Highlights from the latest edition of “Hawk Talk” with Danny O’Neil:
Hodor asked if O’Neil believes Russell Wilson is among the five best quarterbacks in the NFL.
O’Neil: I do. And I’m not sure by which measure you wouldn’t put him in that category. If it’s about picking a team going forward, with an eye toward his potential and the years on return: Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers are the only two quarterbacks you could put above him. I emphasize the word “could.” If you broaden it out, and ask who’s the best right now: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers could be ranked ahead of him for performance in 2014. Give me two more you’d take ahead of Wilson.
tom page asked if the Seahawks will appease running back Marshawn Lynch with any new money.
O’Neil: “Any” is the operative word there. If you replace that with “significant new money” my answer is no. But if “any” is like a million or two and moved-around money so he gets more of what is budgeted as his 2015 salary into his 2014 deal, I think that’s OK. But if you’re talking about a significant readjustment, my answer is no. Honestly, I think the two years of salary left on his deal is about a fair-market deal for what you can expect from him in that time.
Calgary Hawk asked how many receivers the Seahawks will keep and which of them are on the bubble.
O’Neil: I think the team winds up keeping six receivers. Locks: Jermaine Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, Paul Richardson. Bubble: Kevin Norwood, Ricardo Lockette, Sidney Rice, Bryan Walters. That’s not the definitive list, but my projection.
Zorn on the 4th of July asked about the chances of Seattle retaining defensive end Cliff Avril beyond this season.
O’Neil: Great question. I don’t think anything has happened that would rule out the possibility he would re-sign. But there will be tough choices coming down the pipe here. I tell you that Seattle gets to keep two of the following four players – three of whom are entering the final year of their deal – who are you keeping: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell and Cliff Avril.
tom page asked if the Seahawks will re-sign linebackers K.J. Wright and/or Malcolm Smith, who are both entering contract seasons.
O’Neil: Well, I know the team is interested in discussing deals for both. I think the question is whether the team would pony up enough to make either forgo a chance at measuring value on the open market. I think for those two players in particular, the potential windfall in free agency will outweigh the longer-term security of an extension.
The Gorn questioned O’Neil’s opinion that linebacker Bobby Wagner might be the Seahawks’ most overrated player.
O’Neil: It’s more a question than a statement. I truly don’t know if he’s the guy who’s on the brink of being the next Pro Bowler from this team (he certainly has the speed and physicality to do it) or if he’s someone the Seahawks think they can plug and replace from the draft.
Hodor asked where O’Neil would rank the Seahawks’ 2013 defense among the best of all time.
O’Neil: I’m going to be a total chicken on this one and say that I can’t really evaluate before the 1980s. And among the defenses that I’ve seen, and feel qualified to judge, I would rank the Ravens’ Super Bowl defense and the 1985 Bears ahead of Seattle.
An anonymous guest asked what the Seahawks have done – aside from winning – to establish such a high level of engagement from their fan base.
O’Neil: I think it goes back to moving into the new stadium in 2002. I think the fact that fans have seen how they impact the game is part of it. I think the way the team has reciprocated going back to coach Mike Holmgren giving the 12th Man the game ball after that November 2005 game against the Giants. Heck, it goes back to the Kingdome.