The Seahawks are off on Tuesday, so here's a recap of what has happened in training camp so far.
And after four days, the Seahawks rested.
Seattle will not take the field today, a planned day off for the team. The Seahawks will return to the field with practices Wednesday-Saturday. Seattle was not in pads the first two days and in shoulder pads Sunday and Monday, the first real hitting of the seasons.
Today’s break makes for a good time to review where things stand after four days.
THE BIG STORY: Five days ago, the NFL world wondered if the Seahawks would be able to sign either Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner to an extension any time soon, let alone both. But within the span of about 36 hours or Friday and Saturday, Seattle got both in the fold through 2019, leaving everyone instead wondering how the Seahawks got it done.
One way became evident the next day, when the Seahawks released DT Tony McDaniel to save $3 million against the salary cap in 2015. They’ve also done it by being selective in free agency the last few years, letting walk some of their own players who they figured were more easily replaceable (Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter, etc.) and staying largely out of free agency as a whole, saving their money to sign their own players they long ago identified as the key to everything.
The Seahawks now have six players making $10 million or more per season, which some around the league are beginning to dub the team’s “Superstar Strategy” of paying heavily to keep key players while relying on younger, cheaper talent to fill in the gaps at the bottom of the roster. But a closer look at the details, such as Bobby Wagner’s contract, reveals some future financial flexibility and makes clear again that the initial numbers rarely tell the whole tale when it comes to analyzing NFL salaries.
The release of McDaniel, meanwhile, means free agent signee Ahtyba Rubin becomes an even more important player than he already figured to be as he now steps into McDaniel’s starting role.
THE BIG QUESTION: While there are a few position battles still worth monitoring, the biggest question continuing to hover over the Seahawks now is when will Kam Chancellor end his hold out? Chancellor wants the team to redo his contract, which runs through 2017 and pays him $4.5 million this season. Chancellor has already received the $17 million guaranteed that was part of the deal, and the contract has increasing cap hits the as it goes (topping out at $8.1 million in 2017).
He may just want some money guaranteed down the road, mirroring what the team did for Marshawn Lynch last season, or maybe he wants more — Chancellor has yet to say anything about it publicly. While the team doesn’t want to set a precedent of redoing deals with more than a year left (considering what Lynch got last year having taken something he had been offered prior to his holdout) coach Pete Carroll on Sunday said the team will explore options to get Chancellor back into camp as quickly as possible.
Players and coaches have voiced public support for Chancellor, and given his veteran status, no one is too concerned that he’s missing a few practices right now. But while signing Wilson and Wagner was a huge load off the franchise’s shoulders, the team won’t really feel whole until Chancellor gets back.
INJURY REPORT: There have been no new significant injuries through the first four days, always the best news of all this time of year. FB Derrick Coleman aggravated a hamstring the first day and will be out a week or so. WR Kevin Smith left practice late yesterday with what a leg/groin issue. Otherwise, the team has appeared to stay pretty healthy.
Seattle began the year with four players on the PUP list — Earl Thomas, Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon and Paul Richardson. All remain on that list with Simon likely back the soonest, possibly in a few weeks as the team has said the goal is for him to be able to play in a preseason game. Jesse Williams remains out on the non-football illness list. Safety Dion Bailey returned Monday after starting the year on the non-football injury list with a hamstring issue.
ROSTER CHANGES: The team filled the spot vacated by the loss of McDaniel to trade a sixth-round pick in 2016 to Detroit for cornerback Mohammed Seisay. The Seahawks also have Chancellor on a reserve list (which he can come back from at any time) and used that spot to sign free agent safety Ty Zimmerman, who played at Oregon State.
POSITION BATTLE UPDATE: The biggest battle heading into camp — center — may already have a winner. Carroll on Sunday said the team played a game today that Lemuel Jeanpierre would be the starter. OL coach Tom Cable said on Monday that the team would “soon” make a decision on the starter at center, seeming to further hint at Jeanpierre as the guy. Drew Nowak has also gotten lots of reps with the ones, but Jeanpierre’s experience appears to give him an edge there now.
There are few other starting positions where there appear to be real battles. The safety spots obviously look different at the moment without Chancellor and Thomas. DeShawn Shead is filling in at strong safety for Chancellor and Steven Terrell at free for Thomas. Most other starting spots appear to have a clear No. 1 at the moment.
FOUR STARS OF THE FIRST FOUR DAYS: The Seahawks have lots of big-time players who look good all the time — Wilson, Wagner, Jimmy Graham, Richard Sherman, etc. The goal here is to name four younger players who have done some good things so far.
DE Cassius Marsh: The second-year player appears fully recovered from the foot injury that cost him most of last season. He also appears a little sleeker and quicker, playing almost solely on the outside now. Monday, he worked often with the first team at rush end with Cliff Avril taking the day off. His progression is a big reason why Carroll says this could be the fastest defensive line the Seahawks have had.
WR Douglas McNeil: McNeil had a really nice practice on Saturday, using his 6-3 frame to full effect to make plays. Breaking into the receiver corps won’t be easy. But McNeil has been an intriguing player since Seattle signed him last December (Dec. 23, in fact). Carroll, though, said McNeil needs to now show consistency, and he had a drop Monday that indicated that part of his game remains a work in progress. But he’s shown enough so far to indicate he’s in the receiver race for the long haul.
RB Thomas Rawls: Rawls, an undrafted rookie free agent, has done nothing so far to quell the notion that he could make the running back decisions really difficult — he might be a tough one to cut and try to sneak onto the practice squad. The 5-9, 215-pounder came with a reputation for being a physical but so far has maybe shown a bit more of an ability to get to the corner than might have been expected. Definitely one to watch in the preseason games.
WR Kevin Smith: A second-year free agent who played at Washington, Smith has intrigued the Seahawks with his special teams potential since he had a few weeks in camp with them a year ago. But he’s been a pretty steady presence at receiver the first four days, drawing praise from WR coach Dave Canales for his consistency catching, and he could be another to make the receiving decisions really difficult. The hope will be he’s not sidelined long with the injury suffered Monday.