RB Julius Jones, RB T.J. Duckett, WR Bryan Gilmore, TE Jeb Putzier, G Mike Wahle, DT Larry Tripplett, DT Chris Cooper, OLB Wesley Mallard, K Olindo Mare, P Reggie Hodges.
RB Justin Forsett, FB Owen Schmitt, DE Lawrence Jackson, DT Red Bryant, K Brandon Coutu, LS Tyler Schmitt.
RB Shaun Alexander, WR D.J. Hackett, TE Marcus Pollard, TE Bennie Joppru, OT Tom Ashworth, G Chris Gray, DT Ellis Wyms, DT Marcus Tubbs, DT Chartric Darby, OLB Kevin Bentley, ILB Niko Koutouvides, S Mike Green, K Josh Brown, KR Josh Scobey.
2008 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
Who is Matt Hasselbeck going to throw to? That's a question I've asked since the team's blowout loss to the Packers and it's gone unanswered. In case you missed it, Deion Branch, the team's No. 1 receiver, tore his ACL in that contest, an injury that required surgery. Branch recently got off crutches, but I'll be shocked if he plays before Thanksgiving. Even if he comes back in 2008, he won't be 100 percent. With Branch out for a while, I'm surprised Seattle didn't retain D.J. Hackett, even though he couldn't stay healthy himself. Still, Hackett showed some promise, registering 377 yards and three touchdowns in only four complete games.
Bobby Engram led Seattle wide outs in receptions and yards in 2007, coming out of nowhere to shatter career highs (94 catches and 1,147 yards; previous highs were 88 and 987). The shock came because Engram did this as a 34-year-old. It's almost unfair to ask him repeat this production now that's exactly halfway in between 30 and 40. If Engram regresses, the Seahawks will have to count on Nate Burleson, who went bust after notching 68 catches for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns as a second-year player. Burleson had a minor renaissance in 2007 with 50 receptions, 694 yards and nine scores. Still, Burleson hasn't shown that he's anything more than a No. 3. He'll have the opportunity this season. If he fails, it's up to bench-warmers Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu and Logan Payne. At least the Seahawks have something promising at tight end; rookie John Carlson will challenge Will Heller for the starting gig. He should win that battle easily, but don't expect too much from him right off the bat.
More problems at the skill positions, though Seattle had this one last year. How will the team run the ball? Two seasons removed from an MVP campaign, Shaun Alexander struggled to come back from injury, and consequently became fat and soft. I predicted the Seahawks would soon release Alexander back in October, and I was glad to see they followed my advice. However, I was disappointed to see whom they brought in as substitutes. Julius Jones is solid at catching the ball out of the backfield, but he's not an every-down runner. Jones struggled with the Cowboys in 2007, gaining just 3.6 yards per carry, when counterpart Marion Barber had a figure of 4.8. Jones has never been the lone guy, and he has never gained more than 4.2 yards per rush.
Of course, the Seahawks know this, and that's why they brought in T.J. Duckett is a power-back complement. I can't say I'm too enthusiastic about the move, and I don't think Mike Holmgren is either. Duckett has always been known as a lethargic, me-first type of player. Holmgren, meanwhile, recently commented that Jones and Maurice Morris will split carries. He didn't even mention Duckett, who may only get the ball on third-and-one situations.
Jones may have trouble breaking his 4.2 yards-per-carry record with a few problems the Seahawks have with their offensive line. Not that their front is bad or anything; it's just not the unit it used to be, and I have concerns with the starting five. Perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones just turned 34 and had offseason shoulder injury. I'm not sure if he'll slow down this season, but his run of consecutive prolific Pro Bowl campaigns has to come to an end soon. It wouldn't surprise me if Jones still played great but regressed a bit in 2008.
Right next to Jones is Carolina Panthers reject Mike Wahle. Wahle, once a solid player with Green Bay, just wasn't a good fit for Carolina's zone-blocking scheme. He'll have better luck in Seattle, though it should be noted that he just turned 31. No matter how he performs, however, it's safe to say that he's no Steve Hutchinson, which is what the Seahawks have missed the past couple of years. Rounding out the line, center Chris Spencer and right tackle Sean Locklear are both solid linemen, though they could stand to be upgraded. Right guard Rob Sims is the weakest link up front, although he's not a terrible player by any means.
