Bobby Wagner agrees new deal, Tony McDaniel cut

Despite a somewhat sulky tweet on Friday this seemed just as inevitable as Russell Wilson’s new contract. Luke Kuechly is a genuine NFL star. A generational talent who happens to play a position of moderate importance. The fact Bobby Wagner frequently gets compared to Kuechly (many consider them equals) is exactly why the Seahawks had to do this deal.

When Jamaal Charles ran all over the Seahawks in week 11 last season it was assumed the absence of Brandon Mebane was the key issue. Seattle’s defense had it’s poorest performance of the season immediately after he was put on injured reserve.

Wagner also didn’t play in the Chiefs game due to injury. He returned the following week against Arizona. Seattle won out to finish the regular season conceding just 39 points in 6 games (6.5 per game average). Mebane’s absence was unhelpful. Wagner’s absence and subsequent return was pivotal.

He’s not the most charismatic member of the team (as evidenced by a defensive press conference on Friday). I’m not sure he’s one of the big defensive voices in the locker room like a Sherman, Thomas, Bennett or Chancellor — but he is ideal for this team.

Pete Carroll said before the 2012 draft he wanted to add speed in the front seven as a priority. The first two picks that year were Bruce Irvin and Wagner. As Seattle moved away from the Leroy Hill/David Hawthorne profile, they needed a quicker inside presence who could still do all the basic duties of a MIKE. It’s testament to Wagner’s athletic profile that he could probably play the SAM or WILL equally well. He’s just an all-round terrific athlete and football player.

We talked about him as a late first-round talent that year and it came out after the draft that Dallas were going to draft him had they not moved up for Morris Claiborne. The Seahawks got a steal in round two. In fairness the draft not only offered Kuechly in the top-ten but also Wagner, Mychal Kendricks and Lavonte David in the second frame — ideal for any team looking to add speed at linebacker.

You don’t get many drafts like that — or many ultra-athletic middle linebackers. The Seahawks feel it when Wagner’s not there and he’d be difficult to replace. They couldn’t let him walk — especially given the relative value in terms of salary. Around $10m per year is high for a linebacker — but it’s not high compared to many other positions. Wagner is certainly one of Seattle’s better players and to keep him at that cost for the foreseeable future is, if anything, pretty good value.

Seattle now has most of its core signed up for at least the next three seasons: Wilson, Lynch, Graham, Bennett, Avril, Wright, Chancellor, Thomas, Sherman and Wagner. The structure they’ve used (plus the ever growing salary cap) will enable them to keep even more of their stars moving forward.

Davis Hsu told me today he expects the cap to increase by 7-8% next year at about $154m. It’s currently at $143.28m. That should leave enough room for a shot at keeping at least two of Russell Okung, J.R. Sweezy and Bruce Irvin.

The salary cap makes it hard to create a dynasty. The Seahawks are proving it isn’t impossible. The average age of the group listed above is 27. You’re looking at a Championship window of at least 3-4 more years with this crew, with two Super Bowl appearances already in the bag. However badly that last game stung, the Seahawks still have a chance to be known as the team of this decade.

I watched back a few 2014 games this week and one thing I noticed in some of the tougher wins late in the season was the performance of Tony McDaniel. Big, stout and difficult to move. He wasn’t a flashy player who made numerous splash players — but he was still a force.

The Seahawks had to create some room after signing Wilson and Wagner and McDaniel is the unfortunate sacrifice. He was taking up $3m in cap space with no dead money attached. Seattle has Mebane back and healthy, Jordan Hill who really stepped up in 2014 and now Ahtyba Rubin comes into the mix. There are several other rotational pieces working out in camp, including the returning Demarcus Dobbs.

This is the way it’s going to be for the Seahawks moving forward. Look back at 2012 and you’ll see how much this team has changed in just three years. Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Leon Washington, Golden Tate, Max Unger, Zach Miller, Michael Robinson, Brandon Browner, Sidney Rice. All crucial back in the day — now gone. The Seahawks have kept the core and been forced to move on elsewhere. They will continue to lose players they’d rather keep down the road. The key is to know when to move on. New England and Bill Belichick have mastered this over the years and it’s kept them competitive.

