Seahawks Make Short-Term Fixes For Long-Term Needs
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By Chris Cluff
It’s a bit coincidental, and apropos, that the Seahawks find themselves signing players at two positions they probably are going to try to upgrade in the offseason anyway.
The pass rush was not good enough for most of the season even before top sacker Chris Clemons was lost until, in all probability, at least August.
The Hawks reportedly worked out four pass rushers Tuesday and signed Patrick Chukwurah, but they certainly will have to fortify the position in the offseason. Seattle will reportedly sign 38-year-old Ryan Longwell for the rest of the playoffs, and they surely will look to upgrade the position in the offseason.
They also reportedly decided to put Steven Hauschka on injured reserve with a calf injury. That should end his time in Seattle after two steady but unspectacular seasons with the Hawks.
Hauschka made 24 of 27 field goals this season, and he also hit three short ones Sunday in Washington, but his range did not extend much beyond 50 yards — which is ridiculous in this era of booming legs. Coach Pete Carroll had grown increasingly wary of trying field goals from beyond 50, knowing it was a 50-50 or worse proposition — a pretty good sign that the Hawks would be looking for a stronger leg in the offseason.
For now, though, Longwell will take over after he reportedly beat out Neil Rackers, Justin Medlock and Carson Wiggs.
Longwell, who was born in Seattle in 1974, played nine years with Green Bay and six with Minnesota. The Vikings released him last May after he hit just 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) kicks in 2011.
Chukwurah has been out of work even longer. A fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2001, Chukwurah has not played in the NFL since 2008, when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Hawks chose to sign him over other unemployed pass rushers: former first-rounder Aaron Maybin, seven-year veteran Travis LaBoy and Ray Edwards, who was released by Atlanta in November.
Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley knows Chukwurah from their time together in Tampa, where Bradley was the linebackers coach, so he probably has an idea how he wants to use him.
It seems unlikely Chukwurah will see much action, though. First-round pick Bruce Irvin will start in Clemons’ spot, fellow rookie Greg Scruggs will play a lot, and Bradley might actually employ the blitz a bit more than he typically does on the road.
With Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ sixth-ranked passing game up next, it’s a bad time for the Hawks to be without Clemons and Jason Jones, who was placed on IR a few weeks ago. And it highlights the team’s need to bolster the pass rush in the offseason.
Most mock drafts have the Hawks taking a wide receiver late in the first round, but they probably would be better served to take a defensive lineman if one is there — or after trading down.
Defensive tackles like Georgia’s John Jenkins or Florida’s Sharrif Floyd might offer some inside push, or ends like Texas’ Alex Okafor or Oregon’s Dion Jordan could be options.
The Hawks also could use some of their expected $18.6 million in cap space to try to sign Detroit end Cliff Avril, who has 29 sacks over the last three years. Jones also is a free agent, as is starting defensive tackle Alan Branch.
Whatever they do, there is no question the Hawks will have to make some moves to beef up the pass rush. And sign a kicker, too.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.