There's no doubt the information in this article will quickly become obsolete as players get released or extended, prior to the start of open free agency. But for now, here's the state of the Seahawks' offense, and how to improve it for next year.
G James Carpenter, G/C Steve Schilling.
The Seahawks have a tremendous opportunity to dramatically re-do the offensive line over the next few years. Russell Okung, J.R. Sweezy and Alvin Bailey are all headed for contract years in 2015. Max Unger and and Garry Gilliam have contracts expiring in 2016. The only linemen the Seahawks have locked up long-term are Garrett Scott and Justin Britt.
If Seattle wants to, they could easily replace 3-to-4 starters in the next two years. I wouldn't particularly recommend that approach, but it's certainly possible.
This won't be particularly popular with Field Gulls readership, but I think the Seahawks should bring Carpenter back. I'm not convinced that Seattle has a better guard waiting in the wings, and it's a bad year for free agent linemen. They should be able to get Carp for around two years and $5 million, I'd guess. That's cheap enough that the Seahawks can upgrade over him if we have to, without putting any pressure on the Front Office to reach for a guard in the draft if there isn't a prospect they like.
Orlando Franklin (Broncos) is the top name on the list, but he's going to be very expensive. Denver doesn't have the cap space to sign him, but I'd rather Seattle doesn't commit that much money to him either. Mike Iupati (49ers) is the second biggest name, and yuck.
At tackle, things are even worse. The most interesting name currently on the market is Joseph Barksdale (Rams). He's a mauler in the running game, but a real liability in pass protection. Essentially, he's an older, more expensive version of Justin Britt. I'll pass on that.
I would like to see John Schneider take a run at signing Raiders C Stefen Wisniewski. Wis is only 25 years old and has NFL experience at C and G, playing both positions very well. He'd land in Seattle as the team's best guard, and would be able to kick further inside to center should Unger get hurt again. This team rather desperately needs a backup center. It's no coincidence Seattle's OL really sucked when Unger got hurt, and improved considerably upon his return.
It's quite likely the team spends a late round pick or UDFA bonus money on the tackle position. It's a position where you need to be deep, particularly given that Russell Okung has yet to play a 16-game season. If the coaching staff feels that Britt can play guard (I think he could), it's possible we invest an earlier pick at the position and kick Britt inside, particularly if Carpenter walks.
If Seattle doesn't land Wisniewski as a free agent, I'd like to see an early(ish) pick devoted to a G/C swingman as well. This team cycled through 3 (4?) backup centers this year and they all played terribly. Plus, Max Unger turns 29 next year, so it's time for the team to think about replacing him.
Obviously the most interesting piece of QB news out of Seattle this year will be the size of Russell Wilson's contract extension. I don't care to speculate about that, since I have no insight of any merit. There should be some open competition for both the backup and the practice squad positions, though.
Carroll's opinion of B.J. Daniels is likely going to determine Tarvaris Jackson's future. If Carroll likes B.J., the Hawks can save about a million or so against the cap by rolling with the UCF product as their number two. On the other hand, if he feels Daniels isn't yet ready, Seattle is probably going to re-sign Jackson.
This is a really ugly year for free agent QBs. The top 3-to-4 guys (say Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, Mark Sanchez and Brian Hoyer) are going to favor teams where they can compete for a starting job. Realistically, we'd be fishing more in the Austin Davis level of talent pool. Which is a polite way of saying, we wont be fishing at all.
Unless someone falls whom the Seahawks really like, I doubt Seattle takes a QB earlier than the 7th round this year (if at all). Even if B.J. gets promoted to the #2 guy, it's more likely they chase after some UDFA talent than draft a guy whom they're almost certainly hoping to cut anyways and stash on the P.S..
Marshawn Lynch is signed through 2015, and we've all heard the rumors that the front office is negotiating a longer term deal. Robert Turbin is also in his contract year, while Christine Michael is locked up through 2016. Seattle could easily play next year with the exact same RB corps they used this year, although with only four guys on the roster there's a possible opening for one more ball carrier in 2015.
We're going to lose Truck-a-foo. Derrick Coleman's a superior fullback anyways, and is under contract for next year. I like the guy, but the Seahawks won't keep Tuk around.
Meanwhile, they have astonishingly little at the position other than Lynch. You worry that C-Mike may be a headcase who can't get onto the field, while Turbin lacks the talent to be anything other than a member of a committee. With the threat of Lynch's retirement looming over our heads, this team really needs an infusion of talent at RB.
There are several productive guys with contracts expiring this year. I like Mark Ingram, whom I feel has been poorly used while in New Orleans. Shane Vereen (New England) and C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) are both highly productive 3rd down backs who do a fantastic job in the passing game. Ryan Matthews will generate a lot of interest as well, although none of it will be from me.
I could easily see the 'Hawks going RB as high as 31 overall, even if they land a guy in the free agent market. Todd Gurley could reasonably fall that far thanks to concerns about his knee, while the mock draft "experts" seem to agree that Tevin Coleman will be on the board. Either guy would provide Seattle an impact playmaker, and a clear succession plan should Lynch hang up his golden cleats when 2015 ends.
If the Seahawks don't draft a guy early, they'll almost certainly going to bring in someone later on. I haven't yet done enough scouting to identify targets (go ask Jared), but I definitely think this is a spot Pete and John want to upgrade.
Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette
Five of the six WRs on Seattle's roster for the Super Bowl (Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Bryan Walters, Chris Matthews, Ricardo Lockette) went undrafted. The career reception total of Lockette, Norwood, Richardson, Walters and Matthews is 68 catches, combined. You can be as high as you like on the Seahawks potential (PReach in particular) but thus far there's been very little production.
