I was half expecting something to happen this weekend. Kam Chancellor getting a new deal. Tony McDaniel signing. Whatever. It’s been as quiet and slow this week as the previous seven days were explosive and enthralling.
John Schneider’s admittance that the next priority is to extend the contracts of their own players suggested something might be close. Maybe this will take a little longer than expected? Once Chancellor gets his new contract (and it’s probably a formality) they’ll see how much cap room remains and plan from there. We could see further cuts as this things get worked out, especially if they also want to offer new deals to Earl Thomas and Golden Tate too.
Until then I guess everything else is on hold. Seattle’s two greatest needs on paper still seem to be defensive tackle and linebacker. They are the only two positions where they’re potentially losing starters.
There’s every chance they’ve identified two replacements in the draft and have an exceptionally strong feeling they’ll land the players they want. After all, they made such plans for Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson last year. Perhaps we’ll see many of the defensive tackles falling into the late second, giving the Seahawks a pool of talent to choose from? Maybe they know a mid-to-late linebacker who’s going to come in and compete for (and possibly win) the starting WILL job?
Or perhaps they feel comfortable with this being a deep class until about the mid-third round and appreciate they’ll get a pretty good player whatever the circumstances?
In that scenario, nothing is out of the question. So while defensive tackle and WILL are holes that need to be filled, they aren’t such striking needs that they simply must be addressed without question on day two of the draft.
We’ve discussed the option of drafting a swing guard/tackle prospect at #56 when I mocked Dallas Thomas to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. I still think they feel good enough about their coaching situation and ability to find players to avoid going offensive line early. I think we could see another raw talent added like J.R. Sweezy. Another project for Tom Cable. Overall there’s already quality depth at guard on the roster and getting a veteran backup tackle isn’t exactly difficult.
The other dynamic though is the constant thought process of planning ahead. Cheap labour is vital for Seattle when they’re making all these exciting moves for Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Golden Tate, Brandon Browner, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright (plus others) all earn a relative pittance. Eventually, some will earn the big bucks. So finding ways to make savings elsewhere will be crucial if the plan is to keep the team intact.
Regular visitors will know I’m a fan of Breno Giacomini. I think he gets a raw deal from fans based purely on a laundry list of penalties early in the 2012 season. The perception stuck that Giacomini wasn’t doing his job. The reality, in my view, was very different. Once he’d cut out the mental errors and penalties, he thrived. Watch him perform against a collection of the league’s best pass rushers and you’ll see what I mean. He had a terrific 2012 season on the whole.
However, regular visitors will also know how often we’ve debated the importance of the right tackle position. A right tackle has the benefit of protecting a quarterback’s strong side, he often gets help from a tight end and they’re mostly judged on their ability to create running lanes. There are still teams (like Seattle) who keep their best pass rusher attacking the blind side. Any right tackle coming up against the Seahawks for example has to pass-protect against Red Bryant for the first two downs. It’s not a premium position and it’s the main reason why so few teams put a lot of emphasis on it. Most people would struggle to name more than five right tackles in the NFL. There’s a reason for that.
I firmly believe you can and should be able to plug guys into that role with good coaching. And yet Breno Giacomini is due to earn $4.25m in 2013 in the final year of his contract.
That’s pretty high.
One way around this could be to sign an extension now, giving Giacomini long-term security while spreading out the cost over (let’s say) a three-year deal. As much as a right tackle can be plugged in, consistency is also key. Keeping the same faces together on the offensive line is one of the best ways to create a productive unit. Five guys have to work as one.
If a new contract doesn’t happen, then Giacomini might be one of the players you can make a saving on down the line. Rather than continue to pay him $4.25m (or a similar amount) you could pay a player drafted with the #56 pick a salary worth $1.2m at it’s highest point. Ohio State tackle Mike Adams was the #56 pick last year (taken by Pittsburgh). His cap hit as a rookie was $644K. He will take up $805K in 2013, $966K in 2014 and $1.12m in 2015. That’s a considerable saving compared to the money Giacomini is earning this season.
Even if Giacomini is willing to take a long term contract to lessen the cap hit, he’s not going to accept a salary as low as the one Mike Adams signed. So even as a self-confessed member of the Breno Giacomini fan-club, I understand a situation where he moves on next year.
The best way to maximise the cap saving would be to draft a rookie next year as a direct replacement. However, this also means a rookie would have to start immediately and that comes with its own pitfalls. Drafting a player this year and using 2013 as preparation could be useful. And it’s the main reason why I’m identifying Kyle Long in this piece.
Most people are aware of his back-story, but here’s a quick summary. He’s the son of Howie and brother of Chris, but actually went to Florida State to play baseball. It’s a little bit odd that he didn’t play football until his sophomore year at High School given his bloodlines, but I’ve not been able to find any information as to why that was. He failed out at FSU and was arrested for a DUI in 2009. Apparently Howie gave him a few home truths during this time and after a year away from sport, he went down the JUCO route and eventually ended up at Oregon where he played tackle and guard.
On tape he looks like a guy with limited football experience. There are occasions where he very clearly struggles to identify what a defense is going to do and this is more evident, perhaps worryingly, against the run. Strangely for a guy with his size and attitude, he’s better in pass protection. Guys like that often get labelled as ‘finesse’ but he’s not what you’d call ‘a technician’. I think he just needs more coaching and more time on the field.
And yet physically he has so much potential and absolutely looks the part at 6-6 and 313lbs. The Seahawks seem to want size not just at defensive tackle, but also on the offensive line. James Carpenter is massive while Giacomini is 6-7. None of the other guys are ‘small’ either. Long could theoretically work as a guard or tackle in Seattle’s scheme. He’s agile and sinks his hips well to get leverage on pass plays. His hand use is relatively good but could still use some improvement. He’s relaxed and confident when defending the edge and does a good job mirroring rushers. One look at his frame and he appears made to play in the NFL — and he has the upper body power to eventually excel against the run. He’s an athlete playing on the offensive line and these days, those guys are rare. It’s why he could still work his way into the early second round.
Given all his issues at Florida State, his lack of experience and the fact he was concentrating on baseball just a few years ago, his rise to prominence is fairly spectacular. If the upward curve continues, you could be looking at a high-value pick — especially for a team that has one of the best in the business working the offensive line.
He seems tailor-made to spend a year with Cable enhancing his skills. The Seahawks were happy to spell Sweezy with John Moffitt last year to give the rookie needed time on the field. Why wouldn’t they do the same between Long and Giacomini? Then in 2014 you have a well prepared athletic specimen to come in at right tackle who is earning $800k instead of $4.2m.
I also get the sense Pete Carroll would buy into the NFL pedigree and ‘name’ value of Long, plus the potential. The only thing that might be holding them back is the evidence they are prepared to search for diamonds in the rough such as Sweezy, lessening the desire to go for offensive lineman early. Yet in many ways drafting Long is a move that makes a lot of sense — especially when it comes to cap room and finances going forward.