Seattle's scoring unit has a lot of injuries and uncertainties to overcome, but their doing so remains a possibility because it has Matt Hasselbeck under center. Hasselbeck, one of the top second-tier quarterbacks in the NFL (first tier being Peyton Manning and Tom Brady), nearly notched his first 4,000-yard campaign in 2007, throwing for 3,966 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 12 picks.
2008 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
Besides Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks have a great chance to defend their NFC West crown because of their outstanding defense. It all starts near the line of scrimmage for them, as their front seven wreaked havoc upon opposing quarterbacks, notching 45 sacks on the year. Patrick Kerney led the team with 14, while Darryl Tapp chipped in with seven (though it should be noted he had only three sacks against teams not named the Rams). Joining Kerney and Tapp at defensive end is Lawrence Jackson, who was chosen 28th overall in April's draft. Rookie ends seldom contribute in the NFL, but Jackson won't have to do much; he'll be coming in on third downs and helping with the pass rush. I'm not expecting much out of Jackson, but he should be able to get in the mix in a very specific role.
Helping the defense put pressure on signal callers is Julian Peterson, who had 10 sacks from the weakside linebacker position. Peterson is part of a prolific linebacking corps, which includes Lofa Tatupu and LeRoy Hill. Tatupu is one of the best middle linebackers the league has to offer, and Seattle showed its appreciation by signing him to a 6-year, $42 million deal a month before the 2008 NFL Draft. Hill isn't as talented as Peterson or Tatupu, but there aren't many linebackers in this league who are. Hill is a very solid third player in the corps.
The front seven's pressure definitely helps out a Seattle secondary that isn't all that great, outside of Marcus Trufant. Trufant picked off seven passes in 2007 and was awarded with a 6-year, $50.2 million deal. Playing across from Trufant, Kelly Jennings, a first-round selection in 2006, isn't anything spectacular. He'll be challenged by second-year Josh Wilson. Meanwhile, free safety Brian Russell was somewhat of a bust signing. In his first year as a Seahawk, Russell was pretty mediocre and didn't seem to warrant the $13.5 million over five years that Seattle offered him last March.
All that said, I wouldn't cite anyone in the defensive backfield for being completely at fault for the team's 42-20 blowout loss to Green Bay in Round 2 of the Doggone Playoff. For that, you can look at one glaring stat - Ryan Grant: 27 carries, 201 yards, three touchdowns. Ouch. Seattle really missed run-stuffer Marcus Tubbs, who missed the entire 2007 campaign with a torn ACL. Tubbs has been absent from 35 contests in his four-year career, which is why the Seahawks drafted massive defensive tackle Red Bryant in the fourth round. Bryant has the tools to be a dominant force in the league, but I'm not sure how much action he'll see as a rookie, though it should be noted that incumbent nose tackle Brandon Mebane started 10 games as a rookie in 2007. Right next to Mebane was Rocky Bernard, who managed only four sacks after registering nine in 2005. Bernard was arrested in April for domestic violence charges.
With the talent the Seahawks have on defense, it's not surprising to see they were ranked sixth in the league in points allowed. However, I'm not sure if they did enough to "right the score" in terms of surrendering 200-yard rushing performances in the postseason.
2008 Seattle Seahawks Schedule and Intangibles:
The Seahawks weren't kidding about this whole 12th man thing. The deafening noise at Qwest Field is why they're 25-4 as hosts the past three seasons.
Ask any professional football gambler or handicapper when you should bet against Seattle, and they'll tell you in 1 p.m. East Coast games. Mike Holmgren simply can't get his team up for those contests. The team has three of those (Buffalo, New York Giants and Miami) this year.
The Seahawks took a huge blow when they lost Josh Brown to the Rams in free agency. Brown is easily one of the top kickers in the NFL, and won't easily be replaced. The two guys vying for the job will be rookie Brandon Coutu and Olindo Mare, who nailed 58.8 percent of his kicks last year. Safe to say that Coutu is the favorite to win the gig.
Another blow was losing punter Ryan Plackemeier to injury. Plackemeier, who regressed a bit after a solid rookie campaign in 2006, just had chest surgery and should be out for a while. Journeyman Reggie Hodges will take his spot in the meantime.