Who can you live without? That is the question.

Can they afford to lose a pretty good if not elite left tackle in Russell Okung? Can they replace him with a late first round pick? That’s not usually where you find starting left tackles. That reason, plus his obvious locker room respect and leadership qualities, might make him a priority. Playing all 16-games and a full post-season would aid his cause.

He seems to like it in Seattle. He joined the league before the new CBA so agreed a $48.5m contract as a rookie in 2010. He’s already earned the money several of his team mates are now chasing. Firing his agent to go alone this off-season is an interesting dynamic and suggests he might be prepared to do what feels right.

It also looks like a very promising offensive tackle class for 2016 — something to consider.

J.R. Sweezy continues to improve every year. He too would preferably be a sure-fire keep — and yet he’s a former defensive tackle and seventh round pick converted to guard. The Seahawks might feel they can replace him with a Mark Glowinski on the cheap to save cap space.

Then there’s Bruce Irvin — who developed into one of the more underrated defensive playmakers in the NFL last season. Pick-six’s, sacks, sideline-to-sideline coverage and better than expected work against the run — Irvin was generally fantastic in 2014. It’ll be hard to find a player with his unique athleticism in the draft or free agency. They chose not to take up his fifth year option though, leading to at least some angst and more than one reported quote about a desire to play in Atlanta. He’d have a market in free agency and might be too expensive to keep.

We should also talk about the future of Mebane. He’s the longest serving Seahawk on the roster for a reason. If he stays healthy and continues to perform — is he worth another deal? He turns 31 in January.

There are many things to consider and while this remains a loaded roster, the question marks over several players will give us plenty of scope to monitor different positions in preparation for the 2016 draft.

The Seahawks made a similar move for Marcus Burley last year. The depth at corner isn’t strong at the moment — with a lot of pressure on guys like Tye Smith to make the jump from Towson University to the NFL. With Jeremy Lane potentially missing the whole season at the very least Seattle needs more camp competition and Seisay provides that.

He managed a 39 inch vertical at his pro-day and an 11′ broad jump. He runs in the 4.50’s at 6-1 and +200lbs. He’s very Seahawky.


  1. rowdy

    I think we all knew tony would be a cap casualty this year. I’m surprised by the trade for the cb though but dam is he sparqy!

  2. CA

    With Wagner now locked up and McDaniel waived, the picture is much clearer. Kam will likely get his updated contract within the week after restructuring takes place(Mebane’s contract). I see them picking up another rotational DL from another squad, but I like our rotational depth as is. I like the Seisay pick up a lot at CB. The holes are being filled in and smoothed out. Now it’s time to see this OL come together.

    IMO: 2016 draft focus shifts to OL, RB, DT, CB, WR in no particular order- subject to change of course

    • Coug1990

      Just curious, why do you think the Seahawks will redo Kam’s contract? It seems like a bad precedent to do that with three years left on his deal.

      • CA

        Fellow Coug here,

        I think they’ll do it because they’ve restructured before and Kam means too much to the locker room, the LOB, the defense, and the development of the younger DBs. Behind Kam is too much unknown in terms of product and keeping him happy is paramount. He soldiered up leading up to the SB playing on the bruised knee and sprained MCL. Believe me, I totally agree regarding the bad precedent it sets- I said the same thing when we restructured Marshawn. Personally I’m worried about what ends up happening with the rest of the contracts(Earl, God forbid), but I think they have the $$$ for it. Kam has completely changed the way the position is played and how the position is paid.

        Go Cougs

        • Sea eat

          I don’t consider lynch’s renegotiation as something as setting a precedent for this because Lynch’s renegotiation was very limited – it just moved some cash up-front, without any more guaranteed money. Every contract has real money and hypethetical money.

