Who would you choose if you constructed the best possible roster out of every player who's ever suited up for the Seahawks? Here are Bob Condotta's picks.
Maybe the most popular debate for NFL fans this time of year is to guess the makeup of their favorite team’s 53-man regular-season roster and possible starting lineup.
Which got us to thinking — what might it look like if you constructed the best possible starting lineup and 53-man roster out of every player who has ever suited up for the Seahawks?
Russell Wilson or Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback? Marshawn Lynch or Shaun Alexander at tailback?
There’s no anniversary tied to this — the team celebrated its 40th birthday a couple of years ago.
Instead, just consider this a fun conversation — if not argument — as the Seahawks get set to begin another season in two weeks.
First, one caveat — I decided a player had to spend more than one season with the team to be considered, so no Jerry Rice, Franco Harris or Carl Eller.
In general, this is based on what a player did as a Seahawk, but in a few cases also taking into account how good the player was overall.
Hasselbeck led Seattle to its first Super Bowl and Jim Zorn and Dave Krieg are two of the nine players in the team’s Ring of Honor. But if we had just one Seahawks game to win we’d go with Wilson, whose arrival in 2012 transformed the franchise and who led the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl win.
It might be easy to forget how good Alexander’s 2005 season was, when he won the franchise’s only NFL MVP award after scoring 27 rushing touchdowns and gaining 1,880 yards. You’d also hardly go wrong with Curt Warner, especially the 1983 pre-injury version. And Ricky Watters might end up in the Hall of Fame someday. But given just one tailback and one carry to decide a game — say, second-and-goal from the 1 to win a Super Bowl — we’d hand the ball to Lynch.
John L. Williams
The rest of the roster
Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck
Running back: Shaun Alexander, Curt Warner, Chris Warren, Ricky Watters.
Receiver: Joey Galloway, Darrell Jackson, Brian Blades, Bobby Engram.
Offensive line: Russell Okung, Chris Gray, Robbie Tobeck.
Tight end: Zach Miller, Mike Tice.
Fullback: Mack Strong.
Defensive line: Michael Sinclair, Joe Nash, Cliff Avril, Jeff Bryant
Linebackers: Lofa Tatupu, Keith Butler. Rufus Porter, Leroy Hill.
Defensive backs: Safeties Kam Chancellor, Eugene Robinson and John Harris, cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Shawn Springs.
Mack Strong is a strong contender, and he might be the best traditional fullback the team has had. Williams was a hybrid type who may have actually arrived a little too early for his own good. Imagine how his pass-catching ability (his 471 receptions remain third in team history) could be used today.
Here’s a fact that might have snuck under the radar last year, but when Graham was selected for the Pro Bowl, he became the first Seahawks tight end to receive that honor. The Seahawks have had other quality tight ends, notably Zach Miller, the starter for the Super Bowl champs. But Graham in two years has surpassed Miller’s receiving totals in four years as a Seahawk (Graham has 113 receptions for 1,528 yards in two years and 26 games with Seattle, and Miller had 102 for 1,092 in four seasons and 48 games).
Steve Largent, Doug Baldwin
Largent, who ended his Seattle career in 1989 holding the all-time NFL records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, is a no-brainer. Baldwin is not. You could make good cases for Brian Blades, Darrell Jackson and even Joey Galloway, whose shortened tenure and unpleasant departure make it easy to forget how productive he was (three 1,000-yard seasons in the four full years he played in Seattle). But if you had just one Seahawk to throw a pass to on fourth down and you couldn’t throw it to Largent, I think you’d pick Baldwin, whose 94 receptions last year tied a team season record and who became the only Seahawks receiver to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns in a season, with 14 in 2015. If Baldwin plays out his current contract with Seattle that runs through 2020, he almost would certainly rank second behind Largent in every meaningful Seattle career receiving category.
Left tackle: Walter Jones
Left guard: Steve Hutchinson
Center: Max Unger
Right guard: Kevin Mawae
Right tackle: Howard Ballard
Jones, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and Hutchinson, who could be (it is said he wants to be pictured as a Seahawk if he is) are no-brainers on the left side. The goal here is to be as accurate as possible to a player’s position, so although it might be tempting to flip Russell Okung to the right side, we’re going to go with where linemen played as Seahawks. That actually allows us to get Mawae — who also could be a Hall of Famer, even if due largely to what he did after he left Seattle — on the team. Mawae was mostly a center during his career but started at right guard his first two seasons with the Seahawks. Chris Gray, the right guard on the 2005 Super Bowl team, is a real consideration there as well, but if we’re picking the best player then the choice is Mawae. Unger, the only Seahawks center to be a first-team All-Pro pick, gets the call. Right tackle is trickier. But Ballard, who started from 1995-99, was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Bills and was named to the Seahawks’ 35th anniversary team.
Defensive tackles: Cortez Kennedy, John Randle
Defensive ends: Jacob Green, Michael Bennett
Kennedy, a Hall of Famer, and Green, the franchise leader in sacks and the defensive-line leader of the Chuck Knox-era teams, are no-brainers. Randle’s a tough call because he played just three years with Seattle, earning Hall of Fame honors due mostly to the 11 seasons he spent with Minnesota. But he did earn one Pro Bowl nod with the Seahawks and twice led the team in sacks despite playing tackle, and three years seems enough to be considered for such a team. Bennett edges Michael Sinclair due to his overall versatility and what he has meant to the best defenses in team history.
Middle linebacker: Bobby Wagner
Weak-side linebacker: K.J. Wright
Strong-side linebacker: Chad Brown
Wagner over Lofa Tatupu has become an easier call the past few years, as Wagner continues to show he someday could be considered a Hall of Famer and among the best at his position in his generation. Wright has been maybe the most underrated player on some of the best defenses in team history. Brown played mostly strong-side linebacker and ranks fourth all-time in career tackles.
Free safety: Earl Thomas
Strong safety: Kenny Easley
Cornerbacks: Dave Brown, Richard Sherman
Thomas, Sherman and Brown are no-brainers, and it works out perfectly at cornerback — Sherman has played left corner throughout his career, and Brown played primarily on the right side. As one of the team’s only four Hall of Famers to spend his entire career in Seattle, Easley gets the nod over Kam Chancellor, who may be the best Seahawk not on this 22. One thing I considered was getting rid of position designations and put Chancellor at linebacker. But we’ll stick to the letter of the law and grudgingly leave Chancellor on our bench. For those who might not remember Brown well, he remains the team career leader in interceptions with 50 as well as pick-sixes with five.
Kicker: Steve Hauschka
Punter: Jon Ryan
Snapper: Blair Bush
Norm Johnson kicked longer for Seattle and holds most of the team’s career records. But Hauschka has the best career field-goal percentage in team history (175 of 197, 86.83) and if we had just one kick to win a game, he’s who we’d want to kick it. Ryan holds every meaningful Seahawks punting record. Bush was not only one of the team’s best centers, playing in the Chuck Knox glory days of 1983-88, but also was the long snapper during that time, enough to get him on this team, and it helps our overall 53-man roster flexibility.