With the Super Bowl behind us, we now head into the offseason – as champions! As much as we want to keep the team together, it’s inevitable that this offseason isn’t going to be all fine and dandy. We’re going to have to make some decisions on Seahawks with and without contracts. As much as John Schneider would love to make each of his players quadrillionaires, every dollar counts and at the end of the day Schneider and Carroll will (attempt to) make the correct decision for the team.
In Zach Miller, you have a player that has been a security blanket for Russell Wilson at times but has largely disappointed, whether it be because of his play or Seattle’s offense. Miller is a very solid, willing blocker and also a very reliable receiver. He counts $7M against the cap this year, with $2M in dead money. In 2015, that lessens to a $6M cap hit with $1M in dead money. He has roster bonuses in 2014 of $1M and 2015 of $2M respectively. Miller will almost definitely be asked to restructured his contract or be cut. With the news that Jermichael Finley is interested in Seattle, that could be used as leverage for both the Seahawks and Finley. In either scenario, we would either be getting a restructured deal on Miller, or a very good tight end in Finley.
Down the stretch in 2013, Sidney Rice was a player that I think Russell was really missing. Sidney Rice in 2012 was 7th in DVOA and 14th in DYAR for wide receivers. However, in 2013 Rice seemed to be more counterproductive to the offense than helpful. The sole game in which he contributed was the Jacksonville game, unfortunately that being the easiest game of the season. Despite tearing his ACL and having a lackluster 2013, Rice is only 27. I think the Seattle Seahawks see the most value in him of any team. Because of this, I expect Rice to be able to test out free agency and eventually coming back on a much lesser deal. He isn't going to run by many corners, and he's not the physical specimen Calvin Johnson is, but he has a great catch radius, and runs routes and catches the ball well.
From a rotational player in Philadelphia to starting at LEO in Seattle, Clemons has been one of the most pleasant surprises since Carroll and Schneider arrived. Standing at 6’3", 254 lbs, Clemons has been as good as he could be in run support for a LEO in the Seahawks’ 4-3 hybrid scheme while providing pressure also. Until this year, Clemons was one of our only pass rushing threats on the line. Now the additions of Avril and Bennett, Clemons is expendable due to his age and salary. With a cap hit next year of ~$9.6M and $2.1M in dead money, it wouldn’t be hard to cut ties with him. He could come back as a rotational player, but I expect the starting LEO next year to be Avril, with the possibility of Benson Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield, Mike Morgan, or Bruce Irvin.
At $8.5M, Bryant’s 2014 cap hit is the biggest of his contract. That includes his 2014 roster bonus. At 6’4", 323 lbs, Red Bryant isn’t your typical defensive end. That’s because, well, Seattle isn’t your typical defense (or team, for that matter). Bryant has been an integral part of the run defense. In 2011 he even registered two interceptions - one of them being a pick six! At his best, Red Bryant is disruptive in the run, can get after the passer a bit, and knock down passes and field goal attempts. Bryant’s snap percentages have been dipping, and he’s become seemingly less effective. Captain and locker room leader, his contract needs to be restructured.
Quite the lengthy list. Out of the list, I expect the struck through players to not be retained. Why's that?
Baldwin (Restricted free agent; highly doubt they'd take the pick instead of him)
Bennett (Has said he wants to return, and Seattle won't let him get away for a second time)
Browner (Suspended indefinitely; suspended for at least one year. So he's ineligible) Davis (With McCoy likely back and Willson, he's expendable) Giacomini (LG and RT will be addressed in the draft; Bowie and Bailey have been very good)
Hauschka (He's been as reliable as it gets)
Jackson (Perfect backup; Only reason he'd leave is if he wants to start or if SEA goes with 2 QBs; They like Daniels a lot)
Jeanpierre (Serviceable backup; played well in Unger's stead)
Johnson (Has been a good backup and special teams player)
Maragos (Too easy to find a younger, cheaper replacement that can play special teams and be a better backup)
McCoy (Was supposed to have a good year before getting injured; good blocker and receiver)
McDaniel (Seattle will probably have to pick between McDaniel and McDonald)
McDonald (See above; plus, Seattle carried five 'ghost' interior defensive linemen on IR and practice squad) McQuistan (Cable seems to be infatuated with McQuistan but he's been versatile..... and terrible)
Morgan (A very versatile player and solid special teamer)
Robinson (Seattle will likely go with Coleman here unless he comes back on a very cheap deal)
Schofield (One of many pass rush threats; ARI castoff but can get after the QB; pretty inexpensive)
Tate (He's said he'd rather take a little less and win than take more and lose; we'll find some $ for him)
Thurmond (Seattle has proven they can develop late round draft picks and UDFAs; probably looking for too much)
Getting inside of the minds of Carroll and Schneider is not an easy task. You simply can't be sure of what they are going to do, because they aren't to make unique decisions or cut their losses. After Cliff Avril was signed we were all stoked about the idea of Clemons, Avril, and Irvin. After Bennett's signing followed, the sports world was blown away that Seattle thought they needed another pass rusher and that they got them both on the cheap. The Jared Allen trade rumors almost broke Twitter. I don't expect us to go all out like last year, but I wouldn't be surprised to add some good players. There are some intriguing options on the offensive line and at just about every position.
That being said, Seattle should absolutely expect to make another run at Super Bowl 49. With another draft class, and likely some free agents, the 2014 Seahawks might better and almost undoubtedly younger than this year's group. It feels unrealistic to say, but with the progression of our young players and adding talent, this team is better.... at least on paper. Lock up Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, and this team has the makings to be a contender for years to come.