Tuesday notes: Free agency & turning pro

January 3rd, 2017 | Written by Rob Staton

We’ve talked recently about Seattle’e estimated $37m in cap space for 2017. There is an opportunity, for the first time in a few years, for the Seahawks to add a significant contributor from another team.

That said, here are some points that are worth considering:

1. With the cap rising, other teams also have more to spend

Seattle’s estimated cap space for 2017 puts them 20th only in the NFL per spotrac. So 19 other teams will have more to spend. And while it might be difficult for the Cleveland Browns at #1 ($108m in cap space) to attract free agents, here are some of the other teams with major money available:

#1 Cleveland ($108m)
#2 San Francisco ($87m)
#3 Tampa Bay ($84m)
#4 Tennessee ($74m)
#5 New England ($72m)
#6 Washington ($67m)
#7 Jacksonville ($67m)
#8 Carolina ($63m)
#9 Chicago ($63m)
#10 Indianapolis ($60m)

Teams like San Francisco could be aggressive in free agency as they try and rejuvenate the roster and avoid a repeat of 2-14. Jacksonville were big spenders a year ago. Contenders like New England and Carolina could make a splash — while teams like Washington, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Indianapolis will feel they can take a step forward with a strong off-season.

Only New England can compare to Seattle in terms of track record and an opportunity to win a Super Bowl — but players will realise that the likes of Carolina and Tampa Bay aren’t a million miles away. If it becomes a battle of finance, the Seahawks might get priced out.

2. Teams have room to retain the big names

If the Bengals wish to keep Kevin Zeitler, they have $47m to spend. If the Cardinals really like Calais Campbell, they have $39m to spend. If the Panthers want to retain Kawann Short, they have $63m to spend.

In the case of Zeitler and Short, the franchise tag is very much in play. A franchise tag at defensive tackle in 2016 was worth $13.6m. Something similar in 2017 would be a bargain for Short considering Mo Wilkerson’s average salary is $17.2m a year.

The Bengals, a notoriously thrifty organisation, might be less willing to pay a $13-14m O-line tender for Zeitler — but with the highest paid guard in the NFL (Kelechi Osemele) earning $11.7m a year and those just below getting around $10m, they have a nice benchmark to begin negotiations.

3. Who could be available?

Calais Campbell and Arizona will be an interesting case. This year his cap hit was $15.25m and he earned $14.75m in 2015 and $11.25m in 2014. He’s a similar age to Michael Bennett with a similar reputation — and it doesn’t appear Bennett will touch those types of numbers on his new contract.

Will Campbell appreciate the situation and work on a reduced pay extension to stay with Arizona? Possibly. He might also wish to see if he can continue to earn around $14-15m on the open market, considering the way D-line salaries have ballooned in recent years.

That doesn’t mean he’d get that type of money as a free agent — but if it gets that far, teams will have the opportunity to lure him away from Arizona even if it’s for $10-12m instead of $14-15m. With the way Campbell played in 2016 — he’s worth every penny of the salary he received this year.

Bruce Arians stated in his end of season press conference they will franchise tag Chandler Jones if they can’t agree a contract extension. That will be costly.

The Ravens might make a business decision on right tackle Ricky Wagner. They only have $19m to spend in 2017 and will likely prioritise defensive tackle Brandon Williams. It’s possible Williams eats up a large portion of that $19m — making it likely Wagner reaches free agency.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a bit of a cap problem. They currently have around $4m to spend in 2017. That will rise when they cut backup quarterback Nick Foles to save $10.75m. Cutting injury plagued Jamaal Charles saves them a further $7m.

That would create enough room to sign Eric Berry to a contract extension. They would have to make further cuts to try and retain defensive tackle Dontari Poe.

4. As the cap rises, so will contracts

Remember a year ago when every fan base was discussing the possibility of adding Olivier Vernon? He was considered a value option. He had 7.5 sacks in 2015, had 6.5 the year before. Maybe you could get him on a Cliff Avril type deal for a couple of seasons?

Vernon eventually agreed a contract with the Giants worth $17m a year.

Kelechi Osemele’s big contract in Oakland showed this wasn’t just a D-line craze. Teams have more money to spend than ever with the cap increasing rapidly every year. It’ll be interesting to see if the market steadies in 2017 or continues to boom. Who’d bet against another big pay rise for those available? And will that price out the Seahawks at the top end of the market?

5. What could be an alternative for Seattle?

Veteran trades can eliminate the need to negotiate a contract. The Seahawks dealt for Jimmy Graham knowing what his salary was for the next three years. They did sign a contract extension with Percy Harvin — but he was towards the end of his rookie deal.

We’ve seen this team be creative before. Would the Niners be willing to allow Joe Staley to move on as rumoured a few weeks ago? His deal is worth $11m in 2017 but drops to $7.7m in 2018 and 2019. If the Panthers draft one of Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook with the #8 overall pick — would they consider dealing Jonathan Stewart? His cap hit is $8.25m in 2017 but drops to $2.5m in 2018.

The Seahawks don’t have a ton of draft capital to spend but Over The Cap is estimating they’ll receive compensatory picks in rounds three and five. For the first time in 2017, teams will be able to trade compensatory picks. Would they gave up the third rounder for a veteran?

