I'm not sure about the rest of the Seahawks fans out there, but Pete Carroll cheering on the sidelines is something I'd like to see a lot more next season.
This season definitely exceeded expectations, but we need to improve from here. We can't be content to sit at the top of the division. Yes, we made it to the playoffs and even got into the divisional round. Hell, were it not for a lot of drops by our receivers, maybe we make it to the championship. Who knows?
What I do know is that this offseason holds a lot of opportunity for the team in the form of free agency, especially considering the amount of cap room that there is to utilize (if there is a cap under the new CBA that is).
I don't want to step on anyone's toes here because I know there was already an article that did this, but I have a few more free agents, specifically ones on defense, that I would like to see the Hawks target in addition to a few of the ones mentioned already. If this article goes well and I have time, I hope to analyze offensive free agents later in the week.
No free agent slideshow this year would be complete without Nnamdi on it and, with the connection that Asomugha and Tom Cable have, I feel the Hawks have an edge. It also helps that we have the money to pay for the guy unlike a lot of teams in the NFL. Nnamdi is a premier shut down corner in the NFL and also 6'1'' tall which is something Pete loves to have in a corner.
He can play the run, but it is not a strong suit. Instead he chooses to virtually eliminate half the field from play. Revis Island has nothing on the country that is the area which Nnamdi Asomugha can eliminate from play through lock-down coverage. I'm not sure I've seen a player with the kind of range he has at the corner position and, in fact, the only player that I think comes close in the NFL is Ed Reed. The difference being it is a bit easier for a safety, who lines up 10-plus yards deep and in the middle of the field to take over an extensive area, but much harder for a corner only two yards off and far right or left.
Additional cornerback option: Brandon Carr, Chiefs
Obviously not as big a name as Nnamdi, but at 25 he is one of the best No. 2 corners in the NFL and has plenty of time to develop. He's only going to get better and I would love to see him as an upgrade over the abysmal defense of Kelly Jennings.
He will be a restricted free agent, so we'd have to watch what he is tenured at. If it is anything late or if he is tenured at the lowest level (no pick sacrificed, but a chance to match the contract) I say poison pill that contract, similar to what happened to us when we lost Hutch.
I am not sure that the Ravens will want to keep him. He has had some success but will demand a contract that they might not want to provide. He'll also want to be a more dominant force in the defense and it would be hard to make a name for yourself when you have the shadows of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis looming over your head.
Dawan Landry is a run stuffer and a safety that plays similar to Lawyer Milloy. The main difference is that Landry has better pass defense (at least this year he improved) and he is both faster and younger. Landry will only be 28 by the time the season starts, and his best years are just about to start.
I think he will bring a force to the secondary that will upgrade both the run defense and pass protection. I'm sure we all remember Milloy getting burned bad in the postseason against Olsen, let's not see a repeat.
Additional safety option: Michael Huff, Raiders
Though not nearly as good a run defender as Landry, Huff also has the connection to Cable through the Raiders and offers better pass protection than Landry as well as our current starters. He would be an upgrade, though not as much as Landry in my opinion. Huff has good range and doesnt get beat often, minus the Tennessee game Week 1. He would also be cheaper than Landry, so that would be a plus.
The Raiders love fest shall continue (did not realize that I picked so many former Raiders until now). Wimbley seems to be a perfect fit for the LEO end spot. But he has the additional versatility to play outside linebacker. He reminds me of a faster, but not quite as large, version of Terrell Suggs. He is built similarly to Chris Clemmons and would provide a new element to the defense. Imagine he and Clemmons on opposite sides with Red Bryant and Mebane (if he is re-signed) demanding double teams.
Again, the Tom Cable connection exists and I think Wimbley wants out of the Raiders. Mayne he would move to the up-and-coming underdogs with his former head coach. I'm not sure what his thought process will be, but he will not command a huge contract. But a decent sized one, yes. That is something the Hawks can afford, though.
Additional OLB/DE option: Tamba Hali, Chief
He is 27 years old and versatile as any player I've seen. He can be a dominant DE or a dominant OLB. The only reason I have him under Wimbley is the price tag. If we're willing to spend big on players this offseason, I say take a shot at Hali. He is going to be the next Demarcus Ware style player with the speed and elusiveness to always demand a blocker be set aside for him. He would be an upgrade over the bust (for top five potential) that is Aaron Curry. Though I do think Curry is a good starter, he has not lived up to the top five pick. Hali has a chance to do that.
(Please note: I said "style," not that he is as good as D-Ware.)
Charles Johnson is not likely to be allowed to hit the market by the Panthers. If he is, he will be a coveted free agent, but hidden behind bigger names like Ray Edwards and Mathias Kiwanuka. Johnson is only 25 years old and has all the potential to be a great defensive end in the NFL.
The chances of him hitting the market are not great, but depending on the source, some say he wants to be on a more successful team. I dont think you can fault him. Now that might hurt the Hawks chances, but we did make it to the divisional round and we offer a weak division, so our chances of success seem better than some. Who knows?
He was a great left end and I think he would be a good fit for our line. We need depth and getting a guy like Charles to start for us pushes our former starting guys down the depth chart. He also has the ability to bulk up (muscle wise) and has shown some potential to be a strong defensive tackle. I dont know if he would be a great tackle, but he has shown flashes of ability to switch between the positions which gives him much more value for a team that has been crippled by injuries over the last few years like Seattle.
Other options: Cliff Avril, Lions
A "pure" pass rusher, Avril doesnt offer much against the run. That, along with his RFA (restricted free agent) status, makes him a much lower option. He would be a great rotational and situational player for us but he would have to come at the right price. If we have to give up a draft pick any more than a fourth, I say no deal. On the plus side, he is only 25.
This is probably the largest stretch of any free agent hitting the market. but before you tune me out or begin to comment on my idiocy, think of this: Ngata will want a huge contract this offseason and the Ravens probably will not be willing to pay it. Oz has never been a fan of spending big for players, and I'm not sure he starts this season.
He let Ray Lewis hit free agency because he was asking for too much. If he did that to the face of the franchise, what will happen when Ngata wants more, much more! This signing makes even more sense if we cant keep Mebane from leaving via free agency. If that is the case, we will have an upgrade and a replacement in Ngata. Imagine if we could get both, though, what a force we would have on our line!
He is 27-years-old, so for a defensive lineman he has about one big contract left. After 33-34 their skills begin to falter traditionally, but Ngata does have the fitness that is rare to see in a man over 300 lbs. If he hits free agency, he and Asomugha will be targeted by virtually every team the first day signings are possible. Hopefully PC and JS make it to the top of both of their lists.
Other possible targets: None really aside from keeping Mebane. The other defensive tackles that could help come with huge price tags and would not be much of an upgrade over Colin Cole to be honest.