2017 moves will be based on 2018 salary cap

Salary cap logoMichael Bennett’s new deal is the first of several extensions John Schneider figures to consummate in the coming months as he presumably focuses on keeping the core of this Seattle team intact.

With no major free agents — Steven Hauschka and RFA DeShawn Shead will be the biggest — Schneider’s 2017 offseason will be more about setting up 2018 and beyond. And, if we’re lucky, he might do something about Seattle’s biggest weakness.

Some fans are giddy about the apparent salary cap boon of up to $38 million, thinking the Hawks can go hog wild on offensive linemen in free agency. But Schneider and contract specialist Matt Thomas know their 2017 offseason is really based on the 2018 salary cap — and they don’t have the flexibility fans think they do, assuming they plan to stick with their MO of keeping their own stars.

With Kam Chancellor, Jimmy Graham and Justin Britt also due for extensions in 2017 and a bevy of star defenders, plus Tyler Lockett, signed only through 2018, every move Schneider makes now has to be made with those players (or replacements) in mind.

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With Bennett deal, Schneider gets a jump on 2017 extensions

Salary cap logoJohn Schneider has several big extensions to consider in 2017, so it makes sense that he started early — removing any doubt about Michael Bennett remaining with the team beyond 2017.

Schneider and Doug Hendrickson, Bennett’s new agent, had been talking about a new deal since the summer, so it is not a big surprise they finished it off before this season ends.

The extension, reportedly for three years and $31.5 million, is almost the terms of the deal they worked out for Marshawn Lynch after the 2014 season.

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2017 season already off to bad start

Seahawks bandagesIt has been a long time since the Seahawks started a season at full strength. They won’t do it in 2017 either.

Tyler Lockett will require up to nine months to come back from a gruesome broken leg, which means he might end up on PUP to start the season. For the second time in three years, Earl Thomas also will be coming off a serious injury (also a broken leg) and trying to find his playing confidence as the 2017 season starts.

Pete Carroll told reporters he expects Lockett back for 2017 camp; but, even if he does make it, he will be brought along slowly – making it the third straight year the Hawks will start at less than full strength.

The Seahawks have gone through the same thing for most of the last four years. In 2013, it was Chris Clemons (ACL) and Percy Harvin (hip). In 2015, it was Thomas (shoulder), Jeremy Lane (arm and ACL) and Paul Richardson (ACL). This year, it was Jimmy Graham (patellar tendon) and Thomas Rawls (broken ankle).

On top of that, Rawls’ durability is a major question after a broken ankle, broken leg and now a shoulder problem. He’s a tough runner, but he batters his body too much and seems destined to never play a full season. With C.J. Prosise even more NFL-fragile, the Hawks will have to address running back in the offseason.

Alex Collins ran well in the second half vs. Arizona – his best look since the preseason. But the Hawks, who have given the ball to 10 running backs this season, almost surely will add more backs in 2017.

Hawks show no signs of being Super this year

logo-arizonaIn Week 16 of the 2013 season, the Seahawks lost at home to Arizona — putting the pressure on to clinch the No. 1 seed in Week 17. They did that and then went on to win the Super Bowl.

This season was set up to be a carbon copy of 2013, but just about the only thing that has followed 2013 form has been the Week 16 home loss to Arizona.

Unlike 2013, this Seattle team has no shot at the No. 1 seed. And it needs help to claim a bye. In fact, this crew will be lucky to win the one home playoff game it is guaranteed.

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How much longer will LOB stay together?

Earl Thomas and Pete Carroll (The Seattle Times via Twitter)The Legion of Boom has spearheaded one of the great defenses in NFL history, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer the trio of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor will remain together.

The crew has turned into the Legion of Drama over the past year. Last season, Chancellor created a big stir with a holdout that messed up the defense, and Thomas played tentatively for half the season as he returned from a bad shoulder injury.

The drama has continued this year, with Thomas injured again and talking retirement, Chancellor missing more time with injuries and Sherman sounding off every week about something.

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CHAWK LINES -- Cardinals at Seahawks

Jon Ryan is off the injury report, meaning he figures to play vs. Arizona.

Michael Bennett and Seattle’s pass rush could have a good day vs. Arizona.

The Seahawks are aiming for the fourth perfect home season in their history.

What has happened to the Cardinals this season?

Bennett was fined for his “three pumps” dance.

Pete Carroll was surprised Richard Sherman showed no contrition publicly about his outburst last week.

What’s up with Sherman? Plus other Week 16 questions.

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CHAWK LINES -- Cardinals at Seahawks

Cliff Avril made the Pro Bowl for the first time, alongside Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman.

Sherman’s sideline rant from the last game is still a big topic, which Sherman doesn’t like.

Darrell Bevell said he and Sherman have talked and are in “a good place.”

Earl Thomas reiterates he has not ruled out retirement.

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Hawks have to keep running the ball

logo-green-bayPete Carroll knows his team has to keep trying to run the ball if it is going to keep winning. That was true vs. the Rams and certainly will apply in the playoffs.

The question: Will the offensive line get it back together or will Seattle have to win the way it did against Los Angeles?

The Seahawks had rolled up 655 rushing yards, at a 6.1 average, over four games heading into last Thursday, leading to some confidence that they might be able to buck their trend of poor performances against the Rams.

But they instead conjured one of their worst rushing games of the season, averaging a season-low 2.4 yards per carry. It was their sixth game under 3.0 this season — the most in Carroll’s seven seasons. It also was the worst rushing performance by that metric since Russell Wilson became QB.

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Carroll’s undisciplined Hawks win West

logo-green-bayPete Carroll has never been much of a disciplinarian. He’s a free spirit who encourages the same in his players.

It’s partly why his team is always at the top of the league in penalties. It’s also why his players feel free to express themselves — even if they make Carroll look like a fool.

They certainly did Thursday night in a division-clinching 24-3 win over the Rams.

The Hawks committed 13 penalties — 10 of them mental errors that reflected that well-documented lack of discipline. And Richard Sherman went off on his coaches again.

If the Seahawks had been playing almost anyone other than the Rams and rookie QB Jared Goff, Seattle might have lost that game.

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CHAWK LINES -- Rams at Seahawks

The Seahawks are NFC West champs, but are they good enough to be any more than that?

It was a night of redemption for Russell Wilson.

Michael Bennett felt fine after wrenching his neck on a hellish hit.

Jon Ryan was taken to the hospital after suffering a concussion during a crazy run off a fake punt.

Bennett and the defensive line had a feeding frenzy against rookie QB Jared Goff.

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