Elsewhere…

Several big name prospects declared for the draft in the last 24 hours including:

Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)
Samaje Perine (RB, Oklahoma)
John Ross (WR, Washington)
Budda Baker (S, Washington)
Elijah Qualls (DT, Washington)
Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)
Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)

By the time you’ve read this there’ll be others to add to the list. It’s that time of year, with only the National Championship game left to play in the college season.

Two players to keep an eye on during the draft process are David Sharpe (T, Florida) and David Njoku (TE, Miami). Sharpe has quite an interesting frame and played well at times this year. We highlighted him at the start of the season as someone who could rise amid a poor overall offensive tackle class. With so little depth at the position this year, Sharpe has a chance to really bolster his stock with a good combine.

Njoku meanwhile is an absolute freak. Until his decision I didn’t know he was intending to turn pro. He’s a big time athlete at 6-4 and 245lbs and could be a winner at the combine. This highlights video will give you a flavour of what he’s capable of:

The Seahawks might not be in the market for another tight end having drafted Nick Vannett in 2016 and with Jimmy Graham still under contract. They could also try and re-sign Luke Willson. Yet Njoku looks destined to have an impact at the next level and could be the next big ‘move’ TE. He might even get some first round love by the end of the draft process.

One final name to monitor is Bradley Chubb at NC State. Earlier today I watched Louisville’s blow out victory against NC State from a few weeks ago. Despite the one-sided scoreline Chubb did as good a job as anyone corralling Lamar Jackson in the open field and had a sack working the interior rush. He’s the cousin of Nick Chubb — and we know he’s a special athlete.

Chubb’s 21.5 TFL’s in 2016 is second all time at NC State — only beaten by Mario Williams’ final year before becoming the #1 pick in 2006. At 6-4 and 275lbs — he has inside/out rusher potential but also experience playing linebacker.

In a loaded year for defensive ends and EDGE rushers, Chubb might provide some value.

125 Responses to “Tuesday notes: Free agency & turning pro”

  1. JT says:

    Ha, great timing on Sharpe. He declared today too.

  2. JT says:

    With the cap continuing to rise at a crazy pace, the contracts for UFA’s are going to look silly to the casual fan.

    Zeitler’s offers will probably start at $10 mil A/Y, like the contracts for Kyle Long and David Decastro. Don’t be surprised if he surpasses what Osemele got last offseason ($11.7 mil A/Y)

  3. AlaskaHawk says:

    What the heck is Cleveland doing with all that money? They just don’t seem to care about their team or their players. It’s sad.

    If I were a quarterback that could get drafted in the first round – I would tell them point blank before the draft that there was no way I would play on that team. Because Cleveland is where quarterbacks go to have their career ruined.

    • JT says:

      The Browns went with the full tank this year, a la the 76ers in the NBA. They were a brutal team, but there may be light at the end of the tunnel with the new management hired last year.

      They’ve actually done a good job of collecting draft capital, and Hue Jackson is a good coach. It’ll take time but I think they can build something for the first time in ages.

      • AlaskaHawk says:

        The Browns have been in full tank mode for a number of years. Kind of like the Rams and the 49ers are in full tank mode.

        Sounds like you got a lot of hope for the team. Good luck!!

  4. KingRajesh says:

    Watching how Miami is getting Njoku the ball makes me really mad at Bevell. If you’ve got an athletic monster, use him! You’re telling me you can’t use Graham that way? Send him up the seam while you fake the screen with Baldwin? Run what looks to be like a Dagger concept to get him the ball in the flat with room to run with blockers in front? Throw him the ball on a slant on the goalline?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I regularly hear this complaint with Bevell — and yet Pete Carroll, when asked about Graham’s season yesterday, instantly made reference to how his blocking has improved and that he’s become the complete player.

      I know it’s easy to point the finger at the OC — but Pete Carroll is on top of most of the decisions with this team — on offense and defense. And IMO what we’re seeing on the field is PC’s vision for Graham.

      • KingRajesh says:

        Rob, I completely get that. Sometimes, we need him to block. The line is trash. We all know this.

        My main issues is just that when we have a designed pass for Graham, it’s usually a screen. Where is the imagination?

        • Rob Staton says:

          Brock Huard recently broke down the Arizona game and came up with about seven plays where they schemed to get Graham open and one of a multitude of things went wrong — OL usually, but also the way Arizona worked their coverage because they were getting easy pressure.

          I know it’s always tempting to wonder why Graham doesn’t get loads of attention every week — but I’m 100% convinced it is not down to a lack of want. This offense is extremely volatile, capable of being insanely explosive but also being knocked right out of whack with the smallest amount of adversity. And that, more than anything, impacts Graham’s production. If they get the running game right and get teams to put eight in the box — Graham will be an unstoppable force. Right now, teams are winning with four rushers, sometimes less, and they don’t respect the run game. Big problem and makes it easier to defend Graham — either in coverage or because they get to Wilson.

          Screens are just a way to get the ball away from the O-line as quickly as possible.

          • dave crockett says:

            It’s worth adding, “he’s not gonna catch 100 balls in this offense,” to quote Bill Parcells re: Terrell Owens in Dallas. The team really doesn’t NEED that to have a successful pass offense or to justify his salary. If that’s how you judge Graham you’ll always be disappointed. He caught 65 balls this season, and that’s with a good handful of low concentration drops. Adding one more catch per game would give him just over 80, which I think the team would be thrilled with. That would hardly call for some radical change in his usage.

            The key source of disappointment is the point you raised, Rob. He’s been needed in pass pro way too much since he’s been here. That’s the problem; not the routes he’s running.

            One additional problem I’d highlight is overall red zone, but particularly red zone passing. I’m not for forcing the ball to Graham. Instead, I am for taking Kearse out of red zone packages entirely and splitting Graham out in his place. Put Willson or Williams in at TE.

    • Hawktalker says:

      Nice to see a post like this. I have very similar feelings about having a guy Graham’s potential and ability only to see it under utilized. In a world where you’re having some serious offensive problems, just get the ball to the big guy. Not an overly complicated idea. Worst case, just throw him a half a dozen jump balls in the end zone. He probably catches four out of six of them for touchdowns

      • Rob Staton says:

        It is much more complicated than this though. So much more.

        For starters, when a defense doesn’t worry about your running game at all, especially in the red zone, they’ll blanket cover the best target (eg Graham). How often has a defense given Russell Wilson a look of Jermaine Kearse 1v1 and Graham shadowed by a corner and safety? The play call might be to Graham initially — if Wilson, who trusts Kearse implicitly — then decides to go with the 1v1 matchup instead, that isn’t on Bevell. It’s on Wilson.

        In the game against Arizona they actually schemed a play to get Graham wide open in the end zone at the one yard line. Because the O-line left a huge bizarre gaping hole between the LT and LG a defender had a free run to Wilson. If that guy gets blocked it’s the easiest score Graham has all year. Again — it’s a nice play call. Didn’t execute.

        You know why Richard Sherman exploded at Bevell during the Rams game? Because they did exactly what you just asked for. A throw to Graham, who was covered, nearly leading to an interception. This idea of ‘throw him a jump ball’ works in a comments section on an internet blog — but it’s not just as simple as throw him the ball in reality. Especially when you don’t have the weapons to force strong consideration to the run (eight man box).

        If this team had Graham and the 2012-2014 running game, he’d have 10-12 TD’s. Purely because of the commitment of the LB’s and a safety to Marshawn Lynch. Until the Seahawks get back to running the ball well, we’ll see this version of Graham. And let’s be right here, this version of Graham still set a team record for TE stats in 2016 and would’ve easily topped 1000 yards if not for the fact he missed most of the first two games recovering from a career threatening knee injury.

        Bevell isn’t flawless by any means but some of the criticism that comes his way lacks context.

        • Michael (CLT) says:

          This scenario (not respecting the run), to me, is the top priority in 2017. It is the missing identity.

        • STTBM says:

          Well stated, Rob. And I agree with most of your points.

          I do, however, think that part of the problem with Grahams lack of TD’s is 1) Wilson is ultra-careful there most of the time, and 2) Wilson just doesnt throw jump balls all that well and 3) Seattle is very reluctant to throw skinny posts or slants or indeed to throw between the hash marks in the end zone; and those types of jump balls were a staple for Graham in NO. Its an area they need to force Wilson to improve on, and IMO we wont see that improvement unless and until Carl Smith leaves the qb coach position. Look his history up with qb’s and their stats from years 1-4; its interesting.

        • Mr. Offseason says:

          Damn Rob. You could have articles that simply analyze game film and I would read those all day.

          What I’m hearing is that Jimmy Graham’s prime years are being wasted. I hope it doesn’t stay that way.

    • Smitty1547 says:

      Could not agree with you more, he does not know how to adapt to special talent, wasted Harvin when he was healthy as well.

      • Smitty1547 says:

        The other reason that drafting McCaffrey would be a waste, we need to draft sledgehammer he can just hand the ball to off Guard.

      • Rob Staton says:

        He’s coped pretty well finding a way to max out Russell Wilson’s special talent.

        Did a nice job with Lockett last year too. Doug Baldwin has also been exceptional for Seattle.

        And when Harvin was here, they literally forced the ball to him in an attempt to get him involved as much as possible.

        • STTBM says:

          Wilson missed a wide-open Lockett for TD’s at least six times last year–and nearly that many this year. Bevell isnt the problem. Its the ultra conservative take on deep balls and the Red Zone championed by Smith the qb coach. This guy has a proven track record of slightly reducing INT’s but also reducing TD passes bigtime across 3-4 seasons. Its just his philosophy. Bevell is part of that, as is Carrol, but Bevell was never that conservative before–certainly not when he had qb he could trust.

      • GeoffU says:

        Apparently you didn’t notice Harvin’s route running

    • JT says:

      Can we appreciate what Graham has done this year? Never before has a player come back from a torn patellar tendon and be successful right away. In fact, Graham and Mo Claiborne are the only players i know who’ve had any real success at all. Claiborne took years to become a great player afterwards, and Graham took months.

