Following a 7-9 finish to the 2011 season, the Seahawks face a lot of questions for the 2012 season. Will they be able to re-sign Marshawn Lynch? Should they move up in the NFL draft to select a quarterback? What’s to become of free agents such as Charlie Whitehurst and Justin Forsett?
Let’s address each of these questions.
Since the 2011 playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, Marshawn Lynch has been a fan favorite here in Seattle. Even better, he continued to be a stud at running back during the 2011 regular season, accumulating 1,204 rushing yards, averaging 4.2 yards per carry and rushing for 12 touchdowns along with one receiving touchdown. And, it's worth noting those numbers were produced with quarterbacks such as Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, who are certainly not the future for the Seahawks.
I believe the Seahawks definitely need to re-sign Lynch. He's only 25 years old, so it's not unreasonable to expect at least five more years of solid production. I hope to see "Beast Mode" for many years to come.
At the moment, Tarvaris Jackson will be under center for the Seahawks in 2012. While I'm not a fan of Tarvaris Jackson, the Seahawks could certainly do worse. However, it is clear that Jackson is not the future at quarterback, and at the very least, the Seahawks will need to either re-sign Charlie Whitehurst or bring in another quarterback as the backup.
Obviously, there are three different things the Seahawks could do this offseason in order to bring in another quarterback through free agency, the draft or possibly a trade. Looking at the free agents, the biggest name is obviously Drew Brees. However, I don't really consider him to be a free agent. He loves New Orleans and New Orleans certainly loves him. If the Saints want to wait a while before ever appearing in the playoffs again, the best thing they could do from that perspective is not re-sign Brees.
Another option in free agency for the Seahawks is Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn. However, I believe many people are falling in love with him way too quickly based on one game. It was only his second career start in the NFL. I understand Seahawks fan likening this to when the Seahawks traded for Matt Hasselbeck when he was a backup in Green Bay, but it's not as if Pete Carroll coached Matt Flynn as Mike Holmgren did with Matt Hasselbeck when they were both in Green Bay. I just don't want to see the Seahawks make a mistake in offering Flynn a huge contract. He's an unproven starter. Ask the Arizona Cardinals how that worked out with Kevin Kolb.
And then there's the upcoming NFL draft. At the moment, the Seahawks have the 12th pick. However, if they stay with that pick, it seems incredibly unlikely they'll be able to draft the top three quarterbacks of this class in Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones. In most mock drafts, all three quarterbacks are off the board by the time the Seahawks select. The only real chance the Seahawks have of selecting one of those quarterbacks is through a trade-up, which seems incredibly unlikely, given GM John Schneider's track record in drafts.
Of course, the Seahawks could orchestrate a trade to find a quarterback, but attempting to predict trades in the NFL is almost as pointless as trying to predict what the economy has in store for the United States.
But the Seahawks need to bring in at least one quarterback in 2012, that's for sure. It'll be interesting to see if that quarterback could possibly be the future at quarterback for years to come.
The Seahawks have 18 unrestricted free agents for 2012 including Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant. But there are many other important players hitting free agency who have been with the Seahawks for some time, such as Justin Forrest and John Carlson.
The Seahawks need to re-sign Bryant just as much as they need to re-sign Lynch. At times, the Seahawks defensive front really struggled to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, save for Bryant. It's never really a good idea to make a position even more of a question mark before the season starts, which is what would happen if the Seahawks are unable to re-sign Bryant.
When the Seahawks signed former Raiders tight end Zach Miller to a deal in the 2011 offseason, many believed the Seahawks were set at the tight end position. However, tight end John Carlson suffered a torn labrum before the season even started and was lost for the entire year. This would have been alright, except Zach Miller also posted his worst season as a pro. He only had 25 catches for 233 yards and scored no touchdowns. The Seahawks got better production from undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin.
But do the Seahawks still believe they have a good tandem in Miller and Carlson? It seems strange, but if the Seahawks do decide to re-sign Carlson, he should be relatively cheap, coming off a season in which he didn't play a down.
Another player to consider is Justin Forsett. A few years ago, fans were shouting at the top of their lungs that Forsett needed to get more carries over Julius Jones. However, in 2011, Forsett barely saw any playing time due to the production of Marshawn Lynch. Forsett doesn't appear to have the skill set to be in every down back in the NFL, but he certainly has some upside. I, for one, wouldn't mind seeing the Seahawks re-sign Forsett, continuing to use him in passing situations and occasionally taking over for Marshawn Lynch, hopefully.
Those are just three of the players that Seahawks should strongly consider re-signing. Other players the Seahawks need to make a decision on is the aforementioned Charlie Whitehurst, David Hawthorne, Michael Robinson, Raheem Brock and Leroy Hill.
When the playoffs conclude, it is possible but unlikely that the Seahawks will be playing in the same division as the Super Bowl Championships. Obviously, I'm referring to the 49ers, who after finishing 6-10 in 2010 improved by seven wins in 2011 to go 13-3 and secured a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The 49ers have their question marks as well for the 2012 season, mainly quarterback Alex Smith. It's scary to think, but if the 49ers are able to upgrade the QB position in 2012 and maintain their defensive dominance, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility that they could go undefeated. I'm not saying it will happen, but you never really know.
Another team not to sleep on in the NFC West is the Arizona Cardinals, who finished with a better record than the Seahawks in 2011. And they were successful with a backup quarterback. If the Seahawks are unable to get better in the offseason and the Cardinals make a few good moves, the issue will be whether the Seahawks can challenge the 49ers and finish ahead of the Cardinals while doing so.
As we all know, it doesn't matter how great your running back is, he won't find huge success unless he has a great offensive line blocking for him. For five years, Shaun Alexander was perhaps the best running back in the NFL. However, that all changed when the Minnesota Vikings signed Steve Hutchinson to the richest contract for a guard in NFL history.
At the moment, the Seahawks have Max Unger at center, Robert Gallery at left guard, Paul McQuistan at left tackle, Lemuel Jeanpierre at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle. Michael Robinson was at full back, but as I previously mentioned, he is a free agent.
At times, the Seahawks really struggled with run protection and pass protection. Whoever the quarterback is for the Seahawks in 2012, he's gonna need time to throw, and whoever the running back for the Seahawks is in 2012, he's gonna need open lanes. Marshawn Lynch is undoubtedly a beast, but the Seahawks only averaged 109.8 rushing yards per game, placing 21st in the league.
In order to be successful, the Seahawks are going to need better pass protection and run protection, and it all starts with the offensive line. Staying healthy is obviously the key.