The 2017 NFL season has come and gone, and the Seattle Seahawks are in a rough spot entering the offseason. Like many other teams across the league, they have a multitude of pressing needs for next season. Every team is viewed as imperfect heading into an offseason, but the 2017 Seahawks have a scourge of important decisions to make regarding their players.
The Seahawks have already made significant changes to their coaching staff, including firing longtime offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, offensive line coach Tom Cable and defensive coordinator Kris Richard. They have replaced them with Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Solari and Ken Norton Jr., respectively. These changes came after Seattle missed the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2011. It became clear that sticking with the same staff for another year would be ineffective if the Seahawks wished to return to the playoffs. It is now time to turn to the next phase of the offseason: free agency. It is time to see if any players whose contracts for other teams have expired can be of any use to the Seahawks. There seem to be promising players at nearly every position this year, and Seattle is certainly capable of signing at least a few of them. But there is another matter that factors in to all of this.
The salary cap will limit what the team can do in free agency, as many key players have expensive contracts that carry significant cap hits. The twist is that these players are huge contributors to the team’s success, such as Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas. Additionally, the careers of stars Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril are in jeopardy with neck injuries. However, there is plenty that the Seahawks can do to free up cap space. They can release a few players who have underachieved over the past few years such as cornerback Jeremy Lane, who has not panned out as expected. They can trade players for draft picks or other players with lower cap hits, and they can let players walk in free agency to make room for incoming free agents. I believe that the Seahawks will be able to do this, since they have escaped precarious cap situations before.
The Seahawks currently have needs at several positions. Most notably, they need talent at offensive line, tight end, defensive end, cornerback and kicker. There are lessons to be learned from the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles on how to be a truly great football team. First of all, depth at key positions greatly enhances a team’s chances of maintaining success if a primary player becomes injured. The Seahawks have plenty of depth at defensive tackle and safety, but they need additional talent at the positions mentioned above. One of the primary reasons the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year was their depth at seemingly every position. They were the most complete team in the NFL because of all of the talent they acquired. They did this primarily through free agency and trades, with some assistance in the 2017 NFL Draft.
There is no doubt in my mind that some players will leave Seattle via free agency to pursue opportunities with other teams. Others may join Seattle themselves, and the 2018 NFL Draft will provide plenty of young talent. However, the Seahawks must perfectly execute every move they make this offseason if they wish to return to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl.