The Seahawks did a phenomenal job this offseason filling some noticeable gaps with some necessary free agent plaster.
Any 4-12 team needs some remodeling done, and instead of tearing apart the kitchen, the Seahawks replaced the wires, and got a shiny new fridge.
It was a stark about face from the “plan” entering free agency. Here is an intriguing quote to chew on spoken by GM Tim Ruskell:
"We're not going to be big players in free agency."
Well, he got everyone to believe they actually wanted to draft USC QB Mark Sanchez. So kudos for this b^%$&*t smokescreen that fooled most of us.
Five days after that comment the Seahawks were announcing the signing of that shiny new fridge. They locked up top free agent WR TJ Houshmandzadeh to a five-year, $40 million dollar deal. The irony was well, ironic.
The rest, they say, is history.
They went out and signed a needed run-stuffer in Green Bay's NT Colin Cole. He fills the void left by former starter Rocky Bernard. Cole is massive, weighing in at 6”1, 330 lbs. He commands consistent double-teams and opens up the rest of the DL while keeping bodies off of Seattle’s play-making LB’s.
They traded Pro Bowl LB Julian Peterson to Detroit for DE Cory Redding, effectively filling another DL need. Redding will take over for disappointing DE Lawrence Jackson, who only tallied two sacks in 14 starts during his rookie year.
With WR checked off and the DL restocked, they re-signed one of their own—locking up promising T Ray Willis to a two-year, $6 million dollar deal. Willis could have landed a starters job on the open market; they were wise to retain him.
And did they ever steal the show in this year’s draft.
With their first, second, third, (2010) third, fourth, and fifth picks, they got a nice haul of impact players.
They got the top prospect by nabbing Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry with the No. 4 pick. Drafting him was the full circle completion of the Julian Peterson trade.
They got one of the best interior OL available in this years class by trading up to snag Oregon C/G Max Unger in the second round.
Then they went out and swung a trade to grab Penn State WR Deon Butler in the third round. Butler brings a blazing speed element (4.32 40 NFL Combine time) that will complement the passing game nicely.
Sixth round pick QB Mike Teel is an interesting project with true mental toughness. He led his Rutgers’ team to a seven-game winning streak after a dismal 1-5 start, and even got a bowl win out of the deal.
To put a nice bow on all the wheeling and dealing, they made out with Denver’s 2010 first round pick.
The names Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford are echoing in the background…background…background.
A gut wrenching decision immediately followed, as the team let LB Leroy Hill become a free agent. The move was met with a dumbfounded response by the fan base.
With the $8.3 million freed from the move, they turned around and locked up former Seahawk CB Ken Lucas with a one-year, $2.3 million contract. He is expected to pick up right where he left off in 2004 starting opposite of incumbent Pro Bowl CB Marcus Trufant.
On the same day, they also signed former Jim Mora-prodigy Justin Griffith for one-year, $700,000 deal to replace the void left by FB Leonard Weaver’s departure.
To cap off the whirlwind, Ruskell allowed the lime green city to breath a sigh of relief by signing Leroy Hill to a fresh six-year, $38 million dollar deal.
Not what the GM had us thinking going into the offseason. Ruskell did truly restock the ammunition and gave the Seahawks a shiny new toy by adding Houshmandzadeh.
He left few glaring problems un-plastered after it was all said and done.
The Seahawks still need a QB of the future for the eventual departure of 33-year-old QB Matt Hasselbeck
By snagging Denver’s 2010 first round pick, they have a perfect opportunity to draft either Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford or Texas’ Colt McCoy, as mentioned above.
They need a safety to replace Brian Russell, who is barely decent enough to be a starter.
Reported interest in former Ravens CB Chris McAlister could potentially solve this issue. If signed, the Seahawks would have a plethora of five CB’s with starting experience. They would most likely nab him with the intention of putting him at safety or moving someone like CB Kelly Jennings over to Russell’s spot.
The team was interested in Tampa Bay S Jermaine Phillips this offseason. Look for them to address that position in the near future.
USC product S Taylor Mays is a realistic option for the future. He reminds me of LaRon Landry and would mesh with S Deon Grant nicely while having the ability to start from day one.
With Denver’s first round pick, the Seahawks could very well be in position to lock up both Mays and McCoy.
Getting offensive line depth could be justifiable, considering all five starters finished the season on injured reserve in 2008.
LT Walter Jones, LG Mike Wahle, C Chris Spencer, RG Rob Sims, RT Sean Locklear, C/G MaxUnger, and RT Ray Willis, will all fight it out for the five line spots. Adding a free agent to the mix like G Matt Lehr, or T Mark Tauscher, wouldn’t hurt.
Unless a plague wipes out the line again drafting Max Unger, and re-signing Ray Willis should be enough as far as addressing depth concerns.
Running back has potential to be a depth concern. The team feels comfortable going forward with featuring RB Julius Jones and complementing him with big bruiser TJ Duckett, and intriguing prospect Justin Forsett.
Contrary to the perception of Jones, he did post a solid 4.4 YPC average last season. Duckett converted 15/18 conversions of two yards or less, and rammed in 8 TD’s in 2008.
Jones’ seems to be a perfect one cut RB that will be able to thrive in the Seahawks new zone blocking system. I see no reason to fix something that has not been fully test-driven.
If they so choose to add a RB, which is unlikely, available free agent RB’s include: Edgerrin James, Rudi Johnson, Deshaun Foster, and Warrick Dunn.
As was proven in 2008, things can go wrong and problem areas can be exposed.
With Brian Russell at safety, defenses will be targeting him more often then Deon Grant. His lack of speed could allow some faster WR’s to blow by him for the big play.
The QB of the future need is not an issue at the present time. The Seahawks have arguably the best one-two punch in football with Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace.
If Hasselbeck misses nine games again, this team is toast. He can lead them to a deep playoff run with the weapons he has at his disposal. Wallace can lead the team to a sub .500 record, but he is not a Hasselbeck by any means.
If Julius Jones proves to be an ineffective feature back, added pressure will be heaped upon Hasselbeck and the revamped passing game. Teams could sit back and play the pass because of an ineffective running game.
This seems unlikely due to the fact Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp has never led a rushing attack ranked lower then tenth in the league. In contrast I said the Seahawks would make the NFC Championship game in 2008, so anything can obviously happen.
With most of the holes in the dry wall filled with some durable plaster, the Seahawks have done what it takes to become this years Atlanta Falcons (4-12 2007, 11-5 2008).
The team still has some primer to add on, and some upgrades that would be welcome, no doubt.
Like WR TJ Houshmandzadeh said:
“We're going to be good. I can't wait to smack some people in the face. They didn't put us on TV so when we start running through everybody like a wet paper bag, don't flex us in late in the season when we're the best.”
That’s the kind of attitude that leads to a turn around, that’s a winning mentality, that’s how the Seahawks need to play in 2009.