      Maybe he could be utilized a bit better, but remember the Seattle offense doesn’t have nearly the passing volume that the Saints did with Jimmy G. I’m ecstatic with what the team got from him this season – couldn’t ask for more.

    • Ukhawk says:

      I’m just happy Graham has and continues to recover and be successful following a very bad injury. Think they will turn it on further in the Playoffs.

    • Seahawcrates says:

      Jimmy Graham did set the team record for catches and yards for his position and was off by one for touchdowns. He is being used, though I wonder what the optimal target rate is. Obviously much depends on the scheme of the defense. Against SF Russell missed him for a touchdown and threw behind him (still catchable) on the crucial third down after that early Niner fumble. I’ve seen the offense stall when forcing the ball to Harvin and even to Lynch. I think Russell and the offense are at their best when the ball is distriputed. Njoku looks as fast as the defensive backs in the video. Graham does not have that kind of comparative speed against NFL defenders. Not saying Graham is always used optimally but he has been having a darn good year.

      • Hawk Eye says:

        I wish Jimmy had more catches, more looks, but i think it is more about the o line and run game than Bevel. And also Russell throwing to someone else, which just happens.
        I agree with Rob that fixing the run game will fix other things as a result.
        But there are also 29 teams trying to improve also, most have better draft picks and more cap space, so the solutions will not be easy.

        • Hawk Eye says:

          make that 31 other teams trying to improve, so they say……

          • Seahawcrates says:

            Well, not sure the 49ers are currently trying😋

            • Greg Haugsven says:

              Talk about tgrowing behind Graham. I’ve seen Wilding throw more balls being receivers in the 4-5 games and most of the time it’s not because of pressure. I just wonder why when it wasn’t really a problem in the past.

              • Greg Haugsven says:

                I’d be willing to bet that this is Luke Wilson’s last season and I could see them waiting on Britt other that I think Trevor and I both have man crushes on Kevin Zeitler.

                • Trevor says:

                  You are probably right Greg. I like Willson as a role player and think he is a great team guy but he is not a core piece and if the money can be used to add an impact guy like Zietler then I can see them moving on for sure.

                  I know Willson loves Seattle though and think he would take a bit of a team discount to stay.

                  • Mr. Offseason says:

                    Willson shouldn’t cost much to stay. He hasn’t had a stellar year and the draft is pretty loaded at TE.

  5. Steele says:

    This looks to be a less than great offseason in terms of free agency, for the positions of need. If they make a splash, it will have to be via trade. And they have to nail the draft. OL, RB, DL, WR.

  6. Austin Hall says:

    If KC moves on from Charles, that would be an intriguing option.

  7. Trevor says:

    There seems to be incredible disparity between offensive and defensive talent in this draft. Combine this with the fact that we spend way more in cap space on the defensive side of the ball. Makes me think the optimal plan this off-season would to be to spend on offense in Free Agency and draft defense.

    How about this home grown / close ties plan. I did it for fun but it actually makes sense. At lest I think.

    Free Agency Offense

    -Extend Graham 10 mil APY / 4 years (reduce this years cap hit)
    -Extend Britt 4 yrs / 6 mil APY
    -Extend Willson 3 years / 2 mil APY
    *Sign Wilsons old college team mate Zeitler 4 -5 years 10mil APY –
    -Sign Breno 1 yr / 1.5 mil
    -Trade 2018 3rd rounder for Johnathan Stewart unless the Panther cut him.

    May have to overpay for Zeitler but we need a veteran to shore up the OL and he would be ideal. Allowing Ifedi to move to RT. Gilliam, Fant, Rees battle for LT and Breno is a veteran swing guy to bring leadership so clearly lacking.

    Free Agency Defense
    -Sign Shead to rfa tender
    -Extend Kam 3 yrs 8mil per / cap friendly with more guaranteed

    Draft Day #1 and 2 (The all Washington draft)

    Rd #1 Buddah Baker or Adoree Jackson -Ideal long term replacement for Earl and great slot guy until then.
    Rd #2 Elijah Qualls or Chris Wormley- Big bodied DT who can give some push to combine with Reed, Rubin and Qjeff for a young athletic DT rotation.
    Rd #3 Kevin King- Ideal Seahawks developmental corner
    Rd #3 Comp Joe Mathis – Most under rated edge rusher in the class.

    We add experience and continuity on offense to help rebuild run game and youth on defense.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I could see a plan similar to this — but I wouldn’t expect them to draft a safety in R1. Earl mentioned retirement but he’s 27 and if he’s on the field, Baker probably isn’t. I think they’d be more likely to look at Luani in round three (easier to accept him not being on the field) and I say that as someone who really likes Budda Baker.

      If they go defense in R1 the strength is EDGE or twitchy guys like Reddick that we discussed the other day.

      • Trevor says:

        You are probably right. My thinking was a guy like Baker or Jackson could play the slot corner role and be groomed for the FS role. But you are right a DB for this front office in Rd #1 is highly unlikely.

        • Rob Staton says:

          I actually could see them taking a sparky DB like that over a pure corner (unless said corner is a special athlete). I just wonder whether that’s something they do this year. They might do. I wouldn’t rule it out. But because I think now we expect Earl to keep playing it kind of lessens the need for a safety. So unless you’re convinced Baker can play slot corner, it’s a R1 for a backup. Jackson might be more likely because I think he’s well suited to the slot but can also play outside or safety plus returns. For them to consider it though I suspect they would need to be as aggressive as you’ve suggested here to fix the run game in free agency.

