009.

#39 – C.J. Wallace (S)
Age: 23
Contract status: Exclusive Rights Free Agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 100%

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent from the University of Washington, Wallace has spent the last two seasons as a backup safety and core player on special teams. Wallace finished 2008 with 14 tackles and should be back in 2009.

Specialists

#7 – Brandon Coutu (K)
Age: 24
Contract status: Signed through 2011
2009 salary: $385,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $396,413
Probability of return: 90%

Not many 4-12 teams that placed seven offensive linemen and three wide receivers on injured reserve have had the luxury of carrying two kickers on the active roster for 17 weeks, but that’s exactly what the Seahawks managed to do in 2008. Most kickers who get drafted make the 53-man roster, but very rarely do they get paid for an entire season of not kicking. Olindo Mare had an excellent season, but this is Tim Ruskell’s team and Coutu is Tim Ruskell’s guy.

#9 – Jon Ryan (P)
Age: 27
Contract status: Signed through 2009
2009 salary: $535,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $535,000
Probability of return: 100%

Ryan was signed after Week 1 and after a shaky start, provided the consistency at the position the Seahawks were looking for. Ryan finished the season ranked 10th in gross average (45.6 yards per punt) and tied for 15th in net average (37.9 yards) in the NFL, so there’s certainly room for improvement, but he was certainly an upgrade over Ryan Plackemeier. He’ll have competition during training camp, but Ryan enters 2009 as the favorite for the job.

#10 – Olindo Mare (K)
Age: 35
Contract status: Signed through 2009
2009 salary: $1,500,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $1,500,000
Probability of return: 50%

Mare was 24-for-27 on field goal tries and 22 of his 71 kickoffs were touchbacks. In case you’re wondering, Mare’s 22 touchbacks were nearly as many as the Seahawks had in the two previous seasons when the guy who refused to be a slave to the businessman was handling kickoffs.

#48 – Tyler Schmitt (LS)
Age: 22
Contract status: Signed through 2011
2009 salary: $310,000
2009 cap number (approx.): $333,750
Probability of return: 50%

The last we heard of Tyler Schmitt, Mike Holmgren was comparing his 60-year old back to Schmitt’s, which probably isn’t a very good sign.

#49 – Jeff Robinson (LS)
Age: 38
Contract status: Free agent
2009 salary: N/A
2009 cap number (approx.): N/A
Probability of return: 50%

After the Derek Rackley and Boone Stutz experiments in 2007, and rookie Tyler Schmitt’s back issue in 2008, Tim Ruskell picked up a hammer and smashed the “In Case of Emergency” glass case he keeps Jeff Robinson in. Ruskell must wish that Robinson were five years younger, because Robinson is as steady and drama-free as J.P. Darche used to be.

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