Archive | March, 2013

Thoughts on the Seahawks Defensive Signings

28 Mar
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DE Cliff Avril

The Seahawks kicked off the NFL league year with a bang by acquiring Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings. I haven’t jumped on the blog since the first day of free agency but since my last post the Seahawks have made a few great signings. The Seahawks were clearly on a mission to improve our pass rush and our defensive line through free agency and that is exactly what they have done so far. Here are some brief thoughts on Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Tony McDaniel.

I love the signing of Cliff Avril the most of any of our signings. Avril hit the open market as one of the top pass rushers available and we were able to sign him for two years and only $15 million. Last season Avril turned down a contract extension offered by the Detroit Lions which would have paid him $10 million a year. These numbers made it hard to believe that the Seahawks would be in play for any veteran defensive ends such as Avril, John Abraham, and Dwight Freeney, among others because of the money I thought they would be asking for. Signing Avril for $8.5 million a year is a bargain in my opinion and a signing that set the market for the rest of defensive end free agent group. Avril and Bruce Irvin will battle for the starting defensive end spot while Chris Clemons is rehabbing his torn ACL. I think Irvin is expected to be the starter but no matter whom is the starter both Irvin and Avril will make significant contributions to the Seahawks pass rush this season.

After the Avril signing I figured we had found a replacement for Clemons and that our shopping for defensive ends was over. I was wrong. The Seahawks then went out and signed Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett to a one-year $5 million contract. Bennett was signed by Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2009 but was released at the trading deadline of that season. Tampa Bay picked him up and he had a solid impact with the Buccaneers from 2009-2012 recording 15 sacks; 9 of which came last season. Over the past few days it has come to light that the reason the Seahawks were able to sign Bennett to such a cheap deal is because he played with a torn rotator cuff last season. According to Seahawks general manager John Schneider, surgery is not on the table for the time being and it is not required for Bennett to play in 2013. Although a defensive end, I think the Seahawks may want to try to use him as an interior pass rusher, similarly to Jason Jones who left in free agency to the Detroit Lions. I consider Bennett to be Jones’s replacement.

Today it was announced the Seahawks signed former Miami defensive tackle Tony McDaniel to a one-year contract. McDaniel is a 6-7, 305 pound run stuffer who was an undrafted free agent in 2006. I think this signing means the Seahawks will not attempt to re-sign Alan Branch who is a similar physical build to McDaniel.

If the season were to start today, I predict that the starting defensive line will consist of Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, and Cliff Avril. Bruce Irvin, Michael Bennett, and Chris Clemons when healthy will all be used on passing downs, giving the Seahawks four or five exceptional pass rushers on the field at the same time. I am a fan of all of these moves, especially since their contracts are not huge hits to the salary cap and they still give us the freedom to go out and make other signings. Before the signing of McDaniel, the Seahawks had $6.8 worth of salary cap space according to ProFootballTalk.

Thoughts On The Percy Harvin Trade

11 Mar

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I woke up at 9:30 this morning to a radio and Twitter report that the Minnesota Vikings were actively pursuing a Percy Harvin trade. About half an hour later, FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer broke the news that the Vikings entered into an agreement with the Seahawks to trade Harvin to Seattle for what has turned out to be the Seahawks 1st and 7th round draft picks in 2013 and a reported 3rd round pick in 2014. Over the past few hours my phone, my Facebook, and my Twitter have blown up asking for my thoughts and opinions about this trade. Let me break this thing down from my point of view.

This move was made for one clear and concise reason; that the Seattle Seahawks can and will contend for a championship NOW. Adding Percy Harvin to a roster that already includes Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Marshawn Lynch, and Russell Wilson among others gives us arguably the best offense in the National Football League. The Seahawks averaged 33 points per game in 2012 and adding Harvin will most definitely help us improve that number. Percy Harvin could also make an aging Leon Washington expendable. Harvin returned kicks in Minnesota and last season he averaged 36 yards per return. He has returned 5 kickoffs for touchdowns over the last 4 seasons as well. This move also takes pressure off of our defense. Although a top-5 unit, the defense failed to close out games last season. Adding a weapon in Harvin could make sure that the Seahawks are leading teams by more than one score at the end of games, allowing the defense to play a bit looser.

