A week or so ago, I wrote an article of how the offseason has gone so far. It was the same day Earl Thomas was locked up. Well somehow it’s gotten even better. Today, Sherman was extended for four years, worth $57.7M with $40M guaranteed, as reported by Jay Glazer. There were rumblings of a Sherman extension and that it would get done soon, but it wasn’t a for sure thing until now. With Earl (4/$40M), Kam (4/$28M), Bennett (4/$28.5M) and now Sherman locked up, our defense looks like a force to be reckoned with for years to come. After this season, K.J. Wright, Malcolm Smith, Doug Baldwin, and Cliff Avril and Anthony McCoy will be unrestricted free agents. Jermaine Kearse will be a restricted free agent. Russell Wilson is a big contract waiting to happen in 2016. In the Sherman extension press conference, there were several innuendos pointed at Doug Baldwin that weren’t very subtle — at all. So it seems as if Doug is close on an extension as well. With Doug presumably getting locked up, it’s going to be hard to get everyone else locked up. Since I’m nowhere near the cap guru that Field Gulls’ Davis Hsu is, I asked him what he thinks about fitting Wagner, Wright, and Avril under the cap. Davis thinks “they can do it”, but they have to let Maxwell and Smith walk. As I’ve said before and will continue to say, as long as Pete Carroll and John Schneider are with us, there’s always going to be tough decisions to make. Which is a problem that’s good to have! Good players are always going to have to be let go to extend and bring in other good players. As much as I like both Maxwell and Smith, it’s an easy decision. They’re both replaceable and will both find teams that will pay them good money, and presumably in bigger roles. After extending and re-signing several players and coaches this offseason, the notion that the Seahawks are standing pat and being conservative is a perplexing to me. This list is notable players more than anything (we signed players to futures contracts and have made small signings), but this is what I have:
We lost some key players that had a big part in what we have done not only this past year, but since Pete Carroll’s first year. Even before the draft, Carroll and Schneider have done a masterful job keeping this roster intact and getting every player we (assumably) wanted to stay except for Golden Tate. Like every draft, this one is going to important to add impact players, while also being mindful of the future. A couple players such as Max Unger and Brandon Mebane could be gone sooner than we expect. Brandon Mebane is one of the eldest players on the team at 29 (man that sounds weird to say) and Unger sometimes struggled mightily against a couple stronger, heavier nose tackles and always seemed to have a nagging injury. He is also 28. Not to mention they combine for a 2014 cap hit of $11,800,000. So what’s this team missing? What positions are we going to address? Well, it may be nitpicky but a team can never ever be too good. On any given Sunday, anything can happen. Unless you film your opponents. Then you go 16-0! Anyways, the positions I would like to see addressed in no particular order are safety, LEO, left guard, right tackle, wide receiver, defensive tackle/nose tackle, and cornerback.
As it stands, our starting LEO might be Cliff Avril, but he’s more comfortable rushing from the other side of the formation. After that it looks to be Schofield with a pinch of Irvin. Although Clemons wasn’t getting home very much in 2013, it would still be nice to fill his shoes with someone who can match his production. Benson Mayowa could be an option, and I’ve heard him referred to as Baby Clem.
Left Guard and Right Tackle
As for LG and RT, Carpenter was so bad that he was in a rotation with Paul McQuistan last season. Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey provide more upside but it’s unclear how high PC/JS (Carroll and Schneider) are on them. I think we could go into the season starting them. The duo of McQuistan/Carpenter and Giacomini wasn’t great either. Caylin Hauptmann was carried on the roster all season, so he could be another guy that’s hiding on the roster.
Why safety? Well we lost a pretty good special teams player in Chris Maragos. Seattle is said to be high on Jeron Johnson, but we don’t have a reliable backup for Earl Thomas. DeSean Shead has bounced around between safety and corner, so his versatility is nice, but a true safety would be an asset for some packages. That safety was supposed to be playmaker Mark LeGree, but he never panned out.
Wide receiver has been the most criticized position for Seattle dating back to last season. After re-signing Sidney Rice to a modest deal, that brings some depth to a position that may need it after losing Golden Tate. The notion that we need a huge receiver is a bit overblown, but it would be nice. Arceto Clark has been compared to Doug Baldwin by some, so he could be a player hiding underneath all of our talent. Jermaine Kearse looks to be getting the first shot at split end for the time being, but that could change quickly after tomorrow. Receiver is one of the positions abundant with talent, so Seattle will almost surely get to “pick their flavor” and try to strike gold after missing on Chris Harper and Kris Durham, and waiting a couple years for Golden Tate to develop.
Other Defensive Linemen
After losing three defensive linemen, and good ones, the Hawks will be sifting through players trying to find replacements for Chris Clemons, Clinton McDonald, and Red Bryant. While Seattle will be getting a (hopefully) fully healthy Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill, I can all but guarantee they’ll be looking to add more depth and talent to their line. Answers could be found on the roster with players such as Brooks, Cherrington, and Scruggs. Seattle will likely give Bennett and Scruggs a go at 5-Tech (Bryant’s position) regardless if they draft someone there. Also look for them to with a more conventional sized 5-Tech rather than a 323 lb mammoth DE that Big Red was. We’ll need to groom a backup and possible replacement for Brandon Mebane.
After losing Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, this is still a position group that is in good shape because 1) Pete Carroll can groom cornerbacks from lower rounds. 2) Lane and Simon look to be very viable replacements. Sherman and Maxwell will almost certainly be the starting outside corners with Lane as the nickelback. If Simon were to muscle Maxwell out of his starting spot, Maxwell has the versatility to slide inside (as he did when Browner returned).
Tomorrow I should have an article up after the first draft day. Regardless of what happens over the next couple of days, we’re in good hands with John Schneider and I’m not worried one bit about who he chooses. When the season rolls around, we should be set to start our quest for our second consecutive Super Bowl.
– Michael Ajeto