The Seattle Seahawks are making plans for NFL free agency when it begins in March, and the team has already been linked to multiple big-name tight ends. Last season, the Seahawks had a number of tight ends on the roster but no player emerged to make a significant impact on the offense. Whether it was the scheme or players that deserve the blame, all indications are the Seahawks want to significantly upgrade the position this offseason.
Sports Illustrated’s Corbin Smith reported the Seahawks are expected to “make an aggressive run” at Titans tight end Jonnu Smith as he hits free agency. Smith is coming off the best season of his four-year NFL career notching 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games.
“After previously reaching out to Philadelphia about a possible trade for former All-Pro Zach Ertz, a source indicated Seattle would ‘make an aggressive run’ at even bigger prize by targeting Tennessee tight end Jonnu Smith if he hits free agency,” Smith detailed. “…With new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron expected to implement wrinkles from the Rams’ scheme, the Seahawks will likely deploy a lot more 12 personnel sets with two tight ends on the field. While it remains to be seen how involved tight ends will be in the passing game, the apparent desire to upgrade at the position suggests they will be featured more than they were by former play caller Brian Schottenheimer.”
ALL the latest Seahawks news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Seahawks newsletter here!
Sign up for the Heavy on Seahawks Newsletter!
The Seahawks Have Also Been Linked to Zach Ertz
What is becoming increasingly clear is the tight end will be more involved in the Seahawks offense under new coordinator Shane Waldron. The Seahawks have also been linked to three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. Sports Illustrated’s Ed Kracz reported the Seahawks were one of the teams to call the Eagles about a potential trade for Ertz.
“The Eagles have been exploring a deal for their Pro Bowl tight end for many months, though maybe some of that exploration has been put on the back burner, because of, well, you know, the quarterback taking front and center,” Kracz reported on February 14. “An NFL source said that the Eagles have had conversations about Ertz with the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.”
There have been growing rumblings the Eagles could end up releasing Ertz if they cannot find a suitable trade. Under this scenario, Ertz would likely be more affordable than his current $12.4 million cap hit.
“One thing to watch with Ertz… if Eagles cannot find a trade partner, then they will likely release him,” Smith tweeted. “They would eat another big dead cap charge but save almost $5 million. If he becomes a free agent, Seahawks may be able to get him for less than Smith given age, injuries.”
Smith Is Projected to Earn a $40 Million Contract in Free Agency
Whether it is Ertz, Smith or another top free agent, the Seahawks will have to find a way to afford a significant addition given their tight salary cap constraints. The Seahawks signed Greg Olsen to a one-year, $7 million deal last offseason and his on-field production underperformed his contract. Will Dissly is the early favorite to be the Seahawks starting tight end next season, but the team is expected to run more two-tight end personnel under Waldron given the Rams blueprint for using this formation.
If the Seahawks make one of these splashy rumored additions, Dissly would likely shift into the team’s second tight end role. Smith may not be a household name, but the tight end received an increased role in the Titans’ offense last season. The Tennessee tight end’s projected market value is a five-year, $40.3 million contract, per Spotrac. At 25 years old, there is a reason NFL teams like the Seahawks think the arrow is pointing up for Smith’s future.
READ NEXT: NFL Teams Pursuing Blockbuster QB Trade with Seahawks: Report