At least one aspect of Seattle's special teams is stable. Nate Burleson had two return touchdowns in 2007, while Josh Wilson chipped in with another. The Seahawks also kept the opposition from taking it to the house.
The Seahawks are pretty lucky they have six games against the weak NFC West because non-divisional foes include Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Dallas, New England, Buffalo and the New York Giants.
2008 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: I already mentioned two reasons - Matt Hasselbeck and a terrific front seven - why I think the Seahawks will repeat as NFC West champs. A third is the NFC West. Everyone always wants to predict that the Rams will rebound, and the Cardinals or 49ers will make the playoffs for the first time in a billion years.
But in the end, it's always the Seahawks. I don't think this season will be any different, though the gap has closed with all the injuries and growing number of holes Seattle has incurred.
Projection: 9-7 (1st in NFC West)
2008 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Matt Hasselbeck: Matt Hasselbeck could be overvalued in fantasy football. Hasselbeck threw for 3,966 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, but keep in mind that Mike Holmgren went to a pass-happy offense once he realized how much Shaun Alexander sucked. With Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett in the mix, Seattle will throw less. Also remember that Hasselbeck will be missing Deion Branch for the majority of the year, if not all of it.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 3,350 passing yards. 25 passing TDs. 75 rushing yards. 0 rushing TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 324.
Julius Jones: Despite given multiple opportunities to do so, Julius Jones has eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier only once in his four-year career. Jones has never averaged more than 4.2 yards per carry behind Dallas' offensive line. The appealing thing about Jones is that he'll be running behind Walter Jones. Unfortunately, Jones, now 34, had shoulder surgery this offseason.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 1,025 rushing yards. 300 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 162.
T.J. Duckett: T.J. Duckett may get short-yardage opportunities and could take some touchdowns away from Julius Jones. Don't draft him; just loathe him if you have Jones.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 150 receiving yards. 5 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 45.
John Carlson: I can't see John Carlson not winning the starting tight end job, but I'll be shocked if he puts up monster numbers as a rookie. If you're looking for a sleeper, I'd go elsewhere.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 350 receiving yards. 3 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 53.
Bobby Engram: It was nice to see long-time veteran Bobby Engram have a breakout year. Engram had 94 catches, 1,147 yards and six touchdowns. He just turned 35, so I wouldn't expect him to match that production. On the other hand, with Deion Branch out most of the year, Matt Hasselbeck will rely on Engram more than ever.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 1,025 receiving yards. 6 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 138.
Nate Burleson: Nate Burleson had an amazing sophomore campaign in this league, catching 68 passes for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns with the Vikings. Since then, Burleson hasn't done anything but disappoint fantasy owners. However, Burleson showed signs of coming back last season (50 receptions, 694 yards, nine touchdowns) and has looked good in minicamp. He'll have an opportunity to start with Deion Branch sidelined.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 800 receiving yards. 6 TDs.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 116.
Deion Branch: Deion Branch tore his ACL in mid-January, so it'll be a while until he can play. Next year.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 150 receiving yards. 1 TD.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 21.
Brandon Coutu: I can't see Olindo Mare winning this job, so it'll likely be Brandon Coutu taking over for Josh Brown. I'd stay away until we see what he's made of.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Stats: 21-27 FG (1-2 50+). 38 XP.
Projected 2008 Fantasy Points: 110.
Seattle Defense: Lots of sacks should once again create tons of interceptions for Marcus Trufant and turnovers for Lofa Tatupu. You'll score billions of fantasy points when the Seahawks play the 49ers and Rams.
Projected Fantasy Ranking: Top 12 Defense.
2008 NFL Draft Grade:
I have issues with Seattle's first two selections and the fact that they failed to take care of a major need - more on that later - but I loved the team's Day 2 choices. Red Bryant will make sure no running back runs for 201 yards against the Seahawks in the playoffs ... Owen Schmitt and Justin Forsett, along with Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett will hopefully help Seattle fans forget about Shaun Alexander and his lethargy ... Brandon Coutu was rated by some as the top kicker in the draft. He's a much better replacement for Josh Brown than Olindo Mare.
