It’s the slowest part of the NFL offseason, so why not delve into the history books and cringe at some of the worst free agent signings the Seattle Seahawks have ever made?
Traded players do not count, and undrafted free agent rookies also do not qualify.
In the Pete Carroll era, Seattle has had massive home runs in the form of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, and it looks like Uchenna Nwosu could be another gem. On the downside, many of the whiffs were on guys who were essentially kicked out of the league immediately after their failed Seahawks stints. Matt Flynn was clearly not a good signing, but Russell Wilson’s presence prevented a potential disaster from happening, so I’ll leave him alone for now. Eddie Lacy, Robert Gallery, Ziggy Ansah, J’Marcus Webb, Bradley Sowell and Luke Joeckel were particularly glaring disaster classes for how ineffective they were. BJ Finney and Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t even play a game here, but at least they had trade value!
It’s really hard not to single out Cary Williams as the worst FA signing under Carroll. Byron Maxwell was paid off by the Philadelphia Eagles (becoming one of their worst FA signings ever), and the Seahawks opted to sign Williams to a 3-year, $18 million contract. Aside from an opening day score and a touchdown against St. Louis Rams, Williams was bad, bad, bad. He was a schematic misfit, and it was a horrendous showing against the Blaine Gabbert-led San Francisco 49ers that resulted in his benching and eventual release. Williams never played another game in the NFL.
My fandom goes back to the Mike Holmgren/Tim Ruskell years and well… I only have one definitive answer. While Ruskell made some brilliant moves to get Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney, he had a few duds. TJ Houshmandzadeh might be a popular pick among others considering his 5-year, $40 million contract ended after one season, but I also think he joined the team during Matt Hasselbeck’s decline and that hurt the entire offense.
Numero uno for me is free safety Brian Russell, who Ruskell signed to a 5-year, $25 million contract fresh off two seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was best known for recording nine interceptions in the 2003 season with the Minnesota Vikings. When Ken Hamlin was gone, Russell Hamlin was the replacement. It was a disastrous move defined by bad angles, bad tackling and a lot of memes in the old days of the Field Gulls. This was John Morgan’s write-up of his 2008 campaign:
Outlook: Negative utility is the operative phrase there. Russell is being played to reduce the greatest amount of damage, ignoring the fact that a team can prevent pass scoring without being a successful pass defense. Russell sometimes stops a 30 yard play from going for the 50 and the score. That leaves the opposing team in the red zone with another set of downs. In 2007, Seattle turned that strategy into an unlikely mix of a high number of opposing pass attempts, a below-average number of yards allowed, but the league’s best touchdowns allowed*. At the time I accepted it as the hallmark of a bend but don’t break defense, but I’ve become increasingly skeptical of the bend but don’t break phenomenon. Seattle bent the other way in 2008, allowing more relative attempts — an extraordinarily high number of pass attempts for a 4-12 team — the worst passing yards in football, and the 27th ranked touchdown passes allowed.
Opponents provided compelling evidence that neither the strategy nor Russell works. Seattle allowed ten touchdown passes of ten or fewer yards. Proof Seahawks couldn’t give up field position and then tighten up in the red zone. It also allowed ten touchdowns of 20 or more yards. Proving that as a deep coverage safety, Russell didn’t cover shit.
Seattle didn’t draft a safety until the seventh, and Courtney Greene is a project Seattle hopes to develop. Jamar Adams hasn’t received much pub. No matter how scary, Russell is the presumptive and almost undisputed starter at free safety. Seattle could mitigate that by making Russell a safety. That is, a cover 2 security and therefore not really a strong or free security. It absolutely must avoid putting Russell on an island and hoping his savvy and field marshal overcomes his broken wheels, bad compass, terrible engineering and leather-helmeted athleticism.
Russell was released before the 2009 season, and then Justin Forsett ran over him as Seattle blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars in one of the few highlights of Jim Mora’s tenure. We’ve spent almost every subsequent season with a whole bunch of Earl Thomas and Quandre Diggs playing at a high level at the free safety position.
Now it’s your turn! Remember these must be free agent signings and not draft picks or trades! Who is the worst of the worst Seahawks FAs?
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