Seahawks 2018: Finding a New Identity on a Budget
Seattle Seahawks 2018
With the dreaded “Legion of Boom” getting older, an abysmal run game, and many holes to fill on offense and defense with limited cap space, the Seahawks need to make strategic decisions to improve their roster. Barring a drastic roster move to clear a large chunk of cap space, the Seahawks will not have an abundance of cash to spend on the open market. The lack of money and early round draft picks means that the Seahawks may not be able to make many flashy moves. Ultimately this offseason, the team’s major focus will have to be keeping the important players that are already in the organization.
Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman. Those names previously struck fear into the hearts of opponents facing the vaunted Seahawks defense. Heading into the 2018 season, all those names sport big question marks beside them. Chancellor and Avril both suffered neck injuries and it is unknown whether or not they can even play football again. After the season ended Michael Bennett also stated that he “probably won’t be back next year.” To cap it all off, Richard Sherman’s season ended on a disappointing note after he tore his Achilles tendon. Along with that injury, his decision to represent himself heading into contract extension negotiations in 2018 further complicates his status as a Seahawk moving forward. Turning 30 in March, there will likely be a realistic discussion about the direction of the team between Sherman and GM John Schneider, and whether or not he fits into the vision for the defense and budget past next season. Although these negotiations can be tense, it will be best for both sides knowing where each other stand heading into a transitional period on the defensive side of the ball. All of these questions show that the “Legion of Boom” could look drastically different next year.
Russell Wilson accounted for 36% of the Seahawks 23rd ranked 1,629 rushing yards this season. To have success on offense the team needs to find stability at the running back position. The Seahawks seemingly found their answer to the running back conundrum in rookie rusher Chris Carson this year, but after he was placed on injured reserve none of the other backs could step into his role. Although Carson looked the part as a starting running back, his leg injury raises some red flags. Lower leg injuries can be difficult to fully recover from, just ask fellow breakout rookie rusher, Thomas Rawls. After fracturing his ankle in late 2015, Rawls has not been able to return to the efficiency or explosiveness that he had before the injury. With Carson facing recovery from a broken leg below the knee and ligament damage in his ankle, he may not be able to step back into his starting role at the start of the season. The team needs a contingency plan for the running back position in case Carson’s recovery does not go as planned.
With just one pick in the first three rounds, the Seahawks need to make sure that their first-round pick will be able to make an impact immediately. Although there are many other voids to fill on the roster, the running back position is the most urgent for next season. The lack of stability at the position made the offense one dimensional, allowing defenses to focus on Russell Wilson. Derrius Guice would be a back to draft in the first round that would fit in perfectly in the Seahawks offense. The junior from LSU is the perfect mix of size and speed. Guice is surprisingly quick and agile, but he also runs heavy and isn’t afraid to use his size. He would fit into the physical running style that the Seahawks have been trying to so hard to replicate ever since Marshawn Lynch’s success.
With just over 14 million dollars in cap space available heading into 2018, the 8th least amount of money available to spend, the Seahawks will have some tough decisions to make this offseason. The two big-name Seahawk free agents are Jimmy Graham and Sheldon Richardson. Due to cap limitations, it is likely that the team will only be able to retain one while still being able to sign their other free agents.
Graham posted his highest touchdown total of 10 since leaving the New Orleans Saints, with every one occurring in the redzone. After two years of disappointing production, it seemed like Darrell Bevell and the offensive staff finally figured out how to use him properly. The recent firings of Bevell and Tom Cable complicate what the Seahawks offense will look like next year. Graham’s utilization is once again difficult to predict since a brand new offensive coaching staff will be taking over next season. Turning 32 in November, this will likely be Graham’s last big money contract as a tight end, so he will be looking to cash in with a contract that the Seahawks won’t be able to afford.
With Jimmy Graham likely hitting free agency, Sheldon Richardson is the Seahawks number one internal priority for the offseason. Malik McDowell’s mysterious ATV injury may continue to keep the 2017 first round pick off the football field to start 2018, so the defensive tackle position will remain sparse. With Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett’s status with the team unknown, signing Richardson would keep the interior of the defensive line intact and allow younger players like Jarran Reed to continue to progress and develop with Richardson as a key leader on the defensive line.
The final internal free agent priority fits into the Seahawks’ tight budget. Byron Maxwell was signed after Richard Sherman’s injury and he did not look out of place in the Seahawks’ secondary. With Sherman’s health status uncertain heading into the season, it will be important to have another veteran in a cornerback group headlined by first-year stand out Shaquill Griffin. An early member of the “Legion of Boom,” Maxwell knows the defense and the team’s schemes, but will also be a cheap option while providing leadership to a defense that may need to rediscover its identity.
By locking up Richardson and re-signing many of the teams other free agents, they likely won’t have enough money to make any kind of splash in free agency, however, if they can escape this offseason without losing any more key players to injury, cuts, trades or free agency, then that would be a success for a Seahawks team that could look vastly different to kick off 2018.
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Current Salary Cap Info
As of FEB 16th, the Seahawks have $14,123,861 in available cap space, which ranks 25th in the league.
- Salary Cap Data: Overthecap.com
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