RB Edgerrin James, FB David Kirtman, FB Justin Griffith, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, TE John Owens, C Cory Withrow, DT Cory Redding, DT Colin Cole, CB Ken Lucas, CB Travis Fisher.
OLB Aaron Curry, C/G Max Unger, WR Deon Butler, QB Mike Teel, S Courtney Greene, DE Nick Reed, TE Cameron Morrah.
QB Charlie Frye, RB T.J. Duckett, RB Maurice Morris, FB Leonard Weaver, WR Bobby Engram, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Koren Robinson, TE Will Heller, G Mike Wahle, G/OT Pork Chop Womack, C Steve McKinney, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Howard Green, OLB Julian Peterson.
2009 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
The 2008 Seahawks never had a chance. Even before the beginning of the regular season, the receivers were going down like flies. At one point, the wideout depth chart was so thin that I considered Ben Obomanu a fantasy sleeper - and a few weeks later, even he got hurt. Seattle then was relegated to trotting out players named Jordan Kent, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne and Brenda Walsh. And if that wasn't bad enough, Matt Hasselbeck, suffering from back problems, was able to play in just seven games. And as his 52.2 completion percentage and 5.8 YPA indicate, he was far from healthy when he was under center.
The good news here is that all reports coming out of Seattle - granted, they're just reports - are saying that Hasselbeck looks completely healthy. I don't know if we'll see the guy who threw for 3,966 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2007, but we'll definitely witness a vastly improved version of last year's disaster.
Even better news for the Seahawk faithful is that Hasselbeck had great chemistry with the newly acquired T.J. Houshmandzadeh in minicamp. The former Bengal is two years removed from catching 112 balls and 12 touchdowns. Houshmandzadeh wasn't even bad last year despite being paired with Ryan Fitzpatrick (92 catches, 904 yards, 4 TDs).
Houshmandzadeh is a huge upgrade for the Seahawks; first of all, Hasselbeck has never worked with a wideout as talented as Houshmandzadeh. And secondly, the team will no longer have to be worried about Deion Branch's health. Branch, easily one of the league's most injury-prone players, has missed 15 games in the past three seasons.
Another talented target Hasselbeck will have at his disposal is John Carlson. The second-year tight end shined brilliantly as a rookie, catching 55 balls for 627 yards and five touchdowns despite working with Seneca "The Backdoor Bandit" Wallace. Carlson had a three-game stretch late in 2008 when he caught 19 passes for 250 yards, so all indications are that Carlson is primed for a dominant sophomore campaign with Hasselbeck at the helm.
One obvious flaw the Seahawks have on offense is their lacking running game. The front office signed Julius Jones to a $17 million deal, but he was supplanted by Maurice Morris in the middle of the season. Jones was also the less favored back when he was in Dallas. This is not a coincidence. The good news for Jones is that goal-line back T.J. Duckett and the 194-pound Justin Forsett are his only competition, so he'll likely keep his job the whole year. But that's definitely not a good thing for Seattle fans.
If the Seahawks want to get back into the playoffs, one thing that must happen - aside from keeping Hasselbeck healthy, of course - is having Walter Jones stay on the field. Jones, a sure-fire Hall of Famer once he calls it quits, missed four games last year. He's 35 and coming off microfracture surgery, so there's no guarantee he plays in Week 1. Right tackle Sean Locklear has proven that he can handle being on the blind side, while Ray Willis did a great job of filling in on the right side in his 10 starts last year.
The interior of the line is a greater concern. Left guard Mike Wahle, 32, surrendered 3.5 sacks and was whistled for six penalties in just 10 games last year. Right guard Rob Sims was able to play just one contest in 2008. Center Chris Spencer missed five games last season. The Seahawks drafted Max Unger, who's capable of playing any position on the interior, so we'll have to see how quickly he passes one of the three aforementioned linemen on the depth chart.
2009 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
It's a bit of an understatement to say that the Seahawks absolutely sucked versus the pass last year. They were ranked dead last in defensive pass yardage (259.3 yards per game) and 28th in YPA (7.7), and consequently finished 25th in points allowed (24.5). It got so bad that I opined that safety Brian Russell should be deported. Numerous Seattle fans agreed with me.
I guess GM Tim Ruskell didn't get the memo that his secondary couldn't stop anything because he made only one acquisition to help this area - and it wasn't even a good one. Corner Ken Lucas is definitely an upgrade over Josh Wilson, but Lucas really struggled with the Panthers in 2008. Marcus Trufant is an excellent corner, but it's quite apparent that for the second year in a row, he won't have much help on the other side of the field.
The safety position is even worse off. Russell is still penciled into the free safety slot, and there's no one who can really unseat him. Deon Grant is a solid defensive back, but he's playing out of position as a strong safety. I thought Seattle should have selected a replacement for Grant in the 2009 NFL Draft and then moved him over to free safety, but I can't argue with acquiring a possible top-five pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. That was the best move for the Seahawks' future, though it compromised their chances in 2009 a bit.
With a porous secondary, Seattle really needs to pressure the opposing quarterback as much as possible. The team generated 35 sacks in 2008 - a mediocre number by their standards - because of two reasons. First, without Matt Hasselbeck and his receivers, the Seahawks were constantly behind and couldn't force the opposition to become one-dimensional. Second, Patrick Kerney, now 32, played in just seven games. Kerney managed five sacks in his limited action, so if he bounces back from elbow surgery - and I don't see why he wouldn't - he could be dominant once again in 2009. I doubt he collects 15 sacks as he did in 2007, but a double-digit figure is definitely possible.
Along with a healthy Kerney, the Seahawks figure to get more of a pass-rushing contribution from the second-year end Lawrence Jackson and newly acquired defensive tackle Cory Redding. Jackson, a first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, will be more productive by default because almost every single defensive end really struggles as a rookie. Redding, obtained for Julian Peterson, is three years removed from compiling eight sacks. He has struggled since signing a 7-year, $49 million deal in the summer of 2007, but perhaps being in a new venue and on franchise that actually gets to the playoffs will motivate him. Meanwhile, Darryl Tapp will benefit from Kerney's return to the lineup; Tapp had seven sacks in 2007, but saw that number drop to 5.5 last year.
Seattle was actually pretty solid versus the run, ranking 15th. The Seahawks should be even better in this department in 2009, thanks to the addition of 330-pound Colin Cole. Of course, the big acquisition was Aaron Curry, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Linebackers tend to transition very quickly into the NFL, so I have every reason to believe that Curry will be an instant upgrade over Julian Peterson, who struggled a bit last season. With Curry, Lofa Tatupu and LeRoy Hill, the Seahawks arguably have the best linebacking corps in the league.
2009 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 from 2005 to 2007. They were 2-6 last season, but with half the roster on the IR, it's hard to count that.
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 couldn't get his team up for those contests. They had three of those in 2008, and lost by a combined score of 99-35 to the Bills, Giants and Dolphins. Fortunately, the Seahawks were blessed with no 1 p.m. East Coast battles in 2009.
Despite missing half the roster, the Seahawks finished strong last year. All but two of their final eight contests were either wins or losses decided by six points or less. This has to bode well for this upcoming campaign.
Olindo Mare did a fantastic job replacing Josh Brown, nailing 24-of-27 attempts in 2008, including 3-of-4 from beyond 50. Mare, 36, will get some competition from second-year Brandon Coutu.
Punter Jon Ryan did a solid job last season, maintaining a 45.6 average and hitting 22 kicks inside the 20.
The Seahawks had a solid return specialist in Nate Burleson, but he played in just one game last year. The Seahawks consequently failed to score on special teams while allowing a score of their own.
Seattle has a pretty balanced schedule. Easier opponents include St. Louis (twice), San Francisco (twice), Detroit, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. Unfortunately, the Sehawks also have to battle the Cardinals (twice), Bears, Colts, Cowboys (on the road), Vikings (on the road) and Titans.
2009 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: The Seahawks are incredibly underrated, and it amazes me that more publications aren't picking them to win the division. After all, they were perennial NFC West champions before a 2008 season which saw half the team get injured. Matt Hasselbeck, the entire receiving corps, the interior of the offensive line and Patrick Kerney are all healthy now.
The only concern remaining is Walter Jones, but even if he doesn't play, I find it difficult to imagine that Seattle won't win at least eight games, barring massive injuries once again.
It was pretty ironic that for the most part, the teams drafting at the bottom of each round acquired better talent than the teams atop each round. Seattle was one of the few exceptions.
Unlike the Lions and Chiefs, the Seahawks have a plan. General manager Tim Ruskell knows that he has a bunch of old veterans on his team, so he had to acquire players who could help him win now. That's why Mark Sanchez was never an option.
I would say that Aaron Curry will be a high impact player on the Seattle's defense in 2009. Rookie linebackers tend to contribute immediately, and Curry was the top defensive player in this class.
Meanwhile, Max Unger could also contribute in 2009; Deon Butler was the best receiver at Penn State; and the Seahawks came away with some nice values in Round 7.
Best of all, however, was the fact that Seattle stole a first-round pick away from the Broncos. The Seahawks, who have a great shot at winning the NFC West, could be drafting in the top five in 2010.
