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Seattle Seahawks reportedly optimistic star player returns in 2024 on lucrative contract

Seattle Seahawks rumors, Leonard Williams
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks made their first big move of the 2024 NFL offseason by hiring head coach Mike Macdonald. With the new leader of the team taking over, the Seahawks front office is turning its focus to building a strong team for Macdonald.

Seattle is already well-positioned offensively with Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Jaxson Smith-Njigba under contract for the 2024 season. However, Macdonald will need significantly more talent on the defensive side to make his scheme work.

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While there is plenty of young talent in the secondary, there’s more uncertainty in the front seven. The Seahawks will address some of their needs in the 2024 NFL Draft, but the absence of a second-round pick this offseason can be traced back to their blockbuster trade during the regular season.

  • Leonard Williams stats 2023: 16 QB hits, 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks in 18 games

Ahead of the 2024 NFL trade deadline, Seattle traded a second-round pick in 2024 and a fifth-round pick in 2025 to the New York Giants for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. While the 2016 Pro Bowl selection made a positive impact on Seattle’s defense, the front office took a massive risk on the impending free agent.

The Seahawks didn’t tie the compensation sent to New York to whether or not Williams re-signed this offseason. Not only that, general manager John Schneider also took a massive gamble on acquiring a player who has already been franchise-tagged twice.

Under NFL rules, a player who receives the franchise tag for the third time receives 144 percent of his salary from the previous season. For Seattle, that would mean paying Williams more than $18 million in 2024.

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Fortunately, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic, there’s hope between the Seahawks’ organization and Williams’ representatives that the two sides will agree to a contract extension this offseason.

Examining potential impact of Mike Macdonald on Seattle Seahawks’ Leonard Williams

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Re-signing Leonard Williams is particularly important with new defensive-minded head coach Mike Macdonald. The strength of Macdonald’s defense with the Baltimore Ravens was in part the defensive interior, led by defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

Under Macdonald’s tutelage, Madubuike became one of the biggest breakout players in 2023. He earned second-team All-Pro honors this past season, recording 33 QB hits, 12 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.

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It’s possible Williams (6-foot-5, 302 pounds) could experience career growth. Madubuike (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) recorded 42 QB hits, 20 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in two seasons with Macdonald as his defensive coordinator.

If the new Seahawks’ coach helps Williams achieve anything close to that, even getting him back to the form from his 2020 season (11.5 sacks), it would do wonders for Seattle’s defense in 2024. Given the confidence level from both sides in a long-term deal being reached, it would be a surprise if Williams isn’t wearing a Seahawks uniform next season.

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