Pete Carroll and John Schneider have carefully constructed one of the most talented young teams in the NFL. When they took over as head coach and general manager prior to the 2010 season, the Seahawks were an ever- aging team in salary cap hell.
It took these two men in charge little time to flip this roster upside down, as Seattle went from one of the oldest teams in the league to now being one of the youngest. At season's end the 'Hawks were the third-youngest team in the league, not to mention the youngest team to play and win a playoff game.
Very few holdovers from the Mike Holmgren/Jim Mora Jr. era exist. However, there are a few recognizable names who could be on their way out. Age is a player's biggest Achilles heel in the NFL, and by the looks of it, the Seahawks organization isn't into paying players who are indeed over the hill.
The youth movement started in Seattle a long time ago, which is why you see so many young players log playing time. Carroll's "Always Compete" motto drives everyone to give their absolute best, young and old.
With their sights set solely on the offseason, let's take a look at five players the Seahawks should trade, cut or choose not to re-sign.
Outside linebacker Leroy Hill has been a staple of the Seahawks defense ever since joining the club in 2005 as a third-round pick. Hill is one of two remaining members who appeared in Super Bowl XL back in 2005 under head coach Mike Holmgren.
Since that lone Super Bowl appearance, a lot has changed. However, one thing has remained the same. Hill has been the one consistent defender Seattle could count on year-after-year. It didn't matter who the coach was: Every head coach and defensive coordinator alike wanted this guy on his team.
After the 2011 season, the 'Hawks decided to bring him back for one more year. He made $1.6 million in 2012 and he earned every penny of it. He played above-average football while appearing in 15 games over the course of the regular season and the playoffs.
His stout play against the run allowed him to swallow up 25 defensive stops, according to Pro Football Focus, not to mention he added two tackles for loss and one forced fumble. In pass-rushing situations, he didn't disappoint either—he registered two quarterback sacks and one quarterback hit on 31 pass-rush attempts.
Unfortunately for Hill, his contract expired, and the Seahawks organization can find this same production somewhere else at a much cheaper rate. Malcolm Smith has already shown potential in limited action. Moreover, the NFL draft at this same position could provide youth and productivity at half his rate.
With the NFL being a cutthroat business, it's best for Seattle to move on and look for Hill's immediate replacement.
From one remaining member of the Seahawks Super Bowl XL team to the next. Cornerback Marcus Trufant is in the same boat as Hill. He played well enough to warrant a starting position and a roster spot, but he didn't do anything out of the ordinary.
Plus, he missed more than one game due to a nagging hamstring injury. It seems that the magic number when it comes to injuries is 30. Whenever a player gets to be 30 years old or older, injuries start to become lingering problems that never dissipate.
Maybe that is just my perception, or maybe that statement does have some merit to it. Regardless, Trufant's last down as a Seattle Seahawk came against the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
For the season, Trufant allowed 32 of 46 targets to be completed for 292 yards and one touchdown. Additionally, opposing quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 93.8 when throwing into his coverage area. He didn't record an interception, yet he did force one fumble.
Let him and his $1.3 million salary leave. To bring him back would cost equally as much, or more. There are plenty of younger players behind him who are vying for a shot to man the slot in the Pacific Northwest.
The contract of defensive tackle Alan Branch is going to be one of the biggest question marks of the offseason. His most recent two-year, $7 million deal expired at the end of this season, and the lingering question has become: should Seattle bring him back?
His play warrants a new contract around the same neighborhood as his last one. The Seahawks have openly said that they want him back, and Branch wants to be back, but I have an inkling that he is going to command more money than he is worth.
After a stellar season in 2011, Branch's play tailed off in 2012. In 2011, PFF had him as the third-best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the league. They also had him as an above-average pass-rusher, as he recorded three sacks, one hit and 14 hurries.
In 2012, he fell to No. 58 in terms of playing the run at defensive tackle, but his pass-rushing ability stayed the same, while he added two sacks and 15 hurries. His injury toward the end of the season could be a big reason as to why the Seahawks' run defense faltered in the second half of the season.
Or father time could be catching up with him. He will be 29 during the 2013 season, which is a good enough reason to start thinking about the future. Carroll and Schneider need another interior pass-rushing presence. Jason Jones also needs a new contract, and he is two years younger than Branch.
There will be plenty of time to think about things before free agency and the draft, but the most logical move is to move on if the financial demands become too high.
Some people love him and others hate him, yet one thing is certain about Breno Giacomini: He is due close to $4 million in 2013.
2013 is the final year of his contract, and cutting him wouldn't really cost the Seahawks anything, so the question you would have to ask yourself would be: Is Giacomini going to get any better, or is he maxed out on potential?
In 2012, his play was like a roller coaster from week-to-week. At right tackle he allowed five sacks, two hits and 36 hurries, and he was flagged 12 different times throughout the season. Doug Free of the Dallas Cowboys was the only right tackle flagged more than him.
In addition to his below-average pass-blocking skills, his run-blocking skills were equally as poor. When the Seahawks' backfield ran off his backside they averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Impressive numbers at first glance, but when you dig a little bit deeper, you see those numbers were inflated due to Russell Wilson's scrambling ability.
Depth has been a question mark along the offensive line, and Giacomini played in all 18 games, but is that enough reason not to spend your first-round pick on a guy like D.J. Fluker out of Alabama? I know Seattle has had bad luck so far with one former Crimson Tide tackle, but that doesn't mean Fluker will turn out like James Carpenter.
If Coach Carroll is truly looking for competition at every position, he needs to find some competition at right tackle.
Remember just a season ago when Ben Obomanu was the starting wideout opposite of Mike Williams? Yeah, it is pretty amazing to think just how far the Seahawks group of receivers have come in a short period of time.
Obomanu has played all five of his seasons in the NFL with Seattle. As a seventh-round pick back in 2006, he found a way to show Coach Holmgren that he was at least worthy of a practice-squad spot. He spent the entire year on the practice squad—then in 2007, he finally made his debut.
Ever since then, he has been a regular contributor—until this year. At the beginning of the season, Obomanu's role was cut way back when he barely made the roster, and then after eight games he was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury.
His last game against Detroit in Week 8, may have been his last in a Seahawks uniform. He carries a cap number of $2.46 million in 2013, so you know Schneider will be looking to free up that money and use it on a younger, more talented wide receiver.
It's hard not to like Obomanu, considering he plays special teams and always provides solid relief in a pinch, but a 29-year-old special teams wide receiver doesn't belong on the roster if he is making over $2 million.