The NFL Network's countdown of the Top 100 players of 2017 continued Monday with players ranked 30th through 21st, and three more Seahawks were on the list: cornerback Richard Sherman at 21, quarterback Russell Wilson at 24 and safety Earl Thomas at 30.
Those three join five other Seahawks who have already made the list: safety Kam Chancellor, linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive end Cliff Avril and receiver Doug Baldwin. This is the second time in three years the Seahawks have placed eight players on the Top 100, having also done so in 2015. Six Seahawks appeared on last year's list.
That level of still-in-their-prime veteran talent is one of the many reasons Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is so excited about his team's future. The eight players on this year's list have all experienced plenty of success, including a Super Bowl victory, and are hungry for even more.
"Instead of it going, 'well they're getting complacent,' it's going the other way," Carroll said earlier this offseason. "That's what I like about it. OK, they've been here five, six years now, then seven and eight, they're getting closer to the end, so let's go. They're really in tune with the additions that we make, they're looking for us to fit the pieces together just right, because they want to make a run again. And there's no reason that we can't. We're not old yet. We're still in the middle of it."
Sherman, a four-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, is on the Top 100 for the fifth straight year. Despite many opposing quarterbacks avoiding his side of the field, Sherman still had four interceptions and 13 passes defensed last season, giving him a total of 30 interceptions dating back to his rookie season, the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2011. Nearly as impressive as Sherman's consistently high level of play has been his durability. Since taking over a starting job midway through the 2011 season, Sherman has started 90 straight regular season games, 102 including the postseason.
And speaking of durability, Wilson, who is also on the list for a fifth straight year, showed remarkable toughness in 2016, battling through significant knee and ankle injuries to start all 16 games for a fifth straight season. In fact, last year marked the first time Wilson had even appeared on an injury report or been limited in practice due to injury. So while Wilson was not quite at his best statistically, last season was in some ways one of his most impressive just for how he was able to battle through injuries and be available.
"It was definitely a new experience," Wilson said of playing injured. "I'd never really been injured before, but I think that from watching my teammates go through injuries — you know, it wasn't just me, watching our other guys get injured and be able to come back and play at a high level and tough it out and to wear the blue and green, it means something. Every time I get to play the game of football, I'm grateful. Every practice, it matters. Practice is everything and I want to be out here every time I get the opportunity to play with my teammates and to be able to go out and win the games. That's really my job, is to help our team win, in whatever that is. So continue to try to do everything I can to do that at the highest level."
Thomas, meanwhile, had his own long consecutive-games streak come to an end last year when a hamstring injury, then later a broken leg, caused him to miss games for the first time in his seven-year career. A five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro who is on the Top 100 list for a sixth straight year, Thomas has become a crucial part of Seattle's defense, not just for the big plays he makes, but the ones he prevents.
"It's enormous," Carroll said last season of the role Thomas has in the defense. "It's an extraordinarily significant role. Post routes and seam routes, those happen in football a lot and, you don't see it happen much over the years. You can probably count them on one hand if there's that many. That's because he's been so disciplined and so strict about it. (Defensive coordinator Kris Richard) has done a great job of making sense of about how much of a factor that is, and he's been really phenomenal. It's very subtle because you don't get any points for that, but when they just don't happen and they don't happen, it's a big deal."
The Seahawks held their seventh and final set of Organized Team Activities on Friday, June 9 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.