We certainly understand (and share) the frustration of fans over the Seahawks’ latest premature playoff ouster, and we are as eager as anyone to see the franchise fix its flaws and finally get back to the NFC title game and Super Bowl. But fans need to stop overreacting and get a grip on reality.
Pete Carroll is not going to be fired, and the Hawks are not going to trade Russell Wilson or Jamal Adams or Bobby Wagner. None of those guys are going anywhere.
Carroll has a new five-year deal, which means he is coaching for at least two or three more years. If you think he’s a fossil and the Hawks will continue to be petrified in the playoffs with him in charge, you’ll need to cross your fingers that the defense is ascending to elite status again and the new offensive coordinator can recapture and sustain the early 2020 offensive success.
Meanwhile, these Wilson to Miami or Houston or New Orleans ideas are ridiculous. Wilson has a no-trade clause and clearly does not want to go anywhere else. He has three more seasons on his deal and just talked about the legacy he wants to leave over the next decade in Seattle. Add to that an $8 million cap cost of trading him in 2021, and he’s absolutely not going anywhere.
Adams is here for the long haul, too, even if he may not turn out to be worth all the high picks and money because his body may not hold up. He is an impactful player – a great football player – but Carroll and Ken Norton definitely need to coach him up on protecting his body, which was battered in 2020. He should be in Seattle for as long as he is healthy.
There is a growing segment of fans who think the overpaid Wagner must go, but you can bet he will remain the defensive heartbeat for at least the last two years of his deal. He was named All-Pro for the sixth time in 2020 and remains one of the top middle linebackers in the NFL.
It frankly would be stunning if any of those guys were not with the team in 2021 (or 2022, for that matter). In fact, the offensive coordinator change is the only major addition you should expect from the franchise this offseason.
The roster was talented enough on both sides to win playoff games this season (but the Rams out-coached and outplayed them again), and most of the key pieces are locked in for 2021, with just a handful of starting spots open.
The NFL probably will find a way to avoid the cap dropping by $23 million. If the cap stays flat (the best we can hope for), the Hawks would have maybe $15 million to $20 million for veterans (after ERFA signings and Poona Ford’s $3.4 million RFA tender, but before any cap-reducing extensions).
That could be enough to bring back K.J. Wright and 6-7 cheaper vets (e.g., Ethan Pocic, Carlos Hyde, Quinton Dunbar). Some fans are hoping Seattle will splurge on an O-lineman or corner or receiver, but when does John Schneider ever do that (other than one-year overspends on washed-up names)?
Schneider certainly should be planning a few extensions (Adams, Carlos Dunlap, Tyler Lockett), which could create space for another mid-priced addition or two if the cap does not drop.
Of course, if the NFL sticks with the current plan to cut the cap to $175 million (or even $180 million), the Hawks will need those extensions if they are going to do anything other than keep Ford and their ERFAs.
Lockett is set to count about $15 million, Dunlap $14.1 million and Adams just under $10 million. The Hawks could cut over $20 million off those cap hits by extending all three.
Jarran Reed will count almost $14 million, too. If no extension is planned (because the team does not value him or he is hoping for a bigger payday in 2022), the Hawks should look to trade him. That would free up nearly $9 million (an acquiring team presumably would reduce that hit with an extension).
Reed is a good player, but his sack numbers have partly been the byproduct of having an excellent outside rusher next to him (Frank Clark in 2018, Dunlap in 2020). Carroll has mentioned this several times, and the Hawks seem unlikely to overpay him — in which case they probably should try to get good value for him as he comes off a 6.5-sack season.
Of course, Schneider has traded only one big-value player in his entire Seattle tenure: Clark, who was on the franchise tag after playing out his rookie deal. Schneider declined to trade Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas when they still had value – and he got peanuts for Michael Bennett. If the cap is tight, this might be a year when he needs to try to move Reed or Quandre Diggs ($5.5 million cap hit) for some Day 2 draft stock and cap space.
Here are some proposed re-signings and the cap hits:
QB: Geno Smith $987K (vet minimum benefit)
RB: *Chris Carson $5M or Carlos Hyde $2M (both with playing incentives)
WR: Phillip Dorsett $987K
TE: Jacob Hollister $987K
OL: *Ethan Pocic $2M (on new $5M/yr deal)
DL: Branden Jackson $987K
LB: *Wright $6M (on new $9M/yr deal).
DB: *Quinton Dunbar $2M (with incentives)
*If the Hawks value the player as a starter