Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With all of the heartache, self-pity and loathing we have experienced as Seattle sports fans, the cosmos has paid us our dues. I must admit…it’s a great feeling isn’t it?
Okay, but what now for the Seattle Seahawks? Where do we go from here? There are many questions that need to be addressed in the next several months and some of those answers will come in short order with free agency starting March 11th. But free agency is only a piece of the puzzle. We get to watch Schneider and Carroll work their magic on May 8th at the start of the NFL draft. It is a true testament to the 12th man’s exuberance when they get almost excited for the off-season moves as they do for the actual season.
After many years of watching carefully over their salary cap situation and being able to carry forward some money year after year, this year poses some challenges for the Seahawks. Seattle’s salary cap situation sits just above 130 million for this year. Seattle has recently been the recipient of good fortune by a salary cap increase to 132 million dollars. Now, you can do the math. There are several more positions that need to be filled and only a couple of million dollars to do it. I am no accountant but I can see that this situation doesn’t work very well. Additionally, in the next couple of years the Seahawks have high profile players that they have to secure; namely Wilson, Thomas and Sherman.
With this looming scenario there have to be players released; four specifically come to mind. The person that has already been mentioned is Sidney Rice, the tallest and most experienced receiver of the bunch. He has produced less than was expected of him in his first three seasons with Seattle. In fact, since coming into the league in 2007 he has only had two solid season, the most recent being in 2012. Last year he under-produced and then tore his ACL…that didn’t bode well for keeping him on the roster. With the opportunity to save 7.3 million against the cap, Mr. Rice has played his last game in Seattle, barring a re-negotiation of some sort.
Another casualty possibility for the Seahawks is Chris Clemons, Seattle’s aging defensive end. Since coming to Seattle in 2010 he has averaged 11 sacks per season, but in 2013 he only had 4.5 sacks. Some of this can be attributed to sharing defensive responsibility with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett but I don’t think we can overlook that he is getting older and he did come off of an ACL surgery last season. It is a very good possibility that it is time to part ways and save 7.5 million.
Zach Miller, our only experienced tight end, may also be a cap casualty due to his combined hit against the cap and his low productivity. Since coming to the Seahawks in 2011 he has had a noticeable drop off in his offensive production and really has been a shadow of himself when it comes to the stats compared to his days in Oakland. We need to be aware that he has changed his play to become more of a blocking tight end, something that Seattle has desperately needed at times this season given the porous play of their offensive line. If Seattle feels confident that they can upgrade their offensive line this off-season, then they can surely entertain letting Miller go and saving 5 million dollars.
A more curious player that has recently been mentioned in cuts is Red Bryant, Seattle’s behemoth defensive end. He is 30 years old, had 31 tackles, 1.5 sacks in 2013 and will count 5.5 million against the cap this coming season. There is no doubt that losing him would affect the locker room. He is a stabilizing influence and is one of captains of the team. Although he doesn’t penetrate the offensive line and generate sacks, he is known as a run stopper, something this team needs to improve upon. But saving that amount of money trumps everything else.
The bottom line is that cutting these players will save in excess of 24 million dollars against the cap. Given Carroll and Schneider’s track record in free agency and in the draft, I suspect Seattle to take a calculated risk and see what the future holds without these individuals.
By all accounts it appears that this year’s draft will be one of the deepest in recent history and more to that end, deepest of all in the areas that Seattle needs to address. Understand that the Seahawks really have the nucleus of their Super Bowl team back and just need to ‘plug and play’ a few new players…something that Schneider could do in his sleep. Realize, too, that Seattle has now become a destination, a place that a player will take a little less to come and play. They see an opportunity to play with a proven team, a chance to play in environment that allows each person to be themselves, and an opportunity to improve their resume for a big pay day next year. Seems like a win-win situation doesn’t it?
I can’t wait to see what happens in the next few months with our beloved Seattle Seahawks. Go Hawks!