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The challenge of improving the Seahawks

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Pete Carroll and John Schneider (2018) Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

So, we now know who will be in the NFC Championship game. For the Seattle Seahawks to be anything more than a Wild Card team, they need to improve their roster. Play-calling grievances aside, Seattle’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round ultimately highlighted a lack of overall talent.

How many Seahawks position groups would you take over the Cowboys? Quarterback? Wide receiver? That’s about it really. And it’s not like Seattle is blessed with receiver depth behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

There’s been lots of “2018 feels like 2011 or 2012” talk. As early as July, Pete Carroll himself was feeling the comparisons to 2012. This past season certainly had a fun quality that was missing from recent years of Seahawks football. Desire, energy and growth were themes of the campaign. Seattle felt like they were back, or at least close to coming back. It was refreshing.

Yet, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, a lack of experience but also lack of talent became apparent at crucial moments. The dearth of pass rushing ability and depth was obvious against Dallas. The better offenses showed the slow speed of the front seven. The defensive backfield ultimately suffered from a lack of range and savvy.

The issue is that this coming offseason is hugely different to those that followed 2011 or 2012.

For one, Russell Wilson is no longer on a rookie contract. The cheap first deal for a franchise player is a golden ticket for any general manager or head coach. In 2012 he made up 0.5% of the cap. In 2019, the 30-year-old accounts for 13.3%.

Having had so much dead money last offseason, the Seahawks now having just $888,992 in dead money this offseason and $60,455,232 in projected cap space seems astronomically high. But that spending money soon looks rather paltry once you factor in the free agents that Seattle will want to re-sign.

The front office will need to extend Frank Clark—pass rushers at his level and age must be paid. That deal may command over $18 million per year!

K.J. Wright poses an uncomfortable question of durability, and the Seahawks would be forgiven for feeling wary of third contracts. Mychal Kendricks impressed in his playing time but may not be a free man by the 2019 season.

Earl Thomas is unlikely to want a return to Seattle, but his prescient range helps the cornerbacks to play more confidently, and his Hall of Fame ability enables Pete Carroll to run bolder pass coverages.

The offensive guard pairing of D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy helped the Seahawks run the football like they’ve always wanted to. Both are unrestricted free agents.

Seattle will likely target pass rushers and several decent ones could be available. However, the days of finding two ludicrous bargains like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are surely gone. The league appears to be valuing pressure rates and advanced metrics more highly now.

With little maneuvering capital for free agency, one would expect the front office to focus on the draft. But John Schneider’s all-in 2017 has left the Seahawks devoid of any serious picks. At the time of writing, Seattle has: Round 1 Pick 21, Round 3 Pick 84, Round 4 Pick 116 and Round 5 Pick 148.

This is less than ideal for a team that has a lot of areas that must be upgraded for them to take the next step. A typical first round trade back will surely happen from Schneider. Yet for him to attempt to fill the holes on this roster, numerous moves back are required.

The previous class of 2018 offers hope for Schneider’s drafting abilities. It looks like an excellent haul after other recent drafts produced little. The needs for the Seahawks are so great right now though. They obviously depend on free agency activity and player development, but nearly every position on Seattle can be upgraded significantly.

The challenge, then, of bettering the Seahawks is significant. It’s not fair to compare this coming offseason to 2011 or 2012, because what Schneider faces may be his greatest challenge yet. If he can succeed, he will fully deserve an Executive of the Year Award and Seattle will be real championship contenders. The issue is how tricky prospering in this self-inflicted climate is.

Poll

What do you perceive Seattle’s biggest need to be?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    EDGE
    (1231 votes)
  • 10%
    Defensive Tackle
    (288 votes)
  • 6%
    Wide Receiver
    (181 votes)
  • 20%
    Free Safety
    (579 votes)
  • 5%
    Weakside Linebacker
    (154 votes)
  • 10%
    Outside Cornerback
    (285 votes)
  • 4%
    Other (comment)
    (115 votes)
2833 votes total Vote Now