Every March is difficult for Seahawks fans with general attrition from year to year when free agency begins. But I think we’d all agree that this year is different.
After all, it’s not every year that the Hawks release Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane, trade Michael Bennett, and lose Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson, Sheldon Richardson and Deshawn Shead to free agency, just to name a few.
Add the uncertainty of Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril’s health and reports of the Hawks actively shopping Earl Thomas for the right price, and I get it – people’s heads are spinning.
To add insult to injury, we’re seeing teams throughout the league, and specifically the division, bring in some really big pieces, while the Hawks, strapped by salary cap space, so far haven’t knocked anyone’s socks off with a major signing. And to be honest, they might not.
Still, it’s only March 18. The season kicks off in September. I’m willing to wait until I see the finished product before I express major concern – aside from one position which I’ll get to in a minute.
Plus, while much of the attention has surrounded the lost Pro Bowlers and bigger names like Ndamakong Suh in free agency, take a look at the moves the Seahawks have quietly made, tendering cornerback Justin Coleman and Dion Jordan, re-signing safety Bradley McDougald and signing hybrid linebacker/defensive end Barkevious Mingo, tight end Ed Dickson, receiver Jaron Brown and safety Maurice Alexander.
As difficult as it was to part ways with Richard Sherman, I tend to agree with this tweet from Field Gulls: “Essentially the Seahawks took Sherman’s salary of $11 million, and gave it to four players, potentially 3 or 4 defensive starters: Coleman, McDougald, Dion, and Mingo, who could be the top LEO. They cost $10.5 million combined. This. Is. Not. Dumb.”
In fact, it is kind of smart. And while we’re simply not privy to the exact overall plan formulated by Pete Carroll and John Schneider after the NFL Combine, we can make certain assumptions:
First, the Hawks are setting themselves up to see what they have in their younger guys (to see which of them, if any, can become their next Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor). While that’s scary and could backfire, there’s only one way to find out.
Second, the Hawks are most likely primed to be loaded with salary cap space and draft stock from compensatory picks next year.
Third, this is now Russell Wilson’s team. All the guys who have spoken out at various times about the end of Super Bowl 49 (Lynch, Sherman, Bennett) are now gone.
And fourth, as stated by Carroll, they’re getting back to the formula he believes in, which revolves around a hard-nosed running game and winning at the line of scrimmage.
Which is a round-about way of bringing me to my primary concern, that again, could be mitigated down the road since it’s only mid-March: If the last two assumptions are true, then what the heck are the Hawks going to do about their offensive line?
You have Duane Brown at left tackle and Justin Britt at center, which is great. But none of us feel comfortable with Germain Ifedi at right tackle, George Fant doesn’t have enough experience to move from left to right tackle, and who are your proven guards?
If the running game and protecting Wilson are your highest priorities, then I really hope “standing pat” isn’t the plan.
Again, it’s just March 18. But that’s my biggest concern, since we haven’t seen or heard anything yet on that front, aside from changing their position coach.
So that’s where I’m at. Skeptical, but hopeful. And willing to let the whole thing play out. And willing to give this new plan a chance, because there’s a certain trophy at the VMAC that still affords those guys the benefit of the doubt.