The Seahawks’ 2018 Schedule Is Here (And I Don’t Care)

Now is usually the time I express my pleasure/get all up in arms over the newly released Seahawks schedule.  But, I’m on record as expecting an 8-8 season, so who gives a damn if a formerly west-coast game against the Raiders has been placed in London for no good God damn reason?  To wit:

  • @ Denver
  • @ Chicago (Mon)
  • Dallas
  • @ Arizona
  • L.A. Rams
  • @ Oakland (London) (10am) (Sort Of)
  • BYE
  • @ Detroit (10am)
  • L.A. Chargers
  • @ L.A. Rams
  • Green Bay (Thurs)
  • @ Carolina (10am)
  • San Francisco (SNF)
  • Minnesota (Mon)
  • @ San Francisco
  • Kansas City (SNF)
  • Arizona

So, one thing I actually kinda like is having 5 of the first 7 games (with a BYE week squeezed in) on the road; meaning obviously that 6 of the last 9 games are at home (including all the second half primetime games).  The entire month of December, we only have to travel as far as San Francisco!  4 of those 5 games are in Seattle!

As far as 10am games go, only three isn’t too bad.  I was pretty shocked to see a whopping 5 primetime games (2 Monday, 2 Sunday, 1 Thursday), considering we weren’t all that world-beating last year.  Someone made the point on Twitter and I wholeheartedly agree:  that’s the power of an elite, Top 5 quarterback.  I still think at least one of those Sunday Night games will be flexed out; if I had to bet the family farm on one prediction this season, that would be it.

One thing I noticed is that the more difficult games look to be at home, which is always a plus.  We play the NFC North, and the best two teams (presumably) are Green Bay and Minnesota, so getting them both in Seattle is pretty fortunate.  Not that the Bears or Lions will be pushovers, but you get my drift.  I particularly like seeing Green Bay having to come all the way out here for a Thursday game; FUCK YOU PACKERS!  Then, we play the AFC West and get the Chiefs and Chargers here, while we play the Raiders over in London (so no one will really have an advantage, although I bet there are more Raiders fans living in London than Seahawks fans) and we catch the Broncos in the first week of the season.  Will Case Keenum be up to snuff right out of the gate, with a new team and a new system?  Then, among the second place teams from last year, we get Dallas here and go on the road to play Carolina, which again I think is the more favorable draw.  I think Dallas will be good again, with full seasons out of Elliott and Dak (and the Dez situation is addition by subtraction), whereas who knows with Carolina?  That late into the season?  Are they going to be totally healthy?

It’s always a huge folly to try to predict the games this early, but it’s 4/20, SO LIGHT ‘EM UP BRO!

@ Denver – Safe money is on this one being a loss.  Going to the Mile High City, playing against a good defense (not at its peak, but still with plenty of talent) that will probably be as healthy as it gets, I think Keenum can do just enough to squeak one by us.  Maybe this one ends with a late Seahawks drive falling short with a pick in the endzone.  Denver 24, Seattle 17.

@ Chicago – I do think the Bears will be much improved, particularly with another year for Vic Fangio to ramp up that defense.  I just don’t know if Trubisky has what it takes.  This one should be a good barometer of the Seahawks’ season, though.  If we’re truly an 8-8 type team, we win this game.  If we’re doomed to bottom out entirely in 2018, then notch this one in the loss column.  I think there’s enough talent in Seattle to steal one, but it won’t be easy.  Seattle 19, Chicago 17.

Dallas – Loss.  No doubt about it.  The Cowboys’ running game will stomp us into hamburger, their quick-strike passing attack will befuddle us, and if our offense can’t keep up in a shootout, this one could be a laugher.  Dallas 33, Seattle 21.

@ Arizona – Sam Bradford?  Please.  The Seahawks go down to their winter home and take another shockingly easy W.  Seattle 27, Arizona 13.

L.A. Rams – Loss.  No doubt about it.  Did you ever think the Seahawks would start out their home schedule 0-2?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you when it happens.  This one PROBABLY won’t be as embarrassing as last year’s loss to the Rams … but it also might be.  Los Angeles 38, Seattle 18.

@ Oakland – I got this as a win.  I don’t know if the Raiders are very good, and I don’t know if Jon Gruden is very good.  I do think this game will be fun, and potentially high scoring.  Seattle 34, Oakland 27.

BYE – So, through six weeks, I have the Seahawks with a 3-3 record, having shockingly gone 3-1 on the road.  Let’s see if that holds up.

@ Detroit – This one has loss written all over it.  Every year, the Seahawks play at least one road game where they come out looking great, but gag it up in the end.  I think the Lions have offense for days and they’ll easily exploit our depleted secondary.  Detroit 38, Seattle 31.

L.A. Chargers – Don’t love this matchup.  I never love a matchup with this Seahawks defense against Philip Rivers, because he fucking carves us up every fucking time.  Los Angeles 35, Seattle 20.

@ L.A. Rams – One more loss to throw on the pile; things are looking BLEAK here folks!  I think the defense will show up a little better this time, but there’s still no doing anything against that Rams squad.  Los Angeles 24, Seattle 6.

