The Seattle Seahawks were one of the busiest teams during the first two offseasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. They overhauled a roster that was lacking starting-caliber players into one of the best-stocked groups of young talent in the NFL.
Carroll feels his team is ready to compete and their actions during the 2012 free-agency period shows it.
Seattle hasn't panicked to fill areas of perceived need. It made a value signing of a potential franchise quarterback when some analysts expected it to make a heavy financial commitment in the position.
The Seahawks are primed to get back to the playoffs in 2012—as long as their decisions this offseason work out.
While the Seahawks didn't land one of the two marquee players on the open market, it didn't keep them from expressing an interest.
Mario Williams landed in Buffalo and didn't get out of town before signing his $100 million contract. However, had the Seahawks been interested in sneaking him out of town there is little doubt they would have made a move.
Their pursuit of Peyton Manning is a prime example of what they are willing to do to get in front of free agents.
After being released by the Indianapolis Colts, Manning reached out to the Seahawks to discuss their level of interest. A few hours later, Pete Carroll and John Schneider were on one of Paul Allen's private planes and on their way to Denver to attempt to bring Manning back to Seattle.
Manning opted to not make an effort with the Seahawks, largely due to geographic concerns, but it doesn't change their ability to mobilize and chase a player.
2012 wasn't the year, but as they get nearer to Super Bowl contention the player they feel could tip them over the edge may be on the market. They will be prepared to pull out the stops when they see the player the team needs.
One more season, coach...can I get one more?
As the 2011 regular season was coming to an end, there were several headlines stating Carroll planned to stick with Tarvaris Jackson as starter in '12.
Fans were understandably upset, as they have little faith in Jackson's ability to lead the team to a championship. Blogs and fan pages were claiming Carroll had lost touch with talent and some went so far as to say he should be fired.
The problem is, that isn't what Carroll said.
Carroll's actual comment was that the team was comfortable if Jackson was the starter in 2012. It wasn't the equivalent of Paul Allen, when being asked about his wealth, saying, "I'm comfortable."
Rather, it was more like a flight attendant on a sold-out 737-400 asking the 240-pound guy in the middle seat if he is comfortable. Yes, it will do, but he would most certainly take an aisle seat if one were available—in an exit row would be all the better, and if a seat were available in first class...sign him up!
According to Carroll, "That's where we are. That doesn't mean that we're not going to look at the draft really hard and all of the opportunities. We'll always do that at every position. But T-Jack...understanding what this season has been like for him is really important."
Seattle couldn't fix geographic concerns for its first-class quarterback option, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Matt Flynn will be that aisle seat in an exit row.
After securing Flynn in free agency, Carroll said, "I expect T-Jack to be better, and I expect Matt to come in here guns blazing, trying to see if he can take that job. It'll be a great situation for us."
John Schneider has been very clear that Seattle has a plan in place and it will follow that plan. He's also said the 'Hawks aren't going to reach for players in the draft or overpay in free agency: “I just know if you panic at the position, it can set the organization back. So we’re not going to do that.”
Thus far in 2012 they have stayed true to form.
It would have been easy for the Seahawks to dip into their cap reserves from 2011 for Peyton Manning. They could have done the same to ensure Matt Flynn signed with the Seahawks.
They didn't, and the Seahawks have ample cap room to pick up quality players as prices regulate deeper in free agency.
The Seahawks were one of the most cap-rich teams headed into free agency in 2012. They still are.
Yes, they toyed with chasing Mario Williams, but their inquiries never really got off the ground. They've also held conversations with several other top-tier free agents, but as of yet haven't offered to open the checkbook up for anyone but Peyton Manning.
Instead, they signed Jason Jones, one of the top interior free agent pass-rushers, for a bargain price of $4.5 million a season. They also signed a backup offensive lineman in Frank Omiyale, and even their negotiations with Matt Flynn yielded a contract that was well below what had been projected.
There is a reason for the frugality, though. The Seahawks haven't been shy about retaining key elements of their team. They gave Marshawn Lynch a very competitive new contract and ponied up $35 million for Red Bryant over the next five seasons.
They made similar moves to re-sign Michael Robinson, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan and Heath Farwell.
It is clear the Seahawks are conserving their cap space. Instead of buying talent they may not be able to afford in a season or two, they are building a roster through the draft and keeping their own players.
The reason for this lies in the last slide.
Matt Flynn is one of the few big free agency moves the Seahawks have made in 2012.
With a few exceptions, it is hard to blame him. While the 2011 season didn't produce the wins Seattle was hoping for, the roster did yield Pro Bowl participants for the first time since the 2008 season. The 'Hawks also featured a top-10 defense, which lends credibility to the faith the Seahawks front office is showing in their players.
"We like our roster. We like our roster, really," Carroll said.
"There won't be a lot of changes on this team this year. You won't see it. There's too many guys in there that we really like and that we're really counting on and we can see the future."
After making almost 300 roster moves during his first year in Seattle, thing have certainly slowed down for the Seahawks in 2012. They have dipped their toes in free agency this season, most importantly at the quarterback position.
Peyton Manning called the Seahawks to discuss the mutual interest levels, but in the end the geography of Seattle was too much for his family. Instead, the Seahawks signed the next best free agent option: Matt Flynn.
Seattle has had a chance to run at some free agents in areas of need. The market for linebackers has been very slow, and Seattle only has one starter from last season currently under contract.
The Seahawks are either waiting for the asking prices of David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill to come down, or they plan on starting over in the draft.
Given the success the Seahawks have had with players in Rounds 4 through 7, it isn't hard to believe they'll push their luck a little more in 2012 and find a few more solid starters.
Teams need a blend of stars and good starters to succeed. Seattle has been building both, and Carroll is making sure the team can afford to keep them on the roster.