Seahawks 2010 Roster Analysis: DL

Seahawks 33-year old defensive end Patrick Kerney has the biggest price tag, and is the biggest question mark, for the 2010 season.

#55 – Darryl Tapp
Age: 25
Signed through: Restricted Free Agent

A part-time starter, Tapp saw an increase in playing time in 2009, but posted a career-low 2 ½ quarterbacks sacks on the season. However, Tapp did lead the Seahawks with 16 quarterback hits, and had 9 tackles for loss. Due to the impending uncapped year, he'll be a restricted free agent this off-season.

#79 – Red Bryant
Age: 25
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $470,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $580,375

At 6-4 and 320 pounds, Bryant is the largest of the Seahawks' defensive tackles. Being healthier than he was during his rookie campaign, Bryant was inactive for 10 of Seattle's 16 games, dressing primarily when Seattle faced run-first offenses, and made one start (at Dallas).

#90 – Colin Cole
Age: 29
Signed through: 2013
2010 salary: $3.25M
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $3.75M

Cole started 15 of 16 games in 2009, the first year of a five-year, $21.4 million dollar contract he signed with the Seahawks last March. Paid primarily to occupy blockers, Cole finished the season with 48 tackles, including one for a loss.

#92 – Brandon Mebane
Age: 25
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $550,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $720,250

Moved to the three-technique to maximize his athletic abilities, a slimmed-down Mebane posted a career-high 49 tackles, including 8 for a loss. He posted 1 ½ quarterback sacks, and after leading the 2008 Seahawks with 18 quarterback hits, he managed just six in 2009.

#93 – Craig Terrill
Age: 29
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $1.15M
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $1.45M

Terrill rotated with Cole and Mebane along the defensive interior, but for the first time since his rookie season, Terrill was a healthy scratch on several gamedays this season. The 29-year old finished the season with 11 tackles and a quarterback sack, and blocked a field goal attempt.

#94 – Corey Redding
Age: 29
Signed through: Unrestricted Free Agent

Acquired via a trade with the Detroit Lions for Julian Peterson, Redding battled a knee injury throughout the season, and went from starting defensive end at the start of the season, to a rotational defensive tackle by the end of it. He finished his first and likely only season with the Seahawks with 20 tackles, a pair of quarterback sacks, was third on the team with 12 quarterback hits, and recovered a pair of fumbles.

#95 – Lawrence Jackson
Age: 26
Signed through: 2012
2010 salary: $525,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $1.3M

Jackson regained his starting job from Redding in Week 4, and with four sacks in the season's first five games, he appeared to be headed for a breakout season. His play would level though, and Darryl Tapp was taking away much of Jackson's playing time. To get him on the field, Seattle began using Jackson more as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in nickel and dime situations in the last half of the season.

#97 – Patrick Kerney
Age: 33
Signed through: 2012
2010 salary: $5.167M
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $8.167M

Before last season, I suggested that reducing Kerney's playing time may increase his effectiveness. For the first half of the season, Kerney—who was coming off major shoulder surgeries and an elbow clean-up—played in 63% of the team's defensive snaps, and even missing one game, had posted four quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles. In the second half of the season, Kerney was on the field for 75% of his snaps, and clearly wasn't the same player much of the time, registering just one additional sack. Kerney had another procedure on his elbow, and his future in Seattle is in doubt.

#98 – Nick Reed
Age: 22
Signed through: 2012
2010 salary: $395,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $405,403

The star of the 2009 pre-season, Reed was active for all 16 games, making 7 tackles, including a quarterback sack, defending a pair of passes, and returning a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown in the Seahawks' 41-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Reed posted 8 special teams tackles, and recovered a pair of fumbles.

#99 – Brandon Miller
Age: 27
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $470,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $470,000

Miller missed the entire season after undergoing off-season wrist surgery.

2010 Outlook

Seattle drafted a defensive end in the second-round of 2006, signed a free agent defensive end to a $39.5 million dollar contract in 2007, and drafted a defensive end in the first-round of 2008. Last off-season, they traded Julian Peterson, a linebacker who had much of his success in Seattle rushing the passer with one hand on the ground, for a defensive end that was once franchise-tagged and had signed a $49 million dollar contract with his former team.

Yet, as the Seahawks enter 2010, defensive end is a position they're expected to address in the NFL Draft, perhaps adding an edge pass-rusher with one of their two first-round picks.

Kerney has the biggest price tag among defensive linemen, and is also this unit's biggest question mark headed into the 2010 season. Dominant in 2007, multiple upper-body surgeries have diminished his on-field effectiveness, just as time has brought him to the outlier years of a free agent contract, where a player either restructures his deal or is released.

If Kerney is willing to restructure his deal, he could fill a situational pass-rusher role. However, if the Seahawks are truly committed to getting younger, letting Kerney find another team may be the more prudent path, both financially (for the team and Kerney, who may be able to squeeze more money out of a team that is one player away from playoff contention) and developmentally, for players like Jackson, Curry, Tapp, Reed, and rookie(s) to be identified later.

Acquired for Julian Peterson, Redding was a bit of a disappointment in 2009. He's approaching 30 and has battled knee injuries the last two seasons. Since he's eligible for unrestricted free agency in an uncapped 2010, it's doubtful that the Seahawks would get involve in a bidding war for his services this off-season. Jackson may never be the 10-12 sack per year pass-rusher, but he's solid against the run and reuniting with Pete Carroll may light a fire under Jackson that would get him to a 6-8 quarterback sacks per year level that would make him well worth the late first-round pick used on him in 2008.

Rules governing the uncapped year will keep Tapp from unrestricted free agency. Seattle will likely tender the former second-rounder from Virginia Tech at the "Right of First Refusal – Second Round Compensation" level, or $1.759 million dollars for 2010. Both Tapp (6-1, 270) and Reed (6-1, 247) are smaller ends who rely on their speed, and Carroll has indicated that he'd tailor his defense around their skills, not vice-versa. Tapp and Reed filled the "Joker" role in 2009, occasionally rushing the quarterback from an upright position a few yards off the line of scrimmage.

With just four on the roster, and only two signed beyond 2010, defensive tackle is a position the Seahawks could address on draft day. Unfortunately, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy probably won't be there with the 6th pick, and with free agency limited this year, it's likely that Mebane and Cole will be back in starting roles in 2010, with Bryant and Terrill backing them up. This year's draft class is reportedly deep on defensive linemen, and it wouldn't be surprising if a tackle is a part of this year's draft haul.

Mebane slimmed down to move to the three-technique to accommodate the signing of Cole, so we may not know until the mini-camps if Mebane has added weight to move back to the "one", where he excelled between 2007-08.

In addition to writing for, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here. Top Stories