WILL WE MISS THEM?

January 27, 2016

 

“Someone asked me if I missed you. I didn’t answer. I just closed my eyes and walked away.”

-unknown

Having a franchise quarterback who makes $1.5 million is a rare luxury. The depth the 2013 Seahawks possessed in their 2013 championship season has been unparalleled in recent years except perhaps by division rival San Francisco who had yet to sign their quarterback to a long term deal. One of the hardest parts about being a fan of an elite team is often the off-season. Frequently the optimism and excitement of players drafted gives way to the suffering of salary cap realities. The turmoil of Russell Wilson’s contract negotiations this past off-season made for some minor anxiety as did the loss of Golden Tate after the Super Bowl season. Looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers current defense it’s hard to imagine they were one of the most feared in the league only five years ago. Desperate teams often attempt to make moves to improve their team or at least placate fans. Look at Cleveland overpaying Dwayne Bowe this last off-season. Even Tate is one of the highest paid number two receivers in the league at roughly $8 million a season although it is a possibility that Detroit anticipated the possibility of all world receiver Calvin Johnson never fully recovering his pre-injury form.

Now as we enter 2016 casual Seahawks fans are bound to experience hurt, loss, and confusion as most of the league attempts to improve less talented rosters and Seattle has a ton of expiring contracts. Here is a look at my top eight (sorta) free agents and how losing them may negatively affect this team going forward:

 

8. Brandon Mebane and Ahtya Rubin- Defensive Tackle

The only reason these two don’t rank closer to the top is because it is unlikely the Seahawks lose both. These two giant men are exceptional run stuffers and key cogs on the Seahawks defensive line. The Seahawks were number one against the run in the 2015 season and these guys are two HUGE reasons. NFL stud Adrian Peterson never saw 100 yards rushing against the Seahawks and neither did anyone else in the league with one exception. Bane is the longest tenured Seahawk and has been around longer than his coach or GM. Rubin is coming off an excellent first year where his acclimation to the Seahawks defense was seamless. Looking ahead it is clear the Seahawks run defense will suffer. There is still plenty of depth, but a draft pick must be spent at DT or this front line could really suffer if an injury occurs. Both are in the $3 million per year range right now so if a team overpays one the Seahawks will likely focus resources on the other. Rubin is slightly more appealing because of age, but Mebane is still a little more talented in my opinion meaning either one is equally advantageous to the squad.

 

7. Jon Ryan- Punter

Ryan is an exceptional athlete for a punter despite an awful face plant while attempting to hurdle a Viking defender in this year’s first round playoff victory. Ryan has garnered national fame from his appearance on American Ninja Warrior. He and Brandon Mebane are the only Seahawks players with longer tenures in Seattle than head coach Pete Carroll. His powerful leg and excellence at pinning opponents inside the 20 has made him a favorite of Coach Carroll and an advantage pertaining to field position match-ups. His skill has him in the $1.5 million range though and that is extremely expensive for a punter. Especially on a team that stands to lose so many starters this off-season.Looking ahead the Seahawks will have no problem finding a serviceable punter if Ryan takes his talents elsewhere but assuredly there will be moments next season where Ryan’s skill and experience will be missed.

 

 

6. J.R. Sweezy- Guard

Sweezy is a former defensive lineman that the Seahawks converted to guard. If mentality were the same as talent J.R. is a pro-bowler every year. Sweezy is a straight up dirt bag that battles for every inch, hates his opponents, and possesses incredible physical strength. The bad news is his pass blocking frequently leaves much to be desired. His cap number will probably be about three million next year and he may be back. He is highly endorsed by Seahawks offensive line coach, Tom Cable, and that goes back to the dirt bag mentality discussed earlier. Despite some struggles he will easily command about $3 million on the free agent market. Looking ahead the Seahawks have seen one promising start from rookie Mark Glowinski near the end of the season against Arizona and also have Justin Britt available at guard. Both are far from guaranteed commodities but Tom Cable is has done more with less. The real point of worry is Russell Okung who we will discuss later is also a free agent. While 2015 was truly a tale of two seasons (first half awful, second half good) for the offensive line further shakeup has the potential to turn 2016 into a full version of the ineffective first half the hawks put up without a miracle draft from Schneider. There may be enough money to keep Sweezy but an offer of $4 million by any desperate squad may mean he’s not an option.

 

5. Jeremy Lane- Nickel Back

 

No not the awful rock band. Lane is arguably one of, if not the, best third cornerback in the league and an excellent starter. Lane has performed well as the starter opposite Richard Sherman in parts of the last three years but most fans remember him for an exceptional pick on Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. As amazing as his Super Bowl interception was his injury at the end of the play was equally gruesome and fill in Tharold Simon’s play may have been what really cost the Seahawks the game (even though you must feed the Beast at the goal line).   Looking ahead there are options at Cornerback and the Seahawks have proven to be an extremely gifted organization at developing cornerbacks. Perennial pro-bowler, Richard Sherman, is the highest draft pick currently on the squad and he was a fifth round draft choice. That being said Lane is a far more desirable option than Simon or developmental players currently. Another option would be former Seahawk starter, Byron Maxwell, who will most likely be a salary cap casualty after an awful season in Philadelphia and may be anxious to regain form with the Legion of Boom.

