2014 NFL Offseason: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks (Last Year: 13-3)

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2014 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
DT Kevin Williams, CB A.J. Jefferson, CB Philip Adams.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Paul Richardson, OT Justin Britt, DE Cassius Marsh, WR Kevin Norwood, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis. Seahawks Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
WR Golden Tate, OT Breno Giacomini, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Brandon Browner, CB Walter Thurmond.

2014 Seattle Seahawks Offense:
It’s amazing to think that at this time two years ago, the Seahawks were preparing to start Matt Flynn. That never happened, of course, as Russell Wilson won the job prior to the 2012 campaign and never looked back. Now, he’s a Super Bowl champion and a star, and he’s on TV every five minutes.

That could be an issue. Wilson has always had a giant chip on his shoulder. Everyone said he was too short. He fell to the third round. He had so many doubters. He outworked everyone and proved all of his detractors wrong. However, now that he has a Super Bowl ring, he’s playing baseball, attending basketball games, talking to Jay-Z courtside and starring in commercials. And don’t forget about his personal life; Google “Russell Wilson divorce” to read all about that. It’s safe to say that Seattle’s new star quarterback has been a bit preoccupied this offseason.

Of course, Wilson is a winner and a hard-worker, so it’s possible he could be immune to all of the distractions. Even if that’s the case, however, there are still some players on the Seattle offense who are bound to decline as well. Marshawn Lynch, for instance, is a prime candidate. Lynch, who led the NFL in carries this past season, has shouldered 1,000-plus attempts over the past three seasons (including the playoffs). His yards-per-carry average took a dive at the end of the year as well. Christine Michael, a 2013 second-round choice, has shown some promise, but how long will it take to bench Lynch if he’s ineffective?

The offensive line probably won’t be as strong either. The team lost Breno Giacomini to the Jets in free agency, prompting the front office to spend a second-round pick on right tackle Justin Britt, who was a mega reach. Even if Britt pans out, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to play well right away. If so, the right side of the line will be shaky because JR Sweezy, who has been moved to the offensive side of the ball, was pretty inconsistent in 2013.

Seattle also has some issues at left guard – James Carpenter struggled there in 2013, though he has reportedly been in better shape this offseason – but at least the team is fine at both left tackle and center, provided that Russell Okung, manning the former station, can actually stay healthy for a change. Okung has missed 19 games in four seasons, including eight in 2013.

The Seahawks also lost Golden Tate in free agency, but the receiving corps figures to be better. That’s because Percy Harvin, who barely played last year, will be back in the lineup. Because he was effectively absent prior to the Super Bowl, Harvin is essentially a free-agent acquisition this offseason. Seattle also spent its first choice in the 2014 NFL Draft on Paul Richardson, who has loads of potential. He may not be ready to play right away, however, meaning that Wilson will have to throw to the likes of Doug Baldwin, the always-injured Sidney Rice, Jermaine Kearse, Zach Miller and Luke Willson when he’s not targeting Harvin.

2014 Seattle Seahawks Defense:
The Seahawks handed out quite a bit of money to a few of their defensive players this year, most of which went to two key members of the “Legion of Boom.” Earl Thomas received a 5-year, $44.7 million contract at the end of April, while Richard Sherman was awarded with an even larger deal. Sherman, the top cornerback in the NFL, obtained a 4-year, $57.4 extension about a week later. That’s a ton of cash to give to a pair of defensive backs, but considering that they are two key members of the best secondary in football, it could be argued that it’s money well spent.

Unfortunately for Seattle, there are some holes surfacing in its defensive backfield. Kam Chancellor, another stud safety, is coming off hip surgery and may not be 100 percent. Meanwhile, the team lost corners Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond to the Patriots and Giants, respectively. The Seahawks can replace them – Byron Maxwell performed well last year, while 2013 fifth-rounder Tharold Simon has flashed in OTAs – but there’s no question that their secondary depth has been depleted.

The Seahawks also paid Michael Bennett this offseason, giving him a 4-year, $28.5 million contract. Bennett, signed from the Buccaneers, proved to be tremendous in terms of rushing the passer and stopping the run. Bennett, right end Cliff Avril and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane all put lots of pressure on the quarterback this past season, and there’s no reason to think why any of them would decline.

