Now, I know it's a bit early, I just wanted to take this time to take a look at expiring contracts versus the draft pool and viable market options. Many of these needs and solutions will have changed by the end of the year, but I'm just eager to see this team get better and kind of wanted to just verbalize and cement my ideas in writing. The Seahawks won't have many free agents this year, save for a few member of the front seven. More after the jump.
The Seahawks started off under the PC/JS regime being very active in going out and getting the players (and coaches) they wanted. It's no secret that they've approached the draft in a very unorthodox manner and in all but the first year have taken "head scratchers" in the first round. I was ecstatic about the ET and Okung picks, confused, but excited about the Irvin pick last year, and absolutely hated the Carpenter pick (which, along with the Moffit pick, were made pretty much entirely on Cable's recommendation.). They've found sleepers all over the draft every year they've been here and it's something the fanbase has come to expect (and rightfully so.).
After Free Agency, assuming we don't retain any of our Free Agents (for purely hypothetical reasons) our biggest needs will be, in order from greatest to least; 3-tech DT, WLB, RT, and a decent slot Corner. Our only major free agents of interest are Alan Branch and Jason Jones at the 3-tech spot, Hill at Will, Braylon Edwards at WR, and Tru at CB. My guess is we'll retain either Alan Branch or Jason Jones (he's been the single most impressive defensive lineman on our team in my opinion.), and maybe Hill and Trufant as veteran depth, though I'm not sure how much either has left in the tank or if Hill will come back for a pay cut and demotion.
While Jones has been getting absolutely phenomenal push from the inside in the pass rush, he still occasionally gets over matched in the run game, which is something he can't really help as he is generally about 40 lbs. lighter than the guy he's head up on. Alan Branch is pretty much the opposite. His pass rush has improved this year, but he can't do much else besides bull rush, then anchor. I would much rather see Jones retained, because of how unique he is. There's no-one on our roster that can do what he's been doing. Who knows, by the end of the year Scruggs (and maybe Howard, but he's seen little time and is more of a 1-tech anyway) might be ready to step up and take Branch's place. Henry Melton of the Bears is a player I've been really impressed with and he will be available this year, but they will resign him. Sopoaga of the 9ers will be a Free agent, but also likely resigned. He's also a senior citizen by the Seahawks standards. Other than that, there're not many realistic Free agent options.
Hill is getting old and it's showing. He's lost a lot of agility (agHillity, for all those pun-lovers out there.). He can still lay the wood and is getting off of blocks well, but his coverage and pursuit have made him one of the biggest of so few liabilities in the defense this year. I like the veteran presence and swagger he brings, but it should be from a different place on the depth chart. Any of Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith or even the Practice squad'd Korey "It's not a" Toomer could very easily be an option at this spot. If we aren't looking for an upgrade, then there are several possible options, such as Chase Blackburn and Erin "probably better than Leroy Hill" Henderson. Again, it looks like if one of our current players don't step up (which I'm sure (Smith) will probably happen) then it's going to be the draft.
At RT is currently the infamous Russian Bear from Brazil; Breno Giacomini. As good as he's been in Run Blocking, he's been equally as bad in pass pro. (Russian) Bear in mind that he is under contract and is a solid, contributing member and RT may not even be something that's on the FO's mind. Barring Jake Long, Jermon Bushrod, or Ryan Clady leaving their teams, I don't see many viable options in Free Agency. Maybe Sebastian Vollmer or Branden Albert. But it looks like we'll be going to the draft to find a replacement (if we even get one).
Trufant's status as a Seahawk is kind of up in the air. He can still run anyone's routes backwards, sideways, and upside down, but he's got tons of baggage in the form of wear and tear. WTIII has HUGE red flags all over his body. Lane has lots of potential, but he's a better fit on the outside. Byron Maxwell is probably the best bet to get this job, but he's yet to step up. This is more of a wait and see type of position. Look for the Seahawks to take a CB or two late this year.
Our WR corps looks good on paper, but haven't been able to get it done this year. My thought is that this stems from Russell Wilson's obvious struggles with seeing them. Imagine that. If he can't see the WR's he can't throw it to them. I've seen tons of talk about how we should go WR in the first round and our receivers aren't doing Wilson any favors. Both Tate and Rice are great starters. Tate's been Tate making the incredible happen then making the boneheaded follow it. His routes have greatly improved and he has a great set of hands and legs. Rice has been healthy this year and looks reliable and explosive. The only starter who seems to need to be upgraded over has been Doug Baldwin. He appears to be trying to do too much, probably feeling the pressure of being the "go to guy" from last year. I'm very tired of hearing how bad they are. They're not. They've just been hung out to dry by, indirectly, poor playcalling. Their inability to contribute stems from Russell's sight issues, which stems from him being in the pocket, which stems from Bevell leaving him there. That being said. Depth is definitely needed. I've never trusted either Edwards or Obo. They both have stone hands at times.
Is this too long? I can't really tell. Oh well, it was a lot of fun to write. And hopefully people will stop denouncing the Wide outs. Saying, today, that we need to take a WR in the first is like saying we need to take a QB in the first. We simply have not seen enough of Wilson in this Offense to make that kind of statement. DT, OLB and even OT depth are much more prevalent needs, in my opinion. Holla atcha boi, in the comment section.