Monday notes: Mariota staying at Oregon

The big news of the day (aside from Jim Mora’s decision to stay with UCLA) is the announcement by Oregon that Marcus Mariota won’t declare for the 2014 draft.

It’s not that much of a surprise really.

Mariota has a very intriguing skill set, but he’s not the finished product by any stretch. He can work on his arm strength — there’s definitely the frame there to add some extra upper body muscle. A third year starting will be a big plus, and it seems he’s keen to get his degree (always a good thing).

I voiced some concern in this piece about how he might project to the NFL. Nothing about this decision will harm him.

And despite a few odd results recently, Oregon are too good to suffer a catastrophic, stock-destroying season like we saw with Matt Barkley and USC last year.

It does make things very interesting at the top of the draft.

UCLA’s Brett Hundley shouldn’t declare, but will he spend even more time considering his options now that Mariota is staying in the PAC-12? The quarterback market has thinned at the top, after all. Although he too would really benefit from another year starting.

Hundley also needs to be aware that teams are not reaching for needs at the position. Last year several high profile quarterbacks sank into the middle rounds. An impressive physical skill set is no guarantee you’ll find a home in round one.

The Mariota news could help the likes of A.J. McCarron, Derek Carr (see his recent performance vs San Jose State below) and Johnny Manziel (assuming he declares). All three, for me, still look like early second round picks. Especially with the quality and depth on the offensive line next year.

It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see teams going receiver early (there’s a few good ones this year) and then looking to get a quarterback in round two — just like Cincinnati did with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. There’s no receiver out there as good as Green, but there are superior quarterbacks to Dalton.

One name to keep an eye on — Blake Bortles at UCF. Physical, good athlete and playing well this year. He could be a quick riser over the next few weeks.

I’m putting my first mock draft out there tomorrow. Bortles will be part of it…

Derek Carr vs San Jose State

Seahawks needs no clearer

Nothing really has changed as far as the Seahawks are concerned. It’s mostly about who they can keep in the off-season.

Right now there aren’t any glaring holes. The pass rush is much improved — both off the edge and inside. Pass protection has seen a noticeable improvement since the return of Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. And the sheer depth of Seattle’s secondary is testament to the front offices’ ability to find corners without spending high picks.

We can’t say what Seattle’s needs will be today. We won’t know until free agency comes and goes.

Who will they cut? Who will they re-sign? All mysteries right now.

But just take a moment to realise what that means. How on earth are there not major, clear holes on this roster? There’s depth and talent right across the board.

That’s incredible.

And it’s no surprise Football Outsiders continues to rank the Seahawks as the #1 team in the NFL.


  1. SunPathPaul

    So true Rob, no real holes. What a turn around!

    It does seem likely that WR and CB could be a draft choice next year. Where is irrelevant and hard to predict given PC/JS talents, but Rice’s big $, and Browner seem destined to be gone.

    If we could get a Brandon Coleman- if his mental makeup matched R. Wilson’s, would be seriously nice.
    I also think even if TE McCoy is back, to stack that position with another catching threat would be devastating to our competition for years to come.

    Mike Evans would also make me plenty happy. Big, good hands, and just seems to play well! RW and him would crush people!

    Rob, what about Tate and Baldwin? I feel we could use these guys BIG time to stay. We have money issues with ET and RS, but I feel the chemistry w RW is too good to let them walk. Ur ideas?

    As far as QB draftees goes, what a boon Houston would get if they took Manziel. Local boy… add Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and get another catching threat! WOW

    Never would have thought they would have a top 3 pick this year, yikes! Would he fit there u think?

    • Rob Staton

      I think it’s a nailed on certainty they keep Baldwin on the RFA tag. Tate I felt for sure would re-sign after his heroics in Atlanta, but he’s not had the same impact recently. I suspect they will do everything they can to keep Tate, but the WR market is so expensive — it’ll be a tough ask.

      And I think Houston are almost certain to make major coaching changes in the off-season. Manziel’s fit there will largely depend on who they bring in. If it’s Darrell Bevell… it’s very easy to imagine them going for Manziel as their answer to Russell Wilson.

