Dave Boling: Offseason marks for Seahawks seem a bit premature

Staff WriterMarch 20, 2014 

So, two major publications this week awarded the Seattle Seahawks a modest B-minus for their free-agency transactions thus far.

And a Vegas oddsmaker reduced the Seahawks’ chances of winning the Super Bowl from 9-2 to 6-1.

Those on the verge of panic over these assessments should be reminded that the season starts almost six months from now, and those Super Bowl odds won’t gain relevance until 2015.

Be mindful also that as you read this, regardless of the time of day, general manager John Schneider likely is on the phone, watching film, consulting with scouts or reviewing personnel moves that are 10 steps ahead of where they stand now.

Still, it is absolutely fair to say that the roster the Seahawks have today is not as strong as the one they took to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Yes, that’s frightening. This group might have beaten Denver by 30 instead of 35.

To recap: The Seahawks lost Golden Tate (Lions), Breno Giacomini (Jets), Walter Thurmond (Giants), Brandon Browner (Patriots), Clinton McDonald (Buccaneers) and Chris Maragos (Eagles) to free agency.

And that was after cutting Red Bryant (Jaguars), Chris Clemons (Jaguars) and Sidney Rice (unsigned) in money-saving moves.

That’s a total of three quality defensive linemen, a pair of starting-quality cornerbacks and the team’s top receiver/punt returner in Tate.

Furthermore, the departure of Giacomini, a solid and maturing right tackle, feels like a weakening of an area specifically in need of strengthening.

The offensive line, fraught with injuries, exhibited a staffing inconsistency rare among successful teams. Even into the postseason, the starting five up front was being juggled.

Now, they not only have to be concerned with upgrading the guards, but also with replacing a starting right tackle.

Browner and Thurmond had been suspended, so the Hawks had done without them before and gotten by. Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane filled the gaps more than ably, but when adding in the loss of Maragos, the secondary depth will be a concern.

So, yes, big questions arise. You can’t keep everybody.

As it plays out, though, fans tend to forget to counterbalance the losses with their team’s re-signings.

You could look at it from the perspective that the Hawks just landed a strong pass-rushing defensive end in Michael Bennett, who not only has good numbers (8.5 sacks last season), but has none of the doubts that can accompany the arrival of an incoming player — he’s proven in this system. Same for re-signing Tony McDaniel at defensive tackle.

Then toss in kicker Steven Hauschka, who is coming off an almost perfect season.

Another unseen factor of the departures is they open possibilities for little-used or unused draft picks from last season, such as cornerback Tharold Simon and defensive linemen Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams.

More likely to get immediate opportunities is defensive end Greg Scruggs. He missed last season because of a knee injury but could go a long way toward replacing Bryant.

In a move that had nothing to do with free agency but a great deal to do with stability and leadership, the Seahawks restructured the deal of veteran tight end Zach Miller, who appeared vulnerable to becoming a salary-cap casualty.

Aside from continued free agency, there’s the draft, possible draft trades and later dates when veterans will be cut from other clubs.

From this point last season until the first game, the Seahawks added about a dozen players — all who were on the team at the end of the season.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen was still on the market looking for big money.

The fact that he’s still available means he’s not getting knocked over with offers. He came away from his visit to Seattle without a deal. But the longer he shops, the better Seattle will seem to him.

If he can’t get the full deal he’s looking for, doesn’t a veteran with a bulging portfolio but no jewelry seek to land with the team that offers the best competitive possibilities?

The Seahawks have to be cautious, as they’re budgeting for some big contracts coming due. Landing Allen would elevate the assessment of the Seahawks’ action on the market, but would that end up threatening their ability to keep long-term franchise cornerstone players?

It is a sign of the obsession with the National Football League that fans and media are compelled to give report cards for teams in the middle of March.

It’s just wise to give those marks in pencil.

Or better yet, let everybody stand with “incompletes” — at least until after the draft.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440
dave.boling@thenewstribune.com
@DaveBoling

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