          • Trevor says:

            I think you have been dead on the mark about Petes frustration with not being able to run the ball this year and I would be shocked if they are not ultra aggressive in fixing it. Last time he was talking like this they went out and got Beast Mode. Going to be interesting for sure.

          • Trevor says:

            On Adoree Jackson. I loved how badly he tried to get back out and play in that Rose Bowl last night and was devastated he couldn’t. In a year when guys skipped bowl games to see him passionate and wanting to get out there with his team mates even when injured spoke volumes to me and I am sure something PC/ JS would notice with the always compete mantra.

            • Hawk Eye says:

              i doubt Willson resigns for $2 mil per, unless you can use your secret Canadian Handshake with him (eh?). Get him a Tim Hortons card with unlimited coffee?Look at what SF re-signed their TE for, who was his teammate in college. I bet someone gives him at least $4 mil/yr
              And Stewart would be a lot cheaper than a 3rd round pick, high salary, injury history, etc. I would think the Hawks wait to see who gets cut.
              Like the other moves, but don’t forget about Kam. Injury prone, but seems to be the heartbeat of the team.
              Sadly, I doubt they go after Zeitler. Paying top dollar for an outsider does not seem to fit their plan. I think they see it as upsetting the balance in the room

              • Trevor says:

                I know he loves Sea and would likely take a home team discount but you are right. He will probably get a better offer on the market and I think they drafted Vennett with the idea he would be replacing Willson as TE2.

                Never know though however a Tims card with unlimited double doubles could be pretty enticing.

          • D-OZ says:

            If Jackson was available in the 1st. I think they would run to the podium. He is a special talent that they seek out. He can do so much on the field on both sides of the ball. Plus he is insurance for Lockett who may not be ready to start the season next year. Lockett would be able to concentrate more on receiving too. Giving them two elite return men. A situation we would not be in right now. I know how much they covet field tilting special teams.

  8. Trevor says:

    Avrils Cap # is 5.5 mil next year. That is a steal for a double digit sack guy.

    • JT says:

      The Hawks are geniuses for the way they’ve designed these contracts to keep the cap hits consistent year to year. All while the salary cap jumps each year. It’s why a team with their level of veteran talent has room to work with this offseason.

      Bobby Wagz is the first big contract they’ve done with greatly rising cap hits in the future years.

      • Trevor says:

        Yeah their contracts really have been structured beautifully and their cap situation is so clean and easy to understand in comparison to most teams.

        Having less than 1 mil in Dead money is a huge bonus this year.

    • vrtkolman says:

      Avril, Bennett, and Clark’s combined cap hit is at or just below Olivier Vernon’s himself. That is a steal at one of the most high demand positions in football.

  9. Trevor says:

    Love the Devon Hester signing. I know he is not what he once was but it is a lot better than the in house options.

    Also great news on Prosise being a possibility for Falcons if we win this weekend.

    Bennett really is hilarious almost every press conference is a classic.

    • Volume12 says:

      I like that signing as well.

      They’re waiving Tyvis Powell I think.

      • Trevor says:

        Hope they can keep Powell on PS. I still think he can contribute down the road.

        • Seahawcrates says:

          I always kind of figured they were grooming Powell for that role they had designed for Brandon Browner that never panned out. Hybrid safety/linebacker/tight end slot cover guy. I never saw it on the field and Love Browner so much I was really pulling for it/him.

  10. Trevor says:

    NE has all that cap space and still booted Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones. I thought it was for cap reasons but I guess not.

    • vrtkolman says:

      I’m still thinking it’s primarily because of Jones OD’ing right before their first playoff game last year, and Collins doing his own thing rather than playing within the scheme. You have to hand it to Bellicheck, he has the #1 scoring defense in football despite trading away it’s two most talented players. Of course playing in the AFC East is why he can get away with this. The AFC in particular is pretty awful this year when you take into account Carr’s injury. Oakland/Houston might be the worst playoff game on paper in a long, long time.

      • Sea Mode says:

        I’m not sure the whole AFC East argument, though true in itself, is really an excuse for us any more with the state of the NFC West. They could just as easily point out that we get to play four games vs. Rams offense and 49ers nothingness.

        I could easily compare as far as difficulty:
        – ARI / MIA: always a tough matchup, at least on the road. (when their QB is healthy, obviously)
        – LA / BUF: the team that randomly beats you every year the first time around.
        – SF / NYJ: here we have it even easier, as at least the Jets have elite DL and some WR weapons (Marshall, Enunwa)

        • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

          Every team in the AFCE, other than the Patriots, have been plagued by poor ownership, poor management or poor HCs…. some have had the trifecta (see Jets for off and on 20 years). Yes, NE is a very good team, but when you are given 5-6 wins within Division each year… and then settle business with the teams…. just going 4-6 gives you 10-6 record. If you play just above average, say 6-4, you are 12-4 and most likely the #1 or #2 seed in the playoffs. Guaranteeing home games in the playoffs… making the road to the SB much easier. The NFCW has had good times and bad, but the AFCE has been more or less awful. for many many years.