      • Darnell

        I think the Hawks need to be careful not to tender Baldwin too low.

        The Patriots biggest need is help for Brady, they are terrible at drafting WRs, and would likely view Baldwin (who would be monster in that offense) as a significantly better option then anyone available in the late 2nd onward. The Dolphins got cute with their tender on Welker and look what he did for the Pats.

        • williambryan

          I’m also sure Andrew Luck will pull some Jim Irsay Strings to try and get Baldwin in Indy. I think Baldwin would be more than fine with that as well…

  2. CC

    Richardson (?) from Colorado WR is leaving – he has been hurt a bit – but he has had flashes of brilliance.

    Really good move by Mariotta to stay in school another year – he needs to develop and get better. We have all seen how Luck and Wilson, stayed for their 4 years and it made them much better. Mariotta is a special player – but we’ll have to see if he ends up being a good starter in the NFL when he gets there. But once again, his staying in school will cause teams to reach.

    • Rob Staton

      Paul Richardson — flashes big time, also seen him have a few drops. Second round type guy for me.

  3. Turp

    Great work Rob, as usual.

    Where do you think Brandon Coleman will go in the draft? I saw on twitter that he’s leaning towards declaring.

    • Rob Staton

      He’s had a horrible year but a lot of that is down to Rutgers and the QB situation. He has the physical qualities to even still crack round one or early second. But based on this years performance he could also slip into the mid rounds.

  4. Robert

    I think an excellent discussion for this community would be to explore the possibility of NOT resigning Richard Sherman. How much $ will it take? How much better is he than Maxwell? Is THAT margin worth investing 10+ million annually in CAP resources? Could all that $ be invested more wisely? How good are Lane and Shead?
    Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Richard Sherman. But, we clearly have a system for obtaining and developing talent that most teams do not have. We are headed for uncharted waters this off-season. We will learn a lot more as we watch the “Win Forever” philosophy guide our ship…

    • Bryan C

      Sherman will be signed long term, right after the ink is dry on ET’s contract. Then they sign Okung long term to lower his $11.2M cap hit for 2014. I think the bigger question is if Tate is extended. To make all the contracts, someone has to go. First of all, I think Rice is gone ($7.3M cap savings) and possibly Clemmons ($7.5M), Mebane ($5.3M) or Bryant ($5.5M) to allow signing Bennett since he is on a 1 year deal.

      To eliminate the dead money issue in releasing Rice, I could also see Rice being signed to a modest 3 year deal rather than being cut, but there is the possibility of getting a big strong WR in the draft for much cheaper than anything Rice will accept. The only issue would be the chemistry that Rice and Wilson seem to have. It is amazing that $23.1M of our cap is tied up in Harvin and Rice.

  5. Ben2

    It does seem like we have a cornerback “system. ” My understanding is that for this system to work we need a dominant free safety – ie ET. I don’t think it was a coincidence that in Pete’s first draft with the hawks he took Earl with a high 1st and CBs always come later…. Pete’s philosophy on corners reminds me somewhat of moneyball – find the market inefficiencies and exploit them. So , while I kinda agree with Rob from a cap standpoint, it seems our FO likes to reward/resign players that have bought in….that’s why I think we end up keeping Sherman.

  6. Vin

    I agree, that would be a great discussion. I’ve had many talks with coworkers about how the hawks acquire talent via the draft versus Free Agency. We can all agree that Schneider has had solid drafts since joining the FO. But the part that bugs me is when he says that they want to reward their own, and then go out and spend big on someone in FA. Take Baldwin and Tate……yes they aren’t Percy Hardin, but those 2 are solid in our system, make plays,etc. What do you think goes on in their head when they bust their butts trying to (and for the most part successfully) make plays and show their worth to the Hawks, only to see an outsider come in and make $$$? Same with Sherman…..the guy’s a 5th rnd pick, but works hard to prove he’s among the best. Chances are we won’t be able to keep all the guys. If you ask me whether I pay Sherman or Harvin, I say Sherman hands down because he’s earned it, he’s homegrown, but most importantly, I think our defense takes a bigger hit without him than our offense does without harvin. Assuming we have to lose someone this offseason, I’d have to say Tate because Harvin is, talent wise, better.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I agree with you about how signing an expensive free agent effects the other players expectations for a higher paycheck. In fact it encourages them to leave when they don’t get that high contract.

