The Seahawks are unlikely to make many major moves in free agency, but that should be fine considering they are still in a great spot. Do you think for a second teams league-wide don’t still fear Seattle?
If you were hoping for the Category 5 shakeup, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Not only is an extreme makeover unlikely for the Seahawks this offseason, a moderate one is, too.
All indications suggest that Seattle is bringing the proverbial band back for 2017, leaving its roster free of any blockbuster moves. And though that might seem boring, it isn’t cause for dismay. This band is still capable of bringing the house down.
Meeting with the media at the NFL combine Wednesday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider fielded a question about the advantages teams with bigger salary-cap spaces have in the free-agent market. His answer? A lot. He went on to point out that there’s a significant disparity between teams that have cap space this year and teams that do not, ultimately concluding that “that’s what the NFL is about, man.”
Here’s how that translates from GM speak to reality: The Seahawks have only about $25 million of cap space to lure free agents. And more than half the teams in the NFL have at least $10 million more than that. The 49ers, meanwhile, have $95 million of cap space, while the Browns have $105 million.
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What this means is that, when it comes to a bidding war for big-name free agents, the Seahawks are fighting with muskets while others have machine guns. And considering Schneider was emphatic that Seattle is holding on to Jimmy Graham next season in lieu of adding $10 million of cap space, the front office is limited in the moves it can make.
For good reason, this will frustrate fans who have watched the Seahawks get manhandled in their last two playoff losses. Seattle had visible on-field problems in 2015 and 2016 — most notably on the offensive line.
Still, despite the slim chance of the Seahawks landing a whale that catapults them back to class-of-the-NFL status, they’re still in a great spot. Do you think for a second teams league-wide don’t still fear Seattle?
The Seahawks were the only squad in the NFL last year to beat each Super Bowl participant, and they beat the champs on the road. And had Earl Thomas not gone down for the final quarter of the season, Seattle likely would have hosted its divisional playoff game after enjoying a first-round bye.
I realize that’s a major hypothetical in a league that deals only in tangible results — but the point is, this team might have just been a couple injuries from another Super Bowl shot.
Not that any of this excuses the issues they had. The offense was the least consistent it has been in the Russell Wilson era, going three games without a touchdown and three others with just one. The running game was often nonexistent, the offensive line was often disastrous, and there appeared to be chemistry problems that seeped into their play.
These concerns need to be addressed in some capacity for Seattle to have a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl next year, but on paper — they’re still contenders.
Wilson was injured for much of last season and never quite found his form, but is it a stretch to think the Russell of 2017 can resemble the one that led the league in passer rating in 2015?
Quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan embarrassed the Seahawks in the final stretch of the season, but is it far-fetched to think Seattle can’t lead the NFL in points allowed next year, as it was doing before Thomas’ injury?
A healthy Thomas Rawls can add consistency to the running game, and a veteran tackle could shore up an O-line that was conspicuously young last year.
Is it possible it all derails and the Seahawks go 8-8? You never know in this league. But the pieces are in place for a sixth straight season with at least 10 wins and a playoff victory.
Hopefully this doesn’t come off as too Pollyanna. No doubt the Seahawks have their shortcomings. The front office’s mediocre drafts of late have put the team below the likes of Dallas in the NFC and way behind the peerless Patriots.
But in the NFL, all you can really ask is to be in position, and Seattle is in it. Its returners will likely include Wilson, Graham, Thomas, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Doug Baldwin and Michael Bennett, among others. You can’t give that up. Even at the expense of cap space, the Seahawks’ only play was to keep this core together.
So yes, it would probably be foolish to expect this team to dominate the way it did in 2013 and the second half of 2014. Big contracts have prevented the Seahawks from adding the depth that separated those squads from the rest of the NFL.
They’re not ahead of the pack, but they’re still near the front of it.
Ideal? For a lot of fans, no.
But a good deal nonetheless.