I discussed the trade with my friend and roommate Jake over coffee at Starbucks this morning and our talk focused mostly on the future outlook of the team, specifically the financial side of this move. Harvin reportedly wanted at least $10 million per season from the Vikings. The trade to Seattle includes a new contract for Harvin which will probably give him the salary he desires. This is now what the Seahawks are facing over the next few seasons. This season the Seahawks will be paying Harvin at least $10 million, Sidney Rice $8.5 million, and Zach Miller will make $6.8 million. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are currently eligible for contract extensions. Richard Sherman will be eligible for a contract extension in 2014 and Russell Wilson will be eligible for a new contract in 2015. With Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, and Wilson all deserving of rich paydays the Seahawks will have to make some moves in the coming years to stay under the salary cap. For the time being I do not expect any cuts or restructured contracts to take place among skill position players this offseason but from where I’m sitting at this moment I wouldn’t be surprised to see Golden Tate walk during free agency in 2014 and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks cut Sidney Rice after this season if he is unwilling to restructure his contract.

All in all I like this move for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have not given me a reason to doubt them over the last three years and I will trust them with this move. The Seahawks were in need of another vertical playmaker on offense and that’s what we now have in Harvin. We may have given up our first round pick in this year’s draft but look at it this way, the Seahawks used that first round pick on Percy Harvin. The only difference is he will be making much more money this season than if we had drafted a rookie.

Seahawks Free Agent Priorities

10 Mar

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On Tuesday at 1:00pm the 2013 NFL league year officially begins. At this time all 32 teams can sign free agents to contracts. The Seahawks have roughly $17 million of salary cap space to fill and it is possible the Seahawks will look to sign some notable names over the next few months. As nice as it will be to use free agency to improve the roster for 2013, the first thing teams need to look at is their own players that are set to become free agents. This year the Seahawks have 13 players who are set to become free agents. I have tiered our own free agents from a scale of 1 to 4 based on how big of a priority they are through my eyes. Tier 1 is players who I think should be the top priority for the Seahawks to re-sign. Tier 4 is players who I feel we don’t necessarily need and who I think we could afford to lose if they decide to sign with another team. All our free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise noted.

Tier One

DT Alan Branch

DT Jason Jones

K Steven Hauschka

DT Clinton McDonald (Restricted)

The Seahawks would be losing a ton of defensive line depth if these three players all leave. Alan Branch is the only starter among this group and he is the biggest named free agent for the Seahawks this offseason. If the Seahawks re-sign Branch we maintain our continuity among the defensive starters and assures that our incredible run defense stays intact. Jason Jones played sparingly last season because he was injured. He recorded only 7 tackles and added 3 sacks. Jones would be a great interior pass rush force and it is unfortunate we were not able to see his potential last season. He would surely help out Bruce Irvin in getting to the quarterback since Chris Clemons will miss a significant portion of the 2013 season. Steven Hauschka was impressive last year but his range is not what I expect out of a kicker. If he can improve his leg strength and prove he can kick from 50+ yards out consistently I would definitely sign him to a multi-year contract. Clinton McDonald is a restricted free agent this season and I expect him to be back with the Seahawks in 2013. I would not give any of these players big money but I think Branch and Hauschka are most likely to get multi-year contracts. Jones and McDonald may get smaller deals.

