First thing’s first: veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock (of the 49ers dating back to 2010) has signed a 1-year deal for at or near the veteran’s minimum.
This is unquestionably a good thing, as he’s unquestionably a good cornerback in this league. So, why was he so cheap? Well, he has some sort of domestic abuse allegations swirling around him that have apparently been resolved at a legal level, but perhaps not on a league level. He still could be exposed to NFL punishment, but considering what little I know about this, it sounds like there’s nothing to see here. Or, if that’s your bag, then by all means, dig into it. But, I’m here to talk about the football team and how it affects the Seahawks’ chances in 2017.
Depth is depth, and this is some quality depth we were able to bring in. As we’re only a week into the pre-season, there’s still time for him to get up to speed and at the very least compete for a nickel corner job. Given Jeremy Lane’s current injury woes (that don’t figure to keep him out of any regular season games, but have kept him out of a lot of Training Camp so far), there’s no way this hurts. Instead of God Knows What being our backup cornerback behind Shaq Griffin, we’ve got a bona fide NFL starter.
Is Brock elite? Is he on a Richard Sherman level? Of course not; if he was, there certainly would’ve been a bigger market for him than the veteran’s minimum (domestic abuse or no domestic abuse). But, is he on a DeShawn Shead level? Signs point to yes! Signs, in fact, point to him perhaps being a little better than Shead, if the advanced metrics are to be believed. Now, the caveat there is that Shead was doing his thing in our defense, while Brock was on another team, in presumably another scheme. Cary Williams looked like an okay free agent signing, until he put on a Seahawks uniform and we discovered he couldn’t hack it in our scheme. Will Brock be another Williams? I doubt it, but I’m also not yet willing to put this crop of cornerbacks at the top of the NFL heap just yet. Let’s see them in some games first. Then, let’s see them in some games that actually matter.
I absolutely love this signing though. My concern is that there are further moves in the works. Like, for instance, the team trading away Jeremy Lane. I don’t get this line of thinking AT ALL. For starters, he’s not making THAT much money. Secondly, he’s not THAT bad. I don’t get you people! Jeremy Lane wasn’t the reason why the Seahawks failed to advance past the Divisional Round the last two seasons (nor was Jermaine Kearse, but that’s neither here nor there). You have these scapegoats stuck in your craws and won’t let them go! Jeremy Lane is a perfectly fine nickel cornerback in this league! And, by all accounts, when he was healthy at the beginning of Training Camp, he looked better than ever. So, you know, let’s retract our claws a little bit here.
This team needs as much depth as it can get, particularly in the secondary where we could have up to three rookies on the roster. I’m a Shaq Griffin believer, and you know I love Sherm, but how does it hurt to have Lane and Brock behind them? If someone goes down, boom, another NFL starter steps up. Or, if we face a team like the Packers or Falcons, we can put 4 starting-calibre cornerbacks on the field at the same time and not miss a beat!
Brock’s best attributes are his tackling and his coverage skills. He gave up less than 50% completions last year, while getting thrown at among the highest rate in football. Since, ostensibly, teams are still going to avoid throwing at Richard Sherman whenever they can, that’s EXACTLY what I want to hear about my new free agent cornerback.
So, we’ll see.
The other big news of the week is the team signing Justin Britt to a 3-year extension. 3 years, $27 million, looks like $15 million guaranteed.
Listen, I won’t neg this one to death. I’m just surprised to see the team spend so much on a center as opposed to a left tackle or guard or something. Now, obviously, in free agency you’re paying a HUGE premium, so it’s not like there were tons of great offensive linemen out there willing to sign a 3 year, $27 million contract. We get Britt to sign that because he still has another year left on his rookie deal, so there’s a little give and take. He gets financial security and job security for his family; we get to pay a little less than we would have had we let him play out his rookie deal and tried to extend him after the season.
I’m just glad the Seahawks are spending money on the offensive line finally. Or, rather, I’m just glad the Seahawks have the OPPORTUNITY to spend money on the offensive line. I know we all like to bitch about this, but there’s only so much money to go around. Would you rather have Okung, Sweezy, and Carpenter – and ostensibly have all this continuity in your O-Line (though, all three, I believe, have dealt with injuries since signing elsewhere) – or would you rather have Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Doug Baldwin, and so on and so forth? For the most part, I understand what the Seahawks have tried to do! I just think, so far, they’ve gone about it poorly.
While I understand the thinking behind it – you need versatility along the line, considering you can have only so many available on gameday (the 46-man roster cutdown on gameday is another appalling issue for another time) – I really don’t care for Cable’s proclivity for moving guys around from year to year. Glowinski from right to left to right; Ifedi from guard to tackle; Britt from right tackle to left guard to center. Yeah, in the case with Britt (and Carpenter, and – God willing – Ifedi this year) sometimes they get it right and it just takes time. But, you could also argue it stunts their growth and limits their efficiency.
If the whole idea is to save money by drafting linemen and inserting them into games right away, then wouldn’t you want to take advantage of them while they’re on their rookie deals? We’ve had Britt for 3 seasons, but we’ve only really gotten 1 good season out of him! Now, for all intents and purposes, his rookie deal is over (2017 sees a cap increase thanks to his signing bonus), and it’s like we’ve lost two years.
I guess my biggest frustration is that the team seems to whiff a lot on determining where these players best fit. This is a talent evaluation gripe, more than anything. If they could’ve seen Britt as a center from Day 1 (a position of need when he was drafted, if I’m not mistaken), he’d be going into Year 4 of being a center and we would’ve gotten a lot more value out of him those first two years.
Same goes with Ifedi. Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? If he’s a tackle, why not throw him into the fire last year? I mean, shit, you let a basketball player man the left tackle position! And, if Ifedi is neither – if he’s a backup (that’s a funny spelling of the word “bust”) – then you need to make that determination now as well, and get Ethan Pocic in there stat!
But, I’m really getting off-topic here. This is about Britt. He’s here to stay! Yay!
I wouldn’t have been surprised if they just let Britt play this year out, then groomed Pocic to be the starting center for next year (and beyond), thereby saving that extra cap space for other spots along the O-Line, but I like this. I like Britt. As I’ve said all along, I like knowing that at least I don’t have to worry about 1/5 of my O-Line. I also like having a center to pair with Russell Wilson for the duration. And, while it doesn’t look like the center does a whole lot more than help out on double teams with the guards, they’re really so much more than that.
With Britt, you’ve got a natural leader for the O-Line. You’ve got a guy calling out the protections, making sure guys are lined up, and making sure guys know their responsibilities. You’ve got a workhorse in the weight room who will whip the rest of the line in shape. I think it’s no coincidence that George Fant is in such good shape; he’s got a guy in Britt to look up to and model his workouts after.
More than anything, I think the Seahawks were just waiting for the salary cap to increase to the point where they could finally afford to put money into the O-Line. It just so happened to coincide with Britt going into the final year of his rookie deal, and we’re all the more fortunate for it.
Britt and Brock, two quality signings we should look back on in the years to come as key moves in the continued dominance of the Seattle Seahawks.