As the Seahawks get ready for their playoff run, it's tough to not think about the future. Is this a team with a small window? Is it either this year or never? Are the Hawks going to be perennial playoff favorites? These questions can be answered by looking ahead to the offseason – where the Seahawks are going to face many tough choices.
In 2013, the Seahawks are $5M under the NFL adjusted salary cap of $136M. Unbelievably, 62 % of their salary costs are on the offensive side of the ball, even though they get most of their national notoriety through their defense. Their highest paid offensive player this year is tight end Zach Miller, who is making $11M. Next year, he goes down to $7M and the highest offensive paid player becomes wide receiver Percy Harvin at $13.4M. They are going to be able to hold off extending Russell Wilson for one more year, but are going to have to take a look at other numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
Oft-injured Sidney Rice is expected to make $9.7M next season. The Seahawks really need to try to find a way to either trade him or cut him and recoup some of that salary. Between him and Harvin, they make $23.1M, which is about 1/3 of their projected 2014 Offensive budget. That’s a large chunk of the pie going to two players who rarely see the field. This means the Seahawks are probably going to have to offer an extension to Golden Tate, which he has earned. That will give them Tate, Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and probably Jermaine Kearse as their wide receivers. I’ll take that.
The offensive line should be the main area of focus come the off season. Okung is entrenched at left tackle and, although expensive ($11.24M), a necessary cost. Unger and Carpenter are both locked up, so that means the Seahawks are going to have to answer some questions at right tackle and right guard. Breno Giacomini, this year’s starting right tackle, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. They are probably not going to be able to re-sign him at less than $5M. J.R. Sweezy, this season’s starting right guard, is cheap, but ineffective. This leaves the ‘Hawks with having to focus on filling these two holes on their line.
One solution to fill them is through the draft. The Seahawks are going to have a late first round draft pick. There are some options there, however. It would probably be best for them to target a tackle in the draft and try to secure an OG through free agency. This is going to be better on their pocket books as tackles usually cost a lot more than guards in the free agent market. With that in mind, there are a couple of names to keep an eye on.
Although it might be a pipe dream, if Florida State’s Cameron Erving can fall to the ‘Hawks, that will fill their needs nicely. Erving is a strong, big tackle, with quick feet who can be an asset in the run game and the pass game. Unfortunately, experts believe he will get picked up earlier in the draft (somewhere in the 15-25 range). So that might leave the team looking at Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi. Ogbuehi (pronounced ah-BOO-ee) is solid in pass defense, but sometimes lacks the strength that he needs in the run defense. This is something that can be taught though.
The Seahawks are also going to have some choices to make on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense is where they are going to have to cut the most money. The good news is, at least for the 2014 season, they can keep most of the essential pieces together, and we could be looking at another run deep into the playoffs.
December 23, 2013/Shane Rivers, Mariners and Seahawks correspondent for KMAS. Talking all thing sports related (and sometimes non-sports)
Follow Shane on Twitter @Rainshivers