Seattle is among the youngest franchises in the NFL, but they have seen many players come through that have made a name for themselves around the league while making a permanent home in the hearts of the Seahawks faithful. There are far too many fan favorites to make this list make sense, but the top players in franchise history are nearly incontrovertible. What order they rank, however, is very much up for discussion.
In the coming weeks, we will be looking at the greatest players to wear the Seattle blue and gray and white and green, and ranking them in what is sure to be a polarizing order. We welcome your comments and/or disagreements.
Before we get back to the official countdown, here are some players who helped Seattle get where they are today but are not typically counted among the best players in franchise history. Not the entire list of honorable mentions – just the first few – there will be more.
QB Warren Moon (1997-1998)
Before Tom Brady took his first snap in the NFL, Moon was the first non-kicker to play pro football into his 40s and make it look cool by being actually good. A left coast-best coast native, Moon played in college for Washington and returned to play in the Seattle area two decades later in his age 41 season. Moon made the Pro Bowl, passing for more than 3600 yards and 25 touchdowns in just 14 starts. His second and final season in Seattle was not as productive as he threw for just 1600 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 starts before being replaced by Jon Kitna for the last five games of the season.
QB Jon Kitna (1996-2000)
An emergency only backup his first two seasons, Kitna eventually won over the coaches and the fans with his 110% style of play. The kid from Tacoma played valiantly in his two and a half seasons as a starter, helping bridge the gap between Moon and Kitna’s eventual replacement Matt Hasselbeck. Kitna’s best year was in 1999 when he threw for 3600 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Seattle to a 9-7 record, winning the AFC West, and making the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. There is no evidence to support this, but either Kitna is why 10 Things I Hate About You was such a hit in 1999, or it’s the other way around. Either way, 1999 was a great year to be in the Seattle/Tacoma area.
RB Maurice Morris (2002-2008)
A backup or special teams player for most of his time in Seattle, Morris finally got his shot when all-time great Shaun Alexander started to show signs of mortality in 2006 and missed time with injuries. Morris filled in admirably and battled Julius Jones for carries when Jones was brought in after Alexander was cut in 2007. While Morris never hit 1000 yards in a season, his best season came in 2007 when he rushed for 628 yards and four touchdowns, adding 23 receptions for another 213 yards and one touchdown while losing only one fumble. Morris had his moments and opened the door for guys like Christine Michael and Robert Turbin to make fans wonder how they good they would be if the generational talent at starter ever missed time.
WR Bobby Engram (2001-2008)
If Darrell Jackson was the Jerry Rice of Seattle’s offense in 2005, then Bobby Engram was the Terrell Owens. Engram took Jackson’s place as the starter for most of the 2005 season, with Jackson out with an injury, catching 67 passes for 778 yards and three touchdowns. Seattle’s passing attack easily could have fallen apart without Jackson, but Engram ensured they remained a top offense in the NFL en route to their first Super Bowl appearance. His best season came in 2007, when he caught 94 passes for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns after Jackson was traded to San Francisco.
WR Koren Robinson (2001-2004)
Robinson was the 9th pick in the 2001 draft and started 13 games his rookie season. Many hoped he would take the next step forward in his second year, and Robinson did not disappoint as he caught 78 passes for 1,240 yards and 5 touchdowns. He would never top 1000 yards again, however, although his 2003 season was not exactly terrible as he caught 65 passes for 896 yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2004 he was fighting for playing time in a crowded offense, losing snaps to Engram before the team allowed him to test free agency in 2005, and he was out of the league entirely by 2009.
And with that, let’s continue the official countdown of the greatest Seattle Seahawks of all time. Last week we revealed numbers 25-21; this week, we will reveal numbers 20-16.
20. Quarterback Jim Zorn (1976-1984)
The very first QB in Seattle, Zorn started his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1975 but was cut before the season started and sat out for a year before coming to the Seahawks in 1976. The day one starter, Zorn had an up and down season his rookie year but bounced back big time in his sophomore campaign, earning all-pro honors in one of the league’s top offenses. Known for his scrambling and ability to extend plays behind a poor offensive line, Zorn wheeled and dealt his way into Seattle fans’ hearts even if he did turn the ball over almost as frequently as he threw touchdowns. Zorn and hall of fame receiver Steve Largent connected for multiple touchdowns in their time together, and it was only fitting that Zorn became just the second player (after Largent) to be selected to the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor. Zorn is 4th on Seattle’s all-time list for wins, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
Check out Zorn’s career highlights here
19. Quarterback Dave Krieg (1980-1991)
When Zorn’s career hit the brakes due to injuries, Krieg’s time in the spotlight began. Another undrafted and unwanted QB, Krieg needed a team after he finished his college career playing for Milton College in Wisconsin, so he came to the Seahawks via tryouts in 1980 and stayed for more than a decade. Krieg quickly proved himself to the Seattle coaches and fans, taking over the starting job in 1981 when Zorn went down. Zorn and Krieg took turns filling in for each other during spotty play or injuries for the 82 and 83 seasons, with Krieg finally securing the starting spot for good at the end of the 83 season, when he led Seattle to their first playoff berth, first playoff win, and first conference championship game appearance. Krieg would lead Seattle to the postseason three more times but could not get any farther than the divisional round after the trip to the conference championship. Krieg was selected to the pro bowl three times and made his mark on the franchise record books with the 2nd most wins, 3rd most passing yards, and 2nd most passing touchdowns.
Check out Krieg’s career highlights here
18. Center Max Unger (2009-2014)
The Seahawks haven’t made it past the divisional round of the playoffs since Unger was traded to the Saints in the 2015 offseason, and we cannot be certain there isn’t a connection there. Unger was only called for 15 total penalties in his time in Seattle and allowed just 5 total sacks in six seasons. That’s the kind of unquestioned success you can’t just find somewhere else. Spoilers – the Seahawks have not found it since. Unger was the anchor on a dominant offensive line when he played for Seattle, and they have struggled to protect the QB or open the run since his departure. You don’t always strike solid gold in the second round of the draft, but that is exactly what Seattle did when they selected Unger out of Oregon with the 49th selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Unger was the unsung hero of Seattle’s first championship team of 2013 and a key reason they made it back to the Super Bowl in 2014 before being traded to the Saints in return for TE Jimmy Graham. Unger was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and voted an all-pro once.
Check out Unger’s highlights here
17. Guard Steve Hutchinson (2001-2005)
It’s a story you may have heard before, as Seattle loses the Super Bowl and then loses one of their best offensive linemen. Seattle had one of the best offensive lines in all of football in 2005 and struggled to open running lanes or protect the QB in 2006, and things went downhill from there. A big reason for their struggles in 2006 and beyond is that they had lost Hutchinson. A two-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Hutchinson teamed up with all-time left tackle Walter Jones to form one of the best blocking duos in the league. A restricted free agent in 2006, Hutch signed an offer from Minnesota that would have crippled Seattle’s salary cap due to the “poison pill” fine print, which required the team to fully guarantee the contract if Hutchinson was not the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team. With Jones already signed to a mega-deal, Seattle had no choice but to let Hutchinson go to Minnesota, and as they used the transition tag on him, they received no players or picks in return. Hutchinson’s abrupt departure was sour grapes for the fans for a few years, but they have since warmed up and recalled his time with the team fondly.
Check out Hutchinson’s career highlights here
16. Cornerback Marcus Trufant 2003-2012
Before the Legion Of Boom formed at the end of Trufant’s time in Seattle, he was part of a Seattle defense that helped the team earn a trip to the first Super Bowl in franchise history, and Trufant’s dominant play against the league’s best receivers was one of many factors in getting them there. Trufant finished his career in Seattle with the 7th most interceptions in team history, 8th most interception yards, and still holds the franchise mark for passes defended. Despite his stellar play on the field and being a full-time starter from his rookie year until injuries slowed his play in 2010, Trufant was mostly ignored by opposing fans and media, only being selected to the Pro Bowl once and never made an All-Pro team. Trufant’s best season came in 2007 when he had 7 interceptions and 15 passes defended, which compares well statistically to Richard Sherman’s 2013 season, which is often considered one of the best single season performances by a cornerback in league history.
Check out Trufant’s career highlights here