It’s difficult watching your favourite team sit on the sidelines of free agency while the rest of the league participates in the free agency frenzy. Yes, the Seahawks have stayed true to their practice of staying silent. This isn’t a bad thing, many quality teams prefer to go bargain hunting in the latter days of free agency.
However, this off-season has called into question the overall direction that the Seahawks are heading. After my check-list article on who the Seahawks could target in free agency, this article aims to bring a different perspective on building a contender.
Similar to the Miami Heat article Tristan released earlier this month, the Seahawks find themselves in a unique situation. They are not an elite team ready to contend for the Super Bowl (Chiefs, Rams, Patriots, Saints). Yet, the likes of Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark have kept them afloat to where they clawed their way to a 10-6 record and a wild-card spot. So with four draft picks and limited cap room (keeping in mind the impending Wilson & Wagner extensions) where can the Seahawks go from here?
How the Seahawks got here
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s well documented on how the Seahawks ended up a middle of the pack team. Since 2016, Seattle has mismanaged contracts, failed to part with key players at the peak of their value (Richard Sherman 2017 & Earl Thomas 2018) and traded a 2018 2nd-round pick for Sheldon Richardson who the subsequently let walk immediately after that season.
These moves (and lack thereof) were because of the belief that the Seahawks were very close to contending for a Super Bowl again. But as Nathan Ernst of Hawkblogger notes, that has put the Seahawks in an awkward position.
We keep saying this every year. Couldn’t trade Sherm with the team going all in on 2017, wanted to see what the team could do with Earl last year, now you can’t trade Bobby if you *think* you can win in 2019
Lots of missed opportunities. https://t.co/xuM4EBOfyY
— Nathan Ernst (@NathanE11) March 12, 2019
Always being on the teetering edge of contending has prevented the Seahawks from doing a full reset on their roster and capitalizing on key players’ value. However, this has left them in a predicament of sorts where they can’t afford to blow up the roster with Wilson in his prime. But they also lack the resources (draft picks and cap room) to supplement the various holes on the roster. So what can they do?
The argument for hitting the reset
The problem with staying the course in the Seahawks case is we’ve seen this play out already with the Green Bay Packers since their Super Bowl victory in 2010. The Packers infamously never went spending in free agency. Their drafts left much to be desired as well. The result? Aaron Rodgers dragging a mediocre team year in and year out to the playoffs. In some cases, NFC Championships.
Unfortunately, the Packers would run into red hot teams or teams in the midst of Super Bowl runs throughout the decade. The Packers since 2011 have been eliminated by four teams that would go on to play in the Super Bowl (2011 Giants, 2012 49ers, 2014 Seahawks & 2016 Falcons) or at the minimum the NFC Championship (2013 49ers & 2015 Cardinals). In spite of Rodgers’ heroics, they never had the roster makeup to get past these teams.
Ok, back to the Seahawks, what does this all mean? In my humble, amateur opinion, the Seahawks are trending in this direction if they don’t find a way to fortify a roster with multiple holes. The voids in Seattle’s roster are masked by Wilson’s offensive production as well as Carroll’s coaching on the defensive side of the ball.
How would they do it?
With Wilson and Carroll, the Seahawks would never be able to do poorly enough to receive a top 10 pick. Therefore, tanking is out of the question. That means if the Seahawks wanted to blow it up, they would likely have to trade Frank Clark and Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks have just four draft picks in 2019, that’s not enough to restock this roster. There haven’t been many rumours in regards to either of these trades, so it’s hard to know what the Seahawks would get in return for these two stars.
The only problem with trading either Wagner or Clark would be knowing that whoever the Seahawks are going to draft with what they get in return likely won’t be of the same calibre. And that’s the fundamental problem of the “blowing it up” scenario for this team. They don’t have many trade chips and the ones they do have are too valuable to give up.
How about trading Russell Wilson, who was rumoured to be interested in the Giants? No. Moving on!
The argument for staying the course
This appears to be the direction that the Seahawks are heading. They re-signed K.J. Wright to a two-year deal worth $14-million along with linebacker Mychal Kendricks at one-year $4.5 million.
The one thing that the Seahawks have going for them by staying the course is that the NFL is as unpredictable as it gets (with the exception of the Patriots winning the AFC East every season). The Los Angeles Rams sustained losses across their secondary and offensive line and the 49ers haven’t proven they can take the next step yet.
Having Russell Wilson, a Pete Carroll coached defence with Wagner and Clark gives them a fighting chance. No, it won’t be the dominant 2013 Seahawks and fans should stop expecting that to ever come back. That was a once in a generation team.
It also likely wouldn’t sit well with Russell Wilson if the team traded key difference makers in the midst of his prime. That’s not an ideal situation to be in when negotiating for a long-term extension. By staying the course and gutting through an off-season with limited picks and signings. The team remains competitive and hopefully leaves Wilson feeling comfortable in keeping his talents in the Pacific Northwest.
So what’s next?
The Seahawks to-do list consists of extending the three aforementioned players. Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson. Clark is looking at $20 million plus for his services going forward, Wagner will likely want to top Luke Kuechly’s contract while Wilson is eying the richest contract in NFL history. All well-deserved but all will put considerable strain on the Seahawks to add talent in the subsequent areas in which the lack difference makers.
But hey, not everyone can do it the “Patriot way”.
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