Green Bay – Fuck you Packers, we’re winning this one!  With no time to prepare, and no time to fret over this 3-game losing streak, everyone will have written off the Seahawks by this point (if they haven’t already, like I have), and they’ll come out like a ball of lightning.  Seattle 36, Green Bay 28.

@ Carolina – Fuck you Panthers, we’re winning this one too!  One of those old school grudge matches.  Seattle 17, Carolina 13.

San Francisco – Fuck you 49ers, we’re also winning this one!  You don’t think the fans in this one are going to be fucking insane?  With all day to drink and stew over the return of Richard Sherman?  With the Seahawks and 49ers likely to be pretty close to one another in record (and probably fighting over the same Wild Card spot)?  I see a touchdown being scored on Sherm and I see the Seahawks running away with this one.  Seattle 26, San Francisco 10.

Minnesota – Here’s where the winning streak comes to an end.  Too much defense with these Vikings.  I think we hold our own against Cousins and their offense, but it won’t be enough.  Minnesota 13, Seattle 3.

@ San Francisco – We’re dropping this one too.  The 49ers are probably better than the Seahawks right now, and this will put them over the top.  San Francisco 19, Seattle 16.

Kansas City – I like this one to be a win.  First year starter at quarterback, who knows if he’ll hold up let alone be any good?  I think the Seahawks impose their will on the ground and grind out a close one.  Seattle 24, Kansas City 23.

Arizona – Who will be Arizona’s starting quarterback by week 17?  Not Sam Bradford, that’s for damn sure!  The Cards will be falling apart by this point and the Seahawks will cruise.  Seattle 30, Arizona 10.

Any way you slice it, that’s 8-8.  They’ll be a streaky team, they’ll deflate us, then get our hopes up, then break our hearts again.  Wake me when it’s 2019.

Seahawks Signed Sebastian Janikowski

With nothing to write about today, I found myself checking out the Seahawks brand hats on their store webpage.  They all kind of suck hard, particularly the new one that says “We Are 12” or whatever, with the fucked up looking flag.  It’s pretty absurd how terrible almost all of the Seahawks hats are; the logo just doesn’t look good on a hat for whatever reason!  It’s big and weird looking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the logo itself; but it’s clearly made for a football helmet, and not for the average fan to wear on the front of his or her forehead (also, don’t get me started on that alternate logo where the Seahawk is looking right at you with both eyes).  The Mariners don’t often do anything well, but they stomp the Seahawks into the ground when it comes to hat selection.

Anyway, seeming to notice my extreme antipathy towards their head gear, the signing of a backup quarterback who’s never played a down in the NFL, as well as the recent non-story of working out or not working out Colin Kaepernick (for no other reason than to kick the hornet’s nest of online outrage, and thoroughly ruin today’s sports radio shows with nonstop talk of this utter nonsense), the Seahawks finally did something competent and signed Sebastian Janikowski to a 1-year deal.  I don’t have any more info than that.

I assume there’s little-to-nothing guaranteed.  I also assume he’ll be in a pre-season position battle with that Jason Myers guy.  Both guys, I would think, have strong legs, so it’s going to come down to accuracy.  My hunch is, if Janikowski is 100% healthy from his back injury that kept him out of all 2017 (and caused the Raiders to cut him, in lieu of paying him upwards of $4 million, as a 40 year old man), he’ll be the more accurate kicker.  My other hunch is that if the kicking battle is close at all, the team will defer to keeping the younger, cheaper, and presumably more contract-controlled Myers.

If I had to guess, I’d say it won’t be close, Janikowski will blow him out of the water, and we’ll have an interesting set of decisions to make about our kicking game again in 2019 and beyond.  For now, just to get the taste of Blair Fucking Walsh out of all of our mouths, I’d be okay with a rental year of an aging, dependable veteran.

I’m not asking for the moon and stars here; just make a high percentage of kicks from 40 yards and in, and an average percentage of kicks from 40-49 yards, with a few clutch 50+ yarders mixed in.  That shouldn’t be too much to motherfucking ask from a motherfucking professional motherfucking football placekicker, should it?

God I hate Blair Walsh so fucking much.

More Seahawks 1-Year Deals

Mike Davis is back, to work out in that running back group.  Marcus Smith is back, to work out in that defensive end group.  And now we have defensive tackle, Tom Johnson, out of Minnesota.  A 7-year vet, making less than $3 million, rotating in the interior, who will hopefully provide marginal pressure up the middle.

I like Mike Davis.  Of all the options out there on the free agent market – all the veterans and retreads and everyone else – I like Mike Davis over everyone else.  I think he’s just as good as anyone on the scrap heap, plus he likely comes in at around or below $1 million.  No one expects Mike Davis to be The Man, but as a backup, I think he’s fine.  He’s reliable.  He’s smart.  He’ll find the hole and he’ll get you a few yards.  I don’t think there’s anyone on the free agent market who is remarkably better than Mike Davis, so why not bring back Mike Davis?

My hunch is, either Chris Carson will be this team’s lead back, or whoever they take in the draft will be this team’s lead back.  I think it’s Carson’s job to lose, but if he doesn’t come back from injury as expected, or if the new guy is just a monster, then we’ll see a switch.  But, it’s nice having Davis there as insurance, because I wouldn’t mind seeing him start a game here and there.

Beyond that, I think there’s a straight-up position battle between C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic, and if there’s even a whiff of an injury on Prosise, I think now is the time to cut ties and stop rostering him just to get nothing out of him.  Obviously, that’ll play out in Training Camp and the Pre-Season, so you don’t have to make that decision right now, but I’m absolutely looking for any reason to waive Prosise, because I don’t think he can be trusted.

As for the D-Line moves, I like Marcus Smith as a rotation guy.  He’s making less than $3 million, and I can’t imagine a whole lot of that is guaranteed, so if he gets beat out or gets injured, it’s not a huge loss.  And, I don’t know much about Tom Johnson, but he strikes me as a Tony McDaniel type, MAYBE a Clinton McDonald type.  Of course, those types of players – if they’re going to generate any sort of pass rush – need quality ends around them to give them one-on-one matchups, and I just don’t know if the Seahawks have that right now.

It’s looking less and less likely that the Seahawks are going to make a huge free agent splash, and I think I’m okay with that.  I like all of these 1-year type deals.  You take one more half-assed shot at competing for a playoff spot, you start working more young guys/rookies into the regular playing rotation to see what you have, you don’t cripple your long-term cap, and you stop trading away all your future draft picks.  Then, if the Seahawks do bottom out in 2018 (which, call me a bad fan all you want, I think the Seahawks will be – at best – 3rd in the NFC West this year, so bite my ass you optimistic homers), they’ll be in a much better position to clean house and re-stock this roster with a bunch of studs heading into the 2019 season.

The question remains:  am I secretly rooting for the Seahawks to tank in 2018?  Well, I don’t think we have a shot in hell of winning the Super Bowl, so you tell me!

The Seahawks Signed D.J. Fluker

It’s a 1-year deal for an unknown amount of money.

Depending on how much the contract is worth, this could be the first move I approve of when it comes to this Seahawks offseason.  We needed another guard, because there’s no way in hell Luke Joeckel would be returning, and I want no part of Rees Odhiambo starting games for this team, so it pretty much had to come from free agency or the draft.  And while it looks like they opted for the former, I suppose that doesn’t necessarily prevent them from also picking a guy from the college ranks.  But, I dunno.  That seems like it would be a move designed to have someone compete with Ethan Pocic, when I thought he did okay last year.

As it stands, the O-Line is looking like this:

Duane Brown – Ethan Pocic – Justin Britt – D.J. Fluker – Ifedi/Fant

In other words, it’s pretty well set.  I think 4/5 spots are on lock, barring injury, with Germain Ifedi in a true position battle for that right tackle spot with George Fant, who is returning from ACL injury (and was the presumptive starting left tackle for this team before Britt dove at his legs and set the disaster that was the 2017 season in motion).

As for Fluker himself, he was the 11th overall draft pick in 2013, and the Seahawks are already his third team, so you tell me if he’s a bust or not.  The Chargers selected Fluker out of Alabama to be a tackle for them, but he was never good enough to stick at left tackle, and eventually couldn’t even stick at his more natural right tackle position.  They moved him inside, which is where he remains.  He appears to be exclusively a right-side lineman, which means it’s Right Guard or it’s nothing.  After the Chargers waived him, he signed a deal with the Giants last year for 1 year, $3 million; a toe injury limited him to 9 games.

So, given that history, perhaps my initial take was incorrect.  Someone who flamed out with his original team and was only able to net $3 million with the Giants for 9 games, I can’t imagine he got a RAISE based on that!  Then again, what did Luke Joeckel’s dumb ass ever do to deserve over $7 million?  My point is, I don’t trust this front office to NOT overpay for worthless linemen off the scrap heap.  See also:  $1 million for Bradley Sowell and nearly $3 million for J’Marcus Webb.

What I do like, however, are the reports that say Fluker is 100% healthy.  Of course, that doesn’t preclude him from getting another body part injured – or re-injuring that very same toe – but at least we can hope he’ll show up to Training Camp ready to work.  He’s also heading into his age 27 season, so he should be extra motivated to kick some ass and get a nice, fat contract.  He’s an Alabama kid, so you know he was at least – at one point – one of the top recruits in the country.  And, at over 340 pounds, he’s fucking HUGE.  He might get beat in pass protection every now and then, but I can’t imagine he’ll be bull-rushed into the pocket too many times.  It also sounds like he’s a pretty good run blocker, so pairing him with Ifedi on that side could pose some unique challenges for defenses when we run that way.

We’ll see.  I’m still all in on the Seahawks using their first round pick to take the best running back available, so I hope this means the odds of us drafting a guard at that spot go way down.  Frankly, I like the idea of not having to worry about the shuffling of offensive linemen at this point in the year.  We’ve got four spots nailed down, with two young guys looking to do battle for the fifth.  I like Brown for at least another year, I think Pocic will take a step forward in year 2, I think Britt is fine, I hope Fluker will be okay, and fingers crossed that a little continuity from year to year with Ifedi in the same spot will help him grow.

The Seahawks Made and Didn’t Make Other Moves

The Seahawks signed Ed Dickson for 3 years and $14 million, though only the first year is guaranteed.  He’s played 4 seasons with Baltimore, then 4 more with Carolina, and since he doesn’t produce much on the offensive side of the ball, people think he’s more of a “blocking” tight end.  Of course, his metrics in that area aren’t spectacular, so many fans are wondering what the fuck he DOES do well, to which I would respond:  he’s not Jimmy Graham, so automatically he’s 1,000% better at blocking than anyone we’ve had the last three years.

Let’s see, then the Seahawks signed Maurice Alexander, a safety who was with the Rams for the last four years, released in the middle of last season, apparently after Wade Phillips deemed him unworthy of a roster spot.  I guess the Seahawks know more than the best defensive coordinator in the game.  Either that, or we just signed a nobody who will suck for us.  One or the other.

Since Kam likely won’t play for us again, and the team is apparently shopping Earl Thomas to recoup some draft picks, and the two or three safeties we drafted last year are all unworthy to be starting for us, I’d expect Mo Alexander to be back there giving up 40+ yard touchdowns in no time.

To cap off the free agent spree, the Seahawks signed Jaron Brown – middling wide receiver with the Arizona Cardinals – to a deal of unknown length, and unknown cost.  He immediately slots in as the #3 receiver behind Baldwin and Lockett, and is the default Paul Richardson replacement for the time being.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

These deals obviously don’t really move the needle for me; they all stand as evidence that this team is nowhere near contending for anything in 2018, and quite frankly if you think otherwise, you probably need to have your head examined.  I like Russell Wilson as much as the next guy, but if he couldn’t do it all by himself the last couple years, what makes you think he can do it all by himself now, only with a significantly worse group of players around him?  With the Seahawks either unwilling or unable to spend significant cap dollars to improve this team, you’re putting a lot of hope in a draft class that so far doesn’t feature any picks in the second or third rounds.  Either that, or you’re banking on an insane amount of improvement on roster holdovers – a roster that hasn’t been close to good enough, nor remotely healthy, in the last three years.

Oh, and the perfect capper to the weekend?  Sheldon Richardson decided to take a ridiculously lowball offer from the Vikings on a 1-year deal, WELL below his actual value on the football field.  So, the one constant we could count upon – getting a 3rd round comp pick if/when Sheldon Richardson was poached by another team – just got downgraded to a 4th or 5th rounder, depending on where the dust settles in the whole comp pick formula.  If it isn’t one thing, it’s a-fucking-nother for one of the unluckiest teams in the NFL in the last few years.

I hate sports.  Wake me up when everyone’s dead.

Yawn: The Seahawks Signed Barkevious Mingo

2 years, $6.8 million, $3.2 million guaranteed.

Yeah, I don’t know what to make of this.  Mingo is a bust who likely will play some strong-side linebacker as well as rush the passer off the edge.  His career sack numbers have been pretty pathetic for a guy drafted so high in the first round in 2013.  Zero expectations here.

In other news, Paul Richardson got a huge deal with the Redskins, DeShawn Shead got a less huge deal with the Lions, Jimmy Graham got a medium deal with the Packers (who had to let Jordy Nelson go to make room), and a bunch of other players were either tendered or non-tendered.  A couple of big names coming back are Dion Jordan and Justin Coleman, so that’s cool I guess.

Not a lot of big moves in free agency for the Seahawks, except for all the people leaving.  To be expected.  I said it before and I’ll say it again:  I want the Seahawks to be as inactive in free agency as possible this year.  Particularly when it comes to veteran running backs.

The Seahawks Cut Richard Sherman, Who Signed With The 49ers

In further Blowing Up The Seahawks news, the Seahawks released Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead.  Lane is a goner; I don’t see any way he comes back.  But, I think there’s a good chance the team brings Shead back and lets him compete for a starting spot somewhere in the secondary.

But, obviously, the huge, franchise-altering news comes with the departure of Richard Sherman.  It honestly sickens me to have to write that sentence.  It never should’ve come to this.  Sherm was one of those Heart & Soul guys for the Seahawks, a definite Hall of Famer, and someone who deserves to have his name and jersey hanging in CenturyLink Field when it’s all said and done.  This is just all too depressing.  If the Michael Bennett trade started the End of an Era talks, this move blows it all wide open.

I guess the Seahawks save $11 million this year, which, whatever.  That still doesn’t give them enough money to fill all the holes on this roster.  That doesn’t get them back to being a playoff team, let alone a Super Bowl contender.  That also doesn’t give us a draft pick in the second or third rounds this year.  So, why?  Why do this?  Is the extra money worth more than a year of his services (when I do anticipate he will recover from his injuries and will return to being a Top 10 cornerback in this league) on top of losing a potential 3rd round comp pick if he did inevitably sign elsewhere (because you know – had he played out his deal at a Pro Bowl level – he likely would’ve gotten a max deal on the free agent market).

I don’t understand.  The only thing I can think of is the old ethos of “giving up on a player 1 year too early rather than 1 year too late.”  And, let’s face it, at this point you can see that’s bitten us in the ass too much for comfort of late, with Kam Chancellor (who likely will never play again, yet will be on the roster for all of 2018 barring a miracle), with Cliff Avril, and with Michael Bennett.  The Seahawks have well over $14 million in dead money on the 2018 cap (including over $3 million combined for Jermaine Kearse and Ahtyba Rubin, who weren’t even on the team LAST year) and have to have one of the oldest cores in all of football (our average age per player is only brought down by the need for us to carry so many rookies/young guys due to salary cap constraints, but if you count just the primary starters, we’re old af).  So, I can understand and appreciate the need to get younger and cut & run with older guys when it helps the franchise long term.  But, wouldn’t it help more if we let Sherm play out his deal and get the comp pick?

Also, not for nothing, but you gotta take these things on a player-by-player basis.  This Achilles injury is the first major injury that’s kept him out of football games, so it’s not like he’s some injury-prone loser.  But, he’s a Hall of Famer, and as such those guys tend to be more durable – either via luck or genetics – than your average salary cap cut.  It wouldn’t shock me – as I said before – for Sherm to snap right back to being a Pro Bowler in 2018, just as it wouldn’t shock me to see him play at a high level for many years to come.  There aren’t a lot of guys who play at a high level well into their 30s, but the Hall of Famers usually do.  We haven’t seen the last of Richard Sherman, not by a longshot.

As for all the chatter about him signing with the 49ers, what do I care?  It’s a free country.  The Seahawks cut HIM after all; it’s not like he forced his way out.  Plus, the rivalry isn’t the same as it was back in the day.  The 49ers haven’t been good since 2013, they no longer have Jim Harbaugh or Colin Kaepernick at the helm, and we’ve been able to handle them pretty good in the subsequent years since The Tip.  Now, the Seahawks are starting their slide.  I don’t see any chance of the Seahawks making the playoffs in 2018 – unless the Rams and 49ers suffer a slew of major injuries to their best players – while the 49ers are going to skyrocket to the top of the league.  Jimmy Garoppolo looks like the real fucking deal, the team has drafted well, they have a lot of money to play around with, and they just signed one of the best cornerbacks in the league.  It should all be coming together for them starting this year.  On top of that, I don’t see the Rams taking much of a step back, if at all, so the NFC West is going to be a 2-team race between the two California teams, with the Seahawks looking to fend off Arizona for last place.  Again, not much of a rivalry when one of the teams (the Seahawks) is so clearly inferior to the other (the 49ers).

If Richard Sherman had personal reasons for wanting to sign with the 49ers, to stick it to the Seahawks for cutting him, more power to him.  It’s not going to change the way I feel about the guy.  I love Richard Sherman for life.  He played his very best years in a Seahawks uniform, and nothing can take that away from us.  When he goes into the Hall of Fame, he’ll be wearing a Seahawks jersey.  I have so many more positive memories of Sherm that VASTLY outweigh the negative ones.  So, he can sign with the 49ers.  He can sign with the Patriots.  He can sign with the Steelers.  Hell, he can even sign with the fucking Packers and I wouldn’t care.  We had him first; the rest of the league is feasting off of our sloppy seconds.

As for where the Seahawks go from here, I hope it’s a dedicated pledge to rebuild in 2018 and go for broke again in 2019.  I see no point in trying to further mortgage the franchise in the short term if it’s going to set us back even further down the road.

Seahawks Traded Michael Bennett To The Eagles

The Deal:  Michael Bennett & a 7th Round Pick to the Eagles for Marcus Johnson & a 5th Round Pick.

Don’t get too excited about that 5th rounder, since the Eagles pick last in every round.  More or less a 6th rounder at that point.  But, I digress.

You can’t expect the market to be all that amazing for a defensive lineman who’s going to be 33 years old in November.  So, all things considered, that’s a decent haul for Michael Bennett.  On top of it, the Seahawks get out from under a $3 million bonus that would’ve come due next week, as well as his base salary for the year.  We’re still on the hook for quite a bit of dead money, and we only save about $2.2 million in cap space (not counting that other $3 million, as that didn’t reflect on our cap numbers yet), but at least we don’t have to pay out the remaining 3 years’ worth of salary (2018-2020).  That’s Philly’s problem now (which means it’s not a problem at all, since they should have zero dead money to deal with, since it’s a trade).

In return, the Seahawks get Marcus Johnson, a wide receiver who was – I guess – an undrafted free agent in 2016?  He got nominal playing time last year (5 catches in 10 games), but apparently is super fast.  And, obviously cheap.  At this point, he’s another body to throw onto the pile (with the anticipated loss of Paul Richardson), with some upside hopefully.  I imagine the Seahawks have to like him if he’s being tossed into this deal, so I’m sure he’ll get every opportunity to win a job out of Training Camp.

I’m also sure the Eagles are thrilled right now.  You don’t know what you’re going to get out of Michael Bennett at this stage of his career, but if you can get over 10 games out of him, on a rotational basis, he’s still got a lot of skills and savvy to wreak havoc.  A quality defensive line just got a lot better for 2018, for not that high a price.