          Good quote from an article ill link. “Just one problem with that: Seattle didn’t give in. Not according to what I was told last August after Lynch reported and not what was reiterated to me this week. While Lynch’s contract was adjusted last year with some performance bonuses being turned into base salary, I was told specifically that Seattle had already offered to make those adjustments previously in the offseason. No one from Lynch’s side ever disputed that description. In other words, Seattle didn’t give Lynch more because he held out. Rather, he accepted what had already been offered.”
          I would be surprised if they did anything for Kam especially more than what they did with Lynch move a mill up front.

        • Old but Slow

          It would not surprise me if the team agrees to guarantee the 2016 money without changing the size of the contract.

          • Belgaron

            Agreed. There won’t be new money added but they might make some guaranteed if it helps their long term plan.

  3. Volume12

    Hell yeah! Could not be more excited for BWagz aka ninja turtle. One offer out of high school and he’s now the highest paid MLB in the league. What a core Seattle has man. Cowabunga baby!

    Feel bad for Tony McD, but as rowdy said, the writing was on the wall in terms of a DT getting cut. Just glad it wasn’t Mebane. By far one of the most under-appreciated DTs around.

    Mo Seisay is interesting. I actually liked him better than Stanley Jean Baptiste coming out of Nebraska, and SJB went in the 2nd I think. Seisay is another JUCO kid with a chip on his shoulder.

  4. CC

    Sad to see the Big Amigo go, but this is all part of the process. Mebane is a very good player, but Jordan Hill played pretty well for him until he got hurt too. Mebane has been well paid, and a restructure is likely in order.

    Happy that RW and BWagz were extended – exactly what needed to happen before the season starts. I’m really interested how the FA RB Adams plays out – if I was CMike and Derrick C I would be a bit nervous. We’ll see how Adams does in preseason.

    Bruce may be someone you have to let walk – I think he has developed into a solid player, but he’s going to want too much money and someone will over pay him.

    Looking forward to this season!

  5. Therick05

    Hey guys, any of you think that Matthews can become our Number WR this year? I feel like he has all the tools and is impressing Pete in training camp.

    • CA

      I definitely do- the TRUST to go to him in the SB!? So much excitement around this guy. All year I wondered what took them so long last year to go to him. I like CMatthews, Lockette underneath, and Bakdwin other side. I wonder about where Norwood is cline along because I like him too, I also wonder how Richardson is recovering. Very optimistic with the passing group

      • CA

        I wonder about how Norwood is coming along*

    • rowdy

      I think mathews could be the traditional #1 wr by position only. As starting on the outside not being the best option. Boldwin could not even be the starter because he would be playing the slot but still the better wr. I think mathews could be good but more of a match up nightmare then a dominant wr.

      • Volume12

        Agreed. Very excited for ‘Hardball,’ but Jimmy may be the closest thing we see in terms of a dominant receivng weapon under this regime. Matthews will be big for this offense though, no doubt.

    • Rob Staton

      Matthews has every chance to forge a role but I wouldn’t expect him to be a #1. Baldwin & Graham will take up most of the targets and I suspect Kearse and Lockett will absorb targets too (plus the other TE’s). Hard for Matthews to be a #1. But could see him having 2-3 significant weeks with production. Could see him outside and in the slot.

      If anyone is the #1 this year it’ll probably be Graham.

      • Ben2

        Yeah, I don’t think Mathews is a No1 just because he’s 6’5″
        What I’m excited about is his situational role, especially in Jumbo redzone packages with Graham, Willson, and Mathews – you’re almost guaranteed to have a 1 v 1 with a big size matchup!!! Can’t wait for season!

    • Belgaron

      Anyone who gets snaps with the new big three (Marshawn, Graham, Wilson) will have a fantastic opportunity to escape the defensive focus and make some nice plays so watch for whoever fills out the line up to put up numbers.

  6. Bernardo De Biase

    Great to have this one back, always with very insightful analysis. Thank you so much, Rob.

    Answering to Therick05. Graham is gonna be our first receiving option followed by probably Baldwin. Third receiver is likely to be one of Richardson, Lockett or Matthews – the one who develops more in this offseason and the start of the season -, Norwood having an outside shot.

