With all the trade rumours surrounding the Seahawks at present it seems the team is willing to listen to offers, as would be wise, but what will come of it? We obviously can’t say either way but let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
If you look at what the likes of Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman have done for this team, it’s not surprising to see plenty in the ‘keep’ camp, these three players are core defensive guys that are, for the most part, loved by fans. We know Pete Carroll has an ‘always compete’ mentality that is at the core of his philosophy and for his scheme to be productive and actually work, he needs his players to buy into that. If some of the older vets are starting to get a bit bored of the message, that resonates down to the rookies and all of a sudden, both the younger and older guys aren’t fully ‘buying in’. It’s a tough thing to manage, no doubt, but the main reasons why these trade talks could be totally genuine is not because Seattle doesn’t feel these players will be able to contribute over the next two or three years as this is, quite frankly, ridiculous. But are they buying in? Do you think the likes of Earl, Richard and Michael are worried at preseason cuts? Do you think they fully buy into the always compete philosophy they’ve heard for more than eight years? I don’t. They’re comfortable, they’ve been paid handsomely, proven their level of play off the field and are at a point in their careers where they don’t need to ‘prove’ themselves, I don’t doubt their effort levels for a second, though. These guys are professional athletes that know what it takes to be at the height of their game, you don’t just get there with natural talent, it takes dedication, grind and a real desire. But I don’t think they’re buying in to Pete’s philosophy anymore and that is the main reason why these trade rumours are occurring.
Firstly, let’s look at Richard Sherman. Everyone knows how the team was openly shopping him last offseason, it seemed the team had a set benchmark that if they got that value, he would be traded. As it happened, no other team was willing to stump up the asking price so Sherm returned for the 2017 season and suffered a season ending injury. I’ve heard all sorts of different things on the asking price, with the highest being two first round picks. If that was in fact true, it’s really no wonder nobody took the offer, Richard Sherman is an elite player but no front office in the history of the world would give away two first round picks for him. With the 2017 season completed and the roster for 2018 being created, at least on paper, once again things are heating up that Seattle is willing to move on from the All-Pro corner.
I’ve mentioned before how I expect the team to have a more even balance on cap spend between the defense and offense and moving Richards contract would a huge step in that measure. He currently is set to have the third biggest cap hit of the team in 2018 at $13,200,000, if he was moved, only his prorated signing bonus would stay on the books meaning Seattle would be $11,000,000 better off, that’s obviously a huge amount of money and a big plus on the ‘move Richard’ argument, also if he isn’t fully buying in any more then it’s no surprise that the front office don’t want him around anymore.
But it’s very fair to assume that the team likely wouldn’t get fair compensation in a trade, he’s coming off a major injury, has just undergone a second surgery on his other leg, has a large contract that’s in its final year. Those aren’t exactly selling points. The plus sides are there is zero indication that he won’t come back and be every bit the player he has been to date, another team could end up with an absolute bargain if Seattle doesn’t manage the trade correctly.
As a huge Richard Sherman fan, I think I’d feel a bit numb with the move and ultimately do want him back next season at the very least, whether I’d want to extend him further is yet to be determined, if Seattle did go down this route and keep him I think I could get on board with a 2 or 3-year extension to see him with the team through 2020 or 2021, although given the Kam Chancellor fiasco, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be a little bit nervous.
It’s also fair to assume that Seattle will not replicate his play with any free agent or rookie draft pick so if he is moved, don’t expect someone to come on board and be Richard Sherman 2.0. The key to remember is the team doesn’t necessarily need a RS2.0, don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have, but it isn’t a prerequisite to a winning formula, there are so many moving pieces to a football team that even the likes of Jacksonville can go deep into the playoffs with average quarterback play.
Ultimately, I am not convinced the team will get their trade demands met and Richard will remain on the roster for 2018, who can honestly say they’d be disappointed with that?
Earl is the main reason Pete Carroll is able to run the defense he does, his speed to the ball is second to none and the amount of field he can cover is the reason he is classed as one of the elites in the NFL. He plays at 100% every single second, makes the cornerback play look better than it is and you could argue is the cornerstone of this defense. I don’t believe that personally, I think Bobby Wagner is the cornerstone, however I totally get and appreciate why many think it’s Earl and they’re not necessarily wrong. I just have a slightly differing opinion, that’s all.
The Cowboys comment on Christmas eve and his interview at the Pro Bowl where he effectively said he wouldn’t play unless it’s on a new deal are the main drivers in this. ESPN and the likes have confirmed that the team would listen to offers but that goes without saying, John Schneider and co would at least ‘listen’ to offers for Russell Wilson for crying out loud, doesn’t mean they will go for it. Pete said at the combine that every player would be up for discussion and that’s really not ground-breaking news, any smart team would, at the very least, listen to the offer. What harm would it do at the end of the day?
I think the situation with Earl is akin to last offseason and Richard Sherman. The team won’t just give him away and fair compensation would have to be offered, they may well re-evaluate what is fair compensation after being unable to move Sherm on last year but realistically, they will have a figure in their head and if a team is on the same page, the deal gets done.
Again, you cannot expect to match Earl like for like, there is no other player like Earl but if you can get 80% of his play for say a quarter of his price, that’s value. From an eye test, I didn’t notice a significant drop in play with Bradley McDougald playing free safety when Earl missed a couple of games last season, as long as Steven Terrell 2.0 isn’t bought in, I think the defense could and would remain at a high level without Earl on the roster. Pete Carroll would need to adjust his scheme, but as this is his forte, I don’t anticipate that being a problem. Would there be times in games where fans wish Earl was still on the team? Of course, but ultimately, provided the compensation is right, I think I would be OK with moving on from Earl a little bit too early.
His style of play and injury history over the last 2 seasons concern me, I don’t think the team really have the option of seeing how 2018 goes, it’s either move on now or resign him long term so he retires a Seahawk. An extension would worry me for several reasons, he’s going to want a lot more than the current deal, probably $13.5M a year which I’d expect the team to be happy with, what I can see being the issue is amount of guaranteed money. This team really are at a pivotal point and another bad contract on their books could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m not saying for a second that I’d be disappointed with an extension for Earl, but I’d certainly be nervous. It could work out well, Earl gets extended through the 2021 season, continues to play at the level he has done and everyone’s happy, but the risk if that doesn’t happen could be catastrophic for the team for a number of years. Very much a risk vs reward situation for me and if the ball was in my court, I’m not sure I’d be willing to take the risk.
All this talk came from Michael Bennett himself in a post season interview in the locker room where he said he didn’t expect to be back next season, insinuating the team will likely want to get younger and that he won’t be in the teams plans moving forward.
I’ve read numerous things confirming that ‘multiple’ teams are in discussion with Seattle about acquiring Bennett’s services so there is absolutely weight to this, Atlanta being the most recent. I’d also expect the Patriots to show real interest, too.
On the surface, it’s a baffling move. The team is likely already loosing Cliff Avril at LEO so losing their inside out rusher and most productive sack generator of 2017 is a big risk. Sure, the likes of Dion Jordan and Frank Clark could potentially fill his shoes, but it’s a bit of a gamble. There is little financial gain in moving him on for the 2018 cap, however the team would save $8,725,000 in 2019 and $10,225,000 in 2020, given his age, I suspect this is their biggest driver in wanting to move him rather than the poor savings in 2018.
I think of the three, MB is by far the most likely to be moved on, it’s really tough to gauge his value though. I could just as easily see a team give up a 3rd rounder for him as I could a 7th.