Seattle getting creative in the passing game?
I’m fascinated by the interest in Jermichael Finley. He was straight on a plane to Seattle and reports are suggesting a deal is close.
If he does indeed agree terms with the Seahawks, I have two thoughts:
1) Moving on from Miller
If the Seahawks choose to cut Zach Miller and sign Finley, we’ll see a different offense in 2014.
Miller has been used predominantly as a blocker. His role as a receiver has been fiercely limited in Seattle, mostly due to injuries on the offensive line (2011 & 2013) or the fact they’re breaking in a rookie quarterback (2012).
We never saw the kind of production he flashed in Oakland.
But at the same time, he’s also a marginal athlete by modern NFL standards.
He can’t run.
We saw that in week 13 against the Saints, when a wide open Miller bumbled his way into the red zone on a broken coverage.
That should’ve been a touchdown.
If they’re swapping blocking ability for a bigger playmaker, that’s a fairly significant move for a team that wants to run the ball first and foremost. Especially considering they’ll be breaking in a new right tackle following Breno Giacomini’s departure to New York.
Finley’s a downfield runner, a seam-buster who finds mismatches and makes plays.
He aint no blocker.
Anthony McCoy and Luke Willson are also more receiver than blocker.
Using three tight ends like Finley, McCoy and Willson would suggest the Seahawks are planning to make the position more of a focal point in the passing game.
But it also takes away some of the protection benefit you get from a guy like Miller.
You’d have to compensate for that somehow, especially when you’re breaking in a new tackle.
2) Turning Finley into a receiver
Could they sign him to act as a big receiver?
By that I don’t mean lining up outside, running down the sideline and trying to win the red line.
I mean lining up in the slot, ala Jimmy Graham.
New Orleans don’t ask Graham to block much — because he can’t.
He’s a terrible blocker.
Instead he runs routes from the inside and finds mismatches with his unique size and speed.
There’s nothing really stopping the Seahawks bringing in Finely on a deal worth around $2.5m and essentially using him as a slot receiver.
You can limit his snaps. You use McCoy and Willson as your tight ends (or even Miller if he’s kept).
It’s not a crazy idea. It’d take away some of the burden of losing Golden Tate and it’d give the Seahawks the big target over the middle they currently lack.
Jermichael Finley leaves Seattle without a contract http://t.co/Ho4a35wXzb
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 14, 2014
Earl Thomas extension forthcoming?
Why did the Seahawks cut Chris Clemons this week?
Why not part ways when they cut Red Bryant and Sidney Rice?
Was it just insurance in case they lost Michael Bennett to Chicago?
Or is there something else behind the timing of the move?
They didn’t bring in another defensive lineman after re-signing Tony McDaniel. They haven’t made any move yet that would require an extra $7.5m in space.
Maybe it’s time to focus on Earl Thomas’ inevitable new contract?
Along with keeping Bennett, that had to be the top priority this off-season.
It’s a foregone conclusion Thomas gets an extension at some point this year.
Perhaps we’re getting closer to the day where that’s announced?
Seahawks free agency status check
Jason Hatcher, who visited Seattle at the start of free agency, is signing with the Redskins according to Ian Rapoport.
There’s no way the Seahawks could match the $27.5m Washington are offering. That’s Michael Bennett money.
Rapoport is also hinting at a possible return to Seattle for Sidney Rice:
This is an interesting twist. I’m told the #Seahawks are now interested in re-signing WR Sidney Rice, a salary cap casualty.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2014
Even if Rice re-signs, I’d expect receiver to be an early draft target. He’s coming off an ACL injury and has been dogged by injuries throughout his career. It’d surely only be a short term, value move.
This receiver class is too good not to tap into in round one or two. Adding Rice would take some pressure off a rookie to have an instant impact, given how notoriously difficult the position is for a year-one player.
Walter Thurmond is visiting the 49ers after making a trip to Jacksonville.
The Seahawks have re-signed quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, while Chris Clemons has now completed his deal with the Jaguars.
Of the remaining free agents available, here are three to keep an eye on:
Charles Brown (T) — former New Orleans blocker, played for Pete Carroll at USC. Could’ve been a Seahawks pick in 2010 had Eric Berry lasted until #6. He’s a possible depth pick at tackle.
