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Don't count on Dan Quinn, big trades to bail out Seahawks' struggling defense

RENTON, Wash. -- If the Seattle Seahawks are going to fix a defense that has been getting gashed at a historic rate during their 5-0 start, it's probably not going to be with the help of a high-priced trade acquisition before the Nov. 3 deadline.

Or former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

More likely, the Seahawks will have to improve with players they already have -- Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks, Damon Harrison Sr. and maybe Darrell Taylor, to name a few -- plus whomever else general manager John Schneider can find in the NFL's bargain bin.

Schneider is as active as any GM when it comes to trades, but pulling off a significant one over the next week and a half will be difficult on a couple of fronts.

The NFLPA, Over The Cap and ESPN's Roster Management System list the Seahawks with between $2.01 million and $5.45 million in salary-cap space. Even if the actual number is on the high end, much of it has to be set aside for injury replacements. And while the Seahawks could always restructure one of their bigger contracts to free up immediate money, that's a last resort that Schneider would probably want to avoid since it would mean pushing charges onto a 2021 cap that could significantly decrease from this season.

Plus, Schneider is already short on 2021 draft capital after giving up the Seahawks' first- and third-round picks in the Adams trade, then their 2021 sixth-rounder for a seventh-rounder this past April (Stephen Sullivan). He added an extra seventh (via the Quandre Diggs trade), but the Seahawks aren't projected to receive any compensatory selections, so they'll have only one pick in the first three rounds and not a whole lot on the back end, either.

That put the Seahawks out of the running for Yannick Ngakoue and will make it difficult for them to add other pricey pass-rushers who become available.

Don't hold your breath on Quinn, either.

Seahawks fans were already clamoring for him before he was fired as the Atlanta Falcons' head coach on Oct. 11. The guy who coordinated the two best defenses of the Pete Carroll era could certainly help, but it doesn't seem all that realistic.

If you're Quinn and you just endured the stress of living on the hot seat for the past year, wouldn't you rather spend the rest of this season regrouping and preparing for the next hiring cycle than jumping right back into the coaching grind as an assistant?

And if you're Carroll, as loyal as you are to your coaching staff, are you really going to risk undermining your current defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr., by bringing back your old one?

Carroll sounded like a coach who knows what it's like to be fired when he pumped the breaks on the idea of a reunion.

"Could we give Dan a chance to just try to reel with it?" he said Oct. 12. "I haven't talked to Danny yet. I don't know what's going on with him, but we love Dan and all that ... I'm not even thinking about anything about that right now. This is about him getting reset and balanced. It's an enormous undertaking to get let go in a program like that and the profile of all of that. I'm going to try to support him, help him any way I can."

The Seahawks' defense hasn't been entirely bad.

Seattle's 10 takeaways (one of which came on special teams) are tied for the most among teams that have played five games. The offense turned eight of them into touchdowns for a league-high 56 points off turnovers. The other two preceded kneel-downs to end games, including Ryan Neal's interception against Dallas.

There was also the goal-line stand to hold off New England and the fourth-and-1 stop against Minnesota, which gave Russell Wilson a chance to lead the game-winning touchdown drive. But it wouldn't have come down to the wire against the Cowboys and Patriots had Seattle's defense performed earlier in those games.

The 2,356 total yards the Seahawks have allowed are the most by any team through five games since the 1950 Colts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They're 11th in ESPN's Pass Rush Win Rate (45.1%) but have only nine sacks to show for it despite facing the second-highest combined dropback rate (69.1%) of any defense.

"I think we just need to be more consistent," said linebacker Bobby Wagner, Seattle's defensive captain. "I think we need to be just more locked in on our plays and I feel like we'll be able to do that. I think this time off has allowed us to kind of refocus on the foundation and on the basics ... We've shown that when our back is against the wall, it's fourth down or things of that nature, we can make plays, but we have to do that over the whole course of the game."

It hasn't helped that the Seahawks have played two games without their All-Pro strong safety, Adams, as well as their other two biggest defensive acquisitions of the offseason: cornerback Quinton Dunbar and Brooks, the linebacker they chose in the first round. Dunbar returned against Minnesota. Adams and Brooks could be back Sunday against Arizona after getting another week of rest with Seattle's bye.

Carroll's positive review of Harrison suggests the 350-pound defensive tackle is making good progress toward his Seahawks debut. They could use him next week against San Francisco's run-heavy attack if he's in football shape.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who spent the past two seasons with the Seahawks, just joined Harrison on the practice squad. Another potential reinforcement is D.J. Reed, who's played cornerback, free safety and nickelback. He's been on the non-football injury list and began practicing Monday.

The Seahawks are hoping that Taylor can also return off NFI to bolster their pass rush, though the second-round pick has yet to begin practicing and doesn't appear to be close to doing so.