The 2021 NFL season is about to get started for the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks, who went 12-4 last season. However, their stay in the playoffs was once again short-lived, as Seattle was absolutely owned by Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams' defensive front in a 30-20 loss in the NFC Wild Card Round.
As for the offseason, Seahawks can thank various members of Russell Wilson’s camp for the reality television show type of drama that led to all sorts of trade rumors. Wilson aired his grievances to the national media about growing tired of getting hit year after year. On the surface, Wilson isn’t wrong — he has been sacked 394 times in his career during the regular season alone. However, he doesn’t help himself with the improvisational type of play that has resulted in more than his fair share of unnecessary sacks. Seattle acquired Gabe Jackson in a trade with the Raiders a few days before the draft. He should slide into the left guard spot next to Duane Brown, who hasn't been an active participant during training camp as he seeks a new contract.
New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron joins Pete Carroll's staff after four seasons working under Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Waldron has the task of helping Wilson take his game up to an even higher level along with the rest of the offense. Wilson has excellent wide receivers to throw to in DK Metcalf (83 rec., 1,303 yds., 10 TDs) and Tyler Lockett (100, 1,054, 10). Chris Carson’s ability to stay healthy for 17 games is going to be another key to success for this offseason, as this team must be able to flip the switch and run the football when they need to. Tight end Gerald Everett is going to be an underrated player to watch since the former Ram is familiar with Waldron and swaps Jared Goff for Wilson.
Defensively, the challenge for this team will be to pick up where they left off during the second half of last season when the Seahawks did a much better job of generating pressure on the quarterback. The best moves of the offseason on that side of the ball have been getting Carlos Dunlap II (6 sacks) back on a team-friendly deal and making Jamal Adams the highest-paid safety in the NFL with a four-year, $70 million contract ($38 million guaranteed). This deal validates the decision by the front office to spend multiple first-round draft picks to acquire Adams from the Jets last offseason. Another gamble that appears to be paying off for Seattle was the decision to move forward with linebacker Jordyn Brooks in place of longtime stalwart K.J. Wright. Brooks has had a solid preseason and should continue to develop learning from perennial All-Pro Bobby Wagner. Two more potential wild cards that could really elevate this defense are Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, who will both be counted on heavily to collaborate with Dunlap in cranking up the pass rush. The biggest question mark is the starting cornerback opposite D.J. Reed. On Monday, Seattle acquired Sidney Jones from the Jaguars to add another option at the spot.
So what is Seattle's outlook for the 2021 season? Athlon Sports asked several NFL experts to share their win-loss predictions for the Seahawks.
Seattle Seahawks: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2021
Scott Whittum (@ScottWhittum)
The 2021 season should get off to a bit of a faster start for the Seahawks if they can find success against AFC South contenders Indianapolis and Tennessee. Typically, the Seahawks aren’t great on the road in season openers but, the Colts are dealing with multiple injuries and will be without wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for this game. Several offensive linemen and new quarterback Carson Wentz also have missed significant time during training camp and the preseason. Wentz has had his issues in the past against Seattle as well. The Seahawks will hit a little bit of a lull during the middle of the season but get things back on track down the stretch. They can win the NFC West again if they can successfully address the other cornerback position and step up their playmaking on defense.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have been a winning combination ever since they paired up in Seattle, but is the supporting cast still playoff-caliber? The playmakers at Wilson's disposal are impressive but the question still remains — can the offensive line give protect him? Left tackle Duane Brown's current contract stance is not the ideal situation to have looming over the start of this season. There are even more questions on defense, starting with the cornerback spots and the effectiveness of the pass rush. Add to that what figures to be a highly competitive NFC West and the Seahawks are no lock to even get into the postseason, let alone defend their division crown. That doesn't mean that Carroll, Wilson, and Co. won't prove me wrong because there's quite a wide range of possible outcomes for this team.
Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
As long as Russell Wilson is in the Emerald City, the Seahawks will have a shot at the playoffs. And the offense should be exciting with the hiring of new OC Shane Waldron and additions of guard Gabe Jackson and second-round receiver Dee Eskridge. However, the offense wasn't the problem last season. The pass rush improved in 2020 after adding Carlos Dunlap II, but losing Jarran Reed and K.J. Wright this offseason won't help. Improved play from the defensive line will be necessary because there's only so much that Jamal Adams can do by himself. Without that, this may top out as a wild-card team that makes another early playoff exit. Getting the Saints isn't terrible for a first-place schedule, but the NFC West is brutal.