Building The Roster - Getting Back to Basics
You may call it a total rebuild, a simple refresh or anywhere in between, but the reality is, this roster is changing dramatically. I don’t personally like the term rebuild as, by definition in NFL terms, it insinuates this team has sunk and currently flying at half-mast. I firmly believe there is no way John Schneider or Pete Carroll will ever accept the flag any lower than full-mast at all times and certainly not treating this as a full rebuild whereby you accept a down year or two. This front office and coaching staff will do everything in their power to be as competitive as possible for next season and beyond.
Some fans haven’t yet cottoned on to what we’re seeing unravel itself right in front of us and are still in full panic mode and I get it, having this many starting calibre players leaving is concerning, but it’s the moves this front office makes moving forwards that will matter.
As part of my research for this article, I took a look at how many players each team currently had under contract which proved to be quite tricky as many Exclusive Rights Free Agents and Restricted Free Agents weren’t yet listed on the squads, however the end result was very, very eye opening.
As you can see, the Seahawks currently have the lowest amount of rostered players on their team league wide. The (mean) league average currently stands at 65 players so Seattle is some 7 men under even league average, but why?
Richard Sherman recently discussed how Pete Carroll’s approach to this team is far more suited to a college roster where turnover is both inevitable and often. He went on to say how some of the older guys have heard all the stories over and over and effectively insinuated that it wasn’t working anymore. He has a point, if you hear the same messages over and over, you’re going to tune out, right? I know I would. I firmly believe Pete Carroll and company are in total agreement with Sherm and they’ve accepted that his message is falling on deaf ears with some. Look at the players that have been moved in the recent weeks, every single one of them has been here for a long time and probably were no longer ‘buying in’.
So how can Pete translate his college message to work at the pro level? By adapting the exact same approach of course. You have high turnover (relative to the NFL) and get young guys with points to prove and the old cliché of ‘chips on their shoulder’. You may remember he did this way back in 2010 and managed to assemble arguably the greatest defense to ever step foot on a football field. He didn’t do this with an abundance of first round picks, either. Sure you had Earl Thomas who was a first rounder and Bobby Wagner who was a second rounder, but the rest was assembled through a variety of mid to late round draft selections, the Canadian Football League, undrafted free agents, trade acquisitions and guys who didn’t make other rosters.
What we are going to witness over the coming months is players in and out at a point where you can’t keep a track of it all, players are going to be signed and then cut before the team even has a chance to announce the signing. Pete is getting back to ‘always compete’ and just the thought of that sends shivers down my spine!
The Seattle Seahawks as a whole are going to be young, poor and desperate to prove their worth. That, in my opinion, is far more exciting than having a loaded roster full of (aging) blue chips whereby the younger guys don’t stand a chance to jump above them on the depth chart and just have to stand on the side lines, making it onto the field for special teams plays if they’re really lucky. You cannot identify stars if they’re not getting a chance to perform in real game situations. Remember when we’d never heard of Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor, then injuries happened which forced them into a starting role? I don’t need to reinforce my point of how that turned out…
This team is in a far better state than it was back in 2010 when Pete first did this. You’ve got legitimate starters at the following positions –
QB – Russell Wilson
LT – Duane Brown
C – Justin Britt
WR – Doug Baldwin
ILB – Bobby Wagner
OLB – K.J Wright
FS – Earl Thomas
The listed 7 players are, in my opinion, the only true ‘locks’ on this roster for a starting role. It seems very likely that the likes of Frank Clark will be a starter at DE, Bradley McDougald at SS, Shaq Griffin at CB etc. but I wouldn’t class them as locks. If someone comes in and performs better, they will lose their starting spots, it’s as simple as that.
If you can churn the roster over with new guys whilst keeping cornerstones at 4 positions on offense and 2 or 3 (depending on the final outcome with Earl Thomas), I’d say they are setting themselves up very well to ‘win forever’.
That leaves a huge 15 starting roster spots open, do you think that will be appealing to players that go undrafted this year? Or CFL players who would like to take it to the next level? Of course it would. Seattle was once the number one choice for UDFA’s however as the roster became so stacked, agents were swaying their clients away as the chances of them sticking on the 53 man roster were diminished hugely, but now? They have a legitimate chance to come into camp, prove themselves and walk straight into a starting role. That is a huge selling point so I will still be expecting some fans to be panicking when looking over the final roster as there will likely be a whole lot of ‘who is that?’ going on, but as I’ve said, you cannot identify the stars on the side line. I firmly believe this team is getting back to what made them so successful a few years ago, Pete and John are doing everything in their power to maintain their preached ‘win forever’.
There’s no doubt they have made some mistakes over the years and both ‘win forever’ and ‘always compete’ didn’t really ring true with what they were actually doing. Giving up a second round pick and Jermaine Kearse for a one year rental is absolutely not ‘win forever’. It’s ‘win now’ and they didn’t, not even close. This team is getting back to its roots planted by both Pete and John and I believe they will stick to their guns this time. They’ve learned valuable lessons with mistakes made previously and this organization will become a better football team for it. They could still add another couple of cornerstones in the second wave of free agency but I suspect the bulk of their work will come in the third and even forth wave of free agency, the draft is an obvious one, as well as players that go undrafted.
But also, this team is going to see heavy roster churn in August/early September when teams trim their rosters down from 90 to 53. They will be keeping a very close eye on the whole league and will be ready to pull the trigger should ‘their guy’ becomes available. Remember last year when some players didn’t make the 53 man roster and everyone was scratching their head? Every single team has at least 2 of those players leave, that’s a pool of, at the very minimum, 62 players that could be added to the Seahawks roster. There’s every chance they could add starters and depth players via this route as some teams will inevitably be stacked at certain position groups, so while player X couldn’t make that teams 53, there’s every chance they could jump the depth chart on another, it’s a fantastic way to improve the roster and something Seattle hasn’t really got involved in a whole lot over the last couple of years but with them ‘getting back to basics’ I find it highly likely this will be another avenue they go heavily into.
A lot of the moves they make may not make sense initially, and some inevitably won’t work out, that’s a given. But I guarantee some will, too. And that excites me.