Proposal: Seahawks could make TE a round one target

Zach Miller, terrific player -- but possible sacrificial lamb?

Could drafting a tight end in round one actually be one of the most productive moves this team makes in 2014?

Let’s call it addition by subtraction.

You might have to cut one popular veteran as a consequence. But it could help you keep two or three others.

Let’s start by discussing Zach Miller.

Statistically he hasn’t put up big numbers in Seattle, despite signing a $34m contract in 2011.

In Oakland he was the #1 target in the passing game. He had 2268 receiving yards in his final three years with the Raiders — an average of 756 per season.

In his three years with the Seahawks so far, that production has halved. He has just 1016 yards and a single-season best of 396 in 2012.

It’d be easy to look at that and say it’s underwhelming. I’d argue strongly against that. It only takes a little digging to find out how unfair it’d be to compare those statistics.

For starters, his touchdown production is almost exactly the same. He has eight TD’s in three seasons with Seattle. He had nine scores in his final three years in Oakland.

So right off the bat, he’s no less of a scoring threat.

Here’s the difference in targets between the two three-year spells:

Oakland (2008-10) — 278 targets
Seattle (2011-13) — 153 targets

Clearly he has a different role these days. The Raiders made him a primary target. In Seattle, within a much more balanced attack, that isn’t the case.

He’s also been a key blocking force in a scheme he’s very familiar with. Let’s not underestimate how important that has been — particular during the 2011 and 2013 seasons when the Seahawks suffered multiple injuries at offensive tackle.

When called upon, Miller has been an extremely reliable safety net for Russell Wilson. I see no reason why that’ll change any time soon. He’s only just turned 28, so he has time on his side.

You can make a pretty strong case to argue Zach Miller has been a terrific addition to this team — even without the big stats to back it up.

There is a ‘but’, however…

Miller is far from an elite player. He isn’t a big time difference maker.

His contract suggests he should be.

The most expensive player on Seattle’s 2013 roster was — you guessed it — Zach Miller.

And it wasn’t  even close.

His $11m salary was $1.5m more expensive than #2 on the list — Russell Oking ($9.5m). Marshawn Lynch at #3 accounted for $2.5m LESS than Miller.

Rob Gronkowski’s cap hit in 2013 was $2.75m having recently signed an 8-year $55m mega-deal in New England. That steadily increases as you’d expect. Yet during the entire course of that contract, he doesn’t top Miller’s 2013 salary until 2019 ($11.25m cap hit) — the final year of the deal.

Even with Miller’s contract dropping to a $7m cap hit in 2014, he’ll still earn $1.6m more than Gronkowski next season.

As much as I appreciate the job he’s done in Seattle, his attitude and contribution to this young team — he’s simply earning far too much for a tight end who hasn’t topped 400 yards in three seasons.

In comparison, a tight end drafted in the #28-34 region could be expected to earn around $1.25m as a rookie and $1.5m as a second year player.

That’s a huge difference.

You can save $5m by cutting Miller ($7m cap hit, $2m in dead money). So you’re talking about a $4m overall saving by replacing him with one of the tight ends in this rookie class.

That’s money that could go towards keeping Golden Tate and/or Michael Bennett.

It really comes down to determining just how valuable you believe the 28-year-old is to the offense, compared to how effective a rookie can be as an immediate starter.

Would the production substantially decrease? Arguably not, given Miller had just 387 yards in 14 starts in 2013.

Would you miss his ability as a blocker? Absolutely, but not as much as you’ll miss Bennett rushing the passer or Tate making plays at receiver.

Can the rookie become a reliable safety net? Debatable.

Could you significantly upgrade the position within the four year rookie contract? Possibly — if you pick the right guy.

You’d have to expect some growing pains. But the Seahawks have shown they’re willing to go through that (see: Michael Robinson/Derrick Coleman — even if they eventually brought Robinson back).

We’ve spent the last few months discussing difficult cuts that are forthcoming. They’re unavoidable. Fan favourites are going to be moving on. It’s about keeping together the most important pieces of the puzzle (Wilson, Sherman, Thomas, Lynch) and filling in the gaps.

You could counter by arguing if you cut Miller, what guarantee is there that your guy will be sat there waiting in the back end of the first round?

Thankfully, there are insurance policies at hand.

Luke Willson has shown promise. Perhaps not enough promise to be a full-time starter next season, but at least enough to see his role expand in year two.

Fred Davis is likely to be a free agent. It went sour very quickly in Washington for Davis, but he has history with Pete Carroll and could be available for a bargain price.

Anthony McCoy will return to health — and I think he’s done at least enough to justify another camp if there aren’t any takers elsewhere.

You could go into the draft with all three on your roster and it wouldn’t break the bank. If you then draft a tight end in round one, just let the competition begin — keep three and cut the unlucky loser.

The Seahawks should be looking for a big target for Russell Wilson. Ideally that comes in the form of a tall receiver who can develop into a true #1.

Perhaps they see enough upside in Brandon Coleman or Kelvin Benjamin to justify an early pick?

Both have legitimate upside and #1 potential, but they also have serious technical improvements to make and would carry a degree of risk.

Are they first round picks? Some will think so, others won’t.

There will be options beyond the first round. Donte Moncrief, Cody Hoffman and Martavis Bryant could all be available later depending on how well they test.

Hey — I’m assuming Coleman and Benjamin won’t be there in round two. Stranger things have happened.

Really there’s nothing to stop the Seahawks going TE/WR in the first two rounds. Those hoping for offensive line depth won’t be happy, but making savings elsewhere (eg by cutting Rice, Clemons and Miller) will increase the chances of holding onto Breno Giacomini.

It won’t be a disaster (at least in my view) if James Carpenter, Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie are fighting to start at left guard in 2014.

Getting a big tight end and a big receiver in the first two rounds would put a lot more size (and talent) on the field for Wilson.

I’d argue that’ll have a much bigger impact than drafting a guard in a pretty mediocre year at the position.

So what about the candidates at tight end that could make this a justifiable move?

