After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on Tuesday.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 2013 record: 13-3
Projected current salary-cap space (according to OverTheCap.com): $13.7 million under the cap
Key free agents: OT Breno Giacomini, OL Paul McQuistan, LB-DE O'Brien Schofield, DT Tony McDaniel, WR Golden Tate, QB Tarvaris Jackson, PK Steven Hauschka, CB Brandon Browner, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Walter Thurmond.
Possible salary-cap casualties: DE Chris Clemons, TE Zach Miller. (Already cut WR Sidney Rice and DT Red Bryant.)
Draft situation: The Seahawks own the 32nd pick in the first round. They traded their third-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Percy Harvin. The Seahawks own the Oakland Raiders’ fifth-round pick in the Matt Flynn trade.
[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]
Revisiting 2013: The Seahawks entered the season with big expectations and more than matched them. Armed with a generationally good defense, a power run game and a play-action passing attack armed by the mature and elusive Russell Wilson, the Seahawks fine-tuned their formula into one that few teams were able to crack. Sure, there were some close battles in the NFC West, and the Seahawks’ injury-prone offensive line hit bottom a few times during the season. The team even semi-limped into the postseason with a 2-2 finish, as the offense appeared to hit a wall. But the defense went supersonic in the postseason, capped by one of the vintage Super Bowl performances of all time in a 43-8 trouncing of the Denver Broncos for the first ever championship for the franchise, all of the players on the roster and head coach Pete Carroll.
Reasons for optimism: What’s not to love? If there’s a team that’s equipped to repeat as champions, it’s this one. Precocious young quarterback with the savvy of a 10-year vet, a healthy Harvin, three young and tough runners … and that defense. Sure, they have 13 pending free agents, but bringing back Michael Bennett was a coup. With a blistering pass rush, athletic and instinctive linebackers and rare talent in the secondary, this defense once again should be the best in the NFL. If the team adds a few more pass catchers and bolsters the offensive line depth, we could be talking about the first repeat champions in almost a decade.
Glaring hole to fill: Giacomini held firm when healthy, but the team most certainly can upgrade over him at right tackle. In fact, other than left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger, there isn’t an unquestioned starter locked in on the offensive line. James Carpenter has been a mixed bag at guard, and J.R. Sweezy is just a guy. The team could use multiple draft picks along the line to tighten things up here. Protecting Wilson and paving highways for that run game are of primary importance to keep this ship afloat.
Toughest decision: Keeping Bennett likely means finding a way to retain Clemons — at a far more reasonable cost — is going to be very difficult. As with most Super Bowl champions following the afterglow, contract realities set in and everyone stands (and wants) to get paid. This also applies to future free agents, such as Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman (both of whom could receive extensions this summer or later) and Wilson, who might be next summer’s project. The Seahawks have no need to be spendthrift in the short term and prevent themselves from getting things done with their best players long term.
Best-case offseason scenario: The Seahawks are going to lose players, and they could be surprisingly thin at receiver (especially if Tate bolts) and on the defensive line. Replenishing those positions, along with the offensive line, will be the primary focus of the draft. If the team can triage the internal needs in terms of keeping some of its veteran core, then things should be fine. The Seahawks might not get as lucky this year, signing late bargains such as Bennett and Cliff Avril, in the second wave of free agency. So they will have to be creative in terms of how they add veteran talent. But there is not a pressing need to panic in the wake of winning it all.
Previous Blueprints: 32. Houston Texans; 31. Washington Redskins; 30. Jacksonville Jaguars; 29. Cleveland Browns; 28. Oakland Raiders; 27. Atlanta Falcons; 26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 25. Minnesota Vikings; 24. Buffalo Bills; 23. Detroit Lions; 22. Tennessee Titans; 21. New York Giants; 20. St. Louis Rams; 19. Chicago Bears; 18. Pittsburgh Steelers; 17. Dallas Cowboys; 16. Baltimore Ravens; 15. New York Jets; 14. Miami Dolphins; 13. Arizona Cardinals; 12. Green Bay Packers; 11. Philadelphia Eagles; 10. Kansas City Chiefs; 9. Cincinnati Bengals; 8. San Diego Chargers; 7. Indianapolis Colts; 6. New Orleans Saints; 5. Carolina Panthers; 4. New England Patriots; 3. San Francisco 49ers; 2. Denver Broncos
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