  7. Mylegacy

    Also glad to see Mebane safe. As I recall, the last few games before he was injured – he was getting frequent, and excellent penetration up the gut. He was mostly seen as a superior run stuffer – but I was very impressed with the inside pressure he was getting. Then he got injured.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      Both Mebane and Hill (at 1T) where getting excellent penetration and pocket pressure last season when they got injured.

      Also, nothing against O’B Schofield but he was more of a “contain” defender than an attacker. I’m very excited to watch Marsh develop this season.

    • Belgaron

      While currently safe, he’s an endangered species at his age but I hope he has a great camp.

  8. Greg Haugsven

    Good to hear from you Rob. I figured this McDaniel cut would come. I wrote a piece for 12thmanrising that should come tomorrow how this could be a Reason to bring back big Red. Glad your doing good.

    • Belgaron

      Red is too slow at this point, they’ll give the up-and-comers their shots.

      • Greg haugsven

        You could be right. Well see how it goes.

  9. peter

    I’d have to think next year Irvin moves on. If he plays as well as he did last year I think it will be too much for the Seahawks to absorb cost wise. I think Okung stays as that finding a LT tackle late in the draft is a pretty hard feat to accomplish and in my opinion he’s up there in the top 8-10 at that position. Sweezy I would venture plays himself into a new deal with Glowinski taking his place.

    Mebane could easily be a Big Red/K. Williams type for another team looking to get a short term player to push them over a hump. I’d miss his play but what kind of contract could Seattle realistically offer a three year deal to take him to 34? Perhaps but I don’t see it. However if Jordan Hill continues to be tantalizing good/great but gets injured again it might buy Mebane some time still here in Seattle. Yet another position the penetrating DT that’s a total gamble to find.

    Don’t know if he’ll declare next year but I’ve already got my Ute to follow…..mostly for V12!…..Brian Allen a 6-3 200 pound ex WR turned Corner in one of my favorite defensively coached schools.. Utah…

    I know Rob mentioned him as a core player but I have to feel like time is about to be against Marshawn Lynch. He’ll be turning 30 when free agency opens next year. I’m pretty sure OVer the Cap has his savings as 6.5 million if cut before june 1st. It feels like sacrilege to type this but it’s just a hunch.

    • Volume12

      Nice. I’ll keep an eye on him Peter. One guy who flashed on screen quite a bit to my eye last year when Utah played Wazzu was CB Dominique Hatsfield. 5’10-5’11, but blew up a ton of screens, funneled his man to the sideline, appeared to be an exceptional athlete, and for his size his length was impressive. It’s too bad he got suspended.

      I think Okung stays too. Your right, finding LTs is hard at the back end of round one, and if you noticed when Rob outlined the core Seattlle has in place, not one guy is an offensive lineman.

      Still think Lynch has 2 good years in the tank. I’d also venture to guess Seattle takes a HB in the next 2 drafts.

      As for Mebane, Seattle has shown they aren’t hesitant to go after veteran d-lineman, and with experience comes ‘grown man strength.’

      • peter

        I would like to see lynch until the end of his contract and he’s been amazingly durable its just the number of carries and age working against his favor.

        I’ve already begun to scour the RBs for this season just in case Michael never gets going and Turbin leaves or lynch retires or just needs his work load cut down in the future.

        Other then RB I’m stoked to see how this years class and last year’s class play. I felt like last years class had so many injuries and set backs its almost like Seattle brings two draft years in at the same time…marsh, kpl, Norwood being slowed by foot injury, if prich comes back….could be pretty exciting plus all the oline picks make it pretty hard to guess future needs which is kind of cool

        • Volume12

          Good point about the 2 for 1 draft class Peter. Don’t forgot about ‘Pink’, IMO he’ll be a nice a little chess piece for this defense.

          Thomas Rawls has a ton of potential as well. Apparently this was the guy Dallas wanted to replace DeMarco Murray with.