Fortunately, no one other than Baldwin is making enough money that Seattle can't cut them outright and absorb the cap hit, meaning an open competition at all the spots doesn't just fit with Pete's mantra, it's financially very sensible.
I'm not very high on Jermaine Kearse as a player, but I definitely want him back this year. There's not enough depth on the roster for the Seahawks to absorb his loss, and he shouldn't be very expensive to keep on an RFA tender.
Lockette, I'd rather let walk. Not just because his terrible route led directly to the game losing interception in the Super Bowl, but, because he'll be 29, and has still not figured out the fundamentals of playing WR. At his age it's unlikely that he ever will. He's also old enough to be at risk for losing a bit of speed, which will destroy his value as a special teams ace. He's a restricted free agent, and the Seahawks will have to make a choice about tendering him.
Dez Bryant and Demarius Thomas could both end up on the open market, as the Cowboys and Broncos respectively are both in terrible position with regards to the cap. Randall Cobb's contract is up as well, but I doubt he leaves the Packers. I'd expect Seattle to make offers to all the top end talent, although I don't think we'll get any bites. Even playing for a proven winner like Carrol with an elite QB is a hard sell when the other option is going to a high-volume passing attack that will do a lot more for your brand name.
The bargin bin has several players under 30 years of age who are hoping to revive a failing career with a change of scenery and perhaps some superior coaching and QB play. Andre Holmes and Hakeem Nicks are two guys I like, while other candidates include Kenny Britt, Rod Streeter, and Mike Williams.
I'm not discussing potential cap casualties elsewhere in the article, but I did specifically want to mention Larry Fitzgerald as well. There's a good chance that Arizona cuts or trades him during the offseason, and he's a superior fit in Seattle's scheme than any of the other guys potentially on the market anyways. It's possible he'll take a small discount to stay out west and play for a winner.
Schneider has invested draft picks into the WR position at a high enough frequency to have a "type". He's spent 1st and 2nd round picks on Golden Tate, Paul Richardson, and Percy Harvin. Explosive "touchdown maker" type guys who are a threat to score from anywhere, and force your hand with regards to the sort of coverages you can play.
John spends mid (well mostly 4th) round picks on size/strength specimens. Speed is not a requirement, so long as you can box a defender out and win the contested catches. Think Kris Durham, Kevin Norwood, and Chris Harper. I'm not sure if names starting with a "K" sound factors in, but if it does I'd look for UW prospect Kasen Williams in the late 4th round (or later, if possible).
With his late picks and UDFAs, Schneider focuses on anyone with a unique skill that Carrol can leverage. Doesn't matter very much what the skill in question is.
I don't expect Seattle to double-dip at WR this year the way we did last season, but I do expect us to take someone. How early really depends on what Schneider thinks of the late round guys. Mock drafters are fond of sending Seattle an early selection, but I'm not convinced the team goes that way. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to it, but if Schneider thinks he's found a star in someone like Vince Mayle (WSU) or Damiere Byrd (South Carolina) who will be available much later it's likely that he'll pass on the big names and trust our staff to develop the later round talents.
Anthony McCoy, Tony Moeaki
One thing that seems to be consistently forgotten, even by people who should know better, is that Seattle doesn't take TEs who don't block well. A Julius Thomas type pass catcher is of relatively little value in our offense, because teams don't have to worry about him blowing up a linebacker in the running game. McCoy, Helfet, Willson, Miller, and even Moeaki are all plus run blockers.
I wouldn't be willing to give McCoy or Moeaki anything more than a 1-year deal at veteran minimum. The former hasn't played in two years thanks to consecutive off-seasons with a torn ACL. It's fair to wonder if he'll ever play again. The latter was a street free agent, and there's a very real chance he gets beat out during camp. If either player can get more money from someone else, good for them!
Remember a few paragraphs ago where I said we need good blockers? That rules out most of the big name free agents. Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, Jermaine Gresham... no thanks to all of the above. The free agent I particularly like is Charles Clay from Miami.
Clay is closer to an H-back than a pure in-line TE, but he's an excellent run and pass blocker, and was extremely active in Miami's passing game prior to a knee injury that derailed his 2014 season. I don't think Clay's actually going to make it to the open market. Miami has the cap room and is very motivated to keep him. But if he does, he's the guy I really want.
Many websites have the Seahawks spending an early pick on TE. I don't see it. It's been a low priority position throughout Pete's tenure. Anything earlier than about the 5th round seems unlikely. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if we ignored the position entirely, then spent training camp trying to convert a particularly athletic UDFA tackle, or an oversized WR and teach them the TE position.
The TL;DR version
Hah! We may have rules against chat-speak in our comment section, but they don't apply to the articles themselves. El. Oh. El! Anyways, here's a recap of what I'd like to see Seattle do on offense this offseason:
- Sign James Carpenter to a short term deal
- Try and sign Steven Wisniewski (C Oak)
- If that fails, spend an early (2nd or 3rd round) pick on a backup center who can start at G in the meantime
- If we land Wis, spend a late round draft pick on OL to keep up our depth.
- Upgrade the RB2 spot through either trade or free agency
- Find a WR who dictactes coverage to the opposing team. This will likely have to be done through the draft, although it's possible we can do it without using an early-round pick.
- We're fine at TE and QB. Most likely we'll be looking to develop UDFAs at both positions.
Be sure and tune in for part 2, where I discuss the defense. It'll be up as soon as I write it.