While the 2023 NFL draft is the main attraction and their best chance at putting together a real contender, first up there’s free agency – where they can find themselves proven commodities rather than rolling the dice on amateur prospects.
According to Pro Football Focus, Seattle should re-sign QB Geno Smith and then look to target Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne when the market opens. They see him as a fit for their scheme and run defense needs.
“Seattle showed various different alignments with their defensive front in 2022, not as beholden to head coach Pete Carroll’s typical 4-3 base as in years past, but Payne has also played in a 3-4 and 4-3 and can line up as a zero-technique all the way out to a three-technique depending on the front. Payne earned back-to-back 70.0-plus pass-rush grades over the last two seasons while his early career run defense prowess suffered, but he’s shown he can win in many different ways depending on what he’s asked to do, with 96 quarterback pressures and 16 sacks over the last two seasons.”
Signing Payne wouldn’t be as exciting as drafting a stud like Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at No. 5 overall. However, it would free them up to use that pick on another position of need. Their edge rotation could also use an upgrade, for one. Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. is ranked No. 1 among edge defenders in this class and he may still be on the board at that point.