Part One of this series was what a business owner would call “a soft opening”; an event that you invite friends and family to, knowing full well that while some of them are going to be candid and blunt, the majority are going to have nothing but nice things to say.
For me, Part One was a chance to dip my toe in the water and say good things about the team’s considerable accomplishments while subtly (or maybe not so subtly) pointing out that as good as the Seahawks have been, they haven’t come close to accomplishing their goals over the last 7 seasons.
Division titles and Super Bowl trophies
To be fair, the team was only a few plays away from capturing the #1 seed in the NFC this season. One less conference loss and they would won the tiebreakers with the Packers and/or the Saints. And with the #1 seed, maybe the postseason would have gone differently. Or maybe not. Sadly, we will never know.
Honestly though, the team’s success in 2020 was, in many ways, a mirage. Sure, they “earned” their 12-4 record - in both the positive and negative sense - but they played a second-place schedule and had the additional benefit of collecting half their wins against the league’s Eastern divisions. Seattle ended the season with a .447 Strength of Schedule which means they had the third easiest slate of games in the league.
Their schedule should be substantially harder next season.
This isn’t to say that the sky is falling, but with a shrinking salary cap, a shortage of draft picks, and multiple “holes” to fill on the roster, it IS going to be a challenging offseason.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
At the end of Part One, I threw out a challenge:
Imagine that you are John and Pete and YOUR GOAL IS TO WIN MULTIPLE LOMBARDI TROPHIES OVER THE NEXT FIVE SEASONS. How are you going to go about it?
So as not to be influenced by the community’s feedback, I had most of Part Two written before Part One went live and had the outline for the entire series complete as well.
I also gave myself some parameters:
- Any trades I suggest have to be realistic. That isn’t to say that I can’t trade one (or more) of Seattle’s stars but, rather, that I can’t suggest trading Tre Flowers for a 2nd round pick or ship him to Miami in exchange for Xavien Howard.
- I can’t “break” the salary cap. Bend it? Sure. But break it? No.
- No contracts are getting restructured. This is the hard one for me because I believe that Seattle is going to have to restructure some contracts to make the cap work in 2021. But if I start reworking contracts then this article (and this series) will be at least twice as long as it will be if I just say, “No!”
Also . . .
If I’m John and Pete, I have some serious job security given the contract extensions that were signed during the 2020 season.
Given said job security, I am pretty sure that nothing I would do would result in my being fired - even if the 12s were to disown me.
That last bit is called “foreshadowing.”
STEP ONE: PUTTING THE LEAGUE ON NOTICE
Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf are arguably one of the best QB-WR combos in the league. As a fan, I love them both and want them to retire as Seahawks.
But if I were John and Pete, neither would be on my roster in 2021. Russ is too expensive and DK is far too valuable to keep.
The only question is if I am shipping them somewhere together or splitting them up to maximize my return.
Yes, this borders on blasphemy.
And, yes, the team would be taking an astronomical risk by trading either one, let alone both.
But under the current regime, Seattle has always been aggressive. If I were John and Pete, I would double down and take that aggressiveness to a level heretofore unseen.
Note: I am certainly not the first to suggest that Seattle could trade RW3. And, per Mookie’s report on Sunday, teams have been inquiring about the possibility.
Parts Three and Four of this series will look at possible trades for Messrs. Wilson and Metcalf.
STEP TWO: MAKE THE TOUGH CALLS IN FREE AGENCY
When the 2020 season ended, 35 Seahawks became free agents. Many of them will not return to Seattle in 2021. Some will be easy decisions - for example, Greg Olsen is retiring and moving into the broadcast booth. Others will be harder.
- KJ Wright is the longest-tenured Seattle player and an argument could be made that he was the team’s defensive MVP in 2020. But is there a role for him on the 2021 team? And at what price would he be willing to return?
- Chris Carson has been a solid running back for Seattle . . . when he is available. But durability is a concern and, historically, running backs don’t age well. Carson is only 26 (9.16.94), but can Seattle afford to re-sign him given the circumstances?
- The Griffin brothers are fan favorites and Shaquill has filled Richard Sherman’s shoes as well as anyone could have expected. But have either of them done enough to warrant a market-rate offer from the Seahawks?
Whether to retain one’s own free agents is only half of the equation though. The other half is which free agents you want to target from other teams.
Having just poached two coaches from the Rams, does Seattle target L.A.’s free agents as well? Would signing TE Gerald Everett and/or WR Josh Reynolds make sense? How about C Austin Blythe, EDGE Leonard Floyd, or CB Darious Williams?
If I were John and Pete, I would . . .
Wait until Part Five of this series to dive into free agency.
STEP THREE: GO “ALL IN” ON THE DRAFT
Per DraftTek, the Seahawks currently have four picks in the 2021 draft: #56 (R2), #119 (R4), #150 (R5), and #182 (R6).
Per the commonly accepted “Trade Value Chart,” those picks are worth a total of 443.6 points . . . which is roughly equivalent to having the fourteenth pick in the 2nd round (#46 overall).
That is NOT going to get it done. Even with the unexplainable Schneider magic in overdrive, Seattle will NOT make a notable impact on their roster via the 2021 draft with the capital they currently have. The Seahawks need more - A LOT MORE.
Trading Wilson and Metcalf would give Seattle multiple picks over the first three rounds. It would give the Seahawks the picks they need to get the players they want and to acquire more picks.
If I were John and Pete, I would start with four draft picks and end up making 12-15 selections between April 29th and May 1st.
I would also add an extra pick or two in 2022 . . . and maybe a couple more beyond that.
STEP FOUR: “SHARE THE WEALTH”
Regardless of whether the NFL’s salary cap falls to $175M or $180M, the cap situation in 2021 is going to be a nightmare for HALF the teams in the league. For Seattle it may be closer to a bad dream than a nightmare, but it will be a challenge either way.
One of the parameters I gave myself for this series was that there would be no contract restructuring. Contract extensions, however, are fair game.
If I were John and Pete, Jamal Adams would be at the front of the line. But there would be others queued up behind him. The timing is critical though. Trading RW3 doesn’t help the team in March, but it potentially frees up $26M after June 1st; $26 million that the team can spread around to other players.
There are, of course, other ways to free up some money to extend players - and much of that can be done before June. I will cover this topic in Part Six of this series.
STEP FIVE: GET EVERYONE ON THE SAME DAMN PAGE
For all the success that Seattle has had over the last nine seasons, there has been a steady undercurrent of miscommunication and second-guessing. And, no, that’s not a reference to the play that shall not be spoken of.
Whether it’s the offense’s seeming inability to break the huddle in time to get a play off or the head coach overruling his OC on a 4th down play or a rookie guard pulling the wrong direction on a critical 3rd down that could have iced a game before it went to overtime or a a defensive player not knowing the play call and leaving a receiver open or the offense and defense never being in sync at the same time in the same game . . . 2020 was a super-frustrating season.
It wasn’t an anomaly though. The things that made all of us 12s shake our heads this year weren’t just because of the impact the pandemic had on the league. It is an ongoing and, dare I say, systemic issue.
If I were John and Pete, I would have the GM-side of me focus on reconstructing (not rebuilding) the roster and I would have the HC-side of me FIGURE THIS OUT!
The Seahawks need to be better than they have been . . . and that starts with the Head Coach. He is the one setting the tone. And he needs to do better.
Division titles and Super Bowl trophies.
THAT’S THE GOAL.