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.
“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.
If the Seahawks are able to sustain their newfound energy and momentum and make a major run through the postseason, a lot of credit will go to the veteran players who pulled the team together after the Kansas City loss. A little more credit will go to coach Pete Carroll and his staff.
But let’s not forget a key figure who has helped keep the Hawks afloat amid injuries and drama this season: John Schneider.
The general manager has had his most active season since 2011, when he was still putting together a competitive team for Carroll.
Tony Moeaki has made a heck of an impact in just three games with the Seahawks.
The tight end scored a touchdown in his first game — against his old team, Kansas City. He led the Hawks with four catches in the win against Arizona, making two first downs. And then he pulled off Seattle’s longest play of the year — a 63-yard gain that maybe should have been a 64-yard touchdown — against San Francisco.
It has been a heck of a start for a guy general manager John Schneider picked up four weeks ago to replace Zach Miller, who is out for the season with an ankle injury.
Russell Wilson already loves Moeaki and looks for him in key spots, like the broken play that resulted in the 63-yard pass play.
“Moeaki, man, that’s a tremendous football player,” Wilson said Thursday after the Seahawks’ 19-3 win over the 49ers. “He knows what to do, he runs tremendous routes, he has a great feel for the game, get in and out of his routes at the right time, he has unbelievable hands. His adjustment to us is pretty spectacular to see in terms of how quickly he has made a difference. We are excited to have him on our team and to see all the plays he makes.”
The Percy Harvin Debacle was a great lesson for Pete Carroll and John Schneider: They learned just how fragile the psyche of their young Super Bowl team still is.
And they probably learned which other malcontents they are going to need to send packing to make sure their team remains a Super Bowl contender.
This was bound to happen. Carroll and Schneider have flirted with this kind of danger ever since they came to Seattle — bringing in bad apples such as Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow while courting chuckleheads such as Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson.
Adding those kinds of idiots to a young team is always a huge risk — too many impressionable kids on your team. Harvin apparently swung a few of them his way in his 19 months in Seattle.
John Schneider has proved very adept at turning first-round picks into late-rounders, although this is the first time he has devalued his own initial trade in such fashion.
By shelling out Percy Harvin for peanuts — just to get rid of the headache receiver and his mindboggling contract — Schneider in effect turned a first-rounder, third-rounder and seventh-rounder into a sixth that could become a fourth. Now that’s some real wheelin’ and dealin’.
Obviously, that stands as Schneider’s biggest whiff in his Seattle tenure — a gamble on greatness against all odds that did not pay off. It was one of his few foul-ups in nearly five years as Seattle’s general manager.
It also is now the fourth time he has moved a player the Hawks used a first-round pick to obtain.
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.
The Seahawks’ stunning trade of Percy Harvin says a lot about John Schneider, Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and the entire franchise.
They were naïve, hopeful, enabling and nearly self-defeating, but they also realized what a colossal error it was and probably made a great move — however shocking it was — in order to save their offense and season.
The ill-advised decision (we said it then, so we can say it now) to trade for Harvin and give him a $67 million contract last year was easily Schneider’s biggest gamble since he and Carroll arrived in 2010. And, unsurprisingly, the GM lost big time.