This is the fifth in a series of posts designed to build on Davis' theory of the Green Bay Roster Model and its concepts therein. In this theory, there will be a roster churn every year, averaging about 13 players a year. This series expands on those hypothetical concepts and asks, where will the churn hit? Who might be possibly cut this year to make room for the potential 13 new players that come onto the roster, on average, every year?
I thought these might bring back a little nostalgia and hopefully hold off the cravings on Sunday
First before I get into our secondary, I want to talk about something I have heard a bit in regards to signing aging free agents. That is that there is a "players in their prime" type comment against signing a free agent. The argument goes something like this, We shouldn't sign a free agent stop gap for a few years because then when we draft a rookie to fill their spot, they will have missed the prime of most of the team. My argument against this kind of thinking is simple. Davis' theory of the Green Bay model will continually keep the team in its prime.
While arguments can certainly be made against signing aging free agents, like sudden drops in talent, over pricing and not developing talent, I don't believe there will be a prime nucleus here for only so many years. As the core grows, under-performing and aging players will be released or at the least will let their contracts expire. New free agents and draft picks will be brought in to fill the void, making the core younger.
One such veteran this year was Atari Bigby, a 31 year old safety who played a substantial number of plays in the secondary. The other end of that coin is Jason Jones a 26 year old free agent. Two moves and a loss of five years. Those five years are not just any years, they are prime years. The signing of Bigby proves the 'Hawks are not scared to fill a hole with a cagey veteran, but don’t expect a long term contract. The Seahawks were even interested in bringing Bigby back, but with the prime years gone, the 'Hawks were not going to give a long term deal worth a lot of cash.
Jason Jones though received a 4.5 million fully guaranteed deal with another half mill available in incentives. Its not the long term deal you would expect the hawks to sign a 26 year old, but in Jones' case I believe its a prove it contract, something the Seahawks seem to be pushing more and more, because they have more and more leverage.
There are two positions that I believe take longer than others to learn in the NFL, one is wide receiver the other is quarterback. Wide receivers rely on speed and agility, young man attributes. Quarterbacks are more mental and arm strength. Strength and wisdom generally come from maturing, in other words they come from a certain amount of aging (as far as average age in football). Another point is longevity. When it comes to Quarterbacks they can retain their arm strength usually into their 40's. Not every QB does, like Matt Hasselbeck who lost his strength possibly through numerous injuries. Other Qbs retain their strength. I believe Favre could still chuck it if he was in the league.
Tying that to the secondary, because they are generally a speed and agility type position, I expect over the years that this will be a highly turned over position, though with the young nucleus we have it may be several years before it begins. Just some speculation at this point.
At this point in time, I believe we have one of the best cores of secondary players in the league. This really has nothing to do with the pro-bowl selections of Thomas, Chancellor, or Browner. The reasoning behind my love of the core of our secondary is because they performed exceptionally well with a perceived minimal pass rush. One of the reasons for this is that both Browner and Sherman are very good at bump and run coverage, throwing the timing patterns off. This can be extremely effective against WCO type models. The biggest threat to that is the deep pass and our safeties have enough range to cover the deep field and make tackles in the box. Given an increased pass rush, I foresee the Seahawks being an elite defense for many years. Now to the break downs after the jump.
Probable number of corners 5-6
Marcus Trufant- Note: Released
6'4” 225 pounds 4.63-40YD
The former Oregon State Beaver had one of the worst combines in a long time being at or near the bottom in nearly every drill. This could be one of the reasons he was relegated to the CFL. Another could be his penchant for being handsy after 5 yards. At the beginning of the season he was abused early and often, The ass whooping Mike Wallace put on him would be typical of his early season form. Somewhere along the way Brandon caught up to the NFL speed. He was always able to frustrate players(a particular exchange with Braylon Edwards comes to mind.) it seemed like once he caught on to the speed of the game, then he really became good. He also had a knack for getting the ball and taking it to the house. He broke the All-time record for int-return yards for the Seahawks, in a single season.
Earning a pro-bowl can be argued to mean nothing, but as frustrating as Brandon was to fans, he was triple annoying to opposing players. His rough and tumble attitude fit right into the new defense.