O’Brien Schofield (DE) — after his deal with the Giants was vetoed, could he return to Seattle at a discount price?
Jared Allen (DE) — a truly bizarre free agency for Allen so far. But if he’s willing to play for a ring, Seattle still makes so much sense.
The biggest rivalry in football right now is Seattle vs San Francisco.
Yeah, there’s a lot of angst between the teams. There’s some great storylines at play.
But you know what makes it really fascinating?
These are the two best teams in the NFL.
They are built almost identically. Strength, speed, depth. Run the ball. Big plays. Great defense. Investing in young talent. Solid, inspired coaching.
And most of all they have zero dependence on one single aspect of the game. They’ll beat you with offense, defense or even special teams.
It didn’t matter who Seattle played from the AFC in the Super Bowl. The result would’ve been the same.
And I imagine the 49ers would’ve served up a similar beating too.
The AFC is a finesse league, driven by ageing pocket passers like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
The NFC is fast becoming a brutal kill or be killed endurance test. All thanks to Seattle and San Francisco.
But on top of that they have supreme balance.
The Broncos’ answer to getting destroyed in the Super Bowl is to sign more big names in free agency.
Some people will argue the additions of Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Demarcus Ware look pretty good.
And yet here’s the likely reality — had all three been playing for Denver in the Super Bowl, the score would’ve still been 43-8.
If these teams want to compete with the NFC’s best, they need to look into what they do well.
Denver should be investing in youth, searching for greater balance and getting tougher up front.
Not throwing money at a 28-year-old cornerback who’s constantly banged up, a safety Cleveland were happy to replace with Donte Whitner and a soon-to-be 32-year-old pass rusher who just looks way past his best (and also picks up little nagging injuries).
Heck, they’d have been better off saving money and going after some of Seattle’s free agents — Clinton McDonald, Walter Thurmond, Red Bryant.
Get some toughness in there.
The Seahawks and 49ers have nothing to fear in the AFC because the ‘power’ teams like Denver are not adapting.
They’re simply throwing good money at big names, when really they should be looking at the real reasons they were embarrassed in the Super Bowl.
They’re too reliant on a passing offense and they aren’t tough enough.
It certainly wasn’t because of a lack of expensive, ageing stars.
One to monitor
If the Seahawks go searching for defensive line depth in the draft, Oregon’s Taylor Hart is one to keep an eye on.
Taylor Hart/DL/Oregon shines at pro-day. As fast as 4.78s in forty at 284lbs. Wrap up later on.
— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) March 13, 2014
He’s 6-6 and +280lbs. His arms are a shade under 33 inches long.
Physically he’s pretty Seahawky. And he has the potential to get back up to 290lbs and retain most of that 4.7 speed.
Five players who would make sense at #32
Just my take in reaction to the first three days of free agency.
This is based on who should be available. Although I’m bending the rules with #1 — I just wanted to get him on the list.
#1 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
He has similar traits to Golden Tate. Plays above his size, very competitive in the air and high points the football superbly. He’s a solid return man and a very good athlete. He screams ‘Seahawks’, even if they might be looking for a bigger receiver ideally.
#2 Joel Bitonio (T/G, Nevada)
Comparable athlete to the top tackles in this class (Robinson, Matthews, Lewan). Looks like a Logan Mankins clone. Capable of playing guard or tackle at the next level. Insanely underrated.
#3 Martavis Bryant (WR, Clemson)
The Seahawks are prepared to roll the dice on unique athleticism. Bryant has the complete package of size, speed and the athletic qualities they love. He’s a big play waiting to happen. He’s a 4.4 runner at 6-4, 211lbs.
#4 Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
Big, long tackle with 6-6 height and 35 3/8 inch arms. Just a really solid football player and someone they might be willing to invest in to replace Breno Giacomini.
#5 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Some people love it when I highlight Coleman, others hate it. At the end of the day, he’s running a 4.5 at 6-6 and 225lbs. At the combine he looked in fantastic shape. There just aren’t many people on Earth like Brandon Coleman.
By the way, don’t get our hopes up Charley…
Charley Casserly says he's not convinced Aaron Donald won't be available for #Seahawks with 32nd pick.
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) March 13, 2014
As much as I’d love Casserly to be right, Aaron Donald should be a top-15 pick.