 

 

4. Russell Okung- LT

 

Here is a clear cut case of supply and demand. There just are not enough talented left tackles in this league and any Sandra Bullock fan knows the blind side is a critical position in this league. High priced quarterbacks must be protected and someone will definitely overpay for Okung but it is unlikely to be the Seahawks. Once a pro bowler, Okung has fought injury his whole career and age is definitely beginning to show. The real problem is he and Sweezy could be leaving and with the prominence of spread offensive systems in college offensive lineman that are NFL ready are very hard to find. An Okung departure probably means that the Seahawks will have to use their first round pick and not trade down like John and Pete love too. It also means Cable will once again have to make lemonade from lemons and that RW3 may take an inordinate amount of hits early in the season while the line gets up to speed. Looking ahead I believe the greatest hope for the Seahawks is a run on defense in the early part of the draft and some reach picks on QB’s by lesser teams that allows a quality tackle to slip to the 26 overall pick. Knowing this team it could be a fourth round fullback starting at left tackle next year though.

 

3. Jermaine Kearse- WR

 

Had the Seahawks completed their miracle comeback attempt against eventual NFC champion Carolina I have no doubt that Jermaine would have been player of the game. The always local (Lakes High School Tacoma/University of Washington/Seattle Seahawks) Kearse is now in a position to get paid. While it’s doubtful he gets Golden Tate money, a team desperate for offensive weapons is bound to overpay him. Watch out for Dan Quinn in Atlanta lobbying his GM to bring in Kearse to start opposite Julio Jones at around $6 million a year which will immediately price Seattle out of the market. The Roddy White ship has clearly sailed and Matt Ryan has not been the same since Tony Gonzalez retired and White declined. Looking ahead the Seahawks have options at receiver and the awesome rookie season Tyler Lockett had will soften the blow if Kearse indeed departs. It is never easy to lose a local favorite or the man who had the greatest catch in Seahawks Super Bowl history.

 

 

2. Bruce Irvin- Outside Linebacker/ Defensive End

 

Who? That is all I could say when the Seahawks drafted Irvin. I had read hundreds of mock drafts in 2012 and I was hoping another local David Decastro (Comin’ straight outta Bellevue {I hope you heard that in Ice Cube’s voice}) would slide to the Seahawks at 15 overall. Many draft “experts” projected Decastro at 10 or 11, but sure enough he was available at 15. Shocking at the time but now standard operating procedure in Seattle, the hawks chose a player not even projected to go in the SECOND round by most. Then I saw his YouTube video. This guy is power and speed. Next to quarterback and maybe left tackle, edge rushers are the most coveted and over paid position in football so even a reach is a wise gamble sometimes. Irvin’s rookie year he played DE and had 8.5 sacks including three in one half on Aaron Rodgers in the now famous “fail Mary” game. His second year he converted to outside linebacker and added a highlight reel pick six to his resume against the Raiders. One other endearing trait of Irvin’s is he always seems to play well against Cam Newton. Although frequently excellent Bruce has never been elite and thus he has never been considered part of the teams “core” by management. His physical skills and talent are far too much for the rest of league to ignore and he will easily command Bobby Wagner money on the open market most likely collecting upwards of $8 million per year. That is basically all the Seahawks cap space which means Irvin will inevitably be wearing another uniform next year…sad face. Looking ahead the Seahawks will undoubtedly miss Irvin. The emergence of last year’s second round pick Frank Clark means there is plenty of depth at DE next season. The Seahawks are also grooming 2014 fourth round draft pick Kevin Pierre-Louis to take over the OLB spot vacated by Irvin but there will be a learning curve and a real hit to the Seahawks depth. It also hurts from an emotional standpoint as Bruce is a true leader in the clubhouse and a fan favorite.

 

1. Marshawn Lynch- Running Back/Beast/Heart and Soul of Team

 

 

What can be said here? It hurts and nothing will take away the pain. This is my man crush and my favorite Seahawk. While Lynch was out we all felt a little empty this year. This year with Lynch was like a toxic relationship that you just can’t bring yourself to leave. Barring an injury to this season’s break out star, Thomas Rawls during the preseason Lynch and his $12 million a year salary are as good as gone. We can’t afford him plain and simple. I overlooked the fact his injuries destroyed my fantasy football team this year which usually is grounds for pure hate (ask me how I feel about LeSean McCoy sometime and you will hear cuss words you didn’t even know existed). While he was away from the team rehabbing I never doubted he would be back “trucking fools” any minute. When he decided to pull himself from the lineup against Minnesota I knew he had a good reason. He is the only player I would forgive for not being on the side line supporting his team mates during a playoff game. If he retires his legacy is without doubt in Seattle, but one or two good seasons elsewhere could solidify his chances for the NFL hall of fame. Seeing beast in another uniform would be like meeting your ex-girlfriends new dude in one of those awkward and unscheduled public exchanges where it’s obvious she is happier without you. Right now there is no looking ahead because I’m stuck in the past. Now loyal blog supporters I leave you with BEASTQUAKE. I will be watching it alone, in the dark, on repeat, crying for much of this off-season. Someone asked me the other day if I missed you Marshawn. I didn’t answer I just closed my eyes, bit my lip, and kept walking. “So much” I said under my breath after they were gone.

 

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