          The two teams which could give the Patriots fits in the playoffs, Chiefs and Steelers.
          Chiefs have the defense, while the Steelers have the offense. The injury to Carr was indeed unfortunate, it would have been nice to see what this Raiders team could do in the playoffs… with all hands on deck.

  11. Trevor says:

    Two great potentially low cost veteran free agents from the Pats Blount and Sheard. Blount would be an ideal big short yardage / power back and Sheard had a down year but might be an ideal veteran rotational pass rusher if you can get him at the right price.

    • bobbyk says:

      I remember being mad that we didn’t get Sheard two years ago. I think he’d be a great addition if the price was right. Maybe on passing downs, Clark could kick in and Sheard from the edge (with Avril/Bennett from the other side). That could be pretty lethal. Wouldn’t see it all the time with Clark but just another pass rushing option in terms of playing matchups too.

  12. Vista says:

    So the hawks are signing Devin Hester

    • Sea Mode says:

      Well, I’d certainly rather kick the tires on on a 3-time all pro returner as a stopgap than a Bryan Walters type.

      I am surprised, however, that it seems they wont give McKissic more of a shot. He is one of those guys that ran poorly for his small size (5-10, 187) in testing (4.57 pro day), but to my eye is clearly faster than that on the field:
      http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000683845/Can-t-Miss-Play-McKissic-flips-in-for-the-return-TD

      Who knows, maybe they will stick with McKissic on KR and Hester on PR, or just ride the hot hand at KR if either has some success.

      • Mr. Offseason says:

        I’ve always loved the idea of getting the legendary player in the twilight of his career on your team for the stretch run. Seahawks are trying to salvage that last bit of juice from Hester’s star-studded career. If he has any kind of big return to help us in the playoffs, it will be absolutely epic.

      • Old but Slow says:

        Just the action of the signing of Hester sends a message to the team that the organization is still trying to do everything to win this thing.

  13. bankhawk says:

    Trev, I liked the gist of the plan you outlined. Question on Graham-is he, in fact up at the end of 2017, or can an êxtension on him wait a year if púsh were to come to shove? If Luke actually đid look to command in the ballpark of 4 mill apy, what about letting him walk and plowing that money into a Zeitler-brackett OL player? I know its highlight tape, and the ground game remains prioritized, but this Njoku kid from Miami has me salivating like Sir Micks Pavlovs dog! Imagine trotting JG and him out together and still having Vannett in-line as a blocker/safety outlet!

  14. Greg Haugsven says:

    And actually Joe Staleys cap hits for a team that traded for him would be even lower.

    2017… $8.95
    2017 & 2018… $5.5

    Not bad for a quality LT

    • Greg Haugsven says:

      2018 & 2019… $5.5

    • Trevor says:

      What do you think it would take to get him? Have you heard they are open to moving him? I guess it will depend on the new GM. He seems like a real blue collar quality guy.

      How about a 3rd round pick for Staley and make Zeitler your #1 FA target.

      2017 OL could go from worst to one of the best.

      Staley, Glow, Britt, Zeitler, Ifedi (Fant, Rees, Hunt developmental guys)

  15. JT says:

    From Tony Pauline today:

    “I continue to hear defensive tackle Vita Vea is returning to school despite being a potential mid-first round choice. As of this afternoon I was informed the plan for the ultra-talented lineman was to properly condition himself in the off season then dominate in 2017.

    Scouts believe the sky is the limit for Vea but are concerned about his weight as well as his motor. If Vea sticks to the game plan and succeeds he has the potential to be a top five selection in 2018.”

  16. C-Dog says:

    Seems like Seattle is probably going to have some pretty stiff competition in FA for any top tier players available. The dream I’ve had is for them to land Campbell or Poe. Poe, in my mind is ideal because of his age, but something I’ve read about him a while ago has been concerns in KC about some chronic lower back issues that creep up keeping him out of games. Possibly something you may not want to contend with out of your highly paid nose tackle.

    If Seattle could find a way to land a quality second tier FA for the DL, and the OL, or figure a way to bring in Jonathan Stewart, those could be some pretty significant additions before the draft. An opportunity for Stewart to finish is career out in Seattle would assuredly be something pretty special for him, and he might be a good guy to have around the younger backs already on the roster that the team still has high hopes for. So, in that way, Stewart makes a lot of sense.

    • Hawk Eye says:

      They will not have the cap space to sign Campbell or Poe, and if they did and paid them more money than Bennett, you know what will happen.
      Also, they will have some key pieces to resign next year, so they will not go crazy in FA this year.
      I am not for Stewart, love the talent, but adding a 30 year old injury prone back does not seem like a solution to an injury prone backfield.
      I would rather go after Blount

  17. DC says:

    Calais Campbell is the lynch pin of the Seahawks off season for me. Add him and you are a couple of tweaks away from having an absolutely complete defense. The DL is flooded in FA this year which helps our cause. Not all with actually hit the market of course. It’s really up to Calais where he goes. I’d be happy to land him in the $10-11M/yr range.