Unless there’s a big mover on the cards, it looks like there are three first round options:

Eric Ebron – North Carolina
Athletic, former basketball player and the type of tight end the NFL is looking for. Everyone wants a big target that can get around the field and create a mismatch. On tape he’s made some dazzling plays this year — one handed grabs, 60-yard runs after the catch. This is usually the time where a blogger or pundit says his blocking isn’t great. Cut the crap. How many times do we have to hear that? The NFL has changed. Tight ends need to look like this. I’m not going to mark Ebron down for his blocking. Coach him up. It simply isn’t a good enough reason not to draft him in the top-20. And ultimately, I expect that’s where he’ll go.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Washington
Former big time recruit who generated interest from Alabama, Florida, USC and Texas before committing to home-state Washington. ASJ maybe didn’t max-out his potential with the Huskies, but there’s no denying his potential. Carroll/Schneider have always been interested in physical difference makers and big time high school recruits. He’s more of a traditional tight end, but so is Miller. How fast is he? That’s going to be crucial. He doesn’t have to run a 4.6, he just has to avoid running a 4.8. Easier said than done at 266lbs. I like him though — and I believe he can turn into a very productive NFL tight end.

Jace Amaro – Texas Tech
I’m still trying to work out Amaro. He’s listed at 255lbs, but looks big. At least as big as ASJ. He isn’t incredibly mobile or shifty, but out of the three listed here he’s probably the one I’d prefer to go to for a third down conversion. At times I’m not convinced he’s much more than an above average tight end working in an ultra-productive passing game. Then you see him put up 136 yards against West Virginia, 174 against Oklahoma State and 119 against Oklahoma — and all three teams knew where the ball was going. They couldn’t stop him. I want to believe. Bring on the combine, let’s see how athletic he really is.

After these three, it’s not much of a group. But you don’t get many deep TE classes.

You could argue it’d provide the best value in the 28-32 range where Seattle will draft.

Think about it. At that point Austin Seferian-Jenkins might be the best player available. Ditto Jace Amaro. Ebron will be long gone, but the other two could be there.

Why fight the board?

It’s something else to consider.

So let’s sum up what we’re talking about doing here….

Zach Miller, Sidney Rice and Chris Clemons.

Total savings
$19m (approx) – $7m Rice, $7m Clemons and $5m Miller

Michael Bennett, Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini

Tight end in round one (eg Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro) and, board permitting, a tall receiver in round two.

The Seahawks need to find a way to keep Bennett and Tate (and possibly Giacomini). They need to do it — in my opinion — without thinning the defense by cutting guys like Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane.

Miller might be a sacrificial lamb in this instance. But it could be necessary.

And this is before we even get into finding a way to extend Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas’ contracts — two nigh on certainties on the horizon.

I’m not saying this is what they should do. It’s merely a proposal.

Food for thought, though.


  1. The Ancient Mariner

    ASJ would be a logical replacement for Miller. I’d actually be comfortable with McCoy/Willson, as regards their on-field contributions; I wouldn’t want to count that heavily on McCoy’s health, though, and in this scenario I think ASJ would be an excellent value pick at the bottom of the first round. For your scenario to make sense, though, we’d have to be able to resign the Big Russian cheaply enough to give us meaningful savings. What would you project for his contract?

    • Rob Staton

      Breno’s cap hit was $2.25m in 2011 and $4.25m in 2013. I think realistically splitting the difference makes sense. He’ll be 29 when the season starts. So around $2.5-3m I’d estimate.

    • Michael (CLT)

      I have heard rumblings (from direct family) that ASJ is not the greatest human being. He is more like Jeremy Stevens than an Anthony McCoy. I’d rather have Davis on a prove it deal with Willson and McCoy.

      A tall receiver would seem to be a bigger differentiator. I would suspect Rice and Miller would restructure. 2015 cap currently shows Seattle being around 34M free. Time to push the present into the future.

      • Glor

        I’ve heard the exact opposite from direct family

  2. Michael M.

    This is one of my favorite articles you’ve done lately Rob. Well done!

  3. David M

    my thoughts,

    Cut Rice, Clemons, and Miller.

    Resign Tate, and Bennett, maybe Avril if we can for cheap. what is Baldwins contract situation?

    1. Big TE or Big WR
    2. Big TE or Big WR
    3. (Trade??) Guard
    4. Guard/ Tackle
    5. not sure
    6. not sure
    7. not sure

    as for defense, we’ll have a lot of players coming off I.R. & rookie season who didn’t play a lot those include DT’s Jordan Hill, Jessie Williams, DE Greg Scruggs CB Tharold Simon( maybe replace Thurmond??) and offense RB/FB Spencer Ware.

    We could Possible cut Big Red, ( i don’t see it but you never know) and use Jordan Hill there, Mebane has had a lot better season that Bryant. Bryant’s money could be used towards resign of McDaniel, McDonald, Bennett, Avril etc…

    • Rob Staton

      Avril is already signed through 2014 (he agreed a 2-year deal). Baldwin is a restricted free agent and will likely be tendered at the second round level. So he’s safe for 2014.

  4. Tommy

    Jace Amaro is a matchup nightmare. As you mentioned, Amaro ate our (WVU) lunch the last 2 years. Granted we didnt have a very good defense in either of the 2 years, but we tried every combo possible to cover him with no success.

    His downfield blocking is solid but haven’t seen much traditional TE formations from TTech to judge his in-line blocking.

    I would love to pick him up in the late 1st / early 2nd. It would be a steal & an excellent move by PC/JS.

  5. Don

    Ebron looks head and shoulders the best TE in the draft, more athletic than the two top TE picks from last year( from Stanford and ND).

    I say move up and get Ebron and make him either your tall WR or TE, he has the versitility to do both like SF uses Vernon Davis. Then see what is available in the second round and take the best WR or TE or OL.

    It seems like SF is always trading away their expendable talent for draft picks and Seattle is cutting theirs for nothing in return. I think after the success they are having some of the players could be traded for high picks.