Grade given on 4/27/09: A+
2009 NFL Draft Picks:
4. Aaron Curry, OLB, Wake Forest
Unlike the Chiefs, the Seahawks understand how to acquire talent in the NFL Draft. Seattle is getting the best defensive player in the 2009 NFL Draft, thanks to Scott Pioli's ineptness. An easy A. (Pick Grade: A)
49. Max Unger, C/G, Oregon
The Seahawks gave up just a fourth-round pick to move up for Max Unger. I'm always a fan of addressing the offensive line if a need is there. Unger is a great fit for Seattle. (Pick Grade: A)
91. Deon Butler, WR, Penn State
Seattle had to find a receiver after passing on Michael Crabtree at No. 4. Deon Butler was the best receiver at Penn State (not Derrick Williams), so I love this pick for the Seahawks. (Pick Grade: A)
178. Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers
Seattle was going to look for a developmental quarterback in the late rounds. Mike Teel certainly belongs in this draft range. (Pick Grade: B)
245. Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers
Awesome draft value for the Seahawks, who needed some help in their secondary. (Pick Grade: A)
247. Nick Reed, DE, Oregon
One of the three things you need to do in order to win consistently is to get to the quarterback. That's why depth on the defensive line is really important. (Pick Grade: A)
248. Cameron Morrah, TE, California
This is the right draft range for Cameron Morrah, but it really doesn't address a need. (Pick Grade: B)
When your starting quarterback and all of his receivers go down, there's nothing you can really do, outside of cursing the heavens and crying uncontrollably. Four wins out of 16 games later, Seattle fans are doing just that.
Seahawks cut C/G Grey Ruegamer
Seahawks cut RB T.J. Duckett
Seahawks sign RB Edgerrin James
Lions sign WR Billy McMullen
Seahawks cut WR Billy McMullen
Seahawks sign CB Travis Fisher
Seahawks sign C/G Grey Ruegamer
Seahawks cut G Mike Wahle
Seahawks sign C Cory Withrow
Raiders sign QB Charlie Frye
Seahawks re-sign OLB LeRoy Hill
Seahawks sign CB Ken Lucas
Seahawks sign FB Justin Griffith
Seahawks terminate franchise tag of OLB Leroy Hill
Seahawks acquire a 2010 first-round pick from the Broncos
Seahawks sign FB David Kirtman
Seahawks re-sign DT Chris Cooper
Eagles sign FB Leonard Weaver
Chiefs sign WR Bobby Engram
Lions sign TE Will Heller
Seahawks re-sign OLB D.D. Lewis
Seahawks re-sign OLB Lance Laury
Lions acquire OLB Julian Peterson from Seahawks for DT Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick
Browns sign G/OT Pork Chop Womack
Jets sign DT Howard Green
Seahawks re-sign OT Ray Willis
Seahawks sign TE John Owens
Seahawks sign WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Seahawks sign DT Colin Cole
Giants sign DT Rocky Bernard
Lions sign RB Maurice Morris
Seahawks franchise OLB LeRoy Hill
Cornerback: Kelly Jennings has been a colossal disappointment at corner, while Josh Wilson really should just stick to returning kicks. There's a strong possibility the Seahawks upgrade this position in Rounds 2 or 3. Signed Ken Lucas and Travis Fisher
Wide Receiver: Matt Hasselbeck needs a legitimate No. 1 wideout; not the oft-injured Deion Branch or fossilized Bobby Engram. Michael Crabtree will be the guy if he makes it past the Rams. Signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh; drafted Deon Butler
Offensive Tackle: It looks like this will be 35-year-old Walter Jones' final year in Seattle. Jones' knees are beginning to fail him, and with two seasons left on his contract entering the 2010 campaign, he'll have a huge cap number. If the Rams take Crabtree, the most likely scenario is that the Seahawks draft Eugene Monroe No. 4 overall. Re-signed Ray Willis
Free Safety: Brian Russell can't start anymore. Louis Delmas or Rashad Johnson would work as replacements. Draft Courtney Greene
Defensive Tackle: Free-agent Rocky Bernard had nine sacks in 2005, but only 12 sacks in the three years since. The Seahawks really could use an upgrade at defensive tackle. Traded for Cory Redding; signed Colin Cole
Running Back: Julius Jones is terrible and Maurice Morris is a free agent. If the Seahawks don't retain Morris, they'll have a terrible running game in 2009. Though the team paid a good amount of money to Jones, Seattle needs an upgrade at the position. Signed Edgerrin James
Guard: Mike Wahle is old (32 in March) and injury-prone. The Seahawks still haven't found a true replacement for Steve Hutchinson. Drafted Deon Butler
2009 NFL Free Agent Signings:
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals. Age: 31. Signed with Seahawks (5 years, $40 million; $15 million guaranteed)
It's amazing that T.J. Houshmandzadeh was still able to produce with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. That should tell you how talented he is. Any team looking for a receiver will be praying that the Bengals don't slap Who's-Your-Momma with a franchise tag.
Ken Lucas, CB, Panthers. Age: 30. Signed with Seahawks
Ken Lucas struggled last year. He definitely shouldn't be a starter, but he'd make for a very solid nickel.
Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals. Age: 31. Signed with Seahawks (1 year, $2 million)
An interesting free agent. Is Edgerrin James done, or was his lacking production in Arizona the result of poor blocking? We'll soon find out. James hasn't averaged more than 3.9 yards per carry since leaving the Colts after the 2005 season.
Colin Cole, DT, Packers. Age: 28. Signed with Seahawks (5 years, $21 million)
A monstrous defensive tackle weighing 330 pounds, Colin Cole played in all 16 games but didn't log a start.
Travis Fisher, CB, Lions. Age: 29. - Signed with Seahawks
Cory Withrow, C, Rams. Age: 34. - Signed with Seahawks
David Kirtman, FB, 49ers. Age: 26. - Signed with Seahawks
Justin Griffith, FB, Raiders. Age: 29. - Signed with Seahawks
John Owens, TE, Lions. Age: 29. - Signed with Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 13): $9 million
LeRoy Hill, OLB. Age: 26. Re-signed with Seahawks
Not the brightest bulb in the haystack. Emmitt-ism. Anyway, I find it really difficult to comprehend how LeRoy Hill could get arrested for marijuana possession a month and a half before free agency. If you're going to do drugs, buy them AFTER YOU SIGN YOUR CONTRACT!
At any rate, Hill is one of the elite weakside linebackers in the NFL, He could be slapped with Seattle's franchise tag. Some believe Hill is the best linebacker on the Seahawks roster, despite the presence of Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson.
Leonard Weaver, FB. Age: 26. Signed with Eagles (1 year, $1.75 million)
One of the top young fullbacks in the league. The Seahawks need to re-sign him.
Maurice Morris, RB. Age: 29. Signed with Lions (3 years, $7 million)
Maurice Morris vastly out-played overpriced bum Julius Jones, averaging 4.5 and 4.3 yards per carry the past two seasons. He's a valuable No. 2 running back who will be available at a cheap price.
D.D. Lewis, OLB. Age: 30. Re-signed with Seahawks
One of the top reserve linebackers in the NFL, D.D. Lewis can play multiple positions and is very valuable to Seattle.
Ray Willis, OT. Age: 27. Re-signed with Seahawks (2 years)
Ray Willis started 10 games and gave up 1.5 sacks. He showed enough promise this season to be a solid right tackle down the road.
Rocky Bernard, DT. Age: 30. Signed with Giants (4 years, $16 million)
After registering nine sacks in 2005, Rocky Bernard has managed only 12 sacks in the next three seasons. Odds are against him rebounding.
Bobby Engram, WR. Age: 36. Signed with Chiefs
Bobby Engram, just two years removed from catching 94 balls for 1,147 yards and six touchdowns, managed 47 receptions and 489 yards in 2008. However, at 36, Engram will continue to decline rapidly.
Pork Chop Womack, G/OT. Age: 30. Signed with Browns
One of the better backup linemen in the NFL, Pork Chop Womack was thrust into the lineup because of injuries this season. He started 14 games.
T.J. Duckett, RB. Age: 28.
T.J. Duckett can still be an effective goal-line back, but if Jim Mora Jr. didn't want him, you know he's pretty washed up.
Mike Wahle, G. Age: 32.
Mike Wahle has a bum shoulder and could retire. If he signs somewhere, he'll be a solid backup - but nothing more at this point in his career.
Grey Ruegamer, C/G. Age: 33.
A capable backup offensive lineman.
Ben Obomanu (ERFA), WR. Age: 25.
Koren Robinson, WR. Age: 29.
Lance Laury (RFA), OLB. Age: 27. - Re-signed with Seahawks
Divisional Rival History: Arizona Cardinals: The host has claimed five of the previous six. No surprise here - both teams stink on the road. San Francisco 49ers: The Seahawks and 49ers split the season series last year. Before that, San Francisco had won four of six. St. Louis Rams: The Seahawks have won all eight matchups after the Rams knocked them out of the playoffs in 2004.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2009 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)