I can see why the Seahawks drafted Lawrence Jackson - they want to copy the Giants and put as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as possible - but why take a defensive end so early? They could have addressed a need in the first round and picked an end in the third. Jackson wasn't even the best player available at his position ... I was never a fan of John Carlson's and I feel as though the Seahawks reached for him in the second round. He was a fourth-round prospect in my mind. Why not Fred Davis? ... Why did Seattle fail to address the receiver position? Taking Limas Sweed, Devin Thomas or DeSean Jackson at No. 28 would have made much more sense than Lawrence Jackson.
Grade give on 4/28/08: B-
2008 NFL Draft Picks:
28. Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC
This doesn't make sense. Defensive end wasn't a need, there were other positions Seattle needed to fill and Lawrence Jackson wasn't even the top end on the board. (Pick Grade: C)
38. John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame
John Carlson's a reach. He could be a solid player, but it seems like there were better tight ends on the board. Can't argue with Seattle's recent drafts though. (Pick Grade: C)
121. Red Bryant, DT, Texas A&M
An early third-round prospect in the fourth at a position of need. Great pick. The Seahawks surrendered 201 rushing yards to Ryan Grant in the playoffs last year, so Red Bryant may be able to fix that. (Pick Grade: A)
163. Owen Schmitt, FB, West Virginia
You can't go wrong with a fullback who has a mohawk. The Seahawks needed another runner in the wake of the Shaun Alexander release. Seattle fans will fall in love with Owen Schmitt. (Pick Grade: A)
189. Tyler Schmitt, LS, San Diego State
I'm not going to grade a long snapper. You can find those guys at a construction site. (Pick Grade: N/A)
233. Justin Forsett, RB, California
A quick running back who will make the roster. Seattle needs all the help it can get at the position in the wake of Shaun Alexander's decline. (Pick Grade: B)
235. Brandon Coutu, K, Georgia
Good to see Mike Holmgren replace Josh Brown with the top kicker in the draft. (Pick Grade: A)
I was surprised when the Seahawks were blowed out... uh... blown out at Lambeau Field in the second round of the Doggone Playoff last year. Seriously, I thought Seattle would give the Packers a tough battle. Mike Holmgren is coming back for one more year, so I expect the Seahawks to go all out in free agency this offseason in a final attempt to win the Super Bowl.
Seahawks cut WR Joel Filani
Seahawks cut DT Marcus Tubbs
Seahawks announce retirement of G Chris Gray
Seahawks sign WR Bryan Gilmore
Seahawks cut S Mike Green
Seahawks re-sign FB Leonard Weaver
Seahawks sign WR Joel Filani
Seahawks re-sign G Pork Chop Womack
Seahawks sign DT Larry Tripplett
Seahawks sign OLB Wesley Millard
Seahawks cut RB Shaun Alexander
Seahawks sign P Reggie Hodges
Seahawks cut QB Travis Lulay
Seahawks cut ILB Cameron Jansen
Seahawks re-sign CB Omar Lowe
Seahawks sign K Olindo Mare
Seahawks re-sign CB Marcus Trufant
Seahawks re-sign OLB D.D. Lewis
Seahawks sign DT Chris Cooper
Seahawks sign RB Julius Jones
Seahawks sign TE Jeb Putzier
Seahawks sign RB T.J. Duckett
Seahawks cut OT Tom Ashworth
Seahawks re-sign OT Sean Locklear
Seahawks franchise CB Marcus Trufant
Seahawks sign G Mike Wahle
Running Back: I've talked about Shaun Alexander's ineptness enough times on this Web site. To sum it up, he's a soft running back who runs like a 6-year-old girl prancing through a flower garden whilst glossing over the stands in search of a hot dog vendor and sliding to the turf to avoid getting hit. Seriously though, Alexander's done. The Seahawks desperately need a replacement. Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart or Felix Jones could be the answer at No. 25. Signed Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett; drafted Owen Schmitt and Justin Forsett
Two Wide Receivers: Problems at this position for the Seahawks - Deion Branch tore his ACL against the Packers and may not play in 2008. Bobby Engram, the team's top receiver in 2007, just turned 35. D.J. Hackett, meanwhile, is a free agent. If Hackett isn't re-signed Seattle will need two wide outs. Luckily, this draft is really deep at that position. Signed Joel Filani
