What Does The Future Hold For The Seattle Seahawks?
It wasn’t even three weeks ago when the Seattle Seahawks handed the Philadelphia Eagles, who nearly everyone considered to be the best team in the NFL, a loss by a two-touchdown margin, holding an Eagles offense led by then-MVP favorite Carson Wentz to only 10 points. That gave Seattle an 8-4 record, and put them in the driver’s seat to not only make the playoffs for the sixth season in a row, but to take control of the NFC West away from the surging Los Angeles Rams.
And yet, since then, to say things have gone disastrously might be somewhat underselling just how bad it’s really been for the Seahawks. The 30-24 score in their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars doesn’t nearly reflect just how badly Seattle was outplayed in that game; if it wasn’t for two late touchdown passes by Russell Wilson, it would’ve been a 30-10 score. But the following week’s score of 42-7, in their loss to said Rams, was just as ugly as the score might indicate. The Rams were up 34-0 by halftime, which was the largest such margin that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll had ever had in his tenure as the team’s coach.
With two weeks left to go in the regular season, Seattle is still mathematically alive for one of the wild card spots in the NFC, but their work is certainly cut out for them. They have to go into Dallas and beat a team that will have a rested Ezekiel Elliott returning to the lineup; consider the fact that this Seahawks team just gave up 152 yards and four touchdowns rushing to Todd Gurley last week. They’ll then finish the season with a home game against division rival Arizona; anything can happen when you play a division opponent. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Seattle needs both Atlanta and Detroit, who are sitting ahead of them in the standings, to lose at least one of their last two remaining games.
If the Seahawks fail to qualify for the postseason for the first time since quarterback Russell Wilson was drafted, they’ll head right into an offseason that has more questions than answers about the team’s future. Seattle will head into the offseason with the fifth-least amount of salary cap room of any team in the NFL, and a laundry list of tough personnel decisions they need to make.
Cornerback Richard Sherman’s public bravado has become less of a sideshow and more of a distraction. He turns 30 years old in the offseason, just tore his Achilles’ tendon (you’re looking at an 8-10 month recovery for that — at best), and is going to carry a $13.2 million cap hit next season (the 6th highest cap hit for a cornerback in the league in 2018). If Seattle releases him, they could free up $11 million under the cap. But you’re also talking about one of the team’s two most defining players.
Jimmy Graham is a free agent after this year, and just turned 31 on this past Black Friday a few weeks ago. Over his last two seasons in Seattle, Graham has made over $7.9 million each year; his total salary last year was $10 million, and was the third-highest-costing tight end in the NFL. So do you give an aging tight end a contract that averages in the neighborhood of nine or ten million per year as he gets closer to 35, knowing that he still drops more passes than any other player at his position in the league? Or do you let him walk away, and be ok with the fact that he’s caught almost 1/3rd of the 30 touchdown passes that Russell Wilson has thrown this year, and might have been the NFL’s most dangerous red zone weapon this past season.
Seattle also has to immediately decide what they’re going to do with Luke Joeckel, their left guard who’s been up and down this season, and might not be worth the $8 million/year they’re paying him. Anyone who’s watched this team knows that the running back position has been a disaster this season; you know it’s bad when your two best guys are Mike Davis (whom they picked up off the scrap heap after he was dumped by San Francisco) and J.D. McKissic (whom many of the top draft analysts had never heard of prior to this season).
To make matters worse, guys like Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril, KJ Wright, and Frank Clark will be free agents after 2018; those are some of the most indispensable players on the defense, so Seattle has to figure out which one of those players are going to earn the precious few salary cap dollars the Seahawks have left, and which one of those guys will be let go. Same goes for wide receiver Paul Richardson, who is also a free agent after this year. There will be a long list of teams who will covet a talented player with his upside; he’ll turn 26 years old next spring, and feels like he’s right on the cusp of being a breakout star
This isn’t a “reload” type of situation for Seattle, either. Of the 28 players the Seahawks drafted from 2013-2015, only five are still with the team. For as much credit as we give this organization for the way it was built through the draft, it certainly hasn’t been sustained in the most recent drafts.
Give all the youth on the prolific Rams offense, and the arrival of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco, you have to wonder just what the future holds for these Seahawks, given all these questions they’re facing — and the few dollars they have to use to answer said questions.
At the beginning of December, we all seemed to be thinking about how “Seattle looks like they’re back.” And by Christmas, we’re now talking about the Seahawks, as we presently know them, might be no more.
That must be why people say the “NFL” actually stands for “Not For Long.”
Get a sports mouth guard for kids now.