    Avril, Bennett, Campbell & Clark should be able to generate pressure without blitz help. Add a coverage LB and some secondary help (Luani?), another big body to compete and get ready to terrorize once again.

    • Greg Haugsven says:

      A problem I see with that is he could be making more money than every defensive lineman on your team and that can create other problems. Don’t get me wrong I would love me some Campbell, just something to think about.

      • Sea Mode says:

        I thought the same. What do you think if we offered him exactly the same deal as Bennett?

        He would be choosing us anyway to play for a ring, so you have to count on that anyway when you make your offer.

    • Trevor says:

      I love the idea of Calias Campbell and think he would be a great fit.

      What I am not sure is why the Cards would let him walk or what would make the Hawks front runners to sign him. He is clearly a leader in the Cards locker room. From the way their fan base is talking they very much want and expect to re-sign him. That being said if they were going to why would they even let him get to free agency.

      I would love if they signed him but not at the expense of a quality veteran OL signing which I think has to be priority #1.

      • CDub says:

        One thing no one considers with Campbell is: Would he want to play with a division rival against his old team, going against his legacy in Arizona? I am always surprised when this kind of thing actually happens, but obviously money > loyalty in these kind of situations.

        • DC says:

          I think we all consider it. It just comes down to what he wants. Will he reach the market? If so, what is most important to him? He knows Seattle well enough. If you want a great shot at a ring, Seattle or NE are pretty good bets.

          As for his contract, this defense is paid quite well. I don’t think it would stand out like a $10M/yr offensive lineman would.

  18. Ed says:

    Looks like you had your Bevel and Graham chat earlier Rob, so I will shelve it. But, you talk about Njoku and it brings up a good point. If he is the BPA, why wouldn’t the Hawks take him. With Graham blocking getting better, Wilson probably leaving, wouldn’t another beast TE fit on many different levels.

    More 2 TE sets, which helps the running game and relinquishes the need for a FB.

    Trade back a DL and RB being the first two picks.

  19. coachmattson says:

    Rob brings up the point that Jamaal Charles might be a cap casualty. What do you all think about him rejuvenating our running game? I wouldn’t mind having his talent in our backfield!! Thoughts?

    Go Hawks!!

    • Sea Mode says:

      I would, however, mind having his talent and cap hit land on our IR.

      Too much risk given how injury prone our other RBs have been already. Not worth running that risk IMO.

      • CharlieTheUnicorn says:

        He was severely overworked for 3-4 years… he was the Chiefs offense.
        With a more limited role, he might be worth a shot, for the right price.

        • Sea Mode says:

          Hmmm, good point. But two serious knee injuries is still a huge red flag, not to mention his age. I wont rule it out completely, but almost, unless he is cut and comes on board at a huge discount or something.

          • Mr. Offseason says:

            I would rather try to get Adrian Peterson if he gets cut, and he can be had for a price you’d expect for a 32 year old RB.

  20. Sea Mode says:

    Rob, I’d be curious to hear your take on Njoku vs. Evan Engram.

  21. Ukhawk says:

    I’d argue Short would be the best get in terms of impact vs cost. Cannot see Zeitler having as much impact relative to cost. However getting Short would seriously rock the boat in terms of the current DL pay scale. If you really believed in the current line maturing and being able to add depth/upgrade in the draft (a la Bolles/Freeney/Johnson/Bisnowatny) then Short would be a home run. Plus I don’t think the Hawks will be in a position to draft an inside rush guy as Thomas/Walker/McDowell will be gone.

    With so much free agent cash available however, I see 2 more realistic alternatives: Sign a somewhat risky (aging or injury prone) FA or 2 who are available after the initial flurry or instead the trade & sign alternative (Staley & Stewart are great suggestions). Maybe a combination of the two. I fear Campbell or Poe may want too much (relative to Short) but it may come down as FA window progresses or they who want one last chance at a ring and don’t mind taking a short term, sub market contract.

    • LordSnow says:

      With all that cap space can you seriously think Carolina would let him go?

      • Ukhawk says:

        More just using Stewart as an example of signing a cheaper free agent. I just can see the Hawks signing Zeitler for $10+ APY when u consider the rest of the roster who are paid at that level. Believe they will only pay serious coin for All Pro, impact guys

        In terms of Stewart, could see Carolina move on, draft someone else and decide to use his cash elsewhere

        • Rob Staton says:

          I can’t see them just moving on because cap wise they have millions to spend — twice as much as Seattle. If Stewart goes it’ll probably only be via trade so they get something back.

  22. schuemansky says:

    IMO too many times we are looking at the draft as a source of adressing immediate needs (OL, RB, int pass rush).

    While it can work on certain positions like RB or with really high picks, more often than not the rookies need at least a year to acclimate if they do at all.

    This year where there is quite some cap space to be possibly more active and agressive on the FA market the Hawks should look at the draft more mid term seeking to replenish the defensive side.

    There are so many candidates at DB in general and S in particular and all along the DL that the day 1 and 2 picks should go in that direction, if one is able to get at least one quality upgrade on OL and maybe RB. And at least on OL that will mean to “overpay” for the Hawks and us are much more used to team friendly contracts than most of their competitors.