  6. Stuart

    Agreed, great post Rob. A week ago or so a fellow poster suggested R-1 ASJ and R-2 Coleman. I loved the idea then and said it would be my personal dream scenario. It could happen…

    What would crush me is if both are available at 32 and JS trades down with them sitting there. With everything we have read about TE’s, it would be much better to wait until R-2. I would be a horrible GM, emotion aka Jerry Jones.

    I love the direction of this post Rob! Way funner to think about than drafting a G in R-1.

    • Rob Staton

      There’s a lot of appeal in going ASJ/Coleman. For me you’re doing what you need to do on offense. Wilson needs a big target or two. It’s an absolute priority.

      • oz

        I agree Rob. If Colman isn’t there in the 2nd I like Hoffman, I think he is very underrated. I also like Parker(Louisville) and Washington(Missouri) who I think will last into the 3rd and 4th rounds.

        • CWU Hawk

          Really like Washington also

          • CC

            Me too – if Washington could somehow be there in the second round

            • troy

              Coleman pre combine as it stands right now is 3rd-4th RD
              Washington more than likely wont be drafted until the 5th RD
              Hoffman is also a 5th RD pick
              As for DeVante Parker hes returning for his senior year

  7. Rock

    I agree! Rice, Clemons, and Miller might have some trade value, as well.

    ASJ would be a cost effective replacement for Miller. Luke Willson has done well and looks like the long term move tight end.

    • SunPathPaul

      I wonder if a team would consider trading for all three? Ask for a 3rd round pick just to replace our traded ones, AND get them off the books with ZerO ‘dead’ money…. That would be sick!

      Rob, could that be done?

      • Ben2

        You’re not getting a 3rd pick for bloated contracts

  8. James

    Rob by no means do I think the hawks should draft him (unless he falls late) but what’s your take on Tre Mason from auburn? Considering all he’s done this year I havent heard much about him on draft sites and find myself impressed tonight.

  9. kevin mullen

    I’d even say that those respective numbers from the 3 cut would go towards the perceived value of the 3 to resign: Tate=Rice, Clemons=Bennett, and Miller=Breno. I think Breno is worth $5mil.

    Tate would probably be the only one that’s most likely inflated but I truly believe he’s seeking Harvin-type contract, though he’d settle to be here with the ‘Hawks for $7mil/yr, a sorta home discount. I also see Wilson doing the same.

    • Ben2

      What did Winston Justice get? 3 mil per year? That’s a good Breno comp

    • troy

      Tate @ anything more than $5-6mil is too much

  10. dtrain

    IMO Miller is our best zone blocker and actually excellent with h-back blocks from the slot and FB positions as well. He is a proven big time receiver (see years w/Oakland and numerous big games for us in which he never fails to come up big when our other targets are neutralized). There actually aren’t many guys in the NFL with his combination of skills. In other words, he is worth the $$–I am all about being greedy and adding a couple years on the contract to make him cap friendly in ’14-15 though. Why spend big time draft capital on a position if you don’t use the TE enough to justify it?–especially with a guy like Willson in the fold. I think he would be ranked ahead of Amaro in this class after what we have seen. Add another 5th-ish rounder and/or sign McCoy or Fred Davis at vet minimums and feel happy you already have a well rounded TE group. Use that #1 on a special WR (OBJ/Matthews/Robinson) or one of the many talented OTs. I like Giac but money can be saved there and with the right guy, you can move him to LT in ’15 when Russell O’s dough can go to Russell W. Round 2 can be BPA or one of the many WR options in this deep pool.

    On a side note, I really like Troy Niklas from ND and wish he would declare so we could pick him in the 4th round–6’6″ 270 GREAT blocker and nice hands–now that would be my Miller replacement!

    • dtrain

      Should have done better homework…Okung not a FA until ’16.

    • bigDhawk


      is our replacement of Giac at RT, and will replace Okung at LT in 2 years. He MUST be a Seahawk.

      • troy

        Turner probably could be had in the 4th RD

  11. KyleT

    I love this article! This is very close to my thinking. I want that big guy whether he’s a receiver or tight end that catches passes when he looks completely blanketed. That leaves you with the “how did he catch that” feeling. Outside of mike Evans I don’t think there is another guy like this in the receiver class. Which leaves me with thinking we have to go TE. Both ASJ and Jace Amaro can be trusted this way on 3rd downs and in the red zone. In fact I’m not sure Amaro has many plays inline vs in the slot.

    Cutting miller may not be a bad idea either. We cannot compete in this league if we don’t start signing favorable deals for our players. I get we had to sign some of these FA deals like rice and miller on super star contracts for guys that were not super stars to get the ball rolling. The sooner we correct some of these the better. Go look at the 49ers salary cap and what they are paying their comparable star positions…will make you think twice about some of the deals we have right now.

  12. cade

    The image of Miller blocking high quality DE’s one on one is stuck in my mind..

    Whats the margin of improvement in the area of productivity as a pass catcher from a BIg WR to our super reliable Miller man?

    Even if we had a true no1 he wouldn’t get that many targets. Maybe a handful more targets than the ones Miller would have gotten. Would he do that much more with the targets? Miller seems to make all the catches physically possible.

    Does the loss of Miller as a safety net and fantastic blocker/leader make sense in this case? Im not sure.

    • Layne

      1) Ra’Shede Hageman.- Probable no there when we pick
      2)Antonio Richardson.- May or may not be there
      3) Seferian-Jenkins.- May or may not be there
      4) Kelvin Benjamin. or Brandon Coleman.
      One of these will drop to the bottom of the first.
      If tate is gone. Other wr come into play

  13. Jon

    If we are going to draft a WR, would it be wise to get the best trade out of Baldwin that we possibly can after the round 2 tender. Hypothetically if it were draft day and we do take ASJ in Rd 1 or in early round 2 after a small trade back. What if Coleman is available. Is it worth the money to Keep Baldwin at over 2 million if he is not in the long term future plan. What could we get for Baldwin?
    Just taking a different line of thought that I have not heard much.

    • House


      I had a similiar thought as well. With Baldwin being a RFA, my thought was to put a 2nd or 3rd tender on him and gauge his trade market. I know a team (IND) would jump on it. Baldwin was touted Luck as the guy that will go down as “the Best QB ever”. IMO, he loves SEA, but I don’t think he’d mind being Luck’s version of Reggie Wayne.

