Monday I looked at the the situation of the Seattle Seahawks as it pertains to the roster construction going forward, specifically with regards to how many players the team has on second contracts for the 2022 season. That number, of course, was three, which seems very low. That said, not everyone felt the Hawks have an inordinately low number of players signed for the 2022 season.
Most teams have. Agents don't want to be locked in to longterm contracts with new network deals on the horizon.— Michael Strawn (@LifeInCharts) June 8, 2020
Asking whether this is the case or not, here’s a complete list of every NFL franchise with five or fewer players on second contracts for the 2022 season (Author’s note: Void years added to a deal for cap purposes have been excluded, while option years have been counted):
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5)
- Indianapolis Colts (5)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (4)
- Carolina Panthers (4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
- New England Patriots (3)
- Denver Broncos (3)
- Seattle Seahawks (3)
What is interesting about that list is that the only team on that list with an established quarterback under contract for the 2022 season is the Seahawks. Simply going down the list it’s readily evident that the majority of the teams either do not have a quarterback or have a quarterback currently playing on a rookie contract. Quarterbacks on a rookie contract include Gardner Minshew, Patrick Mahomes, Jaret Stidham and Drew Lock, while Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have all reached the point of their career where teams are loading up for a last run or two at a Lombardi knowing they’ll need to address the position in the not too distant future.
The only two teams of those teams which could be considered to have a franchise quarterback signed through at least 2022 are the Hawks and Panthers, with the Blair Walsh Freezer Bowl quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Teddy Bridgewater at the helm of the offense. Bridgewater has yet to start a game for the Panthers, while Wilson is obviously a first ballot Hall of Famer whenever father time is actually able to catch up with him.
And this is where the question comes. What is the Seahawks plan with the roster when it comes to the future. Teams that have a franchise quarterback in their prime under contract for the foreseeable future tend to have the rest of their roster largely sorted out in an attempt to maximize the ability of the team to perform on the field during that quarterback’s prime. Teams that made the playoffs in 2019 average ten players on second contracts signed through the 2022 season, with the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans all at the top with ten such players.
Now, this is in no way a doom and gloom observation for the Hawks. They’ve got plenty of talent on the roster for 2020, and Wilson and Pete Carroll have missed the postseason only once in their time together. The question becomes, however, what is the team’s long term strategy? Carroll reportedly enters every season with a five year plan, but how much of a five year plan can a team follow if only three core veterans are under contract past year two?
Is the plan to create maximum flexibility for succession in the future? Is the plan to allow for maximum flexibility in the future should Carroll decide to hang things up after 2020 or 2021? Is this simply a result of poor drafting beginning in 2013 and not finding the caliber of player worthy of signing to a second contract? Did the coaching changes after the 2017 season change the type of player the team wanted, rendering several members of the roster less able to perform the tasks asked of by the team? Is it something else entirely?
For a team that plans everything so thoroughly, follows its processes almost religiously and pays attention to the details, nothing is haphazard. There has to be a “why?” behind the construction of the team’s roster and its strategy in doing so, and identifying the answer to that question may help uncover what the future entails.