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Is the Superbowl a Must-Win for the Seahawks?

Updated on February 1, 2014

The Situation

Everyone realizes that this last NFL game of the year is a must win for the Broncos. Peyton Manning isn't getting any younger. Also, most of their impact players are on a 1-year deal or are in the final year of their contract. This includes their starting DE/OLB Shaun Phillips, starting cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, and running back Knowshon Moreno. However, is this Superbowl a must win for the Seahawks too? Most readers would scoff at the idea of the Seattle Seahawks, who are the fourth youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25.31 years, having a limited window as contenders. Not to mention that both their starting quarterback and All-Pro cornerback are only 25 years old. No, not many at all. I implore them to look deeper, however, and see just how this team is put together before they rush to shutdown my notions as absurd. The Seattle Seahawks will have approximately a little over $5,000,000 to spend on free agents. For a contending team, this is not a problem, as contenders usually have a lot of money invested in their team which is why they are great. The problem, is that the Seahawks have only 45 players under contract for 2014. This means they will need to draft and/or sign eight players before the 2014 season starts to make the required 53 man roster. Once again not a big deal, this sort of thing happens quite often. What is the big deal? The Seahawks will be losing many of it's starting players and defensive-line depth that made them such a great team. Sacks were a given in 2013, but the 2014 Seahawks may be hurting for some rotational players to generate pressure.

The Seahawks will be losing a lot of defensive-line depth
The Seahawks will be losing a lot of defensive-line depth

Top 2014 Free Agents

• FB Michael Robinson

• WR Doug Baldwin

• DE Michael Bennett

• K Steven Hauschka

• OT/G Paul McQuistan

• WR Golden Tate

• CB Brandon Browner

• CB Walter Thurmond

Who's Leaving?

As of right now the Seahawks are losing quite a bit of quality players. Remember, they only have about 5 million dollars to work with. That is about how much it will cost the team to sign the 7 draft picks they will be making. Teams usually get about three quality players from a draft (though I will say that the Seahawks have done phenomenal job drafting the past few years) which means that this will not be enough to replace the star power they are losing. Now that I've stressed the seriousness of the situation, let's dive into who is leaving. The Seahawks (as of now) stand to lose starting FB Michael Robinson, the top 2 wide receivers from 2013 Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, DE Michael Bennett, starting OT/OG Paul McQuistan, the number 2 and 3 CB's Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, as well as field goal ace Steven Hauschka.

Who Are These Guys?

Well... that's a bit of a mouthful. Who are these guys though you may ask? Are any of them expendable? Michael Robinson is the hammer that forces open the otherwise crowded lanes for Pro-Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch. His last year's contract was worth a meager $326,470, and fullbacks are a dying breed in the NFL. This means he will probably be extended with no problem on a similarly cheap deal. Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin were responsible for a combined 1,676 of Russell Wilson's 3,357 yards (a few yards shy of half his total passing yards). While they still have money committed to Syndey Rice and supposed superstar Percy Harvin, their injury histories show they cannot be trusted. Michael Bennett, who was signed on a one year, $4.8 million deal from the Buccaneers this past season, proved to be arguably the team's best defensive lineman. He totaled 8.5 sacks (the most of the team) and contributed 31 tackles and a forced fumble. He is the highest priority for the team, and he won't come cheap. McQuistan is an incumbent starter from the past, who the team is probably happy to get rid of considering he was overpaid with $3,375,000 of inconsistencies. Rookie Michael Bowie has solidified himself as a starter and will most likely take over for either McQuistan or another spot so that person can slide over to McQuistan's spot. Finally, there is Browner and Thurmond. Both of these players were suspended in 2013. They each had an interception and consistently shut down receivers. Browner is most likely gone after failing a drug test. Thurmond most likely will also be let go due to cap issues. The rise of Byron Maxwell in the playoffs has also made one of these two more expendable.

Free Agents and Their Cost

Player
Age
Contract
Key Stat(s)
Michael Bennett
28
$4,800,000
8.5 sacks
Paul McQuistan
30
$3,375,000
Gave up multiple sacks
Golden Tate
25
$880,000
898 yards/5 TD's
Doug Baldwin
25
$560,833
778 yards/5 TD's
Brandon Browner
29
$773,756
1 interception
Walter Thurmond
26
$755,875
1 interception
Michael Robinson
30
$326,470
N/A
Steven Hauschka
28
$620,000
33/35 FG's
These players will certainly be looking for a raise after stellar seasons

The Future

Earl Thomas is in line for a big extension
Earl Thomas is in line for a big extension

Other Expenses...

