After a flurry of activity last week, Seahawks fans can be forgiven for wondering why things have gone quiet all of a sudden. They’ve come to expect excitement. And it’s been at least a few days since something exciting happened…
John Schneider spoke to John Clayton on Saturday with a few interesting nuggets. Above you’ll find the first hour of today’s newly titled ‘Brock Huard Show’ where they replay the interview with Schneider. I found this quote particularly interesting:
“There’s a plan in place here, and there’s several different phases to free agency, so we’ll see how that goes… But in the meantime, we’d really like to just kind of focus on our own guys, our younger players that we’ve drafted.”
It’s time to extend some contracts — and it’s not too difficult to work out who will benefit here.
Kam Chancellor is a free agent in 2014 and he’s set to earn just $1.3m this year. I suspect they’ll feel like he’s done more than enough as a former 5th round pick to warrant an extension. One of the key philosophies within this organisation appears to be a desire to look after players who prove their worth. Although Chancellor didn’t quite live up to his 2011 performance last year, he’s still part of arguably the best secondary in the NFL. I’m guessing they’ll want to keep the band together. Anyone second guessing any decision to extend Chancellor’s contract should click here.
Golden Tate is also a free agent in 2014 with a deal worth $880K. It’s a paltry figure for a player who should remain a key figure within Seattle’s offense (even despite the addition of Percy Harvin). Tate has developed a chemistry with Russell Wilson and the pair appear to be good friends. It’d make sense to tie him down to an extension to make life easier for the young star quarterback. He needs familiarity and playmaking quality. He needs guys who can make something out of nothing. Tate showed last year he can do all of these things. The juking touchdown’s against Chicago, Minnesota and Carolina, the long bomb against the Jets, ‘that’ play against the Packers. Seattle needs to keep this guy around.
They could also look into a possible extension for Earl Thomas, despite his contract expiring in 2015. He’s due $3.5m this year and $5.175m in 2014. A new deal wouldn’t necessarily inflate those figures greatly, but would add years to his contract and ensure he gets paid handsomely over the long term. Thomas has grown into a defensive leader and ended last year as possibly the leading safety in the NFL. He’s staying in Seattle beyond 2014, that isn’t in question. They won’t let him get away. The only question is when they start to talk about a new deal.
The Seahawks have structured the Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett contracts in a way that’ll make it easier to re-sign existing players on the roster. Avril’s deal is actually only worth $13m with incentives according to Brian McIntyre and his cap hit in 2013 is just $3.75m. Which is pretty astonishing. Michael Bennett’s cap hit in 2013 will be $4.8m. As a duo, they’re taking up slightly more room than Matt Flynn ($7.25m).
It basically means the Seahawks have $6.43m in cap space (per Clayton) available this year. The only reason they’d choose not to spend it is to push cap into 2014 to aid contract negotiations. So getting stuff done now really just saves time and rewards 2-3 players that really deserve their money.
The only stumbling block could be the mega-deal signed by Dashon Goldson in Tampa Bay worth $41.5m. He’ll earn $9m against the cap in 2013 and 2014, with earning potential of around $8m in 2015 and 2016. That’s probably the starting point for any new contract for Thomas, perhaps pushing this particular re-sign into next year. An expensive receiver market (Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace) could also make for tricky talks with Tate — even if he’s a less established player.
Perhaps one of the reasons we haven’t seen any movement on Alan Branch (or any other defensive tackle or linebacker for that matter) is because they’re waiting to see where they’re at when negotiations for players like Chancellor, Tate and maybe Thomas are concluded. This appears to be an off-season based around priorities and opportunism. The #1 priority would’ve been to improve the pass rush. Job done. Priority #2 would’ve been to get an impact player with the #25 pick. Again — job done (just a month earlier than anyone imagined). Now the third priority might be keeping the core of this team together for the long haul.
It’s a priority that might drift on for a few years yet. As guys like Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright and eventually Russell Wilson become eligible for new deals, that will likely engulf any available spending money. We might not see the kind of calculated moves we saw this year for Avril and Bennett — and we’re very unlikely to see the big splash moves for guys like Sidney Rice and Zach Miller.
In fact you could probably make a case for 2013 being Seattle’s best chance to challenge for a Super Bowl. It’s not such a ridiculous suggestion — they’re in the perfect storm right now. They’ve added key free agents, they can still accommodate expensive veterans like Rice, they can make a big trade for Percy Harvin and they have a group of young Pro-Bowl/All-Pro starters earning a pittance (Wilson, Sherman etc). Soon those players won’t be earning a pittance any more and it’ll start to suffocate the cap. Players like Rice will move on with replacements needing to be found in the draft at a cheap price.
The 2013 Seahawks might be the most talented they’ll ever be. That doesn’t mean it’s championship or bust this year. Far from it. But they may never have such a balanced, youthful and loaded roster like this again. It’ll be almost impossible to maintain from a financial point of view. There will be future off-seasons where the needs extend beyond simply finding a big body to play defensive tackle and a WILL replacement for Leroy Hill. This is a unique year for this franchise.
In other news…
– The Seahawks were awarded two 7th round compensatory picks today. The addition of Matt Flynn and Jason Jones cancelled out the moves that saw John Carlson move to Minnesota and David Hawthorne head to New Orleans. Seattle gets the picks for losing Charlie Whitehurst and Atari Bigby. It means they have ten picks in the 2013 draft — 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7.
– It’s a big week for Star Lotulelei. He’s expected to participate in Utah’s pro-day on Wednesday and we should find out more about the heart condition that kept him out of the combine.
– I’d recommend reading this X’s & O’s piece from a Minnesota Vikings fan courtesy of Field Gulls on how Seattle can get the most out of Percy Harvin.
– You will notice there’s a new image at the top of the sidebar these days. Seahawks Draft Blog is now pleased to be an associate of the NFL’s official online store. I’ve never asked for any donations from you guys, but the blog does come with monthly running costs that come out of my own pocket every time. So all I ask is if you’ve enjoyed five years of this website and are planning on buying a new Percy Harvin jersey — do it through the link on this site and help me out along the way.
– Some people have asked about San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten. Here’s his tape vs BYU, Colorado State and Utah State: