I got into what I think the Seahawks should do this off-season in this post following the debacle against the Rams, so I don’t want to repeat myself all over the place this soon after. I’m on record as saying that I don’t necessarily think THIS is the year to blow it all up and start over – nor do I think that’s the direction the team will take – my whole agenda is to loosen up the cap a little and prepare for a bigger overhaul in 2019. In short, that means letting the dead weight walk (Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson, Luke Joeckel, Eddie Lacy, Blair Walsh, and all the other guys on 1-year deals, except for maybe Bradley McDougald, depending on what happens with the other safeties on the roster); further trimming some of the fat by getting rid of guys like Jon Ryan, Cliff Avril, Jeremy Lane and Thomas Rawls; and then making calculated decisions on some of the aging vets nearing the ends of their deals. For the most part, I’m cool with hanging on to a lot of guys – Bennett, Sherman, Earl, Wright, maybe Kam if doctors clear him to play again – but I’m not going to be devastated if the team opts to trade/release them. I do think, however, that all of those guys should be playing for their jobs in 2018 if they remain, and we look to clean house after 2018 if the team’s record plummets.
So, that’s my take. In a nutshell: run it back with the same core – or close to it – don’t make any crazy trades or high-priced free agent signings (in order to keep our compensatory picks for 2019’s draft), and if things fall apart for a third straight year with injuries, look to the 2019 draft/free agent class to replenish the roster with younger/hungrier options. The key being: DON’T FUCK WITH THE 2019 DRAFT. I don’t know if it’s going to be a good one or not; all I know is we can’t keep kicking the can down the road with these inflated veteran contracts and bad draft classes. And, if we’re going to be bad in 2018 – like I think we probably will be – then at least take advantage of the higher draft picks in each round by having all of them in place.
With that out of the way, what do I think the Seahawks will actually do?
Well, for starters, I don’t think they’ll do everything that I’d like them to do, and I don’t know how that makes me feel. I’m conflicted, because on the one hand In Pete & John We Trust, but on the other hand I just don’t know if they have it in them to be patient. They’re constantly aggressive, which is part of what made their moves from 2010-2012 so dynamic and franchise-altering; but it’s also a big part of this team’s downfall. Start with the Percy Harvin disaster, which gave way to letting Golden Tate walk, which ultimately led to them doubling-down on their mistake by trading for Jimmy Graham, who has never been a fit for this team – even when we finally figured out how to use him in the red zone two years too late – and the Seahawks’ only real offensive success has come when he was out with his knee injury. I absolutely, 2,000% believe that’s no coincidence, and if they bring him back on a high-priced contract, I seriously might have to reconsider whether or not I want to keep following this team as a fan. I don’t care how shitty the draft is at the tight end position, and I don’t care how shitty the tight end free agency class is; if you over-pay for Jimmy Graham, because he’s Russell Wilson’s BFF or whatever, I’ll probably have to take a break from investing myself in this team as thoroughly as I have over the years.
I don’t know if I actually believe they WILL bring him back, and I honestly don’t think he wants to be back, so my hunch is that will work itself out. But, my fear is that they compound this thing even further by trading for some other offensive weapon that’s a terrible fit for our particular scheme, style, and quarterback. I’m not a fan of trading for receivers in any capacity anyway (be they tight end or wide receiver); if I had my druthers, if the Seahawks are going to make any splashes in the passing game, I’d rather they extend Paul Richardson (though, that’s really the lesser of two evils, and in a perfect world the Seahawks would do neither).
I think the Seahawks have lost their minds when it comes to trading away draft picks, so expect more of the same. I would anticipate Plan A is for them to trade back from the 18th pick to get an extra second and/or third rounder, to go along with a low first rounder. I highly doubt there’s a player in this draft who’d fall to them at 18 that would lead them to take him over trading down and collecting more picks, but if there is, then I think you really have to be concerned about this team trading some of its 2019 picks to get back into the second and/or third rounds, which is my nightmare. Of course, my WORST nightmare is they trade 18 for some other team’s unwanted veteran, citing the tried and true (and misguided) credo of: he’s better for us right now than any college player we would’ve taken with that pick. If I fucking hear that one more fucking time, I’m gonna lose it.
See, the worst part of where the Seahawks are at right now, with their core as it is, the salary cap where it is, and where they often find themselves drafting, is we’re in a prime position to finish anywhere from 7-9 to 9-7 every year, until we somehow, miraculously find ourselves hitting more on these draft picks. Which means, unless we find some magic elixir that keeps these fucking guys healthy for a full season, it’s gonna be a long, frustrating road back to Super Bowl contention. And, we can kiss goodbye any thought of being as good as we were from 2012-2014. It’s the New Orleans Saints model, and I fucking hate it, because it took them fucking forever to get as good as they were this season, and even now it’s no guarantee that they’ll make it to the Super Bowl, or be great for years to come.
I also think the Seahawks have at least one big free agent splash in them, be it an offensive lineman, an outside pass rusher, or some sort of stud interior pass rusher. I doubt that means re-signing Sheldon Richardson (who I would prefer, if for no other reason than to preserve our comp pick for Jimmy Graham going elsewhere), but I bet it WILL mean we lose out on the surefire 3rd round comp pick we would’ve gotten for whatever insane contract Sheldon will end up signing with some sucker team.
Ultimately, I think it means while a bunch of our outgoing free agents get signed elsewhere, the best we can hope for in comp picks is a 4th or 5th rounder, with a very real chance we get stuck with a 6th or 7th rounder, or nothing at all, if this front office continues to chase the dragon on whoever the equivalent of Luke Joeckel and Eddie Lacy are this upcoming offseason (1-year fliers on the hope of turning around total miserable busts).
It’s bleak, man. That’s really what I’m getting at. I think we’ll get our panties in a wad about some of the free agent signings, as the Seahawks continue to put Band Aids over their amputated limbs; and then we’ll further blow our loads over whatever prospects we settle for in the draft, but will any of it translate to real, tangible improvement? In the running game? In the offensive line? In the passing game? In the pass rush? In the run defense? In the pass defense? At all those levels we struggled at in 2017? And, will there be any LASTING tangible improvement? Or, will half of these guys immediately go down with injury and leave us scrambling yet again to plug the dike?
See, these temporary fixes that the team has employed the last couple years – the same ones I fear they’ll continue trying in 2018 – are what the fanbase at large wants to see. They want to see heads roll. They want to see a massive influx of free agent help. But, the smart franchises don’t over-react to every fucking thing. The smart franchises plan for the future as they continue to play for the present. You don’t have to be the Cleveland Browns – throwing away every valuable player to accumulate as many prospects and draft picks as possible – but you also shouldn’t be the Ravens or Saints – clinging to aging vets and trading away your future picks/prospects in hopes of winning now over all else. Unfortunately for where we are now, the Seahawks have veered over into that Ravens/Saints territory, and have drastically reduced their future flexibility and prospect pool in the process. While some of the moves might have made sense at the time (the Sheldon Richardson & Duane Brown trades in particular), we have to admit they ultimately failed this year, and might have crippled this organization in the short term future. The worst thing you can do is cripple yourselves in the long term future on top of it.
So, take a bath in 2018. Ride it out, and set yourselves up to be in a position to take advantage of things in 2019. Otherwise, expect to keep spinning your wheels in the land of the .500 teams, never quite making the playoffs and never quite getting bad enough to draft the improvements you need for sustained success.
I’m … I’m not going into 2018 with any semblance of a good headspace when it comes to the professional Seattle teams. Wake me up when the year is over.