Do you recognize the two players above? Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are the two most important pieces of the team. The quarterback directs the offense and scored 27 total touchdowns this year. The top cornerback defends the best receiver from the other team. Sherman picked off eight passes on his way to shutting down everyone that challenged him (check out my other article Is Richard Sherman The Best Cornerback in the NFL?). Both of these players are only 25. They made a combined $1,371,691. That much money for 26 touchdowns by one player and 8 interceptions by the latter. Clearly both of these superstars are in for a raise. Sherman's will come first as he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. While I do not believe he will be greedy and get Revis money, 6 years for $96 million, I do believe he will get top dollar as he should. Something along the lines of 6 years for $75 million though isn't out of the question for the All-Pro corner. Really, he can command as much money as he wants; he's earned it. Will he be willing to take a discount to stay in Seattle though? As for Wilson, he has been highly efficient and is going to be the winningest quarterback for the first 2 years. What contract will he get if he wins the Superbowl? If Jay Cutler can get $18 million a year then I'm sure Wilson will command a similar number. Other players that will be in-line for an extension over the next few years is tackling machine Bobby Wagner and All-Pro Free Safety Earl Thomas. These bills are going to add up fast.

What Is The Seahawks Biggest Offseason Priority?

See results

What Can Be Done?

After reviewing all the players that need to be resigned and extended, it probably seems like all hope is lost. Fear not my Legion of Boomers because there are some shifty moves that could free up quite a bit of cap-space for the Seahawks! First, they need to release some players. Have you heard of this guy Sydney Rice? Probably not considering he was injured for most of the 2013 season. In fact, looking into his injury history shows that Rice as only played in two full seasons out of his seven year career. He is also 27 turning 28 at the start of next season, and the body only breaks down further with age. Cutting him would save $7.3 million. Never a logical signing, that gives the Seahawks money towards its free agents. Another $7.5 million could be saved by cutting Chris Clemons. Once a force off the edge, Clemons is no more than depth now behind Cliff Avril, Red Bryant, and Michael Bennett. Between keeping an aging rotational player (32) and acquiring $7.5 million, I would cut him before finished reading this article. Finally, Zach Miller. The 28-year-old only amassed 387 receiving yards. While that is in part do to his quarterback not throwing him the ball, I just don't see keeping him for $7 million when the team could find a cheaper replacement. Besides, cutting Miller would free another $5 million in cap space. All together this would free up close to $20 million in cap space. Things are looking brighter!

Steven Hauschka proved to be a reliable kicker in need of an extension
Steven Hauschka proved to be a reliable kicker in need of an extension

Where Is The Money Best Spent?

The team should focus on resigning its key players. The most prized of these I believe to be Michael Bennet. You don't grab 8.5 sacks off the side of the street. These stats are a very high commodity in this pass happy league, which is even more of a reason to resign him. Steven Hauschka only missed two field goals and has a very powerful leg. A kicker is more important than most people realize so he should be kept at all costs. Golden Tate proved himself to be more than just a possession wide receiver. I think the team should extend him on a new deal as well, considering that he is also only 25 years old. Doug Baldwin is a restricted free agent so he can be tendered for $2.5 million. I think that should be enough to keep teams away from him for at least one more year while a replacement is groomed (or Percy Harvin gets healthy). Brandon Browner is 29 and is currently serving a suspension that is keeping him out of the Superbowl, which means he is as good as gone. It would be nice to see Thurmond donning the Seahawks helmet once more next year but at what cost? If he asks for top corner money then let him walk, but if he agrees to a discount he is a valuable piece that will be welcomed back. Robinson should also be very cheap to bring back. After resigning Bennett, Robinson, Tate, Baldwin, and possibly Thurmond, the Seahawks should save the rest of their money. Wilson and Sherman deserve their upcoming extensions, and if the Seahawks were smart they would be prepping for that with as much money as possible on hand. One thing is for sure, the 2014 Seahawks will be a very different team. They won't be able to resign all there free agents which means things are about to change. They will be a team I do not think will be able to contend as highly as this one did, making the Superbowl that much more important for Seattle to win.

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