      The big decision the FO has to make is to determine who is more critical to our team: Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin. There is no guarantee that Tate comes back as teams will more than likely throw money his way. We’d be screwed if we don’t secure one of them for sure though…

  14. Ben2

    It seems like we have had red zone & 3 rd down issues….a couple of big, young (ie cap cheap with potential to get better) targets at WR & TE sounds good….I like Miller a lot but I like having the best defense in the nfl more!

  15. Elijah

    I see the Seahawks trying to restructure Miller before cutting him. He doesn’t put up the gaudy stats, but he seems to come up with a big catch exactly when we need it. He’s one of those quiet, lunch pail guys every team needs to have. Just not at his price tag.

    • sea meat

      I would favor this move as well, but I have a feeling Miller would look ask to get cut and look for a better contract like most players

      • House

        I agree. Miller is due about $10M over the next 2 seasons. If we were able to extend him to a deal ending in ’16-17, adding a little money and lowering his annual cap hit, there’d be no reason to replace him with a 1st rd pick that would save a few hundred $k/season.

  16. AlaskaHawk

    At the end of the day, unless we start throwing the ball more it doesn’t make sense to pay any of our receivers top dollar. We don’t target them very often so why pay them a lot of money? I guess the counter argument might be that with less pass attempts each catch is critical. With RW pass efficiency I would like to see us pass more.

    I think you got a good idea to draft a good tight end and big wide receiver. Benjamin had a great day today in the BCS final, I’m down for picking him. Also liked #31 on defense, never got a name.

    • bigDhawk

      I’m still withholding judgement on what our ultimate plans really are concerning the short passing game until I see Percy Harvin at full power. It might be that we start passing a lot more with a completely functional PH. If that is the case, it will effect how we need other types of receivers.

  17. Ed

    Even before last year, I felt Rice had to go. I agree about Clem and Miller too. I think Lynch has one more year, then CM takes over.

    Harvin, Tate, Wilson, CM and Wilson pretty good skill positions.

    Our defense is pretty solid. But contracts are going to start changing this team dramatically.

    Which brings me to Big Sherm. I love Sherm, but Maxwell and Lane seem to be pretty solid when they play. Keep Thurmond and draft another corner somewhat high.

    Would trading Sherman for 2 1st or 1st and 2nd be something PC and JS even think about?

    • Cysco

      I can’t imagine this being a remote possibility. Pete has been looking for “sherman” his entire coaching career. There’s zero chance he lets him go. Sherman is more than just his production on the field. His work ethic, intelligence and attitude sets the identity for the entire defense. You lose sherman, you lose the soul of the defense.

    • Rob Staton

      Even if a team offered that, I doubt they’d accept it. Sherman isn’t going anywhere.

    • bigDhawk

      Name two specific players you would use those picks on that would have more of an impact on the Seahwks winning games both week to week and over the long term than Sherman by himself.

      • Ed

        Don’t know much about next years draft. But maybe we can get Watkins/Evans or Barr/Easley this year and use our pick (hopefully #32) on a te .

        My point is more the salary cap hit 12-16 mil for Sherman. He is better than Revis and will want that money. We have to pay Wilson too. We can not replace Wilson. Sherm is great, but Lane and Maxwell can play. If we continue to bolster the rush and getting the QB, Sherm 16 million hurts too much

        • Rob Staton

          Sherman is not going to be paid $16m. It’s more likely to be an average of $10-12m. And it’s a nailed on certainty they’ll be willing to pay it. The NFL cap isn’t so tough that you can’t afford any good players if you have a good quarterback. Look at Detroit — they’re paying Stafford, Johnson and Suh mega money. You can carry 3-4 ‘stars’.

          • Connor Jackson

            Don’t know how you feel about it Staton but I’d argue that Thomas, Sherman, Wilson, Lynch, & Harvin are all stars (5)

            • Rob Staton

              Well, ‘Jackson’, I think you can carry those five starts considering none are earning as much as Stafford, Johnson and Suh…. and are unlikely to do so in the future even after re-signing (Wilson could be the exception).

              • Ed

                Hope so. I just don’t want to turn into the Cowboys. We have drafted great and if we start always paying big, it will eventually catch up. The solid organizations always part ways with players before the big money and reload. Can we count on always finding Shermans every year?

                We have talent that gets paid and a lot of talent that needs to get paid.

                Wilson/Harvin/Okung/Thomas/Chancellor/Sherman. That doesn’t include the talent on the d line and Wright and Wagner.

                Side note. Are we losing Bevell and Quinn? If so, Norton ever going to get a chance?

  18. Attyla the Hawk

    If you’re considering replacing Miller, which would be a significant savings — there are two really good prospects to do that. ASJ, who will require a first round spend. But I would add CJ Fiedorowicz from Iowa to this conversation. Both are similar, but CJ has a thicker build. He is in my estimation, a significantly better inline blocker to ASJ, who isn’t necessarily bad in his own right. CJ is a very good blocking TE.

    ASJ will be more athletic, but CJ has movement skills that look eerily similar to Jason Witten. If you want a TE running down the seam to threaten defenses vertically, then ASJ is a better fit. CJ isn’t going to have that straight line speed, but he does possess excellent balance, which you can see easily in his crisp, sharp cuts and in his drive blocking. CJ is a chain mover with very good hands and the ability to work the 5-10 yard range very effectively.

    Like ASJ, he’s a huge target and a very good red zone target. Listed at 6’7″ and 265, he’s virtually the same as ASJ (6’6″ and 270). CJ to me has superior footwork and balance. This is manifest in his solid drive blocking where he can keep on his blocks and move and seal defenders reliably as well as his ability to execute sharp cuts at speed to create separation. He also tracks the ball exceptionally well, snaring passes right as he breaks from his cuts. He has very soft hands and you don’t see him double catching the ball.

    CJ seems to be a forgotten prospect, but I see a lot to like with him. In particular, I see a prospect who can provide what Miller provides, without even needing to expend a first round pick to obtain.

