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Unfortunately, the Seahawks hopes for a Super Bowl run came to a screeching halt in Atlanta. With too many injuries to count and a fair share of seasonal drama, Seattle simply wasn’t good enough this year.

When constructing a roster, the goal is to establish a consistent culture of winning. The man in charge of ensuring this culture possesses the correct individuals? General Manager John Schneider. The buck stops with him. His singular goal is to provide Pete Carroll with the players necessary to win football games. Roster construction, positional philosophies, cap allocation approaches, evaluation techniques – they’re all uniquely intertwined and equally essential in developing a winning path to the Super Bowl.

When the offseason rolls around (and this may sound a little creepy), I try to shift my mindset from being a “fan” to a “hunter”. I try to position myself as the General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks. I try to position myself in John Schneider’s shoes. In doing so, I consistently ask myself two main questions:

  • Where is no one else looking?
  • Where can I find value?

Often times, in the hype of heavy positional focused drafts, talent gets overlooked. Big names in free agency crowd the media reports and talent gets swept under the rug. My personal goal in the offseason is to identify and pinpoint value. Where is no one else looking? Where can I find value?

So. Let’s talk about the Seahawks baby.

 

 

Per Over the Cap (which I use for everything), the Seahawks have a projected $32.9M in cap space (including rollover). Not bad. But let’s break down that number a bit further. Subtract $3M for IR, $1M for practice squad, $2.5Mish for rookies (we only budget for higher picks – lower drafted players merely replace similar salaries of lower-tiered players on the roster), and $1M for any future dead money. Necessary deductions equal $7.5M. Please note that this may slightly change if the Seahawks are docked their second round pick for rule violations.

Thus $25.4M of cap space ($32.9M – $7.5M) is a much more accurate, transparent budget for how much playing money the Seahawks have entering the offseason. That’s a pretty good amount of room. In light of the 2016 offseason, Seattle has a bit more spending money. The following is a guide for how I would approach the offseason, if I were the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. It’s not what I think they’ll do. It’s not what I predict they’ll do. It’s what I would do.

Per Over the Cap, here’s a list of Seattle’s free agents:

Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 9.22.38 PM

For the sake of clarify; I’ll break down my thoughts on extensions/contracts by offense/defense/special teams – hopefully just to give you a better idea of the roster composition.

 

The Offense

On the offensive side of the ball, the Seahawks don’t really have any star players hitting free agency. Bradley Sowell was a disaster and they should let him walk.

Brandon Williams is a UFA. In regards to the tight end position as a whole, I think they should let Luke Willson walk. I think his market will be too high *cough Vance Mcdonald Deal* for his value to Seattle. I would sign Brandon for cheap, let Nick Vannett (the 2016 third round pick) fill Luke’s role as a strong blocking tight end and hope he develops into a receiving threat. In regards to Jimmy Graham’s deal, there’s no need to cut him. It doesn’t make any sense. Let Jimmy play out his contract through 2017 and then evaluate his deal next offseason. If he walks, you get a comp pick. I think we’ll have further clarity regarding Jimmy’s deal after the 2017 season. However, it should be noted that Graham’s contract demands post 2017 would likely be similar or more than his current pay. In regards to his value to Seattle and the cap space he occupies, I think there are valid arguments on both sides of the debate.

I’d like to see Marcel Reece back. I think he showed that he might have something left in the tank. He’s on the streets for cheap…so why not? Bring the vet back!

In regards to the offensive line, which was a complete and utter disaster in 2016, I think the Seahawks need to reform their entire philosophical approach to the position group. Scouting, talent evaluation, scheme, development process, draft and cap allocation goals – I think it all needs be re-evaluated. I’m not pinning this just on Cable. I believe this is an organizational flaw (despite Cable being at the center of it). However, I don’t think they need to blow it all up. There’s some talent on the line to build around. Garry Gilliam, who was once the expected LT of the future, is an RFA. Throughout the season, Cable made some interesting comments regarding his physicality and style of play. Cable had this to say after the Tampa Bay game:

   “To play on the line of scrimmage at this level it has to be part of your makeup.”

Cable seemed really frustrated with Gilliam’s play. When you’re benched for Bradley Sowell, life isn’t going too great. However, later against the Rams, Garry got some snaps that inspired some confidence in his coach:

“I like his approach to this coming back to it, so we’ll go forward,’’ Cable said.

