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Thiel: As Seahawks build 2020 team, protecting Russell Wilson has to be top priority

Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson runs past Green Bay Packers' Kenny Clark for a first down during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis.
Mike Roemer
The Associated Press
Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson runs past Green Bay Packers' Kenny Clark for a first down during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis.

A lot of comings and goings for the Seahawks in the offseason, as they try to figure out their 2020 team. Will they be better than last year? Who is still missing? KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked about it all with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick. 


“I'm intrigued with Darrell Taylor from Tennessee,” Thiel said. “He was one of the best players in the Southeastern Conference last year. He's a 6-foot-4, 267-pound rush end.

"Taylor did have some leg injury problems that required surgery in the offseason. But the Seahawks think he's in full health and will be a surprise pass rusher into next season, even as a rookie."


Thiel said the Seahawks have parted ways with members of the offensive line: right tackle Germain Ifedi, center Justin Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker.

“It was a matter, I think, of keeping the salaries under the cap,” he said. “But the Seahawks really do need to upgrade on the offensive line to protect (quarterback) Russell Wilson. He was sacked 48 times last year, 51 times a year ago. That's way too many.

“The guy that they got to replace Britt is somebody very few fans will have heard of: (free agent) B.J. Finney. He's 6-foot-4, 318 pounds and was a very good backup for the Pittsburgh Steelers behind an All-Star center there.

"A lot of scouts think that the Seahawks got a steal and a steady starter for the offensive line. And they also will probably use a rookie that they drafted in the third round to replace Fluker. So I think that was the biggest development in the free agent aspect of building this team. Finney is the guy to watch.”


Thiel said the Seahawks have also traded for a veteran starter.

“They made a big addition to the defensive secondary when they traded a fifth-round pick for cornerback Quinton Dunbar from the Washington Redskins," he said.

“He's going to remind a lot of people of Richard Sherman. He's long, lean, very fast and very smart and will settle down the secondary that had been very weak since the Legion of Boom dissolved over the last couple of years."


Thiel said it’s too early to tell how this year’s Seahawks will compare to last year's team.

“It’s obviously tough to know right now, but I'm going to say marginally. And they may not wind up with as good a record.

“The Seahawks were 11-5 last year. They won a playoff game in Philadelphia and nearly won one in Green Bay against the Packers. But they were also the luckiest team in the NFL.

“They won 10 games by one score or less. That's only been done once in NFL history. A lot of that was due to Russell Wilson and all the magic he had. They also played a lot of teams with injured players.

“They still could be better than 11-5 but it depends on them signing Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive end (who’s still a free agent). He wants more money than the Seahawks want to pay him.

“Until he comes back, I can't say definitively that the Seahawks are better than a year ago. They're gonna be all right. They're going to be entertaining. But they won't be the same without Clowney.”

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes or Google Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.


Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
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