I wasn’t nearly as hungover yesterday as I thought I’d be. Nevertheless, from about 9am until 3pm, I didn’t move from my spot on the couch. I read a lot of articles about the Seahawks and watched A LOT of ESPN coverage, from Sportscenter to PTI. One of the common questions posed by hosts was: is this the beginning of a dynasty for the Seahawks?
Most people said no, because that’s what you’d expect most people to say. Most people aren’t willing to go out on a limb, which is why most people picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl to begin with. Most people don’t like to make a prediction until literally every shred of evidence is laid out before them. In essence, most people are afraid to make a prediction until something has already happened. It’s why you see a lot of uninformed opinions on these talking-head shows. It’s also why you see a lot of people predicting the same exact matchup for next year’s Super Bowl. “DUH, THESE ARE THE BEST TWO TEAMS NOW, SO THEY MUST BE THE BEST TWO TEAMS NEXT YEAR, DUH!”
Here are the reasons why most people don’t think the Seahawks will be a dynasty:
- Because it’s really hard to do
- Because they play in a really hard division
- Because the San Francisco 49ers are probably the better team, and if the NFC Championship game was played in San Francisco, the 49ers most likely would have won
- Because the league is structured in such a way as to eliminate dynasties
- Because the Seahawks have some very talented players who will command high salaries, and you can’t keep everyone
There are probably other reasons to this argument, but my brain can only retain so much information after a weekend like that.
I would say those are all, more-or-less, legitimate concerns. For the record, I don’t think the 49ers were all that affected by crowd noise, so I think that game is pretty much a 50/50 toss-up wherever it would have been played. Did the crowd noise cause Kaepernick to lose his God damned mind in throwing those two picks? I doubt it.
Yes, being a dynasty is difficult to do. That’s why those teams are so revered. Whenever you talk about the 50s Browns or the 60s Packers or the 70s Steelers or the 80s 49ers or the 90s Cowboys or the 00s Patriots, you think of some absolute legends. Not just Hall of Famers, but the very BEST of the best. You think of a confluence of luck, skill, and talent. The right people getting together at the right time to kickstart a magical run of football. And, to be honest, they only come around once a decade BECAUSE it’s so rare to find that combination.
Now, the way things are going, with contracts and the salary cap and such, you’d think that the NFL has effectively eliminated the dynasty. But, I don’t think that necessarily has to be the case. The next few Seahawks teams won’t be quite as good as the 2013 version, but the 2013 version will probably go down as one of the very best teams of all time. It might not require a team as good as the 2013 version to win the next couple Super Bowls. But, I guess that’s something we should consider: what IS a dynasty?
A sustained run of success over a long period of time (by NFL standards, which is probably a decade or so) that also includes more than two NFL Championships. That definition might have changed over time, and it might change again in the future. But, right now, it appears the 90s Cowboys have set the standard: 3 championships in 4 years. I would also argue that a dynasty needs to have the same essential core in place, specifically the same quarterback. I would add head coach to that, but the 1995 Cowboys won it all with Barry Switzer coaching Jimmy Johnson’s team.
I don’t see Pete Carroll going anywhere anytime soon (even if his coordinators are destined for bigger and better things) and I don’t see Russell Wilson going anywhere anytime soon. As long as they stay right where they are, we have the prerequisites for a dynasty.
Now, obviously, we’re not going to keep this 2013 team intact in its entirety. But, I don’t see any reason why we have to lose Earl Thomas or Richard Sherman. We’ve already locked up Kam Chancellor to a long-term deal as well as Percy Harvin and Max Unger.
We’ve also got the following players locked up through the 2015 season: Lynch, Turbin, Okung, Sweezy, Miller, Mebane, Irvin, Wagner, Lane, and various others who are signed through 2016 (Michael, Ware, Luke Willson, Bryant, Bowie, and the rest of our 2013 draft picks). At the very least, we have MOST of our extended core signed through the next two seasons. I’m not saying the Seahawks WILL win the next two Super Bowls to hit on the three-peat, but it wouldn’t shock me.
Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though. Let’s just look at 2014 and see what we’ve got. Golden Tate, Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini, Clinton McDonald, Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett, Walter Thurmond, and Steven Hauschka are all of the important players who will be unrestricted free agents. Doug Baldwin will also be a free agent, but we will have an opportunity to match any offer, so I think he stays a Seahawk. I think the team will re-sign Tate if the price is right. I think McQuistan comes back for the minimum (otherwise, if he gets a bigger offer, I think he’s gone). I think Giacomini will probably command too much money. McDaniel will likely look to get more money/years elsewhere. I HOPE we’re able to bring back McDonald, but he might have earned himself a big raise. I think the Seahawks will make a big push to bring back Michael Bennett. Thurmond is seriously a toss-up; I don’t think he gets the huge dollars he’s looking for, but I do think he goes somewhere simply because they will offer him a starting job (while we can only offer him our 3rd cornerback job). I also think Hauschka comes back with a modest raise (but nowhere near the lunacy the Cowboys just paid to sign their kicker to an extension).
The Seahawks have some decisions to make on other guys making a lot of money. Marshawn Lynch is on the team for two more years, but I only see his 2014 being guaranteed. After that, I think we look to make Christine Michael our starter. Sidney Rice is as good as gone, since we’ll save a good $7.3 million in 2014 if we cut him (not to mention another $10.2 million in salary in 2015). Zach Miller’s cap number starts to go down in 2014 as his base salary goes down. I wonder if the team doesn’t just let this contract run its course (while possibly drafting his replacement this year). Then again, he’ll only be 29 when his contract runs out in 2015, so maybe the team re-works it at a lower per-year average and extends him a couple extra seasons. He’s been durable and solid, if unspectacular, in an offense that doesn’t ask much out of its tight ends as far as receptions and touchdowns are concerned. Finally, I’ve heard rumblings that the team might ask Red Bryant to take a pay cut. It’s hard to see that happening, but he is looking at a $3 million roster bonus if he’s on the team in 2014, so you never know.
Everyone is looking at Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. They appear to be the guys who will set he curve as far as salaries go on this team for its young stars. Both are technically still signed through 2014, but both can start renegotiating now for their new deals. I’ve heard that the team might try to stagger these deals – do one this year and one next year – which would be smart. Earl Thomas for sure will be the team’s top priority this off-season. This defense doesn’t work without Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, so it’ll be nice to know they’re both in the fold for a very long time. Richard Sherman is a little more interesting. The team actually has a little leverage with him, in that he’s under team control at a very low salary. So, any extension to be talked about this off-season would have to take that into consideration. In essence, if Sherman gets extended, he’ll get his payday, but the Seahawks would see a little savings by essentially “buying out” the last year of his rookie deal (like in baseball, how teams will extend a superstar when he’s still arbitration-eligible). My hunch is: with this run in the playoffs, Richard Sherman has probably earned himself a boatload in endorsements (and not those weird Sunset Chevrolet-type commercials, either). I bet that Sherman turns down the contract extension, lives high on the hog with his endorsement money, and plays out of his mind in 2014 to REALLY get paid next year.
Any way you slice it, these Seahawks will have Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, a solid running game, Percy Harvin, at least Baldwin or Tate (if not both), a solid offensive line, and the key players in the Legion of Boom for a long, long time. That’s not just a core, that’s a foundation. You can win with those guys for the next decade and fill in around them as needed. They’ll need to hit on defensive linemen in the draft like they’ve hit on just about every other position, because you can’t keep over-paying for guys like Clemons, Avril, Bryant, Bennett, and Mebane forever. Likewise, they probably won’t be able to retain the entirety of the linebacking unit forever either (I think maybe they go above-and-beyond to keep Wagner, but the other guys will likely have to come back on cheap deals or be replaced by younger guys in the draft).
So, yes, this team can most certainly be a dynasty. And, I think they will be. I think we’re contending for divisions and playoff spots for the next decade, and I think we DO get two or three more Super Bowl victories.
Starting in 2014. I mean, come on. We’re not just the best team in football, but we’re the best team by a wide margin! San Francisco’s defense was starting to show its age a little bit in spots, and Kaepernick has proven he’s essentially worthless without sufficient weapons around him to prop his game up. And now, they’ve got the stink of being the “little buddy” to the Seahawks’ “Skipper”. Watch us as we bop the 49ers with our hat repeatedly next year and beyond!