As for me, the Seahawks fan, I’m a little sad.  I don’t give a shit about the Anthem protests and all that, that stuff has never bothered me.  Michael Bennett was a guy who was instrumental in the Seahawks winning their first-ever championship, and getting back to the Super Bowl in 2014.  Everyone likes to rag on him for the offsides penalties and everything – and yes, they were always aggravating – but come on, man.  What he brings from a pass rush perspective as well as a run-stopping perspective TOTALLY outweighs any on-field negatives.

Plus, you know, Michael Bennett is a funny, smart guy.  Always an entertaining interview.  And always entertaining on the field.  I’ll miss him.

But, it’s time.  It’s time to do what you can to blow up this defense and get younger in as many areas as you can.  Word on the Twitter Streets is that Richard Sherman is next.  I’ll write about that when I hear something more concrete, but let’s take it one legend at a time.

Is Michael Bennett a Ring of Honor candidate?  Abso-fucking-lutely!  Probably not a number retirement guy, but certainly an all-time Seahawks great.  Pay that man his respect!

Should The Seahawks Consider Trading Earl Thomas?

In my continuing series entitled:  To Blow Up The Seahawks Or Not To Blow Up The Seahawks, I’m taking a look today at Earl Thomas.  Recent comments he’s made – I guess dating back to the Dallas game? – indicate he’s not too thrilled with his current contract status, and is considering any and all options, up to and including playing for his hometown Cowboys someday (not technically his hometown, but you get the idea).  He’s also indicated that a holdout could be forthcoming if he’s not extended before Training Camp starts.

Thomas has 1 year remaining on his deal.  He’s set to count a little over $10 million against the cap.  He’ll be 28 years old.  He played ALMOST a full year in 2017 after having that devastating injury in 2016.  He appears to be back to normal, which is one of the best safeties in football.  And, as this figures to be his final major contract (before, I’m assuming, a slew of minor deals before he calls it a career), he’s gonna want to be paid like the best safeties in football.  Perhaps, even, the very best.

So, that’s what we’re confronted with:  a guy who’s getting up there, who’s had a couple serious injuries the last couple years, threatening a holdout, and likely to command a max deal (or close to it).

What do you do?

One option is to extend him.  Probably a 4-year deal on top of his 1 year remaining, with at least 3 of those years guaranteed (2018-2020) at a top-flight salary.  Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs is the guy everyone points to; he’s the highest paid safety in the game, making $40 million guaranteed, and averaging $13 million per season.  So, that’s the range we’re looking at, more or less.

Another option is to trade him.  That could be exceedingly tricky, because he’s already on record as planning to hold out if he’s not extended, and he’s also on record as saying he’d love nothing more than to play for the Cowboys (he’s also on record as saying he’d like to retire with the Seahawks, so long as they’re willing to pony up the cash, so take pretty much anything he says with at least a grain of salt, as all is fair in love and contract negotiations).  If it’s true that he’s favoring the Cowboys, that limits our trade partners down to pretty much that one team.  Something tells me, though, that money talks and he’d learn to love whatever team is willing to pay him the most.

A third option is to do nothing and call his bluff, but for me that’s not an option, that’s a death sentence for the Seahawks’ 2018 season.  We all saw what Kam’s holdout did to this team in 2015; imagine that only 50 times worse because it’s Earl.

I’m really torn on the matter though, because I can see it both ways.  I wouldn’t mind extending him if the deal makes sense; I also wouldn’t mind trading him if the deal makes sense.  But, if you have to over-pay to keep him, or take pennies on the dollar to trade him, then fuck all of that.  Any way you slice it, there’s risk.  If you extend him and he has a major neck injury a la Kam and Avril, then you’ve effectively handcuffed this franchise.  If you trade him, you’re all but guaranteed to be less effective at the position in 2018, with no real guarantee that the draft pick you get in return will be a capable player in the NFL.

If I had to lean one way, I’d lean toward figuring out if there’s a trade partner that makes sense.  But, I’m only willing to trade him if I get fair value in return.  I doubt the Seahawks will be able to land a high first round pick (if they did, I’d trade him in a heartbeat).  Seems more likely that he’s worth a second rounder, and maybe a swap of lower-round picks or something.  If it was a second rounder near the top of the round, with maybe a nice kicker of a fourth rounder or early fifth rounder … I dunno.  I’d think about it.  Getting a high second rounder from someone means this team isn’t forced into trading its first round pick, and I would love nothing more than for the Seahawks to stay at 18 and get the best player available, regardless of position (but, ideally, running back or safety, if they’re true studs).

But, you know, I’m not super gung ho either way.  Keep Earl or don’t, as long as whatever we decide is in the best interest of not just 2018, but going forward.  Frankly, I don’t want to see this team continuing to mortgage the future for these ill-advised Win Now propositions.  They pretty much never work out, and you just leave your franchise in worse shape for the future.

Have I Overreacted To All The Coaching Change On The Seahawks?

If you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and take a gander at what I wrote yesterday.  A lot of doom and gloom and whatnot.  Anyway, I got a GREAT comment from someone named Justin that I thought I’d respond to.  I’m not here to be a Hot Taek factory, and I really hate it when recency bias creeps into my arguments and gets me to overreact to something that’s not really that big of a deal, so I thought I’d take a step back and consider Justin’s argument.

