The Seattle Seahawks have earned a reputation as one of the most active teams in in offseason personnel moves and certainly lived up to that well earned reputation in the 2018 & 2019 offseasons, despite being severely limited by an extremely tight cap situation. This management regime signed many of the team's then young stars to back loaded contract extensions early in it's tenure and those contracts are now maturing with huge cap numbers. Couple that with the contracts of so many high draft picks in recent years, the Seahawks have recently felt the salary cap squeeze like no other team in the league. Management once again had some tough choices to make regarding some of the stars and fan favorites on this team, but feel they made the moves necessary to allow the team to compete for their 4th straight NFC West Championship (played seasons) and perhaps even their first ever League Championship. First let’s take a look at notable losses and then a position by position breakdown and see what changes were made and what these Seattle Seahawks are bringing to the table in 2019: NOTABLE LOSSES: CB - Richard Sherman (traded to Carolina Panthers), TE - Adrien Robinson (traded to Jacksonville Jaguars) The Seahawks said goodbye to one of their superstar defensive backs, and arguably the best cover corner in the game, as maturing contracts made parting with one of them a necessity. Many discussions were had, but ultimately Sherman was the man that was deemed most expendable. Robinson was included in the 3-team blockbuster, which returned the Seahawks a bounty of draft picks from both teams, simply because the Seahawks could no longer afford him in the final year of a big contract. HB - Vince Kerr (traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars) When the 2017 season ended the Seahawks knew they had a decision to make at halfback, where two young stars were vying for the bulk of the carries. Coming off of his rookie contract Vince Kerr refused to negotiate, unless he was promised the role of premier back. Unwilling to meet his demands, the Seahawks slapped the franchise tag on Kerr and shipped him to Jacksonville in a 3 way blockbuster that also included the Dolphins. In return the Seahawks received both teams' 1st round draft picks in the 2018 draft. WR - Keliko Ambles, LG - James Carpenter (both traded to the Tennessee Titans) Ambles, acquired in a trade with the New York Jets prior to the 2017 season, was the team's 2nd leading receiver in 2017, but was a one and done player for the Seahawks. Carpenter had spent the first 7 years of his career with Seattle, and had developed into a Pro Bowler and a rock solid veteran blocker. With a contract year looming for both players, the Seattle front office elected to ship them to the Titans for a collection of draft picks. RG - Jon Asamoah (Released), FB - Spencer Ware (Released), DT - Okoye Bryson (Free Agency), WR - Leonard Hankerson (Free Agency) The Seahawks said goodbye to All-Pro Asamoah and former Pro Bowler Ware in cost cutting moves, as their cap numbers made them impossible to keep. The team negotiated with Bryson, as they saw him as a perfect fit at defensive end in their new hybrid defense, but he elected to test free agency and ultimately signed with the Carolina Panthers. Hankerson also elected to test free agency and signed with the Washington Redskins. Head Coach Pete Caroll (Retired) Carroll elected to retire from coaching in the NFL following the 2018 (simmed) season. COACHING STAFF: With the retirement of Carroll, the Seahawks wasted no time in getting into contact with former New England Patriots coach Chad Masters. Considered to be one of the best coaches ever to coach in the league, Masters was the team's #1 target and he was signed to a 3 year contract reportedly worth between $25-$30M. Masters will be bringing his well known 3-4 hybrid defense to the Seahawks, who were primarily a 4-3 team under Carroll. Unfortunately the team lost their top level scout and team trainer as well, but the replacement they brought in were less newsworthy. While Masters is undoubtedly a great head coach, how much will the loss of Carroll (and all of his accumulated XP and packages) really hurt this team? Also, will going from a trainer with "World Class" regression to "Bad" hurt this team of aging superstars? OFFENSE: QB: Quarterback Russell Wilson, coming into his 8th Year, is the leader of the team and face of the franchise. Wilson has made it no secret that a Super Bowl Championship is his number one priority at this stage of his career. While his bloated contract has led to speculation about his future in Seattle, that surely won't be a distraction for the driven Pro Bowl passer. The Seahawks drafted Van Jozwiak out of UTSA n the 2nd round of the 2018 draft. Possessing the natural passing ability that rivaled that of any other QB in the draft, "Joz" was still considered too raw to be an immediate starter in this league (which is practically mandatory out of 1st round QBs now). He may have ended up in the perfect situation for himself, where he gets to sit behind a proven veteran and learn the intricacies of playing the position at the pro level (much like the recently retired Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay). RB: With Kerr out of the picture, the lead dog role goes to 3rd year running back Tahj Conley. A Pro Bowler in his rookie season, as well as runner-up for NFC OROY, Conley has already demonstrated that he has what it takes to succeed in this league. Conley is known for his eye popping speed, he may very well be the fastest running back in the league, which makes it easy to overlook his underrated size and strength. While opposing teams always need to be careful of Tahj finding an edging and utilizing his blazing speed, he is a complete back just as capable of pounding the ball up the middle. Veteran leader Robert Turbin returns for his 8th year with the Seahawks and brings his own mix of power and speed as the primary backup to Conley. Young bruiser Jemale Donald (98 TRK) and speedster Frankie Mackey (96spd, 99acc) round out a talented halfback corps. Seattle said goodbye to fan favorite, blue collar fullback Spencer Ware during the 2018 season, who was a midseason salary cap casualty. Third year fullback Terrance Caldwell, who was a Ware understudy during his rookie season, will assume the role of lead blocking back. While his blocking ability is unquestioned, some concerns over his terrible speed (54spd, 75acc) have led some to question this move. WR/TE: Deep threat T.J. Graham surprised many around the league when he burst onto the scene in the 2017 season to become the Seahawks best receiving weapon. With 40 catches and 12 touchdowns on the year, for a primarily run heavy offense, Graham showed that he has what it takes to be a true #1 receiver in this league. 2018 1st round draft pick LeTevin Stead has made the off-season transition from halfback to wide receiver. With naturally soft hands, along with great size and speed, Stead has all the tools to succeed at the position. The Seahawks coaching staff reportedly think Stead is eventually capable of being the team's #1 receiver for many years to come. The talented receiving corps is rounded out by veteran speedsters Corey Fuller and Brandon Banks, as well as promising youngsters DeMarlo Christopher and DeVante Lymon. The Seahawks used the 8th overall pick in this years rookie draft on tight end Richey Callender out of Oklahoma. While projected by most to be a late 1st to early 2nd round pick, the Seattle front office felt as though they couldn't pass up the talented big man. Callender won a preseason battle with veterans Virgil Green and Richard Gordon to earn the starting tight end position. OL: Pro Bowl right tackle Alvin Bailey is the only returning member of an impressive starting unit from the last played season in 2017. Despite that, this might be the most impressive collection of blockers this team has had since this regime took over. During the simmed season, the Seahawks sent four of their starting five linemen to the Pro Bowl for the NFC team. Along with Bailey, LT Xavier Nixon, LG Kevin Zeitler, and rookie center Pete Hough-Jenkins went to the All Star game in Honolulu. Promising youngster Amari Barrios at RG rounds out an intimidating starting unit for the Hawks. DEFENSE: DL: With the switch to the hybrid 3-4 defense, the defensive line unit for the Seahawks has a different dynamic than recent years passed. The group is headlined by defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who acquired via trade from the Jets. Youngster Donshae Milliner has earned the starting position on the opposite side and veteran big man Sammie Hill, who tips the scales at right around 330 lbs, will be clogging up the middle for this group. Youngsters Risean Gadell, Iran Perry, Nash Carpenter, and Dion Markus (possibly the strongest rookie in the league), all figure to see plenty of playing time in this rotation as well. Veteran speed rusher Andre Branch, a hold over from the 4-3 scheme, will sub in on passing downs as well. LB: In the middle of the Seattle defense is team captain, and back to back (played seasons) defensive MVP, Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker. Wagner is a true triple threat, excelling at stopping the run, rushing the passer, and pass coverage as well. Wagner is now joined in the middle of the new scheme by fellow Pro Bowl lineback Korey Toomer, who makes the shift from outside to inside linebacker. Toomer has been referred to as a"poor man's Bobby Wagner" as he possess a very