NFL News A Look At The Seattle Seahawks Needs For The 2013 Off Season
2012 Record: 12-6
Available Salary Cap Space: 15.97 Million Dollars
Coaches: Head Coach: Pete Carroll Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell Defensive Coordinator: Dan Quinn
Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Key Free Agents: Alan Branch Defensive Tackle, Ryan Longwell Kicker, Marcus Trufant Cornerback, Patrick Chukwurah Defensive End, Frank Omiyale Offensive Tackle, Leroy Hill Linebacker
2013 Draft Picks (Round, Position): 1(25), 2(24), 3(25), 4(26), 5(25), 6(26), 7(8), 7(25)
Team Offense: 17th
Rushing Offense: 3rd
Passing Offense: 27th
Scoring Offense: 9th (25.8 pts./game)
Team Defense: 4th
Rushing Defense: 10th
Passing Defense: 6th
Scoring Defense: 1st (15.3 pts./game)
Capsule Summary: It is hard not to be extremely impressed with what Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks were able to accomplish after consecutive 7-9 seasons. The 2012 Seahawks were able to put up a total of 12 wins with all 6 losses coming by a touchdown or less. There is reason to be very excited about this team with a rookie Quarterback who has the maturity and zeal for preparation of a 35 year old Hall of Famer and a Defense that finished first in points allowed. Heading into 2013, the Seahawks have almost 15 Mil in cap space, eight picks in the upcoming draft and an opportunity to clear more cap space and get another draft choice by trading or releasing backup Quarterback Matt Flynn. The issue of what to do with Flynn is a tricky one for General Manager John Schneider as Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn are the only Quarterbacks currently on the roster. This team is good enough to make a Super Bowl run and not having a viable backup to Wilson would be disasterous if he were to go down for an extended period of time. The fact that Wilson will be playing under a rookie contract for the next 3 seasons gives the organization more financial flexibility than is usually available to teams with that level of Quarterback quality. The combined cap hit for Wilson and Flynn in 2013 is 7.93 Mil which is far less than most starting Quarterbacks make in the NFL. It’s certainly unfair to Russell Wilson to have a backup who makes more than seven times as much as he does (7.25 Mil to $681,085), but it is good for the team and Wilson is the consummate team player.
Here are 5 specific areas that Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll will have to address if Seattle is going to continue their march to the Super Bowl.
1. Defensive End: The Seahawks Defensive scheme is predicated upon getting pressure on the Quarterback from the Defensive End position. Seattle could be in some trouble with this position because of the ACL injury suffered by Chris Clemons at the end of 2012. Clemons finished each of the last 3 seasons with at least 11 sacks and there is no guarantee that his return will bring the same level of performance. Another factor to consider is the fact that Clemons will turn 32 in October. Bruce Irvin was drafted in the first round in 2012 much to the surprise of draft experts who had him pegged as a later pick. Irvin was selected because he fit the profile of what the Seahawks refer to as the LEO, which is about as close to being a full time pass rusher as it gets. There was some success to this strategy in 2012 as Irvin totaled 8 sacks to go along with Clemons’ 11.5 sacks. The problem with Irvin is that he is basically a pass rushing specialist who is woefully ineffective when facing running plays and will have to improve drastically before he is capable of being a full time starter. The other Defensive End in the starting lineup is Red Bryant who is basically a run stopping specialist who had zero sacks in 2012. There are some big ticket options out there to supplant or share time with Chris Clemons in Dwight Freeney, Dallas Free Agent Anthony Spencer or Detroit’s Cliff Avril. Avril and Spencer will not come cheap and will command upwards of 11 Mil a year. If the Seahawks plan to address this position through the draft, possible fits include LSU’s Sam Montgomery, Texas’s Alex Okafor and BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah.
2. Defensive Tackle: Six year veteran Brandon Mebane appears to be set at one of the Defensive Tackle positions. The other position is up for grabs as it remains to be seen what John Schneider wants to do about 2012 starter Alan Branch. Branch is an Unrestricted Free Agent who made 4.55 Mil in 2012 who totalled 34 tackles and 1 sack. Schneider is not adverse to bringing Branch back but at a lesser price. The two best Free Agent options, Miami’s Randy Starks and Chicago’s Henry Melton are likely to receive the franchise tag from their current teams. Whether Schneider decides to pursue any of the other possibilities at the position will be a cost/benefit analysis that hinges on the price that Branch will demand in negotiation. Earlier in the year, the prospect of finding a top Defensive Tackle looked brighter but many of the top players such as Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson have seen their stock skyrocket after the Combine. Prospects such as Alabama’s Jesse Williams, Purdue’s Kawann Short, Missouri Southern’s Brandon Williams and Georgia’s Jonathan Jenkins should be available at the #25 pick but it is not certain that any of these individuals have the talent level that Schneider and Pete Carroll want to see in the first round.
3. Right Offensive Tackle: In Left Tackle Russell Okung and Center Max Unger, the Seahawks have a rock solid foundation for their Offensive Line. The weak link of this line is Right Tackle Breno Giacomini with his lack of ability in the passing game and propensity to rack up penalties (12 in 2012). The solution at the Right Tackle position can be solved internally if 2011 first rounder James Carpenter can show that he is read to handle the position. Whether Carpenter can supplant Giacomini or not depends on where he is on the learning curve and whether he can put his injury woes behind him. Given the fact that the Seahawks were #3 in the NFL in rushing in 2012, it is doubtful that Seattle management will see the Right Tackle problem as being one that is serious enough to merit a big money foray into the Free Agent market. Competition for Giacomini and Carpenter will come from middle round draft choices.
4. Nickle Cornerback: The Seahawks have become the toast of the league after striking gold with huge Cornerbacks Richard Sherman (5th rounder) and Brandon Browner (Rookie Free Agent). The skill that these two bring to the table allow the Seahawks to do things physically on the edges that no other team can match. The fact that these two are so big however, can make it difficult for them to handle the quickest slot receivers such as New England’s Wes Welker who caught 10 balls for 138 yards against the Seahawks in 2012. To be a more complete Defense, the Seahawks will need to find a Corner to handle the Welkers of the world. The Seahawk backups such as Jeremy Lane and Walter Thurmond are more traditionally sized Corners and will get the first shot to match up with the top slot receivers in the league. They will also be getting some competition via the draft.
5. Wide Receiver: The quality of the Seahawks Receiving corps depends on your point of view. On the negative side, there are those who will argue that Sidney Rice is not a true #1 Receiver and is not worthy of a contract that will pay him 9.7 Mil in 2013 and that the lack of a true #1 will prevent the Seahawks from being an elite team. On the other hand, Seattle is predominantly a running team that is going to feed Marshawn Lynch as much as possible. Rice and Golden Tate were productive in 2012 as they combined for 1,436 yards and 14 touchdowns. At this point, someone to challenge the highly compensated Rice would probably be a luxary. Ironically, that challenge might come from the rapidly improving Tate.