  7. OakHarborHawk

    Looking more and more like we’ll end up having Browner back for the play-offs. Reports are saying that he turned down a four game suspension deal from the NFL, so he must have some serious leverage like thinking he can win a federal suit against the NFL.

    How awesome is it that we’re going to be near full strength heading into the play-offs? Rice being the only significant loss that I can think of. Shows how well Pete Carrol’s emphasis on running the ball and limiting explosive plays on defense work to limit the number of snaps that player’s have to take. I remember reading that once the season is done the Seahawks will have played almost a full game’s worth of snaps less than most other teams.

  8. AlaskaHawk

    Our team is built on a group of free agents being paid market rates and rookies on small three year contracts. We pay about 62 million for offense and another 58 million for defense. An average veteran free agent gets 2 to 3 million, a good free agent can get 5 to 6 million, and a great free agent upwards of 10 million. Rookie salaries are in the 600,000 range.

    My thoughts are that we should reserve the higher values for Russell Wilson, he is the key to our offense. Other free agents should be paid up to 6 million. Those who want more money can shop around. Rookie salaries will still compromise the majority of our contracts.

    The question is what to do with the really great players who will want more than 6 million? That would include Earl Thomas, Sherman, possibly some other cornerbacks, possibly good pass rushing DEs like Avril. For offense it could include Okung, Tate, Rice, and Harvin. Unfortunately we take a real risk in paying over 6 million. Not only the risk that the player isn’t worth it, but also the risk that they are worth it but keep getting injured. A couple expensive long term contracts for players who are not performing can cripple a franchise. We are already half way there with Harvin and Rice.

    I’ll go back to the 6 million figure, It buys a lot in todays world. We could have gotten a Wes Welker or Boldin for receivers. We did find two outstanding defensive linemen last year in Avril and Bennett. I’m not saying that is a hard number, but we really shouldn’t be paying much more if we want a long term viable team. There are a lot of free agents that would be happy to get that sort of money. By eliminating the expensive contracts we should get a more balanced team, where every position is pretty good and some are excellent. What we are giving up is the truly great players who are expensive, except for our QB who is worth it (and is a downright bargain for another year).

  9. House

    I remember when Pete/John took over, I told my buddy it would take about 3-4 yrs to make this team competitive. They were competing earlier than I thought and now are topping the Power Rankings.

    I know it may sound crazy, but the one thing I would love to see is some of our guys not get the MONSTER paychecks and stick around for a little less. Several players (among all major sports) are now taking a little less money to keep talent around them. The players on our team seem to want to be part of a DYNASTY and keeping our homegrown together seemed like the plan all along.

  10. Emperor_MA

    Thanks for the link to the Derek Carr film. He’s got the whole package … great arm, great throws, runs well, great leadership and plenty of smarts. I think he’ll make it into the first round quite easily after the all-star games are done.

    That tape also had his Fresno State WR Devante Adams prominently displayed. I’ve had my eye on him since last year and think he would be a nice addition to the Seahawks! That young man is a BEAST!

    Thanks for the work, Rob.

  11. Steeeve

    No major holes? Really?

    Our third-string TE situation is _very_ questionable.

    (heh heh)

  12. AlaskaHawk

    I was impressed by Carr, his receivers and his running back. Lots of mid round picks to consider there.

    This morning on NFL am they were talking about the San Fran / Seattle matchup. They gave San Fran the edge for receivers and running game. We got the edge for quarterback, defense and coaching. Seems like based on that informal evaluation we should be looking to upgrade our offensive line and receivers. I would say especially tight end. I like Miller but who wouldn’t want Vernon Davis playing for them?

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