The Seattle futures of two key players are at top of mind after the blowout win over the 49ers.
Bobby Wagner’s historic performance is the kind of game that seemingly makes re-signing him next year a no-brainer — but, of course, it’s not.
On the other side, D.J. Fluker’s hamstring injury is another reminder why the injury-prone road grader was available on the cheap this year and why the Seahawks should tread lightly in their expected offer to him after the season.
Along with line coach Mike Solari, Fluker has been a great addition to Seattle’s offense. He has helped pave the way for seven of the eight 150-yard rushing days as the Hawks lead the NFL at 148.8 yards per game.
Since October, many have been calling for the team to extend him, which it probably would like to do for a reasonable sum. But Fluker has battled several injuries this season, and this strained hammy is the latest sign that injuries are probably always going to keep his value down.
He has played nine games this season, the same number he played last year with the Giants — which is why he ended up in Seattle on a one-year, $1.5 million deal. If he can’t return before the playoffs, he won’t be worth much more than that. The Hawks could keep him with an incentive-heavy deal, if they feel 10-12 games a season is worth it.
Of course, if the unit suffers no drop-off with Jordan Simmons replacing Fluker, Fluker’s value might dip even more. The Hawks ran for a season-best 273 yards against the Rams in Week 10, with Simmons replacing Fluker and Chris Carson also out.
While Fluker’s value is fluid and debatable, Wagner’s is not.
The star linebacker played perhaps the best game of his career against the 49ers and would be a lock for an extension next offseason if most fans had any say.
We have always thought the Hawks should re-extend Wagner, but their recent personnel decisions trend against that projection, which is why we wrote that the Hawks might put themselves in a position where they need to trade him.
After Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril suffered career-ending injuries last year, John Schneider and Pete Carroll changed their MO — dumping malcontents Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett and deciding against re-extending Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright.
Based on those moves, it sure looks like Schneider and Carroll did an about-face on their defense and do not want to pay aging players anymore. But, it is entirely possible that they feel differently about Wagner than they did about Thomas and Wright, who both ended up with injury problems this season.
The Seahawks obviously were wary of Thomas’ injury history and age (and perhaps “trade me to Dallas” talk) and didn’t want to pay him — even though they could have avoided the injury guarantees that burned them in Chancellor’s deal and gotten out of a new deal after a couple of years.
Wright had been an iron man, missing just five games in his first seven seasons, but maybe Schneider and Carroll knew something about this knee issue and that is why they never approached him about a second extension last offseason. Or maybe they just wanted to wait and see. Either way, it turns out they were right as Wright has struggled with the knee all season and, barring a good recovery and a very cheap deal with the Hawks next offseason, is probably on his way out of Seattle.
Wagner will be 29 next year as he enters the final year of a $43 million contract. Like Thomas, he certainly will want to know where his future lies. He almost held out last time he was up for an extension, which was reached as training camp started in 2015. If Schneider and Carroll decide not to pay him again, Wagner will have to choose whether to hold out or play it out. But, before it gets to that point, if Schneider doesn’t want to pay Wagner again, he really should try to trade him before the draft.
It’s entirely possible the Seahawks’ brass thinks differently of Wagner than they did of Thomas and Wright — especially after Wagner’s awesome performance vs. the 49ers. Perhaps Schneider will agree with fans who think the star linebacker/defensive leader should be paid one more time as he enters his eighth season.
Wagner has four more games and the playoffs to convince Schneider he is worth it.