Seahawks proof that even – and especially – the Super Bowl champs can’t keep everyone

Posted Mar 19, 2014

After winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider set about preparing for life after the Super Bowl and that started with some ‘tough decisions’ in free agency.


A look at the players the Seahawks have signed and lost in the first nine days of the NFL’s free-agency period, as well as their remaining free agents (the Seahawks do not announce transactions until they are finalized):

DL Michael Bennett
K Steve Hauschka
QB Tarvaris Jackson
C Lemuel Jeanpierre (restricted)
SS Jeron Johnson (restricted)
TE Anthony McCoy

Reportedly re-signed
DT Tony McDaniel

WR Doug Baldwin (restricted)

DE Red Bryant, signed with Jaguars
DE Chris Clemons, signed with Jaguars
WR Sidney Rice

Agreed to terms or signed with other teams
CB Brandon Browner, Patriots
OT Breno Giacomini, Jets
DT Clinton McDonald, Buccaneers
FS Chris Maragos, Eagles
WR Golden Tate, Lions
CB Walter Thurmond, Giants

Remaining unrestricted free agents
TE Kellen Davis
DE/LB O’Brien Schofield, agreed with Giants but failed physical
OL Paul McQuistan
FB Michael Robinson

Golden Tate? Gone. Clinton McDonald? Also gone. Breno Giacomini? Yeah, him too. Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond and Chris Maragos? Gone, gone and gone. Red Bryant and Chris Clemons? Released, and also gone.

The first nine days of the NFL’s free-agency period have come and gone, with more free agents going than coming for the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

But then, that was to be expected. Coach Pete Carroll foresaw this and so did general manager John Schneider. Each talked about the difficult decisions that awaited the team before free agency began on March 11.

“We’re going to try and do whatever we can possibly do to try to keep this core together,” Schneider said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. “There are going to be a lot of tough decisions. There are a lot of days ahead that are going to be hard, because there’s going to be tough decisions. But if you want to be a consistent championship-caliber football team you have to have those tough decisions made.

“You can’t keep everybody. It’s actually a sad thing.”

Those tough decisions included releasing players who were scheduled to make too much in 2014 (Bryant, Clemons and wide receiver Sidney Rice). It also meant not overpaying for the Seahawks’ players who were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Carroll and Schneider saw this coming, and you should have, too.

When you were the youngest team to ever win a Super Bowl, the first priority is retaining your own players. The Seahawks addressed that before free agency kicked off, signing versatile and productive defensive lineman Michael Bennett on Free Agency Eve. The club has since re-signed kicker Steven Hauschka, starting defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson – and already had re-signed safety Jeron Johnson and center Lemuel Jeanpierre, a pair of restricted free agents; and tight end Anthony McCoy, who spent last season on injured reserve.

The club also wanted to retain Tate, the leading receiver and punt returner last season; and McDonald, a defensive tackle who had a career season in 2013 after being released and re-signed early in the season. But they would do it only at the right price. The Detroit Lions paid Tate more and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did the same with McDonald. Add to that the losses of right tackle Giacomini (New York Jets), cornerback Thurmond (New York Giants) and backup safety Maragos (Philadelphia Eagles), as well as the releases of starting defensive ends Bryant and Clemons, and it would appear that Seahawks Way in Renton is a one-way street when it comes to free agency.

But when you win the Super Bowl, and do it as convincingly as the Seahawks did in their 43-8 romp over the Denver Broncos, teams in this copy-cat league are going to dip into your depth.

As New York Giants GM Jerry Reese put it at the Combine when asked about the issues that come with winning a Super Bowl and then trying to defend the title, “When you win a Super Bowl, most people think it’s because of them. So you have those kinds of issues coming up with players and coaches and front office. And it is because of them. When you win a Super Bowl, somebody’s doing something right.

“So there are a lot of problems that come with it, but they’re all good problems to have.”

Even when that might not appear to be the case, because players who helped you win end up in the “lost” column.

Also factoring into what the Seahawks can do in free agency this year is what looms in free agency next year, when the contracts of the All-Pro duo of free safety Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman signed as rookies will expire. Another huge item on the to-do agenda next offseason is an extension for quarterback Russell Wilson.

So the Seahawks can’t overpay now because of those paydays that loom for three of the best players in the league, not just on the team.

But then, Carroll and Schneider were expecting most of this and have planned accordingly.

How do they replace Bryant? Bennett is among the options at the five-technique end spot, and he needs to play more than he did last season. How do they replace Clemons? Like Bennett, Cliff Avril was signed in free agency last year. Like Bennett, he also needs to play more and can do that by taking over as the starter at the Leo end spot. How do they replace Tate? Percy Harvin showed flashes last season of what he can do when healthy, and Jermaine Kearse also showed that he needs to play more. How do they replace Giacomini? The knee injury that forced Giacomini to miss seven games last season gave rookies Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie a chance to play and display their potential. How do they replace Thurmond and Browner? Byron Maxwell already did that last season after the starter on the right side (Browner) and his backup (Thurmond) were suspended by the league, and their departures also mean it’s time for Jeremy Lane to get more snaps as the nickel back and Tharold Simon to display that talents that prompted the Seahawks to draft him last year.

And the Seahawks aren’t done just yet. There is the second tier of free agency that teams now are wading into, as well as the NFL Draft in May.