Tier Two

CB Marcus Trufant

LS Clint Gresham (Restricted)

CB Chris Maragos (Restricted)

Marcus Trufant was cut last offseason but restructured his contract to stay with Seattle. With the emergence of Jeremy Lane, Trufant may have lost his spot on the roster. Trufant is getting older but played decently in the nickel package last season. I believe Trufant will test the open market to see which team will give him the best deal. If the market is not what he was expecting and if the Seahawks would like to have him back for his 11th season with the team, Trufant may find himself in the same role as last season; playing on a limited basis on a one-year contract. I think both Clint Gresham and Chris Maragos are more important pieces to our team than people probably believe. If you remember last year’s Monday Night Football game between San Diego and Oakland you understand why I want Gresham back with the Seahawks next year. In that MNF game, Oakland’s long snapper was hurt in the second quarter. The replacement long snapper could not get the ball to the punter and holder and cost the Raiders opportunities to score points. It also gave the Chargers great field position. I did not realize how important the long snapper is to a team before that game and I now have a greater appreciation for Gresham’s job. He did not botch a single snap last season. Chris Maragos is a key contributor on special teams and made a lot of great plays on kickoffs last season. He seems to be around every single play and works really hard to be in a position to make plays.

Tier Three

LB Leroy Hill

TE Cameron Morrah

We are now getting into the area of players who I don’t think the Seahawks need moving forward. Leroy Hill was recently arrested for the fourth time during his Seahawks tenure. Last offseason he was arrested for marijuana possession in Atlanta and I commented how I think he screwed up a great chance to show the coaching staff and front office that he has cleaned himself up off the field. With this recent arrest I think he just punched his ticket out of Seattle and on to a different team. Add the emergence of linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan and you have a recipe where the Seahawks can afford to let Hill walk. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010, I have thought that Cameron Morrah’s job could be in danger since he was not brought in by this regime. I think the Seahawks are looking to move toward a two tight end set similar to the New England Patriots. Morrah was hurt for a good part of last year so I’ll cut him some slack since he was not able to show what he could do on the field but things are not looking good for him. The Seahawks signed tight end Darren Fells to a 3-year contract last week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks draft a tight end during the draft. If Morrah is not signed by a team by draft weekend and the Seahawks do indeed draft a tight end, Morrah will not be back in 2013.

Tier Four

WR Deon Butler (Restricted)

DE Patrick Chukwurah

K Ryan Longwell

OG Frank Omiyale

Two of the players in tier four were injury replacements during the playoffs. These two players, Patrick Chukwurah and Ryan Longwell, do not have a future with this team in my opinion. They were simply emergency roster fillers who we hoped could make an impact during the playoffs. Deon Butler appeared in one game last season but did not record a catch. With Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and a need for another vertical weapon on the outside, I do not see a spot for Butler next season. Frank Omiyale was seen as a challenger for a starting guard spot during training camp last season. He could not beat out Paul McQuistan at LG and John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy at RG so he was used as a substitute in 2013. With James Carpenter back healthy, Omiyale may not be back with the Seahawks next season and I personally do not think we need him.

Now that the league year is about to begin, I hope to be back on the blog more often. If the Seahawks make any notable moves in free agency or any significant news comes out of Seahawks headquarters, I will hop on to give my opinion about what is going on. Let’s go 2013! Go Hawks!

Combine Thoughts Part Two

7 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The second part is my thoughts on the defensive players who participated*

On days 3 and 4 of the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, the defensive draft prospects hit the field for various drills. Like in my offense review that I posted yesterday, I have noted some defensive players who impressed me during the on-the-field workouts and who I think could be a good fit for the Seahawks. I have broken them down by position and why I could see them getting drafted by Seattle next month.

Defensive Line

Margus Hunt (SMU)

Datone Jones (UCLA)

Corey Lemonier (Auburn)

Ty Powell (Harding)

Akeem Spence (Illinois)

Brandon Williams (Mississippi Southern St.)

The first two players on my list could possibly be picked by the Seahawks in the first round. I put my spotlight on Hunt after the Senior Bowl because of his height and his potential ability to swat passes down in addition to sacking the quarterback. Datone Jones has emerged as a strong possibility to draft in the first round. Jones was recruited by Coach Carroll when he was the head coach at USC and Jones is highly regarded by both Carroll and John Schneider. Although he did not put up eye-popping numbers in college, Jones shows the potential of being a very good pass rusher in the NFL. With Chris Clemons rehabbing his torn ACL, we need another pass rush threat to help out Bruce Irvin. The other four players listed could be decent value picks.

