With the likely prospect of Chris Clemons starting the season on the PUP list, and the menacing thought that Clemons may never come back at 100%, filling the LEO position would seem to be priority one. But I am not convinced the FO will be looking to the draft only to fill this core need. I can see the FO looking to free agency to bolster the position as part of an overall plan to provide a short-term and long-term solution. Certainly the Seahawks may invest significant draft capital into the LEO position this off-season. It just seems unlikely that the FO would make a massive long-term financial investment into an aging "star" or 30+ year old vet. I am confident that the Seahawks will sign a FA LEO stop-gap...but which one?
The names most talked about as LEO candidates? I really do not see a fit for any of them. Paul Kruger has been talked up a ton on 710AM, but he is just not quick enough or fast enough to fit the position - besides the cost and the likely long term contract he will demand. Anthony Spencer has been discussed by some, but with a few teams converting to a 3-4 the past few years, and the likely cost - seems like a stretch. Dwight Freeney could be ideal, but I have a feeling that some team will likely overpay for a 4+ year contract. Seattle will be looking for a short term deal with him for vet minimum (or at least lower than market value). Plus i do not think the Seahawks are that interested in his declining skills. There are a few other viable candidates, like Osi Umenyiora (attitude/injuries?), Connor Barwin (quickness/cost/scheme fit), or Cliff Avril (cost/franchise tag). I really like the possibility of a player like Shaun Phillips, an under the radar buy-low candidate. But Phillips is 31, entering the career phase of production decline.
So what does that leave left for the Seahawks? I have been looking through the potential candidates to find an under-valued, poorly utilized player - essentially looking for Chris Clemons 2.0. I came across a player that MAY be an ideal fit, and could thrive in a change of scenery and scheme.
Antwan Barnes, FA OLB who last played with the Chargers, is a very intriguing candidate. Drafted in the fourth round by the Ravens, he was a bit lost on their depth chart, then traded to the Eagles. Cut by the Eagles, he signed with the Chargers - with mixed success. His claim to fame and specialty in college was his pass rushing ability, and has struggled against the pass when required to drop in coverage as an OLB in a 3-4 defense. He has similar size as Clemons (6'1" 251), and has a solid work ethic, quickness, and athleticism. He is at his best as a "hand on the ground" pass rusher. It seems that the Charger defense has been a mess the past few seasons, would not be surprising if he has been completely misused. It would seem that Barnes would be an ideal candidate to compete for the position - low-cost player looking to redeem himself and learn from an outstanding coaching staff. If Clemons comes back at near 100%, Barnes becomes a situational pass rusher. If the Seahawks draft a LEO, and he blows up training camp - you can start the rookie without locking up cap space with a high cost vet bench warmer. If Barnes comes in and exceeds expectation - then we get a few seasons of massively undervalued talent (like the majority of the current roster)
Any thoughts? Or maybe other under the radar candidates?