We’ve still have almost two months until free agency begins in early March, but I thought we’d take a closer look at the Seattle Seahawks roster to get a better picture of where the team sits heading into Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider’s third offseason.
The Seahawks have 22 free agents, including 18 unrestricted free agents. So the team will have some decisions to make moving forward on players like running back Marshawn Lynch, fullback Michael Robinson, linebacker David Hawthorne and defensive end Red Bryant, along with the continued development of competition at each position.
QuarterbackNumber kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: ThreeAverage number kept since 2008: ThreeLock: Tarvaris JacksonLooking good: Josh PortisLonger odds: Charlie WhitehurstComment – Whitehurst is a free agent and likely will not be back. Jackson is in the final year of a two-year, $8 million deal and likely will enter the 2012 season as the team’s starter. The Seahawks like Portis as a developmental prospect who could potentially be the team’s quarterback of the future. They will look at options like Matt Flynn to improve the position through free agency, but don’t expect Seattle to break the bank to bring him in. If Flynn proves too expensive, the Seahawks will draft a quarterback to groom as a potential quarterback of the future early in the draft. Running backNumber kept last season: FourCurrently on roster: FourAverage number kept since 2008: 4.75Locks: Leon WashingtonLooking good: Marshawn Lynch, Michael RobinsonLonger odds: Justin Forsett, Tyrell Sutton, Vai TauaComment – Lynch is an unrestricted free agent and the Seahawks want him back, and likely will use the franchise tag to make sure he stays if they cannot get a contract done before the beginning of free agency. Robinson also is an unrestricted free agent and likely to return. Forsett is an unrestricted free agent and likely will not return. Washington is signed through 2014 and could serve as a third-down back if Forsett leaves in free agency. Sutton could fight for a spot on the roster as a versatile performer who could serve as a backup at tailback and fullback.
Wide receiverNumber kept last season: FiveCurrently on roster: NineAverage number kept since 2008: 5.25Locks: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate.In the hunt: Kris Durham, Deon Butler, Richardo Lockette, Mike Williams.Longer Odds: Charly Martin, Comment: Rice was a disappointment. He only played in 10 games because of shoulder and concussion issues, and had shoulder surgery shortly after the season was over. Baldwin, a rookie undrafted free agent, led the Seahawks in receiving with 51 catches for 788 yards and four touchdowns. Baldwin is the Seahawks’ long-term solution at slot receiver, but they still need to find a receiver to play opposite of Rice. Tate, Lockette, Obomanu and Butler likely will compete for that job, but the Seahawks could also select someone to add to that competition in the draft.
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Tight endNumber kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: FiveAverage number kept since 2008: 3.25Locks: Zach MillerLooking good: Anthony McCoy, Cameron MorrahIn the hunt: John CarlsonLonger odds:John NalboneComment – Miller finished with a career-low 25 receptions in his first year in Seattle, but part of the reason for his drop in performance is the Seahawks needed him to stay in and protect Tarvaris Jackson in passing situations. Miller, Morrah and McCoy all struggled with drops this season, but McCoy had the most with five drops. Morrah is the most explosive of the three, and has the ability to line up as a receiver on the perimeter. McCoy has the most talent, but has yet to live up to his potential. Carlson, who missed the entire season after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, is an unrestricted free agent. The Seahawks would like to have him back, but Carlson should receive interest from teams like Cleveland looking for a starter in a West Coast offensive scheme. Offensive lineNumber kept last season: 9Currently on roster: 13Average number kept since 2008: 9.5Locks: Russell Okung, Robert Gallery, Max Unger, John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Lemuel Jeanpierre. Looking good : Paul McQuistan, Breno Giacomini,In the hunt: Jarriel King, Brent Osborne, Paul Fanaika, Allen Barbre, Mike Gibson. Comment – After struggling to run the ball the first half of the season, offensive line coach Tom Cable got something in his unit to click, leading to the Seahawks running for at least 100 yards in seven of the last eight games in the second half of the season. More impressive, the Seahawks accomplished that feat with three-fifths of the starting offensive line on the season-ending injured reserve, leading team observers to believe Seattle finally has figured out how to run the zone blocking scheme after four seasons. McQuistan and Giacomini are both free agents, but proved their value by capably filling in for Okung and Carpenter when they went down with injuries for the year. Carpenter had ACL knee surgery in November and might not be ready in time for training camp, but Okung (torn pectoral muscle) and Moffitt (MCL knee surgery) should be ready. Cable turned this group, considered a weakness of the team, into one of the deeper units in terms of depth.
