What’s different about the Seattle Seahawks’ 2018 offseason?

Every offseason brings change. This one feels different.

Not the 2018 Seahawks. Also not the 2018 Seahawks: Many current Seahawks. This is Judas Priest performing “Victim of Changes” — a reference I’m sure you’d never get without me telling you. It’s not as clever as I’d hoped. I don’t know why I even try.

You can feel it, right? Is it the end of an era? The answer is “yes.” And “no.” There are still some foundational elements still in place on the Seattle Seahawks’ 2018 offseason roster: Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin…. The rest? Well, change is coming. Good and maybe not-so-good.

Let’s stipulate right now that the usual, top-down changes from management will take place: Rosters will turn over through executive feats of executiveness. Rosters will further churn due to player decisions to move on or possibly retire (forced or unforced). Others are just going to wash out of the league.

Not being defensive

And then there’s the 2018 Seahawks.

From the above categories, the Seahawks will almost certainly say goodbye to cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor, defensive end Cliff Avril and, according to Michael Bennett, defensive end Michael Bennett. Subtract four top-level starters from the Seahawks (or anyone’s defense in the NFL) and you have a serious makeover underway.

But then … backtrack, much? Bennett is now claiming to be “100 percent” committed to returning to Seattle. Translation: It’s likely going to be more up to the Seahawks’ brain trust than Bennett. Situation unchanged.

Add in a possible fifth defection in safety Earl Thomas, who openly petitioned the Dallas Cowboys to “come get me” if they can, and you have full on tumult. Thomas has one year remaining on his five-year, $44.725M deal at $8.5M. In the NFL, this means “time to negotiate a long-term deal or time to deal the player,” particularly if said player is agitating to join another team and/or threatening (or is it “musing” about) retirement. Bet on the latter circumstance.

It’s offseason makeover time in Seattle. And that’s just the defense. It’s also just the known departees. There will be more.

And before we flip over to the offense, do you think the Seahawks might be in the market for a new kicker, as well? I’ll step out on that shaky limb and say, “Yup.” I hate to kick a man when he’s down, so in an act of benevolence I’ll hire Blair Walsh to kick himself.

A new kicker has been signed. Expect more new kicking faces as the year progresses and the distance between the Seahawks and Walsh grows greater.

No offense, but …

On the offensive side of the ball, you can count on one hand the sure-fire keepers: Wilson, Baldwin, uh …, hmmm. Tyler Lockett (one year left on his rookie deal)? Paul Richardson finally emerged … just in time to be a free agent. Ditto for much-hyped tight end Jimmy Graham, who put up his best season as a Seahawk just in time to get paid on the free agent market. Speculation is rampant that he will be elsewhere next season, as the Seahawks deal with the inevitable, but unenviable position of grappling with a highly-paid (at the top) roster of aging / oft-injured veterans who may be exiting and thus accelerating dead money onto the salary cap.

On the offensive line, most of the remaining starters look OK right now simply because they don’t have a game to play on Sunday and thus cannot put Russell Wilson in clear and present danger. There are some draft pedigrees to admire among this group. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. (This is how I imagine John Schneider and Pete Carroll pump themselves up in the mirror before heading off to their roster meetings.)

And then they remember 2017.

Justin Britt looks good primarily because he’s not any of Rees Odhiambo, Ethan Pocic, Luke Joeckel, Germain Ifedi or Oday Aboushi. Duane Brown was a mid-season improvement over his predecessors, but is rapidly aging out (32) of the left tackle position. There are few, if any, sure-fire answers on the offensive line for 2018 and beyond. Put the over/under at three new offensive starters on opening day. I’ll take the over.

The running backs group are henceforth known as the Itty Bitty Impact Committee. Not only is it painful to be a Seahawks running back, it’s painful to watch the Seahawks running backs continuously get dinged up by opponents greeting them in the backfield, play after play. None of the current crop of Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls, Chris Carson and Tre Madden could stay healthy or effective. Supposed saviors Lacy and Rawls were often healthy scratches on 2017 game days.

The season concluded with the stalwart Mike Davis (brought up from the practice squad mid-season) and the occasionally electrifying J.D. McKissic manning the position in a supporting role to the Seahawks’ true leading rusher: Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks may have something in McKissic. However, it would be cruel to try to make the former receiver an every-down rushing threat at 5’ 10” and 195 lbs. Davis proved capable at times and can get some hard yards. Lord knows the yards are often hard in the Seahawks’ backfield. But he proved to be not immune to getting dinged as any human would in that environment.

There is no Superman in the running backs room, nor in the offensive line rooms in Seattle (OK — Renton). Much work remains to be done this offseason. A running back will surely be drafted high in April. Peace be upon him.

Who?

But who’s going to do all the reshuffling in Seattle? For the first time, rumors abound that 66-year-old head coach Pete Carroll might be ready to hang up his clipboard. Given the major sea change underway on both sides of the ball … could you blame him? But he says he isn’t going anywhere. Take that for what you may. He may be sincere or not, but he does have to say it regardless of whether he means it or not.

But wait, there’s more. Even general manager John Schneider is no lock to return — thanks, in part, to the current vacancy for the much-coveted general manager position in Green Bay, Schneider’s home state. Schneider used to have an out clause in his contract that allowed him to move back to Green Bay should the GM position become open. He gave that clause away in his most recent contract, but let’s face it: This is his one and only shot to get his dream job.

Think discussions aren’t being held on this topic? It’s the offseason in Seattle. Everyone’s being discussed.

Apart from Wilson, Wagner, Baldwin and a handful of others, who might we still recognize wearing college navy, action green and wolf grey on the Seahawks sideline in week one of 2018? This one offseason is not like the others.

Julian Rogers

Also published in Oregon Sports News, the Seattle PI, NBC Sports Northwest and Yardbarker.