John Clayton

Clayton: Thoughts on the Seahawks not being punished by the NFL, Blair Walsh’s contract and more

Having to forfeit a second-round pick for not listing Richard Sherman's knee injury would have been an excessive punishment for what amounted to a clerical error on the Seahawks' part, writes John Clayton. (AP)

After a couple weeks of silence over at the VMAC, news has been trickling out of Seahawks headquarters at a pretty quick pace.

Let’s break down some of the stories:

The biggest news came from Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, who reported Tuesday that the Seahawks received only a warning and not a penalty for the Richard Sherman injury report situation. As I’ve been saying, the Seahawks committed a clerical error by not listing Sherman as missing some practices because of a knee injury. His absences appeared on the practice report as not injury-related.

Pete Carroll compounded the problem by saying Sherman was playing through a serious injury in the second half of the season. That was mistake on his part. While plenty of players endure pain to get through a season, Sherman, who may have suffered an MCL sprain, didn’t miss a game or any playing time at all. There never seemed to be a question about whether he was going to be available.

The Steelers may have helped the Seahawks’ cause. Running back Le’Veon Bell left the AFC Championship Game early with a groin injury that lingered for several weeks. Bell, in fact, might need surgery. But he didn’t miss playing time or practice time because of that injury, which caught up to him during the title game against New England.

It would have been excessive to make the penalty for a clerical error a second-round pick, three above the fifth-rounder the Seahawks forfeited in September for their OTA contact violation.

Health updates. Defensive end Cliff Avril said he came out of groin surgery on Tuesday well. He seemed positive in his posts on social media. Avril went to Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia and those who see him usually have an operation. Robinson Cano, J.J. Watt, Marshawn Lynch and Mike Morgan went to Meyers and seemed to come out of their surgeries well. These are now called core injuries. They had been known as sport-hernia injuries. The recovery time for Avril is two to fourth months, so he should be OK for training camp. The other piