You can never take anything for granted. I believe that. You may never get back to the playoffs, as a player, or as a quarterback. You may never get back to an NFC Championship Game or a Super Bowl. Injuries, freak plays, bad management moves - it can happen, and we've all seen it happen. You can't just say, "Oh, we'll be back next year." So, I appreciate the devastation that many Seahawks fans feel and I understand it.
But, when you wake up in the upcoming days, I pray that you carry a strong sense inside that the Seahawks have as good, or better, a shot at a sustained run of deep playoff runs as any team in the NFL.
Why? Because the Seahawks finally completed the foundation of their house. I wrote a post last April that took a look at some of the things you need to have in order to build a long-standing, winning franchise in the NFL. The four "cornerstones" of a football team, as I see it, are four men: The Owner, The General Manager, The Head Coach, The Quarterback.
We've had a good owner. We have a good general manager. We have a good head coach. And now, we have one of the hottest young quarterbacks in the NFL. A quarterback that John Schneider, on Mitch, recently described as, "unbelievable... a role model for young kids... and a real superstar."
I have no doubt that this quarterback is a role model for young kids. Off the field, this is a person that will not embarrass the franchise with some sort of legal or controversial incident. On the contrary, he balances a tremendous amount of offseason film work and practice with hospital visits and gracious media and marketing appearances. Schneider struck me with the concept of "a real superstar." A Superstar. Like Griffey. Like Felix. Like what Durant should have been. I think an even bigger star than a Hasselbeck, Jones, Alexander, Lynch or Earl Thomas.
The Big Table
Trent Dilfer used the analogy, on Brock & Salk, that the Elite QBs sit a table. About four to five guys sit at that table. There is another set of QBs that sit at the "next" table. Who sits at the "big" table? Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Controversy exists on whether Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, or Eli Manning belong at that "big" table or the "next" table. Dilfer said that Russell Wilson sits at that "next" table. That is quite an accomplishment, after 18 games, and whether you agree with it or not, I honestly think that he belongs at that "next" table as well. Which is really quite amazing. This kid can now throw "Pro Bowl" on his resume with Matt Ryan taking the the week off with that shoulder sprain.
Imagine there was a Dilfer table where Great Rookie QBs all sat together. Imagine time travel was possible. A Young Peyton. A Young Ben. Today's Russell. Today's Griffin. 2011 Cam Newton. Russell Wilson would sit at that table with Rookie Peyton, Rookie Ben, Rookie Cam, Griffin and Andrew Luck. He might have just stolen a chair out from under 2008 Matt Ryan. No Time to Sleep.
I have been hit up on twitter with trade thoughts regarding Matt Flynn. I would just caution people with one thought:
Think about the trade from the other person's point of view, from the other team's point of view. Be brutally honest with yourself. If the trade is not a solid "win-win", I caution you to not burn to much energy rationalizing why this deal "makes sense." Research their age, and their cap numbers, and their production - but really think about the trade from the other team's perspective. Think about their options in free agency. Think about their options in the Draft. Think about the constraints they may have with their salary cap and the pressures the team may or may not be under to "win now."
Free Agency Thoughts
Right now, the Seahawks have sixteen players that create a cap hit above $2M in 2013. Those sixteen players create over $90M of the 2013 salary cap. The rest of the roster earn, on average, well under $1M per year in cap dollars. From studying the 2010 Green Bay Packers model, which Schneider may or may not follow:
1/3 of your roster (18 players) make big money (make over $2M per year).
2/3 of your roster (35 players) are on rookie contracts or close to vet min contracts (under $2M per year).
I don't think they are a slave to the number 18 (again, Seahawks at 16 currently), but I don't think it is unreasonable to think that the Seahawks will:
(A) Sign two outside free agents to deals (I am talking about over $2M per year deals, not $800k type deals - think Alan Branch or Jason Jones, not Deace Lutui).
(B) Sign two current rookie contracts to extensions a year early (like what Schneider did with Max Unger last offseason - those two players may be Kam Chancellor and Golden tate (Richard Sherman is not yet eligible)).
(C) Say goodbye to Matt Flynn and Ben Obomanu, all this together (A + B + C) brings your magic "net" number to 18 players on big money contracts.
What types of free agents do I think the Seahawks will sign? I think it is almost a lock that they sign a medium-sized (contract size, not man size) free agent to the defensive line. I don't think they have to lock themselves into an edge guy versus an interior guy, they can see what the market develops on that front. Again, I would say this is almost a lock to happen.
The secondary idea I think they may pursue is some sort of medium-priced offensive weapon for Russell Wilson, this could be a wide receiver or tight end.
I will break this up into two sections - the first five draft picks, and the second five draft picks. We know that the Seahawks will likely trade before the draft and trade down (and maybe up) during the draft. For simplicity, I think it is fair to start out with the number 10 in terms of total draft picks. 9, or 11, when it is all said and done would not surprise me. Drafting seven times, which I see is being pushed by many fans because 10 players can't make the team (the old quality over quantity argument) would surprise me, but not shock me.
First five Draft picks:
DL, WR, LB, TE, OL
Lower five Draft picks:
Backup QB, scat RB, S, CB, WR
Lastly, if the Seahawks spent two high picks on offensive weapons, or two high picks on defensive line - I, personally, wouldn't trip out either way. Defensive line is very important. Likewise, giving Russell Wilson two more weapons is just smart. We'll see what happens. I am off to record an NFL Draft podcast on the defensive tackle position with Derek Stephens. Stay tuned, and talk to you soon.