It's Seahawks mailbag time once again, so let's dive right into your questions. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@Omar81545189 asks, "What are the Seahawks' main goals for the offseason?"
A: Obviously in general terms, a big goal this offseason, like every offseason, is to improve the roster. The Seahawks will have some cap space to work with in free agency, and will of course try to get better through the draft, but beyond adding new talent and retaining key players who are heading into free agency, there's a few other goals that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mentioned heading into the offseason.
For starters, the Seahawks want to pick up where they left off, having won six of seven to close the regular season. That might sound simple, but it can be hard for a team to recapture a level of play from one year to the next. With a young roster that should continue to grow, the Seahawks are confident, however, that they can come back to work when offseason workouts begin and be even better than they were in 2018.
"We have to expect that we're going to make a big jump growth-wise, experience-wise," Carroll said. "We had a lot of guys that played for us for the first time that contributed in big ways that we can anticipate really making a big step forward in terms of understanding the game, what it takes and developing what we refer to as leaving here as a mastery of their position and the play of NFL football. We're going to get so much better and that's what it is."
Young players improving can lead to more consistency, which in turn can help clean up the issues that hurt the Seahawks at times in 2018, be it big plays allowed on defense and special teams, or penalties that proved costly in a couple of losses, or some early-season struggles on offense.
Another thing the Seahawks want to do this offseason is figure out how to maintain the team chemistry that was particularly strong in 2018 and a real factor in the team's growth and success. Every team has its own personality, and things won't be exactly the same in 2019 as they were last season, but having a similar level of chemistry and closeness in the locker room will be important.
After Seattle's playoff loss in Dallas, Carroll was asked what he was most encouraged about from the 2018 season, and touched on that intangible characteristic of the 2018 team that will be so important to replicate: "Without question, it's this connection that our guys have. Their willingness to keep going the extra step, the extra mile, whatever it takes to keep adding. Really, it comes down to these guys fighting to be great teammates. They care so much. We said in the locker room that you don't ever lose if you get better by the things that happen. You always have a chance to get back on course and get going again. There's always something positive you can keep building on. These guys, that's how they think and that's how they operate. It's a great mentality. It gives us a chance no matter what. I mean, nobody thought we were going to be here. So we're miles ahead of where expectations were, which doesn't mean anything to me because that's not my expectations. It was everybody else's. But it still happened. It was important that it did. We finished really well in the season. Six out of the last seven was a big deal. But it wasn't quite enough to get us at home in the playoffs, which we know is so valuable."
@kris_sandman157 asks, "Will this be the year Seattle trades up in the first round?"
A: I'm going to guess that this won't be the year the Seahawks trade up in the first round. You can never rule anything out completely, but given the fact that, A. the Seahawks have a long history of trading back in the first round if not out of it completely under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, and B. they have only four 2019 draft picks as of now, a trade up seems unlikely. Schneider's preference has been to move back and add additional picks in past drafts, and having traded this year's second, sixth and seventh-round picks already, it doesn't seem likely he would want to give up even more draft ammunition to move up. Again, anything is possible if the Seahawks loved a player enough, but I wouldn't bet on it.
@RomirJimenez asks, "What are your top three Edgar Martinez moments?"
A: Besides yesterday's announcement that he's going into the Hall of Fame? I'll start with the obvious one, "The Double." While I wish I could say I was at that game, it was still very memorable watching at home with my older brother and our parents, jumping up and down and high fiving each other as Ken Griffey Jr. slid across home plate. Another favorite memory came a day earlier, even though I wasn't watching the game. Instead, I was at a high school football game, only getting occasional updates from Game 4 of the ALDS—this was way before most of us had cell phones—and they weren't good. But after a while there was a bit of a buzz in the stands at Memorial Stadium as word spread that Martinez had hit a 3-run homer to make a game of it, and by the time we were back in the car, he had hit a grand slam to help the Mariners pull away and extend their season another day.
My third memory came years later and was more about Martinez the man than the baseball player. Back when I worked at the Seattle Times, I was sent to TPC Snoqualmie Ridge to write about the Pro Am that proceeded the inaugural Boeing Classic. Martinez was one of the big-name participants, so after his round the 20-something version of me who grew up worshiping the 90s Mariners sheepishly approached him for an interview. Martinez had no idea who I was and probably had better things to do, but he sat down with me and couldn't have been more gracious, giving me all the time I needed and then some, and even delivering a great one liner about his not-so-impressive golf game that featured a lot of errant tee shots: "That's the sign of a good hitter, you have to hit it to all fields."
@Lougheed_E asks, "What positions do you think Seattle needs to address the most in free agency/the draft?"
A: Carroll made it clear in his year-end presser that the Seahawks head into the offseason feeling like they don't have a lot of obvious holes they need to fill.
"We're pleased with the progress that we've made with the guys we have so we know that we're adding to—we don't feel like there are big voids or big holes."
In other words, the goal is to just add better players where they can in free agency and the draft, or as Carroll said, "to make this roster more competitive across the board is really the intent, and to make guys have to work harder to hold their spots and to keep their spots and to have to get better to do that. That's right at the heart of what we're all about, so we're really looking forward to that."
That being said, the Seahawks have some players heading into free agency, just as they do every year, and that can determine how big the needs are at certain spots. For example, both starting guards from 2018, J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker, will become free agents in March if they don't re-sign before then. Lose both of them, and guard feels like a pretty big need, whereas if one or both re-sign, it's less of a pressing need. The same can be said for linebacker, and weakside linebacker in particular where K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks are both headed towards free agency. Lose one or both of them, and that position is a bigger need than if one or both re-sign. But as always, the long-term goal of roster building is to make it so there aren't a ton of big holes on the roster in any given offseason so that the team can look to just add the best talent it can acquire and let those players compete for playing time.
Oh, and pass-rush, as Carroll often says, you can never have too many pass rushers, so if you can never have too many, then I suppose that's always an offseason priority.
@Bran_Just_Bran asks, "Who is most likely to get paid?"
A: I'm assuming this question is in regard to what current Seahawks might get new deals? If so, Carroll has made it pretty clear that Frank Clark, who just played the final year of his rookie deal, is in the team's plans going forward, so that's a good place to start. The Seahawks also tend to try to lock up their top players before they finish their current deals, so while free agency and the draft take priority from a timing standpoint, it wouldn't be surprising if the Seahawks look to get something done with Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner later in the offseason.
@ArrDJay asks, "What do you do in the offseason?"
A: I hear similar versions of this a lot, and while I don't think a ton of people care that much about my specific offseason plans (hopefully a little skiing in involved soon), I'm going to answer this anyway for the sake of a lot of my friends who work in or cover the NFL and probably get asked this a lot. Yes, the offseason is when we can take a break, spend weekends with family, go on vacations, etc., but the NFL has become a year-round business in a lot of ways. Free agency gets going in early March, and before that there's the Pro Bowl, the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, so that's a lot of potential stories for someone in my line of work. And by the time free agency slows down, the draft is just around the corner, and after that, it's rookie minicamp, OTAs and other offseason workouts. Things are pretty quiet now (though Seahawks.com has two people at the Pro Bowl, so keep an eye out for videos, photos and social content from them), then after all the aforementioned offseason stuff, things get quiet again in late June and into July between veteran minicamp and the start of training camp.
Photos from the first day of the NFC team practice at the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where quarterback Russell Wilson, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and punter Michael Dickson are representing the Seattle Seahawks.