I do stand behind the crux of my argument yesterday, in that it’s never a great sign when a head coach makes wholesale coordinator changes, and you could argue that the Seahawks fired three coordinators, considering Tom Cable’s influence over the offense.  We’re in a period of transition with the Seahawks, there’s no doubt about it.  Some of the stars of those championship teams are aging out, or injuring themselves out, and will need to be replaced.  While it’s not impossible for this team to hit rock bottom in 2018, it’s just as possible that they find the right pieces to fill in and get this team back to the playoffs.  We could be looking at one 9-7 blip on the radar, and nothing would make me happier.

I like a lot of what Justin has to say.  I agree that Russell Wilson is in the Top 5 for me among quarterbacks in this league.  And we all know he has another level to his game; we’ve seen it during the second half of 2015.  He obviously can’t do it alone, though, and is going to need some help from his O-Line and running game.  But, that’s obvious to anyone.  Even Tom Brady looks pretty fucking mediocre in those rare instances where the Patriots have a struggling O-Line; the difference is they seem to know how to push the right buttons and right the ship before too long.

I also agree that we probably have a Top 15/Top 10 defense as it is.  That part of it is never going to get TOO bad, because Pete Carroll is too good of a defensive mind.  My biggest concern is that the injury bug tends to be random, and the Seahawks were pretty well battered in 2016, then followed that up by arguably being MORE battered in 2017.  That, to me, shows signs of age.  And, considering the core on this defense is so deep and has been together for so long, that’s A LOT of holes that need filling, not to mention a lot of depth that needs replenishing around that core.

It’s too early to know what that’s going to look like.  We don’t know, for instance, if Avril or Kam will make miraculous recoveries and try to play again.  Forgetting the cap situation for a moment, assuming we get those guys back, they’re still one awkward hit away from being done for good.  Then, there’s Michael Bennett, who ALWAYS seems to be slowed by one nagging thing or another.  A foot, a quad, a pec, an ankle.  I still say he’s someone who needs to be on the field way less than he is to remain effective.  There’s more snaps you have to replace.  Earl Thomas made a nice recovery in 2017, as I assume Richard Sherman will in 2018, but again:  guys getting older.  Guys more susceptible to these debilitating injuries.  And, I haven’t mentioned guys like Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright, because they’re almost always pretty healthy.  But, before he went down, Sherm had never missed a game, and I don’t know if Earl missed much time either.  It just takes one hit, or one bad step and then a bunch of others that eventually wear you down until whatever’s ailing you just SNAPS.

So, let’s take a step back and look on the bright side:  who do we have on defense that we like?  That we can count on in major roles going forward?

Frank Clark, obviously, heads that list for me, and feels like a guy this team should prioritize with a big extension.  Dion Jordan is another guy I’ll be happy to see return, and in a meatier role than he had in 2017.  Should he prove to be effective, he’s a guy I wouldn’t mind seeing around semi-long term.  Naz Jones really flashed as a rookie.  He looks like a guy who could play every down and be an effective interior rusher (I just hope he’s not another of these injury-prone guys, what with him missing the last few weeks of the regular season).  Jarran Reed is another impressive interior lineman who feels more like a Brandon Mebane type (which is NOT a bad thing) and is someone I hope to have around for a long time.  So, that’s four guys, not counting Bennett (who I still think will probably be back in 2018).  I don’t expect Sheldon Richardson back, and who the fuck knows about Malik McDowell, but either way, the D-Line could use some work.  And some better injury luck.

Love me some Wagz and Wright; they’re both squarely in their primes.  But, would it kill this team to draft a couple of talented, athletic backups who might one day take their places?  Or, competently fill in for when those guys get nicked up?  I mean, we’re always one Wagner injury away from the biggest fucking drop-off on the entire team outside of quarterback!

In the secondary, I – along with most everyone – liked what I saw from Shaq Griffin.  He still has room to improve, and I hope he makes that leap.  With Earl and Sherm back in the fold in 2018, and Coleman being a solid slot guy, there’s even more to like.  But, how do you replace someone like Kam?  And, who’s gonna be your third outside corner?  Are ANY of the other rookies we drafted in the secondary in 2017 going to pan out besides Griffin?  I think it’s a BAD sign that guys like Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson hardly ever played last year.  I hope they look good behind the scenes, because I have a feeling we’re going to need at least one of them to pan out in the near future.

So yeah, there’s talent defensively.  There’s plenty of talent to be a Top 15 defense as it stands right now.  And, of course, the team will make moves this offseason to bolster that side of the ball.  A Pete Carroll team would NEVER neglect the defense.  But, is this team good enough to overcome just a Top 15 or a Top 10 defense?  Or, does it need a Top 2 defense to really do something?

And, I guess that’s my whole point in all of this.  With all its faults, the 2017 Seahawks were still SO CLOSE to making the playoffs.  And it would’ve been fun, and we would’ve had a rabid ramp-up to that game against the Rams (or whoever would’ve been the 3-seed in this alternate universe).  And who knows?  Maybe we shock the world just like we’ve done so many times in the Wild Card round of the playoffs!

