The Seahawks’ deals for Cliff Avril and K.J. Wright had been in the works pretty much all year, so it was no surprise they got them done before the end of the season.
It takes away the top two players from Seattle’s sizable 2015 free-agent list and means Seattle now has all but one starter from the league’s No. 1 defense under contract next year (two if you add Kevin Williams to Byron Maxwell).
Wright and Avril join Legion of Boom stalwarts Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, plus defensive lineman Michael Bennett, as the keys to a defense that could reign over the NFL through 2017.
K.J. Wright’s $27 million contract extension is the latest proof that John Schneider and the Seahawks are willing to pay a premium to keep their favorite players.
The Seahawks paid Wright more than they really needed to — he admitted he had a lower figure in mind. We recently projected they would offer him $4 million a year, which was their original goal, per ESPN’s John Clayton, who said Wright wanted $5.5 million.
Instead, they made him the highest-paid 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com. The only outside linebackers with better deals are the guys who rush the passer.
The Hawks obviously value Wright’s versatility — he can play inside or out. But they seemingly overpaid him, just as they did Red Bryant when they gave the run-stopping end $7 million a year.
Rookie right tackle Justin Britt’s
struggles have opened up the
debate about whether the
Seahawks should consider
replacing him next year, but the bigger question is whether the Seahawks should replace the left side of their line — Russell Okung and James Carpenter — over the next two years.
The Hawks are unlikely to give up on Britt so soon, but they definitely will have decisions to make along the line in the next couple of years, especially with three starters up for free agency — not that we can tell a starter from a backup anyway, considering injuries continually knock out Okung, Carpenter and center Max Unger.
Offensive line has long been Seattle’s weakest link — and that predates John Schneider, Pete Carroll and Tom Cable. The last time the Hawks started the same five all season was 2007, and they have averaged seven combinations a year in five seasons under this regime. They really need to find some consistency so the offense can progress.
“Him coming back has really changed our defense.”
— Michael Bennett, on Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner has been a major reason the Seattle defense has put the clamps on Arizona, San Francisco and — most impressively — Philadelphia over the last three weeks — and teammates are singing his praises.
“He’s the heart of the defense,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “He cleans up a lot of mistakes made by guys, and other guys clean up mistakes like Earl (Thomas) and Kam (Chancellor). We’ve got a lot guys who are erasers out there, and he has such an instinctual game. He believes what he sees, he plays what he sees. On top of the immense talent and speed that he has, that makes for a fantastic football player that I hope everybody recognizes.”
Wagner’s agent obviously hopes general manager John Schneider recognizes it and will be ready to pay Wagner in the next two years.
Over the last three weeks, the
Seahawks’ defense has gone on a tear
unlike anything it has done under Pete Carroll and the Hawks have
re-established themselves as the Super Bowl repeat threat we all expected them to be.
Assuming the rejuvenated Seahawks maintain their dominant play and take it to the same conclusion as last year, the big question will become: How do they keep this going to create that dynasty we all projected?
Percy Harvin’s contract was an albatross from the ill-advised moment the Seahawks decided to guarantee him $25.5 million in a deal that included salary cap hits north of $12 million from 2014 through 2017.
It seemed farfetched that he would last that long at those numbers; thanks to his alleged anti-team antics, the Hawks just ended up cutting ties much earlier than anyone thought they would.
Even though he will still count $7.2 million in proration in 2015, the Seahawks divested themselves of the remainder of his $11 million salary this season and his $10.5 million salary in 2015.
With the trade official, the Hawks are not paying his $647,000 salary this week, so they will recoup $7.1 million this season. Add that to their net savings of $5.7 million in 2015, and the Hawks pulled an extra $12.8 million in cap space for next offseason.
That gives the Hawks a lot of wiggle room to re-sign some of their key free agents, if they choose.
After this season, the Seahawks figure to give a contract extension to Russell.
Wilson. Not Okung.
While the quarterback has far exceeded expectations over his first two and a quarter seasons, the left tackle has largely been underwhelming since being drafted sixth overall in 2010.
Both are signed through 2015, which means next offseason is the key time for extensions. Wilson will get his, but it’s hard to see Okung getting one — especially if he continues to struggle like he did Monday night.
The left tackle was flagged for three penalties vs. Washington, including a false start on third down that helped stop a first-quarter drive and a holding on a third-quarter drive that also fizzled.
“I’ve got to play better,” he told The Seattle Times. “I can’t afford to have three penalties. Just a lack of focus. I take full responsibility for it. I can’t help out the line making mistakes like that.”
The futures of Marshawn Lynch and Zach Miller were hotly debated all offseason, with many concluding that their salaries and age (both are 28) would preclude either from remaining with the Hawks beyond 2014 — or, in Miller’s case, even in 2014.
After their stellar play in the season opener last week, though, it is easy to see both returning next year.
Most people tend to think Lynch’s Beast Mode has an expiration date and he will switch to Least Mode very soon.