    If it came down to it, you could still cut Miller, get a Coleman or Benjamin and pick up CJ too. And that scenario wouldn’t even be unlikely really. CJ looks like he has tools that will translate well at the pro level.

    • AlaskaHawk

      ROB- any chance of posting tape on CJ Fiedorowicz, IOWA? He could be a good second round pick.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        Here’s some from draftbreakdown crew:

        2013 Ohio state:

        2012 Michigan:

        Fiedorowicz looks remarkably similar to Miller as a blocker and route runner. Smooth and sudden out of breaks. Very good hands as he snatches a lot of balls cleanly that are anticipation throws (i.e. balls thrown before he’s in his break. He also displays a good sense of navigating the middle zone.

        These two games, you’ll see his value as a blocker pretty plainly

      • Rob Staton

        For me Fiedorowicz is more of a fourth or fifth round guy. Similar type of player to Miller for sure. But I can’t see him going in the first two days. One to monitor though.

        • Jeff M.

          I think it’d be great if we could get him on the third day of the draft, even if you’re not moving on from Miller immediately CJ could be the long-term replacement.

          With any other TE in this draft if you try to replace Miller with a rookie you’re projecting a guy to a position he’s never played (Y tight end). Even ASJ who clearly has the body and looks the part has had the most success out of the slot, and guys like Ebron and Amaro are basically just big WRs. In line TEs are a dying breed barely used by most college programs, which makes it hard to find a Miller heir in the draft.

        • Attyla the Hawk

          I could see a drop to R4. It will depend on needs of teams certainly. Pass catching TEs that can be split out wide currently are the most sought after types. CJ can do that but doesn’t appear to be that instant mismatch teams crave. However if a team is looking for a traditional inline TE, he would go earlier, as he and ASJ are the cream of that flavor of TE in this year’s crop.

          I rather doubt he’d be available at the end of R4. Although to be fair, there aren’t a lot of teams vying for TE help as there was last year. Really, outside of Atlanta, Tampa, Green Bay and possibly New England — there aren’t many teams with significant TE needs. Atlanta has so many other needs, it may not dip into the TE pool. Although those four teams probably are looking more for pass catchers. Certainly Green Bay and New England would fall into that category. Atlanta likely as well.

          Tampa is a bigger unknown. They need DE pass rush help. They also seriously need OT help. TE is often cited as a third need. It’ll depend on what Smith and Tedford feel they need for their offense. If memory serves, they don’t have a third round pick.

          His draftnik grade is generally in the 70-110 range. Possible late 2nd to early 4th. The depth at the position and the general lack of teams needing help could easily push him to the end of that range and slightly beyond. I do think he is a good traditional TE in any year. For this discussion, I think he’s a nearly perfect Zach Miller clone.

  19. Kyle

    I was at a friend’s house last year watching the draft. I was about 50% positive that the Hawks were going to pick Khaseem Green last year because (according to Chris Stueber) Seahawk scouts went to Rutgers twice last year. Maybe Schneider was looking at another Rutgers player……?

    • House

      John Schneider has been seen at AT LEAST 3 Rutgers games this year. If it wasn’t to watch Coleman, I have no idea who he was watching.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        I do believe this to be the case. This was noted in 2012 as well, and the speculation was we were there watching him then. He is the kind of stand out in the measurables department that it makes a lot of sense.

        I am not sure what 2013 will have done to alter our opinion of him. Clearly he wasn’t the same explosive player he was in 2012, and I’m not sure he’s elevated his ball skills which were deficient even in 2012. It’s a big question mark to be sure.

        • House

          The QB play @ Rutgers fell off a damn cliff in 2013. lol

          I think we know that and I think other teams realize that as well. His stock will only get better unless he bombs at the Combine/Pro Day.

  20. Phil

    Rob – I really like the thrust of your article. I think PC’s mantra “compete” has got to expand to include not only competition on the field, but also competition on the contract. If cutting a guy and replacing him with someone “cheaper” involves, say, a 10% drop in performance, but a savings of 50% in $$, you will probably see the guy cut, especially if he’s not a key contributor.

    * * * * *

    After the season ends, I’m sure that PC and JS will have lots of discussions about the future direction of the team. I don’t foresee too many changes in the Seahawks’ defensive schemes, but I’m not so sure of changes to our future offensive schemes. I say this because I think there is a good chance that Bevell will get a head coaching job elsewhere and I don’t think our offense is as much reflective of PC’s philosophical “touch” as our defense is. I also think that our offense has underperformed at times this year and there are improvements that could be made that involve the scheme, not just the players. With these thoughts in mind, it might be that the TE position could be more highly valued in our future offense than it is in our present offense. In other words, I think Miller’s current contract could be highly justified if he got more targets.

    • shamus mcgee

      JS has also said numerous times in interviews how they “have a plan”…. I’m sure much of this has been thought of in advance at the time of the contract signing – barring significant changes in the way someone plays good or bad….

  21. dave crockett

    It’s an interesting proposal. I love the detail here, and it makes a lot of sense. But I’m going to highlight a few points of difference.

    If I have you correctly, Miller will always be a role player in this low volume pass offense. So they can’t keep paying him like a focal point player. I agree with this underlying logic, but not necessarily with the draft implications.

    I disagree with the notion that “big” receiver is the biggest need facing the team. It’s the most glaring absence, for sure, but not necessarily the highest priority need. If SEA cuts Miller in part because re-signing Tate is a priority then aren’t they effectively declaring that “big receiver” is a complementary piece rather than a focal point? They’d be re-signing Tate to be a co-#1 WR with Percy Harvin.

    If that’s the case then I’d expect them to target a big kid in the 3rd round, like Pitt’s Devin Street, or Clemson’s Martavious Bryant later in the draft.

    I think SEA’s bigger long-term need is at the 3-technique. They seem dedicated to the “big” 3-tech approach. Tony McDaniel plays 3-tech exactly the way they want on standard downs: a premium on run-stuffing but enough pocket pushing to facilitate the pass rush. Unfortunately, McDaniels is the only standard downs 3-tech on the roster. He is likely no long-term solution unless he wants to stay on an under-market deal. The other 3-techniques (i.e., McDonald, HIll, and Scruggs) are all what SEA wants at 3-technique on passing downs.