Linebacker

Jon Bostic (Florida)

Zaviar Gooden (Missouri)

Jelani Jenkins (Florida)

Sio Moore (Connecticut)

Cornelius Washington (Georgia)

With the apparent departure of Leroy Hill, the Seahawks may be in need of another outside linebacker. Malcolm Smith may be the answer in the starting lineup but we will need more depth at outside linebacker. Cornelius Washington put up impressive numbers at the combine. Washington tied for the fastest unofficial 40-yard dash time with a 4.50. He also led all linebackers in the bench press with 36 reps; the next closest being Sio Moore with 29 reps. Washington proved to have a good mix of speed and strength at the combine. I could see him being a 3rd or 4th round pick. I put both Florida linebackers on my list for one obvious reason; our new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spent the last two seasons as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. I think it would make sense for Quinn to add at least one player who he coached in college. If this is to be the case, I would rank Jenkins over Bostic.

Cornerback

Xavier Rhodes (Florida St.)

Darius Slay (Mississippi St.)

Daxton Swanson (Sam Houston St.)

Jamar Taylor (Boise St.)

Steve Williams (California)

For the first time in a long time cornerback is not a glaring need for the Seahawks heading into the draft. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have proven to be one of the best cornerback duos in the league and I expect that to continue in 2013. I do think it would be beneficial to possibly add another cornerback in the later round to play in the nickel package, depending on if the Seahawks decide to retain Marcus Trufant in free agency. I have not watched any tape on these 5 players yet to see if they can play nickel but these players have a projected draft range of rounds 3-7. If Trufant does not return in 2013, I could see us drafting any one of these cornerbacks in the draft. Jamar Taylor is the man in this group to watch. He played with current Seahawks cornerback Jeron Johnson in college and also ran an unofficial 4.32 40YD.

Safety

Keelan Johnson (Arizona St.)

Jawanza Starling (USC)

Earl Wolff (North Carolina St.)

Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are undoubtedly the starters at free safety and strong safety respectively in 2013. I could easily see us passing on this position group in the draft but these three players I think could be Seahawks this season. I highlight Jawanza Starling because he is a USC product and an athletic prospect that Coach Carroll is familiar with. He ran a respectable 4.53 40YD and had good hip control in the on-the-field workouts.

Combine Thoughts Part One

6 Mar

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*I have split my combine review and thoughts into two parts. The first part is my thoughts on the offensive players who participated*

The NFL Scouting Combine took place last week where I counted over 325 players participated in both the on-the-field football drills and the off-the-field team interviews. At the combine, a player’s draft stock can either rise or fall depending on how they perform on the field and if they can impress coaches and general managers in a meeting room. This year’s broadcast and coverage of combine drills put a focus on the 40-yard dash, bench press, and various football drills depending on the position. Of course I am not a part of the coaching staff or front office so I can only judge character and off the field traits based on what I hear. I can only go off of what I see.

The first two days of the 2013 combine focused on offensive players. I have noted some players who I believe helped themselves at the combine and who I would have an eye on for the Seahawks to draft; broken down by position. An example of a player who can help their draft stock is a player who can put up above-average numbers in both the 40-yard dash and bench press. Those two drills are the most important activities in my eyes.

Offensive Line

Jeff Baca (UCLA)

David Bakhtiari (Colorado)

Emmett Cleary (Boston College)

Reid Fragel (Ohio St.)

Rogers Gaines (Tennessee St.)