But, I’m not interested in just making the playoffs.  I don’t think there’s a way in Hell that the Seahawks of 2017 – with all the injuries and everything else they had to deal with by season’s end – were in a position to make a serious championship run.  Odds are, if it’s Rams in the Wild Card round, then Eagles in the Divisional round, then Vikings in the Championship game … I mean, look at those defenses!  Those are far and away the three best defenses in the NFC this year (with the Saints probably coming in 4th).  You’re telling me this team, with this O-Line, and this lack of a running game, could’ve made it through all three?  I think the chance of that is 0.00%.

Maybe I’m being greedy.  As a long-suffering Seahawks fan through the years, maybe I SHOULD just be happy with a playoff appearance.  But, after 2013, all of that changed.  With Russell Wilson in the fold, I want to see MULTIPLE championships!  At least one more, ideally two more.  Anything beyond that would be beyond my wildest dreams, but you get the idea.  Great, amazing, franchise-altering quarterbacks don’t come around everyday unless you’re the Green Bay Packers, apparently.  To squander someone like Russell would be a travesty.  Beyond that, I can’t bear to imagine a world where his final play in a Super Bowl is that fucking interception at the goalline.  He NEEDS to be redeemed!

And no, this team probably WON’T collapse in the near future, not as long as Wilson is healthy.  He’s in his prime, and we’ve seen PLENTY of mediocre teams with elite quarterbacks who carry them to consistent 7-9/8-8/9-7 seasons.  Aside from 2015/2016, that’s pretty much the M.O. of the San Diego Chargers under Philip Rivers!  Not to mention a lot of those post-Super Bowl Saints teams.  And a lot of those Lions teams under Matthew Stafford.  On and on and on.  But, to be honest, those types of teams are my worst nightmare.  Not to say I envy the Browns or something, but I would RATHER bottom out for a year or two, bring in a bunch of highly-drafted college players, and turn things around.  The Seahawks will probably never get to be that bad, though, so I think it’s a very real concern that we have a bunch of 8-8 type seasons in the years ahead.

How do we avoid that?  Well, ideally, we need to figure out what the Saints did in their draft room last year, because God Damn!  Justin points out that we should have faith in the combo of Pete and John.  I have the utmost respect for those guys, and I agree they’re the best head coach and GM in franchise history (and maybe in the history of all of Seattle sports).  But, I also think it’s valid to wonder if they’re not coasting on the achievements of their drafts and free agent acquisitions from 2010-2012.  I mean, that’s one of the best turnaround jobs in all of professional sports, what they were able to do in that 3-year span.  And, for the most part, I like that they take chances and they swing for the fences on guys with rare and unique talents.

But, the mounting mistakes from 2013 onward is pretty glaring.  Bringing in Harvin, which led to losing out on Tate.  That whole fucking 2013 draft which has only netted you a backup tight end in Luke Willson (and no, they don’t get credit for Spencer Ware, because he was let go and has done all of his damage with the Chiefs).  Then, there’s the Jimmy Graham deal, and the whole fucking 2014 draft.  Paul Richardson has given us exactly 1 fully healthy season before turning into an expensive free agent.  Justin Britt gave us a couple of mediocre seasons as right tackle and left guard before finding his place at center.  Cassius Marsh and some of the guys below him were non-factors on defense and mostly just good special teamers.  Then again with the 2015 draft.  Clark and Lockett were hits, but Glowinski was a bust, and everyone else is gone.  Now, take a look at the 2016 draft:  the best player is arguably Alex fucking Collins, yet ANOTHER late-round running back this team threw away!  Ifedi has been miserable, Reed has been a run-stuffing defensive tackle, Vannett looks like nothing more than a 3rd or 2nd tight end at best, Prosise is a living, breathing ankle sprain, and the rest of those guys are backups, training camp fodder, or out of the game entirely.  That brings us to the 2017 draft, where it looks like maybe they got their mojo back with guys like Griffin, Jones, Carson, and hopefully Pocic, but also features your top selection in McDowell who might never play a single down in the league.  Then, when you compound it with some of the other deals, giving Joeckel so much money, giving Lacy ANY money, consistently trading away high draft picks for veterans.  My confidence with this line of decision-making hasn’t totally plummeted, but I’ll say this:  2018 is going to go a LONG way toward either restoring my faith, or leading me to construct a noose and hang myself.

I mean, shit, what happened to their prowess in picking guys on the third day of the draft???

In short, because this one ballooned WAY out of control, yesterday’s post is probably a bit of an overreaction, with an asterisk of We’ll See.  This thing has been trending downward for three years, so we just have to hope that the new blood is able to come in and turn things around.  If they can’t, or if injuries continue to kill us, or if guys don’t develop into stars for whatever reason, or if the front office keeps kicking the can down the road with some of these contracts and draft pick trades, then I’ve been on record for a while now saying this could be another Seattle Mariners situation:  a lot of high-priced veterans getting this team to at or around .500, but ultimately treading water for a bunch of years in a row.