The solution to the Seahawks’ depth problem at cornerback might just have arrived — courtesy of former Seattle DC Gus Bradley.
Two years after the Hawks let cornerback Will Blackmon go and Bradley swept him up in Jacksonville, Bradley might have returned the favor Thursday by releasing Blackmon.
The Hawks are hurtin’ for certain at the position this offseason, with Jeremy Lane dealing with a broken wrist and torn ACL, Richard Sherman healing up a torn ligament in his elbow, Tharold Simon possibly facing shoulder surgery and Byron Maxwell poised to leave March 10 when some team (possibly Jacksonville) offers him a monster contract.
That leaves all of one guy healthy: Marcus Burley.
The Seahawks have played — and won — more games than any team in the NFL the past three seasons.
By the time they reached Super Bowl XLIX, their defense was a shadow of itself — six key defenders on injured reserve or out of the game by the end and the Legion of Boom fighting through major injuries. Those issues played no small part in their 28-24 loss to the Patriots.
The Seahawks put 17 players on IR — fourth most in the NFL. John Schneider did a great job making moves to keep the Hawks in the hunt, but the injuries on both lines, in the secondary and at tight end affected Seattle throughout the season.
So, as Seattle coaches and personnel people arrive in Indianapolis for the Combine this week, their major goal clearly is to find players who could improve the team’s depth across the board, with an eye to replacing future free agents as well.
A major myth has been propagated across the Pacific Northwest and the NFL in recent months. You know, the one that says the Seahawks need Marshawn Lynch in order to win a Super Bowl.
(This is completely separate from the idea that the Seahawks would have won Super Bowl XLIX if they had run Lynch one last time.)
The Hawks have been partly guilty themselves of spreading the nasty rumor, with Pete Carroll and John Schneider talking him up as a core player. They consider him such a key piece that they have offered the soon-to-be 29-year-old a pay raise and extension.
There is nothing wrong with that — they can fit it under the cap nicely and not lose much even if he does walk away after 2015 — but the fact is the Hawks don’t really need Lynch.
The Seahawks have spent the last five years building one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL — a unit that has allowed the fewest points in the league for three years running and has been the main reason Seattle has reached back-to-back Super Bowls.
But, as we saw in the Super Bowl, the offense is a two-dimensional cardboard cutout — forced to rely largely on the determination of Marshawn Lynch (aka Beast Mode) and the freelance ability of Russell Wilson (aka DangeRuss).
When Seattle’s best offensive personnel grouping includes undrafted receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and fifth-round tight end Luke Willson — and the coaches think throwing to Lockette on the goal line to win the Super Bowl is the best play — the Hawks have a serious problem.
This offseason, that must change. It’s the perfect time for Pete Carroll, John Schneider, Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable to determine the future of the offense — to improve their receiving corps, find some reliable offensive linemen and otherwise make a concerted effort to fix a unit that has been running on the shoestrings of Lynch and Wilson.
A big day for Kris Richard and the Carroll family was trumped by news that Lofa Tatupu is coming back.
For those who just became Seahawks fans in the last four years, Tatupu was the Bobby Wagner of Seattle’s first Super Bowl team. Tatupu played for Pete Carroll at USC and again in 2010, when Carroll came to Seattle.
As much as receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse complain about not getting any respect and being labeled “pedestrian,” the last two games of the season showed the criticisms have a lot of merit.
And when the Seahawks went to Ricardo Lockette — really?! — for the winning touchdown in the final seconds of the Super Bowl, it was a clear indicator that the Seahawks have to upgrade the receiver position in the offseason.
After playing horribly in the NFC title game against Green Bay — shut down for most of the game until they both came up big in overtime — Baldwin and Kearse were almost completely clamped by the Patriots’ secondary in the Super Bowl.
Until yet another undrafted player, Chris Matthews, came up big and sparked the Seattle offense, Russell Wilson had nowhere to go in the first half as Baldwin and Kearse were blanketed by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
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.