Eric Herman (Ohio)

Joe Madsen (West Virginia)

Vince Painter (Virginia Tech)

Brian Schwenke (California)

J.C. Tretter (Cornell)

With offensive lineman my number one priority is strength. I like an offensive lineman at the combine who can do at least 27 bench press reps. In my opinion I do not believe any of these lineman will be picked in the first round. I am looking for value at this position much like was the case with J.R. Sweezy last season. The guys on this list who really caught my eye were Vince Painter and Brian Schwenke. Painter was one of only four offensive linemen at the combine who ran a 40-yard dash under five seconds. He also tied for 5th for most bench press reps among his position group. A guy who can put up numbers in the top 5 in both categories is a guy whose stock will rise and a guy I would be interested in for the Seahawks to take a look at. Brian Schwenke may be one of the best guards available in this year’s draft and is currently projected to be a 2nd round pick. He is a Pac-12 guy so Coach Carroll may be more familiar with him than other prospects. Schwenke could be a guy who could challenge Paul McQuistan for the starting LG spot.

Tight End

Chris Gragg (Arkansas)

Vance McDonald (Rice)

Dion Sims (Michigan St.)

With the signing of TE Darren Fells, I think it is safe to say the Seahawks will not be in the market to take a tight end early in the draft. You can scratch both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz off the board. I think it would still be possible to add more competition to the tight end position later on in the draft. Any of these three guys I think I would like to see in Seattle. I think another vertical threat would help Russell Wilson. If Fells does not pan out, it will be interesting to see how the Seahawks attack the tight end position in this year’s draft.

Quarterback

E.J. Manuel (Florida St.)

Matt Scott (Arizona)

I am split on Matt Flynn. I think he is a reliable backup in the event Russell Wilson gets hurt but he runs a different offensive package. Without a third quarterback currently on the roster I think it would be beneficial to bring in another athletic quarterback who could step in and mirror Wilson’s offense. These are the only two quarterbacks I would be interested in. E.J. Manuel was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and ran the second fastest 40-yard dash behind potential top 5 pick Geno Smith. Manuel is expected to be a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Matt Scott was a player who surprised me. He ran a sub 4.70 40YD and looked pretty good in the on-the-field quarterback drills. If Scott is still available in round 5, I think it is realistic to think the Seahawks could use a pick on Scott.

Running Back

Giovani Bernard (North Carolina)

D.J. Harper (Boise St.)

Onterio McCalebb (Auburn)

Kerwynn Williams (Utah St.)

The Seahawks have their franchise running back set in stone with Marshawn Lynch. They also have their 3rd down power back locked in with Robert Turbin. Leon Washington is still a solid kick returner but is getting older. Could it be time to start thinking about replacing Washington? These four guys I think could have the potential to come into Seattle and make an impact in 2013. My spotlight is on Onterio McCalebb. McCalebb ran unofficial 40YD times of 4.27 and 4.21; the fastest running back at the combine. His stock is sure to rise but imagine him returning kicks for the Seahawks. With his speed and footwork (which looked good in running back drills), McCalebb could be a nightmare for defenders to try to tackle and he could set the Seahawks up for great field position. Kerwynn Williams could be a guy to keep an eye on because he was teammates with Robert Turbin in college.

Wide Receiver

Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech)

Mark Harrison (Rutgers)

Justin Hunter (Tennessee)

Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)

Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech)

In my opinion, unless an offensive lineman projected to be a top 15 pick falls to the Seahawks at 25th overall, the only offensive position the Seahawks will be looking at in the first round is wide receiver. I am really high on both Tennessee receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. Patterson and Hunter are 6’2” and 6’4” respectively and could be long, tall vertical threats that could line up opposite Sidney Rice. In order to draft Patterson the Seahawks will have to trade up and given the conservative draft strategy of general manager John Schneider it is highly unlikely that will happen. The only way I see us trading up to take Patterson is if Patterson really impressed the Seahawks in his combine interview and if the price is right to pull the trigger on a trade. Hunter is a more realistic pick. Hunter is projected to be a mid-2nd or early 3rd round pick and could be one of our choices on day two of the draft. I like Hunter because of his leaping ability. He tied for first in the vertical jump among wide receivers with a jump of 39.5 inches. I think we need another tall receiver who can jump high to make catches.

Tomorrow I will post part two of my combine thoughts. Part two focuses on the defensive participants.