    For that reason, I think Hageman (Minnesota) and Anthony Johnson (LSU) are DTs that will high on PC/JS’s list in the first round.

    • Rob Staton

      I’d be surprised if Hageman wasn’t on their radar, but I fully expect him to be a top-15 pick. The Senior Bowl will be his time to shine. My prediction is he’s the big winner of Senior Bowl week, and is the big mover after that event.

      Johnson… I’m not crazy about. Not in round one.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        Agreed. The alpha DT prospects just aren’t there this year as they were last season. Teams are always looking to bolster their DL and he’s going to really stand out amongst a fairly lean day 1/2 crop.

        He should really rise up boards after the Senior Bowl and the combine.

    • House


      You do make very valid points and I agree with what you are saying. If Hageman is available, I think it’d be hard to pass him up.

      We have not been able to successfully sign a FA Big WR because they don’t really exist. Ruvell Martin, Mike Williams, Braylon Edwards all were either red-tagged, reclamation projects or mediocre talent. Players like Danario Alexander and Ramses Barden could’ve been potential options, but due to injuries, the reward did not justify the risk.

      With our DEF currently at the top of the NFL, churning our DL with vets playing on prove-it contracts is a far better option than not addressing a HUGE need on the offense. Our O hasn’t scratched its full potential yet. Adding another weapon for RW would be huge because the O has shown big-play ability, but has also struggled to convert on 3rd downs.

      Finding the IMPACT players is going to be the key…

      • dave crockett

        On Hageman: I’ll be eagerly checking out the Senior Bowl write ups. I hated that I mostly missed his bowl game.

        On FA WRs: PC/JS have been “in” on a number of big free agent WRs in their tenure. They DID sign Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin to a pretty big deals. They even kicked the tires on Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson.

        On defense over offense: Part of my underlying logic is simply that defense must to be replenished more frequently than offense (all else equal). It’s easier to find a “big receiver” (or do without) than to find the perfect 3-tech for this defense. McDaniel may not have a huge market but he’s mostly why the run defense held up for 16 games this year rather than the late season swoon we’ve seen in recent seasons. If he leaves without replacement the defense is hamstrung in a way that it’s not absent a big receiver.

        Part of me is keeping an eye on Hakeem Nicks. Could NY (wisely, imo) let him walk? But Davis Hsu basically said that there’s no way that’d work under the cap.

  22. Emperor_MA

    “You could go into the draft with all three on your roster and it wouldn’t break the bank. If you then draft a tight end in round one, just let the competition begin — keep three and cut the unlucky loser.”

    That’s the quote from your fine article, Rob, that catches my attention most. What it indicates to me is that we can cut Miller and expend a first-round draft choice on a “replacement” tight end who may end up being the “unlucky loser” in a competition with three journeyman NFL players.

    With Zach Miller on this team, TE is simply NOT a weakness for the Seahawks. He can do all we ask of him and more if we were to ask more. We know this because he does it every Sunday. IMHO, if you cut Zach Miller, you then automatically have just made the TE position on the team an area of weakness.

    For me, a first-round draft choice should either be BPA or it should (ideally) address an area of weakness on the team. While I don’t think the Seahawks have any GLARING weaknesses, I do believe they are below “league average” in two distinct places …. #1 WR and both G positions. Hence, I’m hoping that if a legitimate first-round talent at either position falls to the Seahawks on draft day, it would be my hope they would take that player. We simply do not target the TE enough to make it a first round priority when we already have a very good player on our roster.

    I am pretty confident that ASJ, Benjamin and Coleman will all be available when the Seahawks pick, and they will be available because no other teams deemed them to be a first-round talent. I hope PC/JS follow suit. If they are going to reach a little bit, I’d hope they’d reach in an area they know they can upgrade instantly.

    I agree about Miller’s contract, though. At TE, you get elite pay for elite production and, great blocker or not, Miller is a TE, not a tackle. He needs to restructure to remain a Seahawk and I think he will have an honest look at that once the season is over.

    • CHawk Talker Eric

      It’s a simple cost-benefit analysis that isn’t in the least bit simple to determine.

      Miller will use about $5m in cap space for 2015. A late R1 rookie TE would use about $1.5m. So if SEA cuts Miller and takes a TE in R1, they would save about $3.5m in cap space, which is not insignificant. That could be Breno’s contract, or Bennett’s. Pretty simple, right?

      Not so fast. Even though it would save about $3.5m, what does it cost the team on the field in terms of production for the money? That’s much harder to quantify. Maybe not for Miller – he’s rock solid. His only problem is staying healthy, and even that hasn’t been too much of an issue. He excels in Cable’s blocking system, is a solid, if unspectacular, go-to/safety valve, and has developed some chemistry with RW.

      But what about the rookie who would replace Miller? Therein lies the risk. And for me, there’s only one TE in the draft who is worth it: Ebron. Both ASF and Amaro are tantalizing athletic freaks, but I worry about ASF’s work ethic/commitment, and I don’t think Amaro has shown enough consistency to warrant a R1 pick. Ebron, on the other hand, is such an athletic upgrade over Miller that I’d take that chance, even if the cap savings is lower because SEA would have to trade up (pretty high) to get him.

      However, if you’re going to trade up that far, you might as well go ahead at shoot for one of Evans/Watkins/Lee.

      • dave crockett

        If SEA cuts Miller Ebron is the only guy you ask to come in and start as a rookie.

        I think the point of cutting him is that you could bring run the position by committee with Kellen Davis (and/or Fred Davis), Extra L, and a rookie.

        So, I don’t think it would need to be Ebron-or-bust when drafting a TE.

        (I love Ebron by the way, and wouldn’t bat an eye if he were the first round pick under any circumstances. He’s a potential rock star.)

