Try searching for pundits who picked the Seahawks to win 11 games last year. You’ll be lucky if you can get one handful of fingers. That was a team that exceeded expectations due to an array of factors — but namely the play of Russell Wilson on offense and Jadeveon Clowney on defense.
Currently, however, the Seahawks do not have Clowney, and their top two running backs are rehabbing season-ending injuries. As of now, they aren’t as good as they were last year, yet Vegas oddsmakers have them favored in 11 games, plus a pick ’em vs. the 49ers.
It seems to me that bookies placed their own bets when sizing up the Seahawks. Their wager? That coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are going to make a cannonball-sized splash before the season begins — or in the middle of it.
When evaluating a team from a betting-line perspective, sometimes you gotta look as much to the past as you do the present. Oddsmakers aren’t necessarily perusing every position on the roster so much as they’re looking at franchise trends.
And besides the Patriots, no team in the NFL has been as consistent as the Seahawks over the past eight years. Seven trips to the playoffs along with seven double-digit win seasons? You have to take that into account at this point despite any deficiencies they have.
So if you’re looking at Carroll and Schneider… you gotta think they’re up to something, right? They pretty much always are.
Whether the Seahawks can sign an impactful defensive lineman such as Clowney or Everson Griffen remains to be seen. Some enthusiasm for one of those signings may have waned a bit recently when it was reported that linebacker/rush end Bruce Irvin signed a near $6 million contract this offseason — about $2 million to $3 million more than was generally expected. That was primarily the result of his career-high 8.5 sacks with the Panthers last season.
If Irvin can replicate that kind of production for the Seahawks next season, that will be money well-spent. But the extra dough makes it tougher to add another key piece to the defensive line, which remains Seattle’s most glaring deficiency.
Speculation of Clowney’s return has dominated the offseason sports headlines in Seattle, but that possibility seems more remote now, even if the defensive end did overestimate his market value. Same goes for Griffen, the three-time Pro Bowler who had eight sacks for the Vikings last year.
But I can’t help but think that the possibility of signing Clowney last year seemed equally remote a couple of weeks before it actually happened. Carroll and Schneider usually seem to find a way.
In the middle of the 2017 season, they were able to acquire left tackle Duane Brown, who made the Pro Bowl and ended up signing a long-term deal in Seattle. Before that season began, they were able to procure defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on Sept. 1. And in the middle of last season, they attained defensive back Quandre Diggs, who gave a huge boost to Seattle’s struggling defense.
That’s track record.
The Seahawks’ front office has never believed in the idea of just having one timeframe to beef up its roster. It’s essentially a 365-day-a-year commitment.
As Schneider said in an interview with CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, with whom he was discussing cap space “we are just one of those teams that wants to be active throughout the season as well, so we try to budget accordingly.”
Anyone who follows the Seahawks closely knows that a high-impact move can come at any time. Oddsmakers do, too.
The Seahawks aren’t as good as they were last year yet. But “yet” is the operative word.