By Mike Jones
You don’t have to tell this sufferer of football withdrawal that the regular season is still weeks away. And even though the Seahawks only just convened training camp to prepare for the 2016 campaign, it’s not too soon to make five way too early roster predictions.
The Seahawks will acquire another quarterback
The last time the Seahawks trusted a rookie quarterback to be at least a backup, it worked out pretty well. But Russell Wilson was a third-round pick, while rookie Trevone Boykin was an undrafted free agent. And unlike Wilson and his spotless public persona, Boykin has a criminal record (he pled guilty to resisting arrest during a New Year’s Eve 2015 incident in Texas that prompted him to miss the Alamo Bowl). Tarvaris Jackson’s recent arrest appears to have added to the Seahawks’ motivation to move on, though Boykin’s transgression doesn’t seem serious enough to keep him off the team. As Gregg Bell reported for the News Tribune, Pete Carroll “has stated he’d prefer a veteran experienced in the art of ‘mental reps’ and being ready each week to play.” Former Skyline star Jake Heaps, who went undrafted in 2015, is the only other quarterback on the roster. Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks use a trade or free agency to pick up a veteran backup as insurance while Boykin gains experience.
Tyler Lockett will become the de facto #1 receiver
If anyone can have yet another breakout season after a breakout season, it’s Lockett. Yes, Doug Baldwin is the undisputed leader of the receiving corps, but if speedy Paul Richardson can stay healthy as Baldwin and fellow veteran Jermaine Kearse continue to command the respect of defenses, Lockett should find openings to exploit. Lockett’s rookie performance put him in the Pro Bowl for his prowess as a return guy, and he could get back into that showcase as a receiver if he continues trending upward as he did at the end of last season. Lockett’s role in the offense increased after the injury to Jimmy Graham, and a healthy Graham would be one more distraction from Lockett for defenses. Addressing Lockett’s increased role this season, Carroll told ESPN.com, “He’s a legit player for us, and he’s right in the middle of all our planning and all of our preparation. You have to deal with him in our offense.” Yes, Baldwin is the leader, but as Lockett continues to gel with Russell Wilson, look for Lockett to lead in executing big downfield plays.
Justin Britt will surprise at center
In a good way. Britt is transitioning to his third position on the Seahawks’ offensive line, from right tackle to left guard last year to center this year. He’s competing for the starting job with Patrick Lewis, who was the starter at center the latter half of last season. Britt has the attitude that Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable love to see, telling John Boyle of Seahawks.com, “I love it. Really I just want to start and play. I love the challenge, and to an extent it makes me feel more important, more involved.” Britt has become a student of the center position. His length – he’s listed as 6’6” – and experience across the line could make him the offensive line signal caller of the caliber Seattle hasn’t had since Max Unger was shipped to the Saints.
Brandon Browner won’t finish the season on the active roster
We would love to be wrong about Browner. It would be great if returned to his Legion of Boom form and helped lead the defense through a deep playoff run. But last season with the Saints was Browner’s first full season since 2011 with the Seahawks. In between he played in 12 and 8 games with Seattle, and 9 games with New England. And he’s 32 and will be called on to cover receivers much younger and faster. Browner has something to prove after a disastrous season with the Saints, during which he set a single season record as most penalized player. USA Today deemed him “the worst cornerback in football last year.” Even if Browner doesn’t return to his former form and stick as a Seahawk, he’ll still get paid, as the Saints owe him $5.35 million after cutting him. Here’s to hoping he maintains his health and has sufficient gas in the career-longevity tank to complete the regular season and the playoffs, but the odds seem against it.
Mike Morgan will make the most of his opportunity and become a starter
Linebacker Mike Morgan has been coached by Carroll for a decade, first at USC and since as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks. Morgan signed a new contract in March, and now the man who carries the 12 flag onto the field is poised to expand beyond his laudable special teams contributions and become a factor on defense. Morgan started just two games last season, but Carroll still sees untapped potential in the player who has been with him longer than any current Seahawk. Carroll said to Seahawks.com, “He’s been with us for so long, and he’s always been a terrific team member. He has the flexibility to play all the spots, everything makes sense to him.” With linebacker Bruce Irvin lost to free agency, Morgan looks poised to step up. The Seahawks have nine linebackers on the roster, including rookies Kyle Coleman, Steve Longa and Pete Robertson. Morgan stands out for his experience and knowledge of the Carroll Way.