  23. Birdofprey

    Miller’s cap number goes down to 7 million next year. I was at 10 or 11 this year. There is no way the Seahawks cut him when he is such a big piece of our running game unless they can draft a TE who is excellent at blocking. Willson has shown serious promise but our TE aren’t really targeted in this system.

    Why spend a 1st round pick when the TE see’s maybe 2 targets a game. Luke Willson has no trouble getting open as seen vs one of the better cover LB’s in Willis.

    Big WR and there are many guys sitting 6’3 or 6’4 running 4.5 in this draft. I just saw one young guy catch the game winning TD in the BCS.

    • Rob Staton

      I really like Miller, but you don’t need to pay a blocking tight end $7m a year.

      That’s still $1.6m than Rob Gronkowski.

      • troy

        If we’re gonna grab a TE why not roll the dice on a high reward/low risk TE Colt Lyerla? use a 7th RD pick on TE, save our other picks for WRs, OT & OG etc… Pete has gotten the most out of troubled players in the past is there any reason to think he couldnt do the same with Colt? Most teams blow a 7th RD pick anyways and the player @ best is JAG or PS material. Colt has a lot of upside and talent, why not take a chance and smile as the other GMs curse you in hindsight.

        • Rob Staton

          Lyerla will be an UDFA for me. Big issues there.

          • troy

            Rob seriously though, Lyerla could be a huge steal in this draft in the 7th-UDFA. When his games on one could argue hes one of the best TE in this draft if not the best(judging soley on preformance and field play) leave the off the field issues to the side and think about RW throwing Lyerla the ball and using him in our offense. It would be a lot of fun to watch this kid pull it together and do something with all that ability eh?

            • Rob Staton

              I seem to remember people saying the same things about other similar prospects though. Big names with big issues. Most never work out. We have to think about the person as well as the player.

    • dave crockett

      The team doesn’t need to recreate Miller’s *upside*. That’s the whole point of cutting him. They’re paying for capacity they’re not using in this offense. They just need to replace his current level of *production*. That’s a much less expensive matter.

      Miller is more talented than the Kellen Davises, Fred Davises, and Anthony McCoys of the world. Unfortunately, in this offense he basically cannot outproduce them, at least not enough to justify the substantial premium in pay.

      To me, the only TE worth spending an early pick on is Ebron. His talent is transformative. He changes the TE’s role in the offense. Short of that, you may as well go with Davis/McCoy types on team-friendly deals.

  24. Phil

    Rob – how about an article on the RBs that you like in next year’s draft? The Seahawks bigggest long-term need is to find their Running Back of the Future and if Christine Michael (or Turbin) isn’t the man, then the clock is ticking until we find him….

    • CC

      I’ll be interested to see what happens with Turbin – he has had some key fumbles and we know Petey is all about the ball.

    • Rob Staton

      I will certainly cover the RBs — although I think it’s out as an early option. There are 3-4 RBs I’d consider later on.

    • David M

      Pretty sure Michael is the man. Many analysists said He was the Best RB to come out of the 2013 Draft. Seattle is just saving him. no point in wearing him out, risk of a big injury etc… in playing him. Lynch is the obvious starter for the next season or 2, Turbin is an ok Backup, (has his ups and downs). Besides, MIcahel has some problems with pass protection he is working on. it wouldn’t have been good to have him in with half the O-Line missing.

  25. CC

    I’ve been thinking this for awhile – John Schneider has always said his plan is to keep “our guys.” IMO – that means guys they have drafted, not FA signings. Both Rice and Miller were signed to big contracts and a lot of that had to do with the fact that we weren’t able to get FA to come here – so we over paid for them – Rice and Miller 2 examples. Also, the nature of FA has changed in the last few years, teams are cutting veterans or asking them to take pay cuts to stay and they are not getting big contracts for the most part. Of course, like Seattle a few years ago, teams like Miami and Cleveland have overpaid to get FA in. Rice, Miller, Clem and likely Red (due to his contract leaving more cap room) make too much money. We saw what happened with MRob – and it will happen again this year.

    Petey and Johnny will build through the draft and replace some of these guys with younger players. While we all love what these guys have done, if we want to keep players like RW, Earl and Sherm, there have to be cuts somewhere else. I don’t feel too bad about it either – these guys got big money for a few years, and it is time to pay the guys who have made a difference and been underpaid.

  26. Griffin


    If the Seahawks can’t afford to pay Zach Miller the money he is scheduled to make, what is the most that another team would be willing to pay him? As you say, Gronk isn’t currently making as much as Miller, so would you think there is a decent chance they could cut him and sign him to a lower deal, or just renegotiate for a lower contract?

    • shamus mcgee

      I am sure that they have a number they are willing to keep him at and will approach him for restructure, if not I am sure they are willing to move on with a different plan should that fail with the possibility of resigning him if he doesn’t like the other offers out there.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s a good question.

      On the one hand, in terms of production he’s below Rob Housler and Mychal Rivera. So anyone looking for a pass catcher isn’t going to be willing to pay all that much. I would argue that blocking tight ends can be found relatively easily, even if they don’t match up to Miller. A potential lack of alternative employers could pave the way to renegotiate. But considering a rookie would earn around $1m — and Miller isn’t going to go that low — we also have to consider the possibility that they wouldn’t be interested in renegotiating.

  27. Kenny Sloth

    I’ve watched a lot of tape on the both of them, and I like Ebron’s blocking waaay more than ASJ. He’s much more tenacious. ASJ just gets by.

    • Emperor_MA

      I agree. I know there are a lot of UW fans around here and they all tend to see the Huskies in every draft class through rose-colored glasses. I really think ASJ is more of a second round type of player who does not represent value at #30 – 32.

      That said, I think the Seahawks are not in an enviable draft position when it comes to the “areas of need” that most on here tend to agree on: WR and TE. I see a few WRs worth first round grades but all should be gone well before the Hawks select. I see two TEs (Ebron and Amaro) worth it at #32 but that is it.

      I’d almost prefer that, if the Seahawks are going to go WR or TE with their first pick, that PC/JS trade down a few spots, pick up a third round choice and then select one of the bigger WRs or ASJ in the upper half of the second round. They could then take a guy like Marcel Jensen in the fourth round or CJ Fiedorowicz in the fifth.