    • Rob Staton says:

      In my last mock draft I had the Seahawks taking a DE/LB.

      • schuemansky says:

        And think you are right going defense.

        I am just not sure for round one because of the immense depth in those positions and the relative poverty on the offensive side.

        But I guess we all have to wait for FA to get a clearer picture.

        • AlaskaHawk says:

          I’ve waffled back and forth about offensive or defensive pick in first two rounds. The strength of the draft is in the defense during those two rounds. The seahawks could use a couple more defensive guys to bolster their pass rush and their secondary.

          On the other hand, if the seahawks want a game changing running back, receiver or tackle, they may have to use their first round pick on him. So it’s a real dilemma. I’m thinking it won’t be a tackle as they have been content to play with a lot less than a first round pick at tackle. Or maybe Ifedi will move out to tackle in the off season. Still leaves room for an excellent large running back. Is it worth a late first rounder on one – yes if they stay healthy and are productive.

  23. swisshawk says:

    Do you know some o-linemen or rb who could be reasonable targets for the hawks to aquire per trade besides Stewart?

    • C-Dog says:

      For RBs, Stewart might be ideal, if they like the young backs on the roster, and maybe want to add a vet who has something left in the wheels that can help bring them along. There’s other big names that will be out there, but I think Alfred Morris has been a big disappoint in Dallas, and I don’t think the Titans will trade Demarco Murray.

      If they want maybe some younger guys on a roster with upside sitting behind a starter, maybe Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, Alfred Blue.

      • vrtkolman says:

        Been banging the drum for Stewart for a while. Would Carolina cut him? He has a pretty high cap hit plus is getting older. He’s stayed healthy the last two seasons, but has a lengthly injury history going back to college. You can’t deny his production though. He turns no gains into 4-5 yard gains like clockwork, and does it facing stacked defensive fronts every game. The Carolina offense simply didn’t work without him in the lineup.

        • Mr. Offseason says:

          Not sure Carolina would want to orchestrate a deal with a NFC rival. A trade for an RB would more likely come from the AFC. Marshawn Lynch was a huge loss for the Bills, but he never stood in their way of the playoffs.

  24. Sea Mode says:

    Solomon Thomas officially declares.
    http://www.gostanford.com/news/2017/1/4/football-to-my-stanford-family.aspx

    Please stay far away from our NFCW rivals, my friend.

  25. Jason says:

    Rob, Vol and crew what are your guys thoughts on Roderick Johnson from FSU. I am seeing him getting some buzz, but I don’t remember discussing him much here.

  26. Volume12 says:

    NC ST DE Bradley Chubb returning to school.

  27. Del tre says:

    Rob i know it would go against the general trend for the Hawks but any chance they heavily invest in the secondary this draft? I know that you jabe been suggesting

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think it’s unlikely with Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman under contract. They just have too many needs elsewhere (run game, pass rush). So I think they’ll add to the secondary but probably in rounds 3-6, unless they find a way to address all of their biggest needs in free agency (which I suspect is unlikely, but we’ll see).

    • Del tre says:

      Oh sorry comment fail! I know you have been suggesting that they may be interested in bolstering the depth at safety but I’ve seen a need at corner with Jeremy Lane appearing to have been set back. I’m also not entirely sold on Shead as i think his speed is lacking. I’d love to see this draft focus on defense and for the team to work in free agency to improve the offense because personally i view all O linemen out of spread systems to be a gamble. Another defensive tackle would be great but from what you’ve said it appears to be slim pickings. Sherman also isn’t getting any younger so preparing for the eventual drop in the secondary is going to be essential.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I’m not against adding a corner from this class but I think any possible R1 Seahawks corner pick has to be an exceptional, exceptional athlete and they have to be OK with other needs (eg run game) being filled.

  28. Dadders says:

    Re. Zeitler of the Bengals
    The Bengals have enough cap space to re-sign their main free agents. Dre Kirkpatrick (CB) and Zeitler (RG)_ especially. More will be created if (as expected) deadwood like Peko and Mauluga are moved on. If the recent arrest of Pacman Jones brings about him being cut, as some advocate, even more cap space will created (and we have a stock of 1st round corners waiting for their chance). However the Bengals are thrifty and don’t historically value Guards highly. The going rate created by De Castro’s deal is high. Knowing how the organisation is don’t assume the Bengals won’t do something daft and allow him to test free agency. The fan base will go apoplectic if Zeitler is allowed to walk.

  29. CDub says:

    Random O-Line thoughts: As everyone tries to solve the offensive line problem in their head, the common statement from Pete is that we are gonna roll with the guys we have. Obviously he’s not gonna say that the whole line will change next year, but as bad as the line has been in the second half of the year, we tend to theorize on how to make it better. Who do you switch out? There has been sentiment about picking up a free agent like Zeitler, and moving Ifedi to tackle, but that is a bold move, if Ifedi is no good at tackle. They have invested a whole year in Glow and Ifedi, seems like the logical move is to simply find a good RT (or RT and LT, depending on how they feel about Fant.) Also, factor Odhiambo into the mix. Some people think they will get a defensive line guy early, ignoring the quality of the o-line, some think the obvious weakness of the o-line will say it all.

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