GG reflected on the process:

“That’s more just going harder, really,’’ Gilliam said. “That’s really all that is. I tend to be a player that thinks a little bit more. I read people a little bit more. Just do less of that and just react more. Which isn’t a problem. It’s just a matter of telling myself to do it.’’

After getting benched at RT, Garry seemed to have a “come to Jesus” moment and returned to play a lot better. However, his relationship with Cable seems to be a tricky one. He has fallen in and out of favor quite a bit with his coach. Will he last as a Seahawk? Who knows. But if I were the General Manager, Garry would be competing for the starting right tackle spot in 2017. Additionally, I think the Seahawks also need to take a strong look at Sebastian Vollmer, an experienced right tackle who could potentially hit the market (if the Pats don’t retain him) for a much cheaper rate than Reiff or Wagner. Vollmer is 32 years old and just lost his job to Marcus Cannon, who has had an incredible year under the new Pats’ offense line coach. I’d be willing to throw a little cash/some GTD money his way to solidify the RT spot.

In regards to the left tackle position, I think Seattle needs to target this position aggressively in free agency. Playing George Fant, an un-drafted basketball player, at left tackle was an obviously terrible decision.

 

PFF gave Fant the lowest grade of any player at any position. Additionally, NFL1000 rated Fant as the 3rd worst LT in the NFL. Numerous film experts publicly criticized the Seahawks for making this decision. However, I believe the Hawks have the resources and the ability to properly address this position hole and provide Russell Wilson with the protection he deserves.

My solution? Andrew Whitworth.

Yes, yes, yes…..I know he’s 35. But bear with me. He had an excellent 2016 and was one of the top tackles in the league.

 

I would aggressively pursue Andrew and offer him a two-year deal with strong guarantees through the first year. He’ll have a market…. and he’ll have suitors. However, I believe that acquiring a talented, veteran presence would do wonders for this position group. They are young – but they have potential (at least the interior does). The 2017 tackle class appears to be incredibly weak – and the odds seem to be against SEA in finding the left tackle of the future. I would sign Whitworth to a two-year deal, aggressively draft a left tackle in the 2018 draft class (trade up if necessary), and expect Whitworth to mentor a young rookie from the 2018 class. I’m done making UDFA basketball players protect a franchise quarterback in the National Football League. If Whitworth doesn’t want to come to Seattle or receives more money from someone else, I would consider taking a look at Okung again — who played 99% of his offensive snaps with Denver in 2016. He wasn’t amazing – but he was decent (which is light-years better than what Seattle had in 2016).

I truly believe that aggressively pursuing an answer at the LT position should be a key goal for John entering this offseason. George has potential, but he can’t be the starting left tackle in 2017. It just can’t happen. He makes for an excellent swing player with strong development potential. However, I’m not going to waste the years of a legendary HOF quarterback by making basketball players block for him. If Seattle could combine RT Sebastian Vollmer (if the Pats don’t retain him) with Andrew Whitworth or Russell Okung on the left side, I think the offensive line could be a very solid group in 2017. They need talented, veteran leadership. These players are just that.

In regards to Justin Britt’s contract, I believe the Seahawks need to be willing to pay up to $8.5M APY (at the very highest) for him. However, they might be able to get him for cheaper. After suddenly finding his niche spot on the line, I’m sold on his future as a Seahawk. He was a composed leader in 2016 and the only consistent, above average starter. His football relationship with his quarterback will be vital for many years to come. As he enters the last year of his deal in 2017, I would make extending Britt a priority this offseason. Seattle needs to build off the interior. Glow, Britt, and Ifedi – with some more experience – could end providing a solid future of protection for Wilson.

 

The Defense

After a disappointing 2016 season (at least according to the LOB’s standards), many fans are freaking out. I’m not. The dominance of the Legion of Boom will be back.

Mark. My. Words.

There were some massive injuries endured on the defensive side of the ball. Mike B out for a significant amount of time, Earl broke his leg, Sherm dealt with an MCL injury, Kam missed five games, and Shead tore his ACL. This year sucked – and I think apart of it is just luck. Earl and Bennett are their two best defensive players, and when you miss them for significant amounts of time, your defense will be worse. It’s just a fact. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some ideas as to how we can beef up the defense for 2017.

First one is an obvious one: tender Shead. Shead is a byproduct of the Legion of Boom development program – and he had an excellent 2016 before tearing his ACL (best wishes to you DeShawn!!). Miguel Benzan, who is a phenomenal salary cap analyst for the Patriots, wrote this regarding 2017 RFA tenders. It’s important context so be sure to read it thoroughly:

“The minimum increase in RFA tenders is 5% while the maximum increase is 10%. If the increase in the League Cap is between 5% and 10% then the increase in the RFA tenders will equal that increase. Last year’s low RFA tender was $1.671 million. So the range for the low RFA tender in 2017 will be between $1.755 and $1.838 million. Last year’s second-round RFA tender was $2.553 million. So the range for the 2nd round RFA tender in 2017 will be between $2.681 and $2.808 million. Last year’s first-round RFA tender was $3.635 million. So the range for the 1st round RFA tender in 2017 will be between $3.817 and $3.999 million. RFAs can negotiate with other teams starting at the beginning of the League Year. The RFA tender is not guaranteed so the player can then be waived without any dead money. The deadline to sign RFAs to offer sheets is 4PM April 21st, a Friday.”

It’s kind of hard to predict and apply a specific tender to Shead without receiving full medical recommendations from his doctor. His injury really complicated things and couldn’t have come at a worse time. However, I believe the Seahawks should lock in Shead to a long-term extension once he is fully healed. He is a ball hawk…. a corner that I don’t want to lose. Kam Chancellor will also be expecting a new contract. Kam’s body probably won’t ever be good for 16 games again. Despite the gradual weakening of his body, he’s a vocal leader on this team and the soul of this defense. I would extend Kam – but I think Seattle should be very wise in tying easy year 2/3 outs and attach some of his salaries to per game/active roster bonuses. Chancellor can stay on this team as long as he’s productive. But if I were Seattle, I’d make it easy to get out of that contract. Just incase…

Additionally, I’d also like to see Seattle draft a defensive back on either day one or early on day two. With Lane’s poor performance in 2016 and Shead’s injury, I think you have to address that position entering the offseason. You have to add competition – and quality competition at that. One such name I’d love to see as a Seahawk is Budda Baker.

Seattle should also look to address the interior of their defensive line. After inconsistent showings in 2016, it was clear they needed more pressure from the inside. One man can surely make that happen: Calais Campbell. With the company of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark – Calais’ addition would make this the best defensive line in the NFL. And it wouldn’t be close. They would be deadly. I expect Calais to have a strong amount of suitors and probably land a 3 or 4 year deal at $10-11M APY. Can the Seahawks afford him? Absolutely.

As a 31 year old with not much time left in the NFL, I would speculate he’d want to join a Super Bowl contender….and the Seahawks are that. Seattle recently hired his collegiate defensive line coach too, Clint Hurtt. Come North, big fella!

 

Special Teams

In 2016, the special teams unit took a step backwards and consistently had negative impacts on the outcomes of games. One positive note is that Neiko Thorpe played surprisingly well throughout the season. Steven Hauschka is a free agent after playing through the last year of his deal in 2016. I would make an effort to re-sign him, but surely not at the $3.5M cap hit he carried in 2016.

With a depressed value after a poor year, I would pitch a multi-year, low guaranteed deal and see if he accepts it. In addition to solving the kicker spot, Seattle needs some continuity at long snapper. Maybe you look towards the 2016 UDFAs for that player. Either way, you’re not going to shelling out large bucks for a long snapper.

 

Closing Thoughts

I really, really want Seattle to make a play for Sebastian Vollmer and either Okung or Whitworth. I would make protecting Russell a priority here on out (via both cap dollars and draft pick allocation). An extension for Britt would solidify this intent.

Calais Campbell would be nice – but it seems like a luxury move. If I were John Schneider, I’d prioritize protecting Wilson over adding additional interior pressure. Russell is the future of your franchise. This offseason, I think it’s time to finally recognize that reality.

About The Author

Staff Writer

For those of you familiar with the Seahawks blogosphere, I was a contributor to Fieldgulls under Danny Kelly. At Fieldgulls, I created many different types of content but my real niche was the NFL salary cap. I’ve also worked at Over the Cap in the past and collaborated with Jason Fitzgerald on many cap related projects.However, my passion for football extends well beyond the salary cap. Obviously, I’m a huge Seahawks fan – and I’ve been one since 2006. I love writing opinion pieces, researching and creating player profiles, conducting interviews with players, and rooting for this team. I openly admit it: I am biased. Growing up in the Seattle area, I’m an avid fan of all Seattle sports (cough bring back the Sonics cough).Anyways, that’s enough about me. I’m stoked to start contributing to Hawkblogger. One of my favorite aspects of writing about football is interacting with other fans. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You can find me on twitter @EvanonHB. Go Hawks.

