I’m going to try to spread these out a little bit (fear not, I’m well aware Jeremy Lane has re-signed with the Seahawks and will be here another four years; I’ll get to him later).
Lotta news coming down the pike yesterday, as it was the first day NFL free agents could sign their new deals. For a while there, it looked like the Seahawks were going to miss out on a bunch of available guys in addition to failing to bring back some key starters (until the Lane news broke late last night).
Losing Brandon Mebane hurts. He’s been one of my favorite Seahawks since we drafted him in the third round in 2007. If you could make the Pro Bowl for being just a run-stuffing defensive tackle, Brandon Mebane would be an All Pro. But, of course, the guys who get all the glory are the pass-rushing interior linemen, so Mebane never really had a chance. Yet, he’s been a quality starter for us since he entered the league. He was our elder statesman. The bridge from Holmgren to Carroll.
He signed a 3 year, $13.5 million with the San Diego Chargers, so, like Irvin, he’s out of our hair. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, with his 2016 salary of $2.5 million guaranteed as well. It’s really a no-risk move for the Chargers, as they could release him after this year with only a $2 million dead money hit. In that sense, it’s REALLY a bummer the Seahawks couldn’t get him to stay. Maybe they worried about his age. Maybe they didn’t want to spend that much on another veteran defensive tackle. Maybe he just wanted to get the hell out of Seattle and try another team on for size. Either way, he won’t be a career Seahawk, and as a fan that’s disappointing.
The question for Mebane is: does a 9-year starter make the Ring of Honor? I’ve got him on the fringe, but ultimately I don’t think he makes it. Maybe if the Seahawks had brought him back, and he packed on another two or three quality years of smashing run defense, you could make a better case. Longevity was always going to be his angle, as he’s never been all that dynamic (15.5 sacks on his career). Aside from last year, when he suffered his first and only serious injury, Mebane had never played fewer than 12 games in a season, and usually he was in the 15-16 game range. He was another valuable piece to this defense’s all-time great run, and like all good things, his tenure here has come to an end.
J.R. Sweezy was here for a much shorter period. As part of that epic 2012 draft class, Sweezy has been a fixture at right guard since he came into the league. Converted from defensive tackle, he never quite got the credit he deserved, especially for his run blocking. Granted, there were a number of boners throughout his Seahawks career – whiffed blocks-turned-sacks, false starts, late hits by pushing defenders off of a pile after the whistle had blown – but if you step back and take a rational approach, you can see the Seahawks got tremendous value. As a 7th round pick, the guy gave us 4 predominantly healthy seasons on an offensive line that produced Top 5 rushing attacks each and every year from 2012-2015. And he did it for PEANUTS! He may not have been the greatest guard in the league (and by most advanced metrics, he was one of the worst), but I don’t care, that’s some value right there.
Now, would I pay him $32.5 million over 5 years (with $14.5 million guaranteed) like the Bucs did? No, probably not. He’s probably not worth all THAT. But, good for him that he was able to find a team that WAS willing. My lament with Sweezy is that he never fully developed like I thought he would. I really thought he was going to make a leap and have everything click, but he pretty much plateaued over the last two seasons. Granted, he cleaned up some of the bonehead penalties, but there were still too many instances of him getting blown up to pay him top shelf money.
So, that’s three starters so far who have left for greener pastures. Seahawks are looking at some serious compensatory draft picks for the 2017 draft.