“This is a team that’s built for the future. … We’re in the middle of this. This is not like the end. This is just the middle of this.” — Pete Carroll to 710 ESPN after blowing the Super Bowl in February.
The Seahawks’ contract impasse with Russell Wilson has many wondering how much longer he will be the team’s quarterback and, in a related consideration, how long the Hawks’ Super Bowl window will remain open.
But Pete Carroll’s comments from February remain just as germane today, despite the apparent lack of progress on Wilson’s deal: This team is right in the middle of its Super Bowl window.
The team controls Wilson’s contract for at least three more seasons, which happens to match the duration of the deals of some of the team’s best players: Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett. Signed through 2018 are Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman.
Sure, Lynch could walk at any time if he feels the Call of Duty to do something else. And Bennett might not be with the team beyond this year if he continues to sit inside the VMAC whining about his contract while his teammates practice.
But, with the team now talking to Bobby Wagner about a new deal, we should be able to add the linebacker to the list of long-term Seahawks at some point this year.
Add the team’s young receivers (Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, Kevin Norwood) and some of the other additions from the last two drafts, and the Hawks have a solid core through at least 2017.
Yeah, Carroll himself is signed only through 2016, but you can bet his colossal coaching failure in Super Bowl XLIX will motivate him to stay through the decade. He’s a young 63 and has made it clear he wants to create a lasting legacy by “doing it better than it’s ever been done.” Thanks to his XLIX screw-up, he still has a ways to go to achieve that, so figure he’s good for five or six more years.
As for Wilson, he is under contract this year for $1.54 million, which will be another great bargain if the sides do not come to terms on an extension.
Barring a new deal this year, the Hawks will have the franchise tag at their disposal over the next three years. But it won’t be feasible beyond 2017 because of the mandatory raises (20 percent and 44 percent) that would push his salary to at least $34 million in 2018.
Some think the Hawks would use the exclusive tag on Wilson, but that really makes no sense. Why pay him $25 million in 2016 and $30 million in 2017 when you can pay him $20 million and $24 million?
The Hawks won’t be scared off by the idea that some other team will try to sign him away. They would either match the offer or take the two first-round picks.
But, it most likely will never get that far — Wilson figures to sign an extension within the next few months.
Aside from Wilson, the biggest roster concerns over the next three years are the makeup of the offensive line and defensive tackle.
The Hawks are pretty raw on the O-line, and their top two veterans — Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy — are both entering the final year of their rookie contracts. Seattle has possible replacements in Garry Gilliam and Mark Glowinski, with Terry Poole also a possibility at left tackle. And they certainly could draft a left tackle next year as well.
They probably are hoping conversion project Kristjan Sokoli is ready to play center next year, but Glowinski could step in there, too, if the Hawks keep Sweezy at right guard.
At D-tackle, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel and Ahtyba Rubin all will be free agents in 2016, leaving Jordan Hill as the only true tackle and no run stoppers at all. The Hawks surely will re-sign one of the three veterans, but tackle figures to be a draft priority in 2016.
The roster beyond 2017 is very fluid — you can bet the Hawks will have a new running back and almost a completely different defensive line — and the next two offseasons largely will determine the makeup of the 2018-2020 squad.
In the meantime, the Seahawks clearly have a solid three years of Super Bowl contention ahead.