Seahawk Roster Strategy - High Risk = High Reward

Mike McGinnis

The excitement of the Seahawks' offseason peaks during the draft, the start of free agency, and at the 53 man cut-down day. For us superfans, making our own projections during these milestones is an essential part of a complete breakfast. The problem is it can be extremely difficult to predict what the Seahawks are going to do. Remember 2010? We looked at the 53 cut down day after several years of Tim Ruskell... 200+ roster transactions later we were left dumbfounded and shell-shocked.

Fortunately for us, Pete Carroll and John Schneider (PC/JS) have shown to be masters at developing a roster loaded with talent. After thinking about my own failures yet again to even come close to predicting the initial 53 man roster in 2013, I came away with this thought:

My "aha" Moment: The Seahawks roster is largely built through a philosophy of high risk but high potential players.

Not exactly a new idea, I know, but I'm starting to finally realize the plan.. better late than never, I guess. Let's continue.

Several roster spots are used as an investment (players that haven't shown enough yet). These players could either pop and start to realize their potential or flop and get cut. By constantly churning a large volume of high risk/high reward players the 'Hawks will always hit a diamond in rough just by the odds alone. Combine that with strong talent evaluation and focus on specific types of players and you get a consistent roster rich in talent.

**PLEASE NOTE: Many of you have read Danny Kelly, Jared Stanger, Kenneth Arthur, Jacson Bevens, Mike Chan, Davis Hsu and others here on Field Gulls. I am also excited to see John Morgan putting in an article from time to time.. so great to see his stuff again! If you don't read their stuff, read it. If you don't follow them on Twitter, follow 'em. Davis Hsu has particularly great writing on the Green Bay Packer model of keeping an influx of young and cheap players to keep the salary cap balanced. I will not touch on that here since it has already been covered way better than I can give it justice.

As I mentioned, PC/JS seem to have a philosophy of taking a high volume of calculated risks on players. When they roll the dice, sometimes they win (uh.. Russell Wilson) and sometimes they lose (Kris Durham). When they lose they move on from the player and roll the dice again.

I've broken this down into categories for better illustration:

Good Players with Recent Injuries - These are players who have shown to be good but their value in the league has dropped significantly due to a recent injury. This allows the 'Hawks to pick them up in the draft later than expected, pay lesser picks via trade, or pay lesser money in Free Agency. If the player comes back well from the injury the 'Hawks win, if not they move on to fight another day. Examples are:

Good Players with a Bad Rep - These are players who have shown to be good but their value has been reduced due to a perceived bad reputation or something from their past. If the player get's their head on straight and performs the 'Hawks win, if not they are cut and we all move on. Examples are:

Good players with an Asterisk - These are players who have shown they can be good or even great players but there's a knock against them because of some perceived weakness or aspect to their game. These are players that, despite playing well, went to small schools or were too tall/short/slow to play their position, therefore their value is significantly less than if they didn't have this perceived "asterisk". Examples are:

Decent Players with Unrealized Potential - These are players that were decent in college or for other NFL teams but the Seahawks saw something in them that, in our system, could make them good or great players. Therefore, the value on these players is not yet caught up to where the Seahawks think it could be. It could be thought of as "Seahawk Potential". Examples are:

Good Players with No Perceived Negatives - Finally, the Seahawks will pay for or extend with premium value players that don't have a lot of negatives (with the value with which they save from all of the other categories). This can be illustrated through extending a player on the team or going out and paying high draft picks or large contracts to players not on the team. Examples are:

Let's look at the draft class this year through this philosophy:

Christine Michael - Bad Rep, Unrealized Potential, Recent Injuries

Jordan Hill - Unrealized Potential (to a lesser degree)

Chris Harper - Unrealized Potential

Jesse Williams - Recent Injuries

Tharold Simon - Bad Rep & Unrealized Potential

Luke Willson - Unrealized Potential

Spencer Ware - Unrealized Potential

Ryan Seymour - Unrealized Potential

Ty Powell - Unrealized Potential & Asterisk (small school)

Jared Smith - Unrealized Potential

Michael Bowie - Bad Rep

There are some players that obviously could fit into several categories; for example Christine Michael came with an injury history, a somewhat bad rep, and unrealized potential. Kam Chancellor hadn't shown his true potential and was thought by some to be too tall to play the position. Also, some players fall into categories more than others; for example: KJ Wright was thought to be too big to play LB by some but not nearly as much as Russell Wilson was thought to be too short. Also, Bobby Wagner played for a small school but didn't have as big a knock against him as Brandon Browner. The goal is to keep the players they win with and eventually extend some when they have realized their Seahawk potential and established true value, all while keeping the back end of the roster churn going.

This also made it clear why the 'Hawks would take a flyer on D'Anthony Smith. He hasn't really been fully healthy for an entire season yet. Why not take a flyer on him and see if he works out, if not.. you know the drill.

Anyway, thanks for reading and I appreciate any feedback!

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