2014 Team Needs: Seattle Seahawks
Chris Phillips takes a look at the Super Bowl champion Seahawks roster and picks out where they can improve.
2014 Team Needs: Seattle Seahawks
The SuperBowl champion Seattle Seahawks head into the 2014 offseason in an enviable position. They should be able to keep their team mostly intact. Michael Bennett, Clinton McDonald, and Golden Tate are their only main free agents and only Bennett seems irreplaceable. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and a healthy Percy Harvin should be able to make the loss of Tate palatable. Replacing Bennett could be much more difficult. He was our 5th highest graded 4-3 DE and is powerful both as a rusher and against the run.
John Schneider likes to work mainly through the draft so expect most of their roster upgrades to come that way. However, the Seahawks aren’t afraid to dip into the market and sign a veteran or two on a short one or two year deal, as evidenced by the Bennett and Avril signings last year. According to overthecap.com they should have around 13 million to work with.
Potential Cap Casualties
Most of the cap casualties have already happened, as the Seahawks cut ties with run stuffer Red Bryant and with oft injured Sidney Rice.
– Another possible cap casualty to keep an eye on is Chris Clemons. Cutting Clemons would save Seattle another $7.5 million. Most likely the Seahawks will use Clemons to hedge against the possible loss of Michael Bennett. If Bennett resigns, Clemons could be gone, but if they are unable to resign Bennett, Clemons gives them some depth. He struggled a bit in 2013 and was coming off an ACL tear toward the end of 2012, but don’t forget, Clemons was the fourth-highest graded 4-3 pass rusher in 2012 and had a pass rushing grade (+24.3) that equaled that of Michael Bennett in 2013.
The most vital need for the Seahawks is offensive line and it’s not even close. They can start looking for an upgrade at either guard position. Paul Mcquistian, James Carpenter, and JR Sweezy all struggled last year. None of the three came close to grading out positively in the run game and Sweezy’s -5.9 overall grade was the highest of the three. Seattle can’t continue to just rely on Marshawn Lynch’s tackle breaking ability and Russell Wilson’s mobility.
Free agent fix: It won’t take much to upgrade the play at guard. Look for Seattle to take a look at some discount, ring seeking veterans after the initial wave of free agency passes. Geoff Schwartz is always underrated and would be a steal if he slips through the cracks. His +15.2 overall grade ranked eighth out of all guards in 2013. Travelle Wharton, Charlie Johnson, and Zane Beadles are a couple of other names that come to mind. Wharton and Johnson are both over 30 which should make them cheap stop gap replacements. If possible, Seattle will look for a very reasonably priced veteran to go with a draft pick to sure up the guard positions.
The Seahawks are definitely in an important transition period for the interior of their D-line. They parted ways with Bryant and could possibly lose run stuffer Tony McDaniel. McDaniel ranked 15th out of all interior linemen in 2013, mostly due to his stout work in the run game. Seattle could also lose pass rusher McDonald, whose +8.9 pass rushing grade ranked him 16th at his position. Brandon Mebane remains the one solid holdover.
Free agent fix: Again, I would be surprised if the Seahawks spent a ton of money here. Henry Melton would be ideal and would replace the pass rushing verve of McDonald, but could be a little pricey. Melton’s contract offers will be tough to figure. He missed 2013 with a knee injury, but teams will still be interested just based on his 2012 numbers. He topped our “run stops” signature stat and also ranked fifth in our Pass Rushing Productivity Signature Stat in 2012. Arthur Jones is an interesting player for Seattle. If available at the right price he could give them a nice balance both against the run and against the pass. Kevin Williams could also give them a short term fix. With contract extensions coming up for Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas III, look for the Hawks to also find depth in the draft.
Russell Okung will hold down the left side for the Seahawks. On the right side they lose the underwhelming Breno Giacomini. Giacomini was another Seahawk lineman who struggled with his run blocking throughout the year. There don’t appear to be any young replacements on the roster either. Alvin Bailey saw some time at tackle but struggled in the playoffs grading out at -2.5 for his time in 2 games.
Free agent fix: Anthony Collins or even Zach Strief could be solid veterans at the right price. Collins has played both tackle positions and seems to excel any time he gets on the field. Strief had a fantastic 2013 with a +21.7 grade in pass blocking (3rd out of all tackles). If Collins or Strief are out of Seattle’s price range they could take a look at Austin Howard, Jeremy Trueblood, or even spin the wheels on Michael Oher (with Howard and Oher both still relatively young). Oher has played well in the past and a change of scenery might be able to revive his play. Again, look for Seattle to also draft a tackle as well.
You can follow Chris on Twitter: @PFF_CPhillips