Brandon may or may not be a long term mainstay, but until elite level talent is brought in, it will be tough to replace how effective he can be. Brandon is only 27 he is young and hungry expect him to start again next year
Here are a few highlights to remind you how much of a ballHawk this guy is
Highstep, hurdle, to the house x2
How to video: how to put three Cards on their asses
Jerome Simpson made an increadible flip in the endzone, but lets not forget his first flip of the season
apologies for the quality
6'3” 200 pounds 4.56- 40YD
Richard Sherman was a big surprise to me, though I knew he was a big press corner I had no idea the level of athletic ability he really had. This write up on NFL.com on the former Stanford Cardinal couldn’t have been more wrong. Sherman developed not only into a starter but also into a pro-bowl caliber corner. He is very fluid hips, and not only can adjust to a ball, but has shown he has ball hawking skills. He does this with very little gambling. He is deceptively strong, and knows how to time catching the ball at its highest point. Sherman's biggest problem is his biggest strength. He has a massive two ton chip on his shoulder and sometimes it has gotten him in trouble. Sometimes I really like that swagger, but I worry how it will impact him later in his career and if it might lead to off field issues.
Sherman is 23 and was only a rookie. If he works hard in the off season I don’t see any reason he wont come back to camp as the declared starter, with a great career ahead of him. Not bad for a Wide receiver.
A little about his transition from WR to CB
Walter Thurmond III
5'11” 190 4.42-40YD
The former Oregon Duck (that makes 3 Pac-12 Cbs!)was a thought to be a draft day steal, as his stock dropped significantly due to injury concerns. He played well enough that it was possible with some growth that he turned into a very productive starter. Unfortunately the injury concerns so far have proven to be taking a toll on WT3. I think if he could stay healthy for any serious length of time WT3 might be our solution at slot/nickle corner. Walter isn't slow by any means and he has decent man to man skills, I might be a little down on him because I only saw rare flashes of what I thought he would be capable of, or maybe Sherman just excelled so much that I completely forgot everything good about WT3. Either way WT3 could have been a first round pick, but with his knee injury coming out of college he dropped and now I'm just hoping he doesn’t become Kelly Jennings 2.0
Thurmond almost assuredly has a spot on the roster, but there is no telling if he will be our nickle corner or not. He has a lot to show still and a lot of time has been wasted on injuries already. And its hard to find good WT3 pro highlights!
5'11” 195 pounds 4.42-40YD
Not much to say here. He was drafted by the 49ers, then waived, picked up and cut by pats a few times, then we picked him up. He had 11 interceptions in 4 years in college, not a ton but not bad either, but played against lesser competition. He is a press corner and supposedly has a weakness in zone. The reports say he sometimes has issues with bigger receivers. One shining point is that of 11 INTs he returned two for touchdowns.
6'0” 190 pounds 4.49-40YD
Kennard Cox is famous for two things. 1 not being quite bad enough for Mr Irrelevant in the 2008 draft, and for a phantom illegal block in the back that cost the Seahawks a win in Cleveland. He played most special teams and some nickle later in the year. In his nickle duties Cox was more often beat like a red headed step child than he was effective. In his special teams duties he was more forgettable, save for the Washington TD called back, than anything.
Cox is not bad in his form or technique, but he is just too slow to cover the leagues elite speed slot receivers. He is cheap though, and probably wouldn't get many suitors if we had to “temporarily” cut him. To me Cox is a temporary stop gap. He doesn’t have incredible upside nor does he have a particularly high floor. I believe he is on borrowed time, and since he is a restricted free agent the time is all ours, but unless we draft another two or more CBs he should stick on the roster for another year.
5'10” 190 4.49- 40YD
Roy Lewis isn’t a spectacular find, but he is mildly solid. Though Helu posterized the former Husky with this hurdle. Roy tends to make plays, not in bunches but a little of everything. From sacks to fumble recoveries(one) (two) he has a knack for being near the ball when things happen. Its no where near the “Babenaux” effect but he hustles through the whistle. Unfoprtunately like Cox he is a tad too slow to cover the faster slot receivers, but in something like a bandit zone, Lewis shines.
If the Bandit was ever going to make a comeback, Lewis would be part of it, and would be what I would consider the least amount of talent needed to run it. Lewis is another restricted free agent, so I fully expect him to be signed and on the roster next year.
