With NFL free agency winding down, attention around the league is being turned to May’s NFL Draft. The majority of big-name free agents, barring a few noteworthy exceptions, have signed as teams attempt to put themselves in a position to unseat the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
So far, the Seahawks have lost seven players to free agency and cut three more, while only signing three minor free agents themselves. While the Seahawks were not expected to be very active in free agency, other contenders have improved enough to question if Seattle has done enough in free agency to repeat in 2014.
It’s clear the Seahawks have lost some talent from a year ago. The most important departure is that of Golden Tate, Seattle’s leading receiver from a year ago. Tate may not be a tradition No. 1 target, but he brings a ton of athleticism and should put up big numbers in the more pass-friendly offense of the Detroit Lions.
The loss of Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald along the defensive line also hurts, but the Seahawks have enough in-house options to replace them. Gregg Scruggs in particular appears to be poised for a breakout in 2014. Seattle also managed to re-sign Tony McDaniel, a valuable piece in the Seahawks’ deep defensive line rotation in 2013.
It wasn’t as if the Seahawks weren’t trying to land some big free agents, either. Seattle appeared to have a deal done with Jared Allen last week, but he eventually signed with the Chicago Bears. Allen would have made sense on a two year deal, but there was no way the Seahawks could match Chicago’s 4 year, $32 million offer. DeSean Jackson is also now available and the Seahawks reportedly expressed interest last week, but it’s doubtful they could afford the type of contract Jackson would command.
Despite the net loss in free agency, the Seahawks have the pieces to repeat as champions in 2014. Re-signing Michael Bennett was the clear top priority this offseason, and Seattle was able to get a deal done at a reasonable price.
Other than Bennett, the Seahawks have a young core that will remain intact between 2013 and 2014. The next two or three free agency periods are going to be critical for Seattle, but this year wasn’t going to make a huge difference either way.
The Seahawks still have holes to fill at wide receiver and on the offensive line, both of which are expected to be addressed in the NFL Draft. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have an excellent track record in the draft since arriving in Seattle, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they grabbed a couple of players who could make an immediate impact.
Seattle’s current roster was built through drafting and development, with the occasional impact offseason move. Last year it was acquiring Percy Harvin, who struggled with injuries but made a difference in the most important game of all. This season it was re-signing Bennett.
The Seahawks aren’t necessarily a runaway favorite, as repeating in the NFL is extremely difficult and the NFC West is a brutal division, but they have done enough in the offseason to contend for another championship.
Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press
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