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The Seattle Seahawks will open their training camp in the VMAC in less than a month, officially beginning their first season under new coach Mike Macdonald.

In preparation for the new season, over the next few weeks we will be detailing each member of the Seahawks’ 90-man roster, diving into game schemes, examining best and worst case scenarios, and predicting what to expect from each player in the 2024 season.

After receiving a new two-year contract during the offseason, will tight end Noah Fant finally establish himself as a real receiving threat in Seattle’s offense?

Fant, rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports out of high school, opted to sign with Iowa—known as a tight end hotbed in the Big Ten Conference—as part of the 2016 recruiting class. In his sophomore and junior years, Fant caught 69 passes for 1,013 yards and 18 touchdowns, scoring six points on more than 26 percent of his caught passes. That performance, coupled with his size and athleticism, pushed Fant up the draft lists, leading to him being selected 20th overall by Denver in the 2019 NFL Draft. Fant was productive with the Broncos (170 catches, 1,905 yards in three seasons), but never became a true threat in the red zone, scoring 10 total touchdowns while in the orange and blue. Fant was traded to Seattle after the 2021 season as part of the Russell Wilson deal and has since caught 106 passes for 900 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons with the Seahawks. Seattle gave Fant a two-year, $21 million contract this offseason, with $11.49 million guaranteed, according to Over The Cap.

Fant stands out among Seattle’s tight end roster simply because he’s the only real threat at the position. The Seahawks’ likely immediate replacements are Pharaoh Brown — a veteran free agent who signed in March — and rookie AJ ​​Barner, a fourth-round draftee who has served primarily as a blocking tight end in his career. Fant is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds with 4.50 speed and good hands, and has suffered just nine drops in his five-year career.

Although tight ends are not a focal point of offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb’s offensive scheme in Washington, Fant receives over 75 passes in a true vertical passing offense, returning to a similar production level to what he did in Denver in 2020-21. While amassing more than 600 receiving yards, Fant is also frequently used in the red zone, scoring a career-high five touchdowns.

Although Seattle’s roster has a wealth of talented receivers, Fant is only seen sporadically in the passing game. Additionally, Seattle’s coaching staff keeps undrafted rookie Jack Westover on the practice squad, who is eventually signed to the 53-man roster and given an H-back role that better fits Grubb’s scheme – and suits Fant’s goals. As a result, Fant averages fewer than 400 yards receiving and his new contract continues to draw criticism.

In every season of his NFL career, Fant has shown he can be a top receiving tight end. However, he just hasn’t achieved the target rate that would have allowed him to do so, especially during his time with Seattle. In his best season with the Broncos in 2020, Fant was targeted 93 times (62 catches) and had 673 yards and three touchdowns. He still averaged just under 45 yards per game that season. From 2021 to 2022, he was under 10 yards per reception, which requires tremendous volume to even come close to being in the upper echelons of pass catchers at the position.

However, in Pete Carroll’s 14 seasons with Seattle, a tight end only rushed for over 500 yards three times, and that was when he relayed passes to Jimmy Graham from 2015-17. With Mike Macdonald now the Seahawks’ head coach and Grubb taking over the team’s offensive scheme, Fant could pass the ball more often – within the intended function of the offense, of course. He has the route-running ability and size to be a threat in the red zone as well if he gets the chance to be productive in that area like he was in college. There should be room on offense for Fant to rush for over 500 yards and five touchdowns, especially if Tyler Lockett carves out a true role as the third wide receiver behind DK Metcalf and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

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