A year ago at this time, the Seahawks were getting ready for a wild-card playoff game against an NFC North team they had helped build. They ended up escaping frigid Minnesota with a lucky win over the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback Seattle enabled Minnesota to draft in 2014.
Now, here the Hawks are in the wild-card round again, about to face another NFC North team, and personnel ties loom large yet again.
As the Hawks prepare to host the Detroit Lions in the first playoff game between the teams, two of the big storylines involve Golden Tate and Cliff Avril going against their former teams. But the personnel links are deeper than that.
Since coming to Seattle in 2010, John Schneider has done more business with Detroit than with any other team. Of his 42 trades, seven have been with the Lions. And two of them helped create the Legion of Boom.
About three weeks before his first draft, in 2010, Schneider sent Rob Sims, an underachieving guard from the Tim Ruskell regime, and a seventh-round pick to Detroit for defensive end Robert Henderson and a fifth-round pick. Henderson didn’t do anything for Seattle, but Schneider used that fifth-rounder on Kam Chancellor.
Later that year, Schneider dealt Lawrence Jackson, a first-round bust drafted by Ruskell, for a pick that became Byron Maxwell in 2011. Maxwell became a key member of the LOB a few years later. The bigger move came during that 2011 draft, when Schneider made a volume deal with Detroit to add picks in the third and fourth rounds and move up in the fifth, where Seattle ended up drafting Richard Sherman.
And boom! The Legion was born off two deals with Detroit.
The LOB came up short in the 2012 meeting between the teams, as Matthew Stafford drove down the field in the final minute and won the game. But they came up big during the Monday night meeting in 2015, with Chancellor punching the ball out of Calvin Johnson’s arm at the goal line to preserve a controversial win.
Chancellor and Sherman obviously loom large once again, especially with Earl Thomas out, and so does receiver Paul Richardson, another player Seattle drafted with a pick obtained from Detroit.
With Tyler Lockett injured, Richardson will play a big part in Seattle’s postseason run — however long it lasts. He was selected in 2014 after Schneider made yet another deal with Detroit, dropping five spots in the second round.
Chancellor, Sherman, Richardson and Maxwell are the best of the players Schneider has drafted using picks acquired from Detroit — a group that also includes John Moffitt, Kris Durham, Jesse Williams, Kevin Norwood and Kiero Small. He also has sent draft picks to Detroit for Tyler Polumbus and Mohammed Seisay — Polumbus played for Seattle in the early days of the Schneider-Pete Carroll regime, and Seisay has spent the past two seasons on IR.
The Lions haven’t fared as well with the picks they got in those deals with Schneider — none of them remain on the team (which might partly explain why Martin Mayhew was fired last year, too).
But the Seattle-Detroit pipeline has continued to help the Lions anyway. Tate, who left Seattle amid controversy for Detroit in 2014, is the most recent in a line of Sea Lions — e.g., Jackson, Sims, Nate Burleson, Julian Peterson, Maurice Morris, Will Heller.
It will be entertaining to watch him once again go against the Legion of Boom — a group the Lions helped build.