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17 Responses

  1. Robert Thatcher

    I like the idea of Vollmer and Whitworth, and then draft Ramczyk or Bolles in the 1st (I would pass on Robinson).

    Lane and Shead have both had their problems in coverage. Sidney Jones will be gone before we draft in the 1st, but picking up Desmond King, Awuzie, or Kevin king (double up) should be doable.

    I love the idea of Budda in a Seahawks jersey. He would be a great safety valve for Earl and Kam, and you could play him as a hybrid the rest of the time. Just imagine Earl, Kam and Budda covering the middle of the field, all at once.

    Calais would be a nice luxury, and would make our front four SICK. We should be able to get some nice depth in this draft.

    Reply
  2. Shawn Scotchman

    In regard to your analysis, I think you are spot on!!. I have been screaming for O’Linemen for years, now we are paying the price. They do need to change their philosophy in regard to the O’line. Sebastian Vollmer is good, but he started 2016 on the PUP so we can offer the Vet Min with GTD$$ and ensure he passes a Medical first. I really like the Andrew Whitworth idea as he was one of the Top 100 NFL players. We really need to sign him. As for the defense, all Draft/undrafted players CB/S/LB in the first/Second (if we don’t lose it…lol) and 3rd rounds. Lots of defensive players to be had in the Draft and maybe some O’line in later rounds?

    Reply
  3. Kimosabe

    Beautiful wish list. C. Campbell, plus two NFL caliber OT ‘s. That would probably feel akin to John S. signing M. Bennett and C. Avril to one year deals in the same week. As opposed to the Webb-
    Sowell-Fant trifecta of horrors, that felt exactly like what it panned out to be : A head scratching blunder.

    So, yeah, it’s make good decisions time, Dear John and Pete. The window, she is still open. But no more wrong calls, please. Too much thinking outside the box is too much. No more leeway for “Cute stuff,” as M. Holmgren, might say. (Hey, Mike, wanna be an O.C for the Hawks in 2017?)

    (I mean, it could definitely be argued that letting Clint Gresham go and enrolling George Fant at LT in prime time cost us 2 regular season wins and all that implies).

    Reply
    • Cameron

      To be fair, Fant was merely an UDFA, not a veteran free agent signing. For an UDFA, he was a decent pickup, it was just a bad situation that he ended up being played for a majority of the season, due to getting pretty much equal level of play from Sowell, while Fant at least had a massively higher athletic potential.

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    Great piece Evan. I think I agree with just about everything. What’s crazy is how reasonable it is. You aren’t asking for splashy signings or superstar trades or anything, you want two decent OT’s in FA and for us to try to sign a really good defensive linemen. Not asking for the moon and stars. All of which just makes JS likely not doing it all the more heartbreaking.

    What I think I love most about paying for two OT’s is how it frees us up to take a star in Round 1 or trade back and add even more talent in the top 3 rounds. I mean if we could add a Budda Baker or a Haason Reddick or David Njoku or some other big time difference maker that would be fantastic…rather than being forced into drafting a OT at 26 where he might not be worth the pick but we need him because our presumed starters on the roster at that point are Gilliam & Fant.

    The only thing I really disagree about at this time is this: “The dominance of the Legion of Boom will be back.”

    First of all I don’t think that is really possible. The LOB was amazing and scary and was more than just their play, they were feared and basically invulnerable (esp at home). But all the weaknesses and losses and break downs and fights…teams aren’t scared to play our defense anymore. Could they get scared again if we started looking like we used to? Yeah but it wouldn’t be the same type of scared. That veneer of being unbeatable, the biggest, baddest, scariest, hardest hitting bully that dominates is gone.

    Why I believe strongly we won’t be back in ’17 like you predict is because of the Shead injury. There is no guarantee we’ll have a quality starter to lineup opposite Sherman in ’17, let alone Lane lacks durability and there is no guarantee he plays better than he did in ’16. Earl and Kam will be back but we’ll likely lose McCray for when Kam inevitably misses time and will we draft a competent FS to backup Earl in case he misses time again? I have confidence in KJ & Bobby and I believe MikeMo is solid at SLB but all of our backups are clearly backups at best. Our DL looks good so that’s nice. Even without Calais I believe what we’ll get from a healthy QJeff & G.Smith and such will be enough to improve the interior DL play.

    Reply
  5. Turd Furgeson

    Great read, Evan, and understandable to a non-cap-obsessed reader. Have more than missed the quality writing at FieldGulls, but hey, it drives my traffic here

    Reply
  6. LOBALLDAY

    Would Love Whitworth. Back up plan at LT is if Beachum doesn’t have his option picked up. If he can fully recover from his knee surgery he’s solid

    Reply
  7. Doug

    Would love it if Peppers fell to Seattle at 26. We need not just another DB, but one that has the great ball skills and instincts to make plays and force turnovers. Peppers is that guy. He is potential depth at any of the DB spots, including FS.

    Reply
  8. pkgoode

    To sign Campbell would mean paying him as much or more than the just renegotiated Michael Bennett and more than Cliff Avril. They aren’t going to do that.

    The top need for this team is to re-establish the running game — this team will not go go deep into the playoffs without that. The defense spent too much time on the field in too many games, and that plainly became a source of frustration. They should add at least one (credible) veteran starter to the the OL and draft a potential stud duck bell cow RB whose body will allow him to stay on the field. As talented as Rawls and Prosise are, both are injury prone and can’t counted be on. Two years in a row now, the team has had to resort to signing RBs off the street at the end of the season. They simply can’t keep doing that and hope to contend.

    The FA to pursue is Balimore’s Ricky Wagner (RT). He’s 27 with a projected value of $6.9M annually. Seattle has the cap room to overpay, and can always give themselves additional wiggle room by letting Luke Willson move on. I’d go after Wagner hard and — especially if they can get him — give serious thought to short-term solution such as Whitworth. I hate to overpay, but that is what it has come to.

    CB is the next biggest need, followed by a pass rushing DT. They’ll address both via the draft, and they may believe that they have a 3rd down DT in Quinton Jefferson. Finally, depth at LB would be nice, especially if Mike Morgan signs elsewhere.

    Reply
    • brad

      I disagree on your rb comment. I don’t think they need to add a “stud” rb, but maybe a late draft pick to add for competition. The problem was the offensive line.

      Reply
      • pkgoode

        Dave Wyman says that the backs are half the problem. He explains that Marshawn didn’t need for every linemen to make his block — one was enough. Rawls and Collins aren’t there, and he’s skeptical that they ever will be.

        Ray Roberts believes that Rawls doesn’t have the body for his physical style, and that playing every down is bound to put him on the IL. He’s been there two years in a row now.

        Prosise has not shown that he can stay on the field. Pete Carroll:

        “I can’t tell you that I’m not concerned about C.J. He had trouble through the offseason. He was unavailable to us throughout, and there was a groin and a hammy and a wrist and the scapula thing he had. He has to show it.”

        This does not add up to a late-round pick for competition’s sake. I would have to think that JS/PC are setting their sights higher than that.

    • Chandler

      I completely agree about Calais Campbell. It seems like bringing that dude in at such a high price would bring all kinds of resentment. He’d be like the 3rd highest paid player on the D after Sherm and Earl.
      I mean, who knows what they’ll end up doing, but I wonder if the human element was considered when suggesting we try for Campbell.
      Definitely need the run game reestablished. Definitely via improved line performance…as for the RB, man it’s hard to say if we’re good or not.

      Reply
  9. Tom T

    With 25.4 million in projected cap room i dont see how it is possible to sign Whitworth, Volmer & Campbell & still have room to resign Morgan, or sign another LB, kicker & fill the spots created by the ufa s that sign with other teams. Forget about Campbell, our DL is good, just have to start blitzing more. I would love to see Chancellor blitz more when in the nickel, his coverage skills arent the greatest anyways

    Reply
    • pkgoode

      Agree — Campbell is just not in the picture.

      I would overpay for Ricky Wagner if the Ravens don’t franchise him, even though that probably means moving on Willson and Hauschka. Wagner may be allowed to hit the market — I doubt that the franchise tag has been applied to many RTs.

      Reply
  10. Dave Crockett

    I like Calais Campbell, but yeah, it’s a bit of a luxury. Some of the interior pressure issue was about having both Bennett and Jefferson miss significant time. Jefferson, whom they drafted fill that roll, will be back. Add to that, interior pressure can be found in this draft. Malik McDowell (MI St), Montravious Adams (Auburn), and Carlos Watkins (Clemson) all bring plenty of disruption to the table as 3-techs. All should be around in the 2nd round.

    Reply

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