6'1” 200 pounds 4.43 40YD
Hoffman played in a little school called Eastern Washington University, and he played free safety, but it looks like the 'Hawks are intending him to be a corner. Think Roy Lewis only a little taller, a little bigger, and a little faster. He was cut in late august but something must have impressed the coaches or JS because he was snatched up right at the end of the season.
He is considered a dangerous return man and is quick for his size, though again he doesn’t have elite level speed. He could be considered to stay into the season because of his flexibility in the secondary and special teams contributions. Freeing up a roster spot for another position is always coveted in the NFL. The lower end of the secondary seems to be wide open after the third CB spot. For now though I’m going to have to say this is just a camp body and any chance of him actually making the roster is a long shot.
6'0” 205 pounds 4.46-40YD
Byron was drafted to add depth and provide special teams contributions. It was his rookie season but I didn't really see a lot out of him early in the season I saw him a few times on special teams but more often than not he was getting flags called on him. Does that mean he is a couple of steps away from contributing or does that mean he is trying to make up for lack of ability. Being locked up until 2014 can pretty much make him a cheap filler, but its not guaranteed money and if better comes along Maxwell could get the ax, though I think a few other heads will roll first.
6'0” 205 pounds 4.28
Ron Parker is a small school high upside guy, he is incredibly fast, what I would consider elite speed and for his size, he is monster fast. He can go get the ball, with 5 INTs in his last college season, and is very good on special teams. He was put on IR in December for an undisclosed injury. Im not sure if teams do this kind of thing to stash players away from other teams, but it was worth it in this case. Parker has very high upside. At the least Parker will be on the practice squad, if not the 53 man roster.
probable number of safeties 4
5”10 200 pounds 4.36-40yd
Earl's interceptions regressed from 2010, but that was only because he was put into “God” position and told to do everything. That is how he racked up nearly a hundred tackles. He was also in deep coverage often. His run reads are superb, he has a football intelligence that is hard to rival. He really CAN do it all, because of that he is the premier defensive player, the entire defense centers around him. I could gush for a long time, but lets just say I’m glad we didn’t get Taylor Mays, I foresee Earl getting a nice pay day in three years, hopefully we get him to a nice long term extension.
6'3” 230 LBS 4.5-40YD
In his sophomore year Kam turned into everything PCJS envisioned him to be, he is another core component that really could do everything, though he is a little bit behind Earl in range and coverage skills, he is the complete package and he allows the defense to be so much more with him in there than with out him. I wouldn't be surprised at all if we got a nice safety prospect and slid Kam around more on defense. Kam is signed for two more years, and I expect JS to lock him up long term, so he will be a starter here for many years to come.
This is not for the faint of heart but it does show how hard Kam hits, even when he isnt trying to hit someone,
Atari Bigby- Signed with Chargers
5'10” 210 4.43-40YD
Jeron Johnson is an enigma he put up 23 reps in the bench press, he is as toolsy as Thomas and Kam, though in limited action he hasn’t proven anything yet. He can lay major wood like Kam, but is also able to drop back in coverage. Players like Jeron make players like Cox and Lewis expendable, if Jeron makes some leaps this off season I really think the bandit package will be back in full force next year. At the least Jeron is looking at pushing for a nickle spot ala Atari Bigby type role.
Jeron is locked up until at least 2013, and 2014 he will be a restricted free agent, I expect him to have an increased role both on special teams and defense for the next few years.
6'0” 200 pounds 4.42-40YD
To me Maragos is an underwear warrior, great agility when not in pads and he is fast but not elite level speed. I didn’t see much from Maragos last year, and until I do he is expendable. He is signed through the year, but depending on the draft and other factors he could be a cut or a turn into a rising star.
In college he looked to have elite level talent and a ballHawking mentality, he also played decent special teams. He is a solid tackler and reads run well.
Looking at the Depth, Safety seems to be locked up, but I’m sure PCJS wont skip an opportunity to upgrade. Looking at Corner though I see major depth issues arising.
Probable number kept 9-10
Keepers: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Walter Thurmond III, Roy Lewis
Talent Bubble: Kennard Cox, Ron Parker, Chris Maragos Byron Maxwell
Probably Cuts: Jesse Hoffman, Phillip Adams
Out: Marcus Trufant, Atari Bigby