The Seahawks had very weird off-season following one of the most devastating losses in Super Bowl history. It makes sense that a lot of fingers would be pointed and a lot of reflection will be done. The off-season however lingered into the regular season of 2015 with Kam Chancellor holding out, the Seahawks got off to a sleepy start. They lost their opening two games, and looked unimpressive in home wins to the Jimmy Clausen led Bears and the Lions on primetime, a game they nearly lost. They then lost two more, to the Bengals and Panthers before some schedule relief got the Hawks to 4-4. A home loss to the Cardinals kind of cemented this team as a tier below Super Bowl contenders, but that seemed to be the kick in the ass that the team, and Russell Wilson needed. Cam Newton was the MVP of the regular season, but there is no doubt that the last seven weeks of the year, Wilson was the league’s best quarterback. He turned a slow start into gaudy stats, and while losing Jimmy Graham in the second game of his seven game run had many thinking it was their killer, the Seahawks actually scored 30 in the first three games without him, marking it their fourth game of scoring 30 points in a row. They were shocked by the Rams in week 15, and that may have derailed the post season run of an extremely hot team. They got caught up in a tough span of three straight road games, and still needing to win their last road game against the Cardinals, all three were basically playoff games against playoff teams. They went 2-1 including a road win in the coldest playoff game ever. All said, it would look like the Hawks will be right up there with the big contenders again this year.
Pete Carroll has been one of the best coaches in the league since his reemergence in 2010. after a 14-16 start to his tenure, he has gone 46-18 over the past four years, and has won a playoff game in all four years. Darrell Bevell got all of the blame for a loss in the Super Bowl, and got a ton of blame for his lack of use early on of Jimmy Graham. After Wilson’s breakout, the pressure will be on Bevell to establish Wilson at the same playing level with a healthy Graham. Also it should be noted we are looking at the first time in three years that the Seahawks get to return their own defensive coordinator.
Wilson this year was able to establish career highs in attempts, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and yards per attempt. Over the last seven regular season games Wilson threw 24 touchdowns to one interception. You can now start to argue for his name to be tossed in with the best in the league. Tavaris Jackson is a free agent this year, but as he fits a style that can replace Wilson, they should be looking to resign him.
In perfect timing the Seahawks essentially had Thomas Rawls pushing Marshawn Lynch out the door. Injury cemented “Beast Modes” career, but it was pretty clear if Lynch was back this year it wouldn’t be with Seattle. Rawls averaged 5.6 yards per attempt on 147 carries in seven starts which well exceeded what Lynch was able to do with his 111 carries. Behind Rawls, however they have a group of guys unsigned. Christine Michael is most familiar with the system, and they may be looking to sign Bryce Brown to fill out the position.
Wide Receiver position
Similarly to Lynch, as the Seahawks were forced into a decision on Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette, it was rookie Tyler Lockett pushing them out the door. Doug Baldwin was the lead dog of the group with 14 touchdowns, but Lockett added six himself, and the two are both undersized, but are big time playmakers who fit an offensive scheme together.If the Hawks trust the often injured Paul Richardson to take slot duties, the two free agents won’t need resigned. However, there is certainly a chance at least one of them will be retained in the name of depth, and in need of a luxury pick, the Hawks may draft a wide out late.
At tight end it was touched on but Graham has to be installed better in the offense. The Hawks could just cut or trade him and wipe the slate clean, but at the same time you don’t need to toss away a luxury when he could help. They already cleared a lot of money with Lynch and could save some going a cheaper route than Kearse so the thought would be that they will move forward with Graham. If not Luke Willson wasn’t bad in his replacement, so Graham really is a luxury.
If the team were looking to take extra money from Graham it would probably be used towards building up the offensive line. To start, Russell Okung is by far the most productive player on the line and he is impending free agent. He is probably need number one to resign if the Hawks want any chance at a stable line. The next step would probably be to let JR Sweezy walk, he wasn’t bringing much anyway. Justin Britt probably will get to start at left guard, but the entire right side should be open to replacement. The Hawks don’t even have much young talent on the team so it will be needed at most levels in the draft, and they can certainly upgrade via free agency also.
On the ends the Hawks are ready to be as feared as they ever are. Michael Bennett, Chris Avril and Frank Clark were able to stack up 22 of the Seahawks 37 team sacks, and Bennett is one of the most underrated defensive players in the league due to his ability to play every defensive line position. With that said it may make the sting of losing either Brandon Mebane or Ahtyba Rubin hurt less. They also have Jordan Hill, who can certainly slot in for one of the two, so the thought would be to bring one of them back on a cheap deal, and to draft another interior lineman. Rubin would probably be the easier to return of the two.
Bruce Irvin was another feared pass rusher, but he just doesn’t fit on this team. He is better off being a 3-4 outside linebacker, and how much he gets paid this offseason and where he goes will be interesting. That said, they can essentially slot Kevin Pierre-Louis into his spot, and already are locked into KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner, who are both above average linebackers, Wagner being one of the better in the league. The Hawks can draft linebacker, but should be looking for a late round depth guy.
The secondary wasn’t as good as it had been in the past couple of years, but with Kam Chancellor holding out and with Cary Williams starting their first 9 games it put two big holes on a secondary that once had none. That said, with Williams gone, both DeShawn Shead, and Jeremy Lane are free agents, and the lesson Williams taught them is that they should be looking to resign these guys this time around. Chancellor eventually got back to his old ways, and no commentary needs to be made for Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman who are at the elite level of their position.
Where do they go?
The giant glaring hole to fix is the offensive line. Aside from that depth is needed across the board. WR, DL, LB even corner will need work if they are unable to resign from within. It will gives the Hawks the ability to take risky high upside picks, but at the same time they cannot forget how important depth is.