Tight End: I can't believe FOX's announcers were so shocked by Marcus Pollard's drops in the postseason. The guy is old and horrible. Fred Davis would be a nice replacement in the second round. Drafted John Carlson; signed Jeb Putzier
Kicker: With Josh Brown gone, the Seahawks somehow have to find a great kicker to replace him. Drafted Brandon Coutu; signed Olindo Mare
Guard: The Seahawks brought in Mike Wahle to compete for one of the guard positions. Another guard for the other slot would help out a morbid running game that averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2007. Someone like Drew Radovich could be that guy in Round 3. Re-signed Pork Chop Womack
Offensive Tackle: If Sean Locklear isn't re-signed, the Seahawks will need a replacement. If he is, a future successor for Walter Jones would be a nice addition. Re-signed Sean Locklear
Defensive Tackle Depth: Marcus Tubbs is coming off two knee injuries, so depth at defensive tackle could be something the Seahawks want to address, especially after Ryan Grant ran for 201 yards on them. Drafted Red Bryant; signed Larry Tripplett and Chris Cooper
Defensive Back Depth: Speaking of that Packers contest, Brett Favre was 18-of-23; the Seahawks just couldn't keep him from completing passes. More help in the secondary could help Seattle's chances of getting back to the Super Bowl.
Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 21): $9.55 million
Josh Brown, K. Age: 29. Signed with Rams (5 years, $14.2 million)
Josh Brown hits multiple 50-yarders every year. He's one of the top kickers in the league.
Marcus Trufant, CB. Age: 27. Re-signed with Seahawks (6 years, $50.2 million)
While many believe Marcus Trufant wouldn't be effective outside of Seattle's system, he's still very valuable to his current team. The Seahawks wouldn't be able to easily replace seven picks.
Sean Locklear, OT. Age: 27. Re-signed with Seahawks (5 years, $32 million)
Sean Locklear is a solid right tackle and could be re-signed. The problem is, he could ask for a lot of money, which the Seahawks just don't have.
D.J. Hackett, WR. Age: 27. Signed with Panthers (2 years, $3.5 million)
I marked D.J. Hackett as a fantasy sleeper. Unfortunately, he only played four full games. In those contests, however, he had 384 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Not too shabby.
Leonard Weaver, FB. Age: 25. Re-signed with Seahawks (1 year, $1.417 million)
Leonard Weaver did a solid job replacing Mack Strong, catching 39 passes in 2007.
Pork Chop Womack, Seahawks. Age: 29. Re-signed with Seahawks (1 year)
One of the better backup linemen in the NFL.
Shaun Alexander, RB. Age: 31.
Retirement has to be an option for Shaun Alexander, who is nothing more than a short-yardage back at this point (and a poor one at that.) It's astonishing how far this guy has fallen in two years.
Niko Koutouvides, MLB. Age: 27. - Signed with Broncos (3 years, $7.5 million)
Kevin Bentley, Seahawks. Age: 28. - Signed with Texans (3 years, $4 million)
Ellis Wyms, DT. Age: 29. - Signed with Vikings (1 year)
Marcus Tubbs, DT. Age: 27.
Chartric Darby, DT. Age: 32. - Signed with Lions (3 years)
Bennie Joppru (RFA), TE. Age: 28.
Mike Green, S. Age: 31.
Tom Ashworth, OT. Age: 30.
Josh Scobey, RB. Age: 28.
Joel Filani, WR. Age 24.
Divisional Rival History: Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals don't have much of a homefield advantage, but Arizona is yet another place the Seahawks just can't seem to win. The host has claimed the previous four. San Francisco 49ers: Think the Seahawks were tired of hearing that they were inferior than the 49ers? The latter swept the former in 2005 and 2006, but Seattle returned the favor last year. St. Louis Rams: The Seahawks have won all six matchups after the Rams knocked them out of the playoffs in 2004.
I would bet 10 units on both the Packers and Patriots, and then 5 units on the Packers in the Super Bowl. The Packers will obviously blow out the Falcons and Tom Brady is the best QB of all time. They've both won 7 consecutive games (Rodgers and Brady) and they are both unstoppable. Rodgers will obviously throw a touchdown in the final seconds to win the Super Bowl. I would bet a million dollars that this will happen.