      • Rob Staton

        In order to get a third round pick for trading down, Seattle would probably need to trade deep into the late second round. Over the last few years teams have been getting as little as a 5th rounder to trade out of round one.

        • Emperor_MA

          Agreed, Rob. But if there isn’t the run on QBs that so many pundits are predicting and only one or two are taken in the first round, one of the teams drafting in the top 10 that really needs a QB may trade back into round one to grab someone like Manziel, Carr or Bortles before some other needy team grabs them.

          I could really see this happening because I’m struggling to see four QBs off the board in the first ten picks.

        • Attyla the Hawk

          That’s what I thought too, until I looked at it closer Rob. Particularly if you look at last years’ trades near where we will be picking:

          (18) Dallas for 1st and 3rd (31,74) SF
          (22) StL for 1st, 3rd and 6th (30, 92, 198) Atl
          (29) NE for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th (52, 83, 102 and 229) Minn
          (38) AZ for 2nd and 4th (45, 110) SD

          Seems the going rate for a 10-15 spot move up in the 15 to 40 range is a third round pick at minimum with often times more thrown in.

          • troy

            Im sold!! Lets move down and regain a 3rd and then some!!

          • Rob Staton

            It’s a little different though for some reason when making a small drop from the bottom of round one to the top of round two. Tampa Bay essentially swapped fourth round picks with Denver to go from 36 to 31 to get Doug Martin in 2012. For trading out of round one, Denver didn’t even get an extra pick.

            • Attyla the Hawk

              It’ll be interesting to see how trades go this year. 2012 was the first post CBA draft. Teams were and still are feeling out the process somewhat. Obviously the fluidity improved in 2013 — as outside of R1 trades, there were a lot of dink and dunk trades moving just a few spots in the later rounds in 2012. 2013 saw a significantly more dynamic trade landscape as teams reacted differently as they understood the impact of the CBA more fully.

              Maybe it was a knee jerk overreaction. Or perhaps it was a harbinger of looser wheeling and dealing to come. Obviously this year looks to be even looser. Picks 1 and 2 being shopped despite having a generational pass rush talent and a solid Bradfordesque QB prospect lurking in the draft pool weeds.

              It may well be, that we end up packaging two picks for three. With a move down 5-7 spots, maybe it requires we package our first and 4th for a 2nd and third and fifth. A bigger drop back should be a 2 for 1 net. There are always ways to get value. You just need a willing partner and a talent they need to drop.

            • CHawk Talker Eric

              Seattle picked up a 5th last year for trading down in the bottom half of R2. Seems to me they’d get at least a 4th for trading down out of the bottom of R1

  28. Justin

    We have had a weapon like Miller on the team the past few seasons and they don’t seem to want to use it like they should. I am not sure I would want to use a 1st round pick in a TE. No matter how good they were. If they were going to bring them in and use that TE as a featured weapon…maybe. But it doesn’t seem like they want to do that. I’d rather trade up to get Mike Evans or see who falls to the end of the 1st. Go after an O lineman or big WR.

    • CC

      Really good point!

      • troy

        Either trade up and take Evans or trade back and regain a 3rd RD pick! If we’re gonna grab a TE why not roll the dice on a high reward/low risk TE Colt Lyerla? use a 7th RD pick on TE, save our other picks for WRs, OT & OG etc… Pete has gotten the most out of troubled players in the past is there any reason to think he couldnt do the same with Colt? Most teams blow a 7th RD pick anyways and the player @ best is JAG or PS material. Colt has a lot of upside and talent, why not take a chance and smile as the other GMs curse you in hindsight.

  29. Robert

    Here is Colt Lyerla, the TE with the biggest upside AND downside
    RW is amazing at throwing the high ball; let’s get him some targets!! Kelvin Benjamin, Brandon Coleman and Mike Evans are my favorites, so far. Here is a great KB clip:

    • Robert

      Oh yeah, another one of my favorite big WR’s is Dorial Green-Beckham: He has ridiculous speed to go with tremendous size. By draft day, he will probably be out of our reach. I think Kelvin Benjamin might be our guy! Check out his clip in the previous post. He is a red zone monster with great catch radius. He is an excellent hands catcher and high pointer. He would be a lethal weapon to add to RW’s arsenal!

      • troy

        Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson and Odell Beckham Jr. should all be late 1st RD-2nd RD picks.

        • Robert

          I hope so. Beckham could post some ridiculous combine #’s. If he runs in the 4.4’s, he might rise to mid 1st…

        • Robert

          Just watched this clip of Allen Robinson: He is spectacular after the catch!

      • Robert

        My previous post never made it past ” awaiting moderation.” So here is the link to Kelvin Benjamin: He is an athletic freak at 6’5″ 230+…

      • CHawk Talker Eric

        DGB has the potential to be the best WR in a while. Like Clowney could be the best DE in a while.

        But he’s ineligible for this year’s draft, so he’ll have to wait.

  30. Hay stacker509

    Rob, I haven’t seen anyone mention Utah utes TE Jake Murphy. I’ve only caught three of their games this year and he looks great albeit alittle raw. He’s a junior, 6’4 252 lbs
    He hasn’t put up extreme numbers but this hear he averaged 16.7 yds/rec
    Definitely not a first day draft pick but I’d be damn happy if the hawks took him in the 4th or 5th. He he doesn’t get many pass options but he’s a steamrolling blocker that when asked cam catch almost anything thrown to him (kinda like another TE we all know… Miller anyone?
    I’d also wouldn’t mind CJ fiedersomethingorother (can’t spell his last name but he has looked solid all year.

  31. Griffin


    One last thought on Zach Miller. While he is not worth what he is being paid, and you mention that he might be cut to keep the defense together, but I have another thought. With how stacked the defense is do you think Pete and Schneider would be willing to take away one of the bright spots of the offense to help keep all of the defensive stars when the offense is the unit that needs the most help?

    • Rob Staton

      I think they would — because in this scenario you’re also re-investing in the offense with draft stock.

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