Having said that, there are some minor concerns up front as well. Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Clinton McDonald all left this offseason – the former two defected for Jacksonville, while McDonald traveled to Tampa – so depth was considered a big issue here until the team signed former Viking Kevin Williams, who should have enough juice left to provide some sort of upgrade on the interior. As for the outside, the Seahawks will need former first-rounder Bruce Irvin to step up after being fairly invisible this past season.

Fortunately for Seattle, it didn’t lose any players in its linebacking corps, as the trio of K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith will be returning. Smith is the big name in the public eye, but he’s just a two-down player, albeit a superb one. Wright and Wagner are the stars in this group.

2014 Seattle Seahawks Schedule and Intangibles:
The Seahawks aren’t kidding about this whole 12th man thing. The deafening noise at Qwest Field is why they are 17-1 as hosts the past two seasons, including the playoffs.

While Seattle is great at home thanks to its great fans, the team has been historically pitiful on the road. Since 2007, the Seahawks are 21-39 as visitors, though they were 6-2 this past season.

Steven Hauschka has been outstanding in his three seasons in Seattle. He went 25-of-30 in 2011, followed by 24-of-27 in 2012, and then he topped it off by drilling 33-of-35 attempts this past season.

Jon Ryan is one of the top punters in the game, though he finished in the middle of the pack in terms of net average and attempts placed inside the 20.

Seattle was exceptional at limiting punt returns this past season. Golden Tate didn’t score, but his return average of 11.5 was great. He’s gone, however, so team will have to find a new punt returner. Kickoffs need to improve.

The Seahawks have to battle each of their NFC West foes twice each, which makes their schedule difficult by default. They also have to deal with the Packers and Broncos. Fortunately for them, they get to beat up on the Raiders, Chiefs, Panthers and the entire NFC East.

2014 Seattle Seahawks Rookies:
Go here for the Seahawks Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2014 Seattle Seahawks Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2014 Seattle Seahawks Analysis: The Seahawks were picked to win the Super Bowl in this spot last year. They’ll be in the mix again, but their chances of repeating aren’t great. Wilson has dealt with too many distractions this offseason, and the team has a whole could be complacent. Seattle also lost some depth and has some other concerns. The 49ers, meanwhile, will be hungry, especially after losing the NFC Championship like they did. It could be difficult for the Seahawks to repeat as divisional champs.

Projection: 11-5 (2nd in NFC West)

2014 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2014 NFL Season Previews

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A Grade

Goals Entering the 2014 NFL Draft: The Seahawks obviously don’t need to deviate from their strategy. They’ve drafted highly athletic players under this regime, and that has worked out perfectly thus far. Seattle will take the same type of athletes, focusing on the offensive line, as well as the cornerback, receiver and LEO positions.

2014 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I asked this earlier: Can one pick spoil an entire draft class? For the Dolphins, absolutely, because we were talking about their first-round acquisition. Seattle’s mega reach came at the end of the second, so it’s not nearly as bad. I don’t quite get why Seattle thought anyone else would select Justin Britt prior to the fifth frame, but the team has had luck with perceived reaches before.

I loved all of Seattle’s other choices. Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood should give Russell Wilson some potent weapons to work with. Cassius Marsh is a quality pass-rusher who provided solid value at the beginning of the fourth round. Kevin Pierre-Louis was a sound selection later on, as he is the type of athletic linebacker the Seahawks love.

In addition to these quality picks, the Seahawks did a masterful job of wheeling and dealing, moving down on multiple occasions. Considering that they entered the draft with only two choices on the first two days, they came away with a very impressive haul. That’s why they’ve earned my highest grade.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

45. Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado: A- Grade
Unlike the Eagles, the Seahawks traded down (multiple times) and picked their receiver. That’s why they’re getting a much better grade. Paul Richardson fills a huge need that had to be filled even before Golden Tate left for Detroit (as Cris Carter would agree). Richardson needs to bulk up, but he’s athletically impressive, which fits what the Seahawks typically go for.

64. Justin Britt, OT, Missouri: SIX SEASONS AND A MILLEN Grade
Uhh… what? I get that the Seahawks love athletic players, but come on… Justin Britt is a seventh-round/UDFA prospect. There’s no reason to select him this early. I’m not saying it’s impossible that Britt will ever develop into a solid blocker, but this is a ridiculous reach.

108. Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA: B Grade
The Seahawks were going to consider Marcus Smith at No. 32 if they didn’t trade out. They needed a pass-rusher after losing Chris Clemons to the Jaguars; not to mention that Cliff Avril is entering his contract season. Cassius Marsh makes sense here. He’s a fourth-round prospect, so he fits the range.

123. Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama: B+ Grade
I guess the front office agrees with Cris Carter. Another receiver isn’t a surprise, given the team’s need at the position. Kevin Norwood fits the range toward the end of the fourth round, so this is a decent selection. I like that the Seahawks moved down multiple times to acquire him.

132. Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College: B Grade
The Seahawks are selecting an athletic player? You don’t say! Kevin Pierre-Louis has very good potential, and he was expected to go in this range. Seattle had to find some linebacker depth, so why not?

172. Jimmy Staten, DT, Middle Tennessee State: A Grade
This is a bit early for Jimmy Staten, but the Middle Tennessee State product received a ton of pre-draft attention, so perhaps the Seahawks figured he would be off the board by their next pick. It’s not a surprise that they chose an interior defensive lineman because depth had to be addressed.

199. Garrett Scott, OT, Marshall: B Grade
Another lineman makes sense for the Seahawks, and I actually thought that Garrett Scott might be chosen before Justin Britt. Unlike the Britt selection, Seattle is making the choice with appropriate value.

208. Eric Pinkins, S, San Diego State: C Grade
I didn’t have Eric Pinkins as a draftable prospect, but it doesn’t matter much at this point. Kam Chancellor is injured, so Seattle taking a safety should surprise no one.

227. Kiero Small, FB, Arkansas: B Grade
A solid choice in the seventh round. Kiero Small could contribute and help Marshawn Lynch increase his YPC figure to normal levels again.

Season Summary:
There was never any doubting Seattle’s ability to win in front of its crazy fans, but the team won enough road games in 2013 to help secure homefield advantage. The Seahawks rode the 12th Man past the Saints and 49ers, and into the Super Bowl.

Offseason Moves:
  • Seahawks sign DT Kevin Williams
  • Seahawks re-sign DE/OLB O’Brien Schofield
  • Seahawks sign CB A.J. Jefferson
  • Seahawks re-sign WR Sidney Rice
  • Seahawks sign CB Phillip Adams
  • Browns sign G Paul McQuistan
  • Seahawks re-sign K Steven Hauschka
  • Giants sign CB Walter Thurmond
  • Patriots sign CB Brandon Browner
  • Jaguars sign DE Chris Clemons
  • Seahawks re-sign QB Tarvaris Jackson
  • Jets sign OT Breno Giacomini
  • Lions sign WR Golden Tate
  • Seahawks re-sign DT Tony McDaniel
  • Seahawks cut DE/OLB Chris Clemons
  • Eagles sign S Chris Maragos
  • Buccaneers sign DT Clinton McDonald
  • Seahawks re-sign DE Michael Bennett
  • Seahawks re-sign TE Anthony McCoy
  • Jaguars sign DE Red Bryant
  • Seahawks tender WR Doug Baldwin
  • Seahawks re-sign G Lemuel Jeanpierre
  • Seahawks tender CB Jeron Johnson
  • Seahawks cut DE/DT Red Bryant
  • Seahawks cut WR Sidney Rice

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Wide Receivers: The Seahawks must target the receiver position this offseason. Re-signing Golden Tate or Doug Baldwin would take care of one of the needs, but they must also either add a free agent or spend an early pick on a wideout. Russell Wilson really had nothing to work with this year. Re-signed Sidney Rice

    2. Right Tackle: Russell Wilson needs better protection. Breno Giacomini has struggled over the past couple of seasons. He happens to be a free agent anyway. Seattle will have to spend early-round selections on offensive linemen.

    3. Two Guards: The Seahawks have to improve their interior blockers as well. Left guard Paul McQuistan, who was awful this previous year, will be hitting the market in March. The right guard position has to be addressed as well.

    4. Defensive End: Michael Bennett signed a 1-year “prove it” deal that worked out because he performed extremely well. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, he’ll be a free agent this spring. Re-signed Michael Bennett

    5. Cornerback: With some of the suspensions Seattle has dealt with in the secondary, the team will want to bring in another cornerback at some point during the offseason. Signed Phillip Adams

    6. Defensive Tackle: The Seahawks could use some interior defensive line help. Some depth will be needed with Tony McDaniel hitting free agency. Signed Kevin Williams; re-signed Tony McDaniel

    7. Kicker: Steven Hauschka is a great kicker, but his contract will expire in March. Re-signed Steven Hauschka

    8. Tight End: Seattle’s tight end situation isn’t exactly a weakness, but the team could use an upgrade.

    9. Backup Quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson will be a free agent, so a new backup will be needed if he isn’t re-signed. Re-signed Tarvaris Jackson

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2014 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Kevin Williams, DT, Vikings. Age: 34.
      Signed with Seahawks

      Kevin Williams, 34 in August, is no longer the disruptive force he once was, but he’s still capable of flashing greatness, as he did in the Washington game when he had two sacks against Robert Griffin in the fourth quarter.

