Do the Seahawks Have the NFL's Best Pass Rush After Signing Michael Bennett?
At this rate, the Seattle Seahawks are going to end up on an episode of Hoarders.
For the second time in two days, the Seahawks signed a young defensive end who had nine sacks last year to a team-friendly contract, leaving pundits such as Will Brinson shaking their heads.
Seriously: LaRon Landry got a 4-year, $24M deal. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett got 3 years and $20M COMBINED.— Will Brinson (@willbrinson) March 14, 2013
Also, as Albert Breer of NFL Network pointed out, the move gives the Seahawks what could potentially be a terrifying defensive front.
If Clemons gets right, with Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett on board, the Seahawks d-line could look like the great Giants groups.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 14, 2013
But just how good could it be?
A lot of that will depend on what personnel package the Seahawks roll out there, as well as how Chris Clemons, who led the team in sacks with 11 in 2012, recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in last year's playoff win over the Washington Redskins.
In fact, it's not unreasonable to wonder what these moves could mean for the future of the 31-year-old Clemons, who is due $6 million in salary in 2013.
However, as Mike Sando of ESPN points out, cutting Clemons won't necessarily afford Seattle much in the way of salary cap relief.
Clemons is also signed through 2014. He has some financial security in that $1.5 million of his $6 million salary for 2013 is guaranteed. The contract he signed in July carries an additional $4.3 million in bonus-related cap charges over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Long story short, releasing Clemons would save the team as little as $2.3 million under the cap this season. That's relatively little to gain for parting with a team leader and a player who is arguably the best defensive lineman on the team when healthy.
Granted, the Bennett signing further muddies the waters in this regard. But for the sake of this exercise let's assume that both Clemons and Red Bryant, the team's starting ends a season ago, are on the roster on opening day.
If that's the case, I feel for the quarterbacks in the NFC West.
Simply put, the amount of talent and versatility that the Seahawks will have up front defensively is staggering.
In Avril, the team added a speedy edge-rusher who, at 26, is in the prime of his career and who has averaged nearly 10 sacks and three forced fumbles a year over the past three seasons.
In Bennett, the team added a versatile pro who ranked in the top 10 in both run defense and pass-rushing in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus.
Then there's the matter of second-year pro and 2012 first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, who racked up eight sacks in a part-time role for the Seahawks last year.
The possible permutations involving this personnel are going to give offensive line coaches palpitations.
You could line up Avril and Bennett at defensive end with Bryant and Brandon Mebane at defensive tackle in the base defense, kicking Bennett inside in place of Bryant and replacing him with the speedy Irvin in obvious passing situations.
In and of itself that's frightening, and that's with Clemons sitting on the sidelines, reading a magazine with a bag of ice on his knee.
Add Clemons to the mix and things go from frightening to borderline ridiculous.
Do the Settle Seahawks now have the NFL's best pass rush?
With a healthy Clemons in the fold, the team could use Avril, who struggled against the run in 2012, in more of a situational role. They could also line Bruce Irvin up at linebacker, allowing him to use his speed to get after the passer in a Von Miller-type role.
Or the team could even kick Clemons and Bennett inside to tackle in obvious passing situations, creating an Avril-Clemons-Bennett-Irvin pass-rushing defensive line from hell.
And that's hardly all of the potential combinations. They can vary them based on situation. They can vary them based on matchup.
I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it.
In 2012, the Seattle Seahawks possessed a mediocre pass rush, tying for 18th in the NFL with 36 sacks.
This year, with the personnel they've added?
The Seahawks might get 36 sacks the first time they play the Arizona Cardinals.
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