similar mixture of speed, tackling, and coverage abilities. The Seattle coaching staff expects a smooth transition, and early success in the new scheme, with these two setting the pace for the Seattle defense up the middle. The Seahawks pass rush is led by star outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, who converted from defensive end in the old 4-3. He reportedly worked on his coverage abilities so as not to limit him to just rushing the QB on passing downs. With one of the fastest first steps in the game, he should be even more dangerous in Coach Masters' hybrid attack. Veteran linebackers Malcolm Smith and Ty Powell can both play outside, as well as inside, and their versatility gives the defense the potential to throw a lot of different looks at opposing offenses. Former top 10 pick Risean Duckett, entering just his 3rd year in the league, is expected to take hold of the starting role opposite Irvin at some point this season. While he has been slow to pick up the new defense, his raw athletic abilities have more than made up for it at times in training camp and the preseason. Once this kid finally puts it all together, he should be a force to be reckoned with. DB: All Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is not only one of the best cover men in the league, he may very well be the fastest as well. Equally good in man or zone coverage, Peterson can be counted on to practically erase whoever he is covering from any given play. With Richard Sherman now playing in Carolina, 2016 #1 overall draft pick Terrell Jefferson steps into the starting lineup opposite Peterson. Jefferson has definitely benefited from sitting behind and playing alongside perennial Pro Bowlers for the first 3 seasons of his pro career, as his coverage skills have developed to a near elite level. Jefferson also excels in run support, and has earned a reputation as a ferocious tackler. Jefferson recently signed a 5 year extension that should keep him in a Seahawks uniform throughout his prime. Veteran cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke may be the 2nd fastest cornerback in the league, behind only his teammate Peterson, and his speed and coverage abilities should allow him to be quite successful in his role as nickle back. Despite rumors of him being on the trade block in the offseason, All Pro free safety Earl Thomas returns to lead this Seattle secondary. Whether sitting back in center field, or stacking the box to stuff the run, Thomas can be counted on to make an impact in every game. 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Garrison Saint lines up opposite Thomas to form as formidable a duo as any in the league. Saint spent his off-season working on his man coverage abilities and now can be considered a complete player capable of lining up in any coverage situation. Reserve safeties Verley Ardizone and Christian Thompson give the Seahawks unprecedented depth in the defensive backfield. With either player being good enough to start for many teams in this league, the Seahawks coaching staff know that either player could step in if needed and the defense wouldn't miss a beat. SPECIAL TEAMS: Third year kicker Kain Gayle, out of Kansas State, grabbed hold of the job as a rookie and never looked back. While he doesn't necessarily have the leg strength this coaching staff generally prefers, he just does his job and it's hard not to like the guy. The Seattle front office surprised many around the league when they used one of their 2018 2nd round picks on punter Carter Portter out of Delaware. All Portter did was get elected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season and reports out of training camp said that his already incredible leg appeared even stronger. Carter appears set to have a long successful career ahead of him in this league. With Tahj Conley assuming responsibility as the lead back and Patrick Peterson even more indispensable as the unquestioned #1 corner, the Seattle front office knew they needed a change at returner. Enter veteran receiver and return man Brandon Banks. Plucked off the waiver wire, the Seahawks expect Banks to step right in and shoulder the bulk of the return duties on both kickoffs and punt returns. SUMMARY: With a new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme, and a collection of new faces, lead some to question whether this team will be able to find success this season, especially in the early going. But any team that returns such special players as Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Peterson, and Earl Thomas, among others, cannot be easily dismissed. You can be sure that Coach Masters didn't come to Seattle for the coffee, and anything less than another ring for this future Hall of Famer will be considered a disappointment.