          P-Rich will be back at some point, it’s just a matter of when.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      More concerned about CMike and whether he will contribute this year.

    • bigDhawk

      You heard it here first. Bailey or Gilliam will replace Okung at LT in 2016. Maybe sooner, if Okung can’t stay on the field, per usual.

      • Belgaron

        Bailey’s good but definitely not the long term answer at LT. Hoping to see Gilliam take a step up in camp.

  10. Volume12

    Thought I’d mention this. Frank Clark is showing signs of potentially being dominant gentleman. He’s getting a ton of reps inside, and it’s an example of when I mentioned having an undersized interior rusher who’s to quick for most of the league’s big, sloppy bodied O-lineman, and that’s what Clark has been offering. He’s too quick for C’s and G’s. Not only that, he’s showing an impressive ability to anchor inside as well at 270 lbs.

    A shame about what happened to Harold Brantley, huh Rob?

    • Ho Lee Chit

      I am not surprised by Frank Clark. The FO had better get their first pick right. I see him eventually moving Avril and/or Bennett off the roster.

      In 2016, I expect we will be looking for a big bodied DT to stuff the run in the middle. Mebane needs some younger blood behind him. Unless, Jesse Williams proves to be durable and effective, I am not sure we have anyone to back up Bane. We shall see. Several guys are going to get the chance in preseason to prove they deserve the job.

      • Belgaron

        Calling Frank their ‘first pick’ makes him sound like a 1st rounder when he was much closer to a 3rd rounder. They definitely picked a guy that was worth it from a football standpoint, I just hope the character assassination the media put on Frank/Schneider/Carroll doesn’t make them gun shy in the future to make a similar call. Frank will be a star in this system.

      • Volume12

        A run stuffer in the draft or FA? Beause draft wise I just can’t see this team spending a high pick on a 2 down player. Not that you said that, just my line of thinking. I do agree they’ll target one in the draft later on like a Jimmy Staten, Jesse Williams, or Beau Allen who they wanted 2 years ago. Also could see them maybe keeping Rubin or going after a cheap vet like that during the off-season.

        • Ben2

          Yeah, a 1st Rd interior DT needs to be able to collapse the pocket/get penetration and stop the run imo

  11. cha

    Not taking the 5th year option for Irvin might be a really terrific move:

    1-saves 2016 cap money
    2-lights a fire under Irvin, hopefully has a great 2015
    3a-keeps the comp picks coming in, hopefully a 3rd rounder in 2017 draft, probably at worst a 4th
    3b-current 2017 cap could be a tough year according to even with some cap growth, of course things can change but the Hawks will need all the young cost-controlled talent they can get at that point
    4-Another season to groom players to fill Irvin’s spot. It could be that all of Irvin’s 2016 snaps are divided among young players already on the roster (KPL, Marsh, Clark, maybe Pinkins???)
    5-Irvin would be 28 going on 29 in 2016, would his awareness/read skills have improved enough to compensate a dropoff in speed, enough to award him a healthy 3-4 year deal at that age?

    • bigDhawk

      If Pinkins balls out I can see him taking over at SAM. Otherwise, move KJ to his more natural position at SAM and usher in the KPL era at WILL.

      • lil'stink

        Pinkins’ athletic profile makes it seem like he would be better at WILL or SS. I wonder if SAM is easier to learn. Either way KPL and Pinkins will both be interesting to watch in the preseason games.

    • Belgaron

      It wasn’t a financial move, Irvin played very well but not up to that level. They are very honest in their evaluations and they’d like to see him step up even more this year.

    • Nathan

      Some of those players will almost certainly be cut/traded by 2017.

      If Cary Williams bombs out he’s gone at that cap hit.

      Graham could be gone too if he doesn’t perform.

      • Volume12

        Don’t think Graham is going anywhere, even hypothetically. Are we expecting him to put up numbers like he did in NO? Because IMO that’s not what they brought this guy in for. RW has never had a weapon/mismatch like him, and even if he needs a season to get his feet wet, so be it. Guys that go 6’6-6’7, 260 some odd pounds, run like him, and jump out of the gym don’t grow on trees.