Defensive lineNumber kept last season: EightCurrently on roster: 16Average number kept since 2008: 9.25Locks:Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald.In the hunt:Pep Levingston, Jimmy Wilkerson, Dexter Davis, Pierre Allen, Anthony Hargrove.Longer odds:Raheem Brock, John Graves, Adrian Taylor.Comment – The Seahawks continue to get solid overall production out of this group. Seattle finished in the top 15 against the run, and overall was the No. 9 defense in total yardage in the league. Chris Clemons once against proved he’s one of the better pass rushers in the league with a team-high 11 sacks. But the Seahawks need to add another edge rusher to pair with him. Bryant is a free agent, but he already said he wants to return. Bryant finished with three blocked field goals and an extra point, and is stout against the run on the edge of the defense. He has more value to Seattle than other teams throughout the league. Branch and Mebane are solid inside, although Pete Carroll said he’d like to add an interior pass rusher. Wilkerson, who did not play a down because of season-ending knee surgery during training camp, could be that guy. LinebackersNumber kept last season: SevenCurrently on roster: NineAverage number kept since 2008: 6.25Locks: K.J. WrightIn the hunt: Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne, Matt McCoy, Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith, Heath Farwell.Longer odds: David Vobora, Adrian MotenComment – For a third straight season, David Hawthorne led the Seahawks in tackles (115). Hawthorne could leave in free agency, along with veteran Leroy Hill, who had a nice, bounce-back season, playing in all 16 games for the first time in his career. Rookie K.J. Wright proved the most versatile of the three starters, and a solid replacement for the jettisoned Aaron Curry. The Seahawks could move Wright to middle linebacker if Hawthorne does not return. Smith could provide the coveted speed Carroll is looking for at linebacker, but needs to stay healthy.
CornerbacksNumber kept last season: SixCurrently on roster: 11Average number kept since 2008: FiveLocks: Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell. Looking good:Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox.On the bubble: Marcus Trufant.Longer odds: Jesse Hoffman, Ron Parker, Coye Francies, Phillip Adams.Comment – Hard to believe both corners at end of the 2010 season did not finish as the starters this year, yet this group is on the verge of having one of the best defensive backfields in the league. Browner (6-foot-4) and Sherman (6-foot-3) give Seattle the tallest cornerback combination in the league. Browner is signed through 2013, and Sherman is signed through 2014. If Trufant can get healthy and is willing to restructure his contract, he could stick around as a nickel back and be a mentor for this young unit.
SafetiesNumber kept last season: FiveCurrently on roster: FiveAverage number kept since 2008: 4.25Locks:Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor.In the hunt: Atari Bigby, Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos.Comment – . Thomas has been the glue guy in the defensive backfield, earning his Pro Bowl selection by limiting mistakes and covering so much ground in the back end of the defense. And given his first opportunity to start, Chancellor emerged as one of the most physical defenders in the back end of a defense in the league. Bigby provided valuable depth at both positions. He’s a free agent that the Seahawks could bring back for his veteran experienced and special teams ability. Johnson and Maragos are both developmental prospects still finding their way, but solid contributors on special teams.
SpecialistsSpecialists kept last season: ThreeCurrently on roster: ThreeAverage number kept since 2008: 3.25Locks: (P) Jon Ryan, (LS) Clint Gresham.Looking good: (K) Steven Hauschka. Comment – Leon Washington was solid, but not as explosive as last season. Punter Jon Ryan had another good year, and kicker Steven Hauschka made people forget about Olindo Mare. Hauschka is a restricted free agent and should return in 2012. Seattle’s usually solid coverage units gave up three returns for TDs and were one of the most penalized groups in the NFL this season.