    2. Phillip Adams, CB, Raiders. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks (1 year)
    3. A.J. Jefferson, CB, Vikings. Age: 26. — Signed with Seahawks

    Seattle Seahawks Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Michael Bennett, DE, Seahawks. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (4 years, $34 million; $16 million guaranteed)

      Michael Bennett signed a 1-year “prove it” deal this past offseason because he was coming off an injury. The gamble paid off, as Bennett registered 8.5 sacks while being a dominant force against the run, as usual. Letting Bennett go was one of the many reasons why Mark Dominik was fired as Tampa Bay’s general manager.

    2. Red Bryant, DE/DT, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Signed with Jaguars (4 years)

      Red Bryant doesn’t offer much in terms of rushing the passer – he’s never had more than 1.5 sacks in a single season – but he’s one of the NFL’s top run-defenders. He’ll turn 30 in April.

    3. Steven Hauschka, K, Seahawks. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (3 years, $9.15 million)

      Steven Hauschka went 33-of-35 in 2013. He was just 4-of-10 from 50-plus prior to this past season, but he was a perfect 3-of-3 from that distance last year.

    4. Chris Clemons, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 32.
      Signed with Jaguars (4 years)

      Though he had an awesome Super Bowl performance, Chris Clemons struggled for most of 2013, recording just 4.5 sacks, thanks to a recently torn ACL. Clemons figures to rebound at least a bit in 2014, but it’s worth noting that he’ll turn 33 in October.

    5. Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Signed with Lions (5 years)

      Golden Tate functioned as Seattle’s No. 1 receiver this season, but he’s better served as a secondary option – and just an above-average one at that. Tate recorded 64 catches, 898 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.

    6. Walter Thurmond III, CB, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Giants (1 year, $3.5 million)

      Walter Thurmond had a quality 2013 campaign, minus a four-game suspension for marijuana. Thurmond would be higher on this list, but he’s one more violation away from being gone for the season.

    7. Brandon Browner, CB, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Signed with Patriots (3 years, $17 million)

      Brandon Browner is more talented than 2.5 stars, but he’ll miss four games with a suspension relating to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Another infraction could knock him out for an entire season.

    8. Breno Giacomini, OT, Seahawks. Age: 28.
      Signed with Jets

      Breno Giacomini was missed when he was out for half the year with a knee injury, but only because his backup was so much worse. He’s not a bad starter, but the Seahawks could stand to upgrade him.

    9. Clinton McDonald, DT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Buccaneers (4 years, $12 million)

      The undersized Clinton McDonald is a liability against the run, but he’s a strong situational pass-rusher; he logged 5.5 sacks in 2013.

    10. Tony McDaniel, DT, Seahawks. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Seahawks

      Tony McDaniel doesn’t offer any pass-rushing ability, but he’s a tremendous run-stuffer.

    11. Doug Baldwin (RFA), WR, Seahawks. Age: 25.
      Tendered by Seahawks

      Doug Baldwin, a reliable receiver for Russell Wilson, caught 50 balls for 778 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.

    12. Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Seahawks (1 year)

      Sidney Rice is 28, but his body might as well be 58. He has missed 27 games in the past four seasons. He’ll have to sign a 1-year contract to prove that he can actually stay healthy for a change. Don’t count on that happening.

    13. Paul McQuistan, G, Seahawks. Age: 31. — Signed with Browns
    14. O’Brien Schofield, DE/OLB, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    15. Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seahawks. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    16. Chris Maragos, S, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Signed with Eagles
    17. Lemuel Jeanpierre, G, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Seahawks (1 year)
    18. Anthony McCoy, TE, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Seahawks
    19. Michael Morgan (RFA), OLB, Seahawks. Age: 26.
    20. Jeron Johnson (RFA), CB, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Tendered by Seahawks (2nd round)

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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