  12. Cysco

    Ahhh all is right in the world. SDB has updates! Good to have ya back Rob!

    RE: Matthews. I just don’t see the number of passes being there for him to be a #1 receiver. Gotta remember that the Hawks had the fewest pass attempts of any team. (around 450)

    I’m assuming that we’ll have roughly the same number this year.

    Graham will get 100+ targets
    Baldwin will get his 75-100
    The RB group will see 50-75
    the combo of Kearse and Locket will see another 75

    that right there is around 400 targets. which leaves 50 or so targets to go between the rest of the team.

    This doesn’t mean that Matthews can’t make some big catches, but he isn’t going to get nearly the number of targets to be a #1 receiver.

    The Offensive philosophy for this team is likely going to be:

    1. Run
    2. Run some more
    3. If can’t run, find the safe pass to Graham or Baldwin
    4. If long yardage is needed, look for Locket, Kearse or Matthews, but likely dump off to Michael or Turbin and hope for the best

    • Belgaron

      I could see them using Willson and Matthews along with Graham in the red zone. Gives them a lot of vertical mismatches to exploit or just open door for Lynch/Wilson to run it in.

      • Bernardo De Biase

        I could see a feature red zone package of

        SE: Graham SL: Norwood xxxxxxxxxxxxx TE: Luke Wilson FL: Matthews

        With Wilson and Lynch on the backfield doing a lot of playaction.

        • Volume12

          Wow, what a goal line package that would be man! Good luck defending that.

          Also, with the NFL moving the XP back, I think we’ll see a lot more teams going for 2 point conversions, and specifically having a package for that as well. Maybe they’ll use Cassius Marsh or Gilliam too.

  13. Largent80

    I think the most critical training camp preview we will be getting relates to who is backing up ET at free safety. If his labrum is not ready to go in September, we will have to make do with someone else as the linchpin of the Cover-3 and ET is probably the hardest guy to replace on the team.

  14. CHawkRick

    why did we extend KJ Wright so early and for so much? His 2015 cap hit is close to $5mm and his 2016 & 2017 are in the $6mm bucket.

    He’s a solid player, but not a game changer. He was burnt toast by Zach Ertz on a simple 9 route in philly. Gronk is great but KJ wasn’t even close on that TD in the SB.

    Why not use that $$ on the OL? KJ can be replaced with a young gun like Pierre-Louis or another.

    Now there’s an unhappy Kam. Common Sense? Not the NFL SS comparison but the $$ given to KJ Wright when KJ’s importance to this team is WAY WAY WAY less than what the most intimidating force in the NFL is in Bam Bam.

    ?? Only foolish move by PC/JS next to the Harvin trade (not 20/20). Deandre Hopkins was my guy in RD 1 and we give away the 1st & $$ for a China Doll. Hop had some of the best hands I’ve seen come out of college in sometime.

    Help me out.

    • Volume12

      PC loves size and or speed at LB. KJ is the ultimate team first player. There’s quite a bit of ‘me’ going on right now, and IS doubt we’ll ever see anything remotely close to that from KJ. He’s incredibly versatile, high football IQ, plays assignment sound football, great length, I’m assuming he’s a great fit in the locker room as well as a teammate, and is a very good coverage ‘backer. Just like Jimmy, there’s not a lot of guys built like KJ that can move as well as he does.

      Now, he did take a step back somewhat last year in terms of coverage, probably just a down year. 2 years ago, before that injury in SF, he was arguably our best LB. That play against Gronk would’ve happened to any LB. I’ve yet to see any ‘backer slow down or stop Gronk. I may be in the minority, but I’m actually very excited that they did re-sign him.

  15. Screeching Hawk

    Hey Rob please forgive me for my ridiculous drunken posts this morning. I’ve been a good boy as of late with the drink and I got out of control and decided to express myself on your blog. I’m ashamed, You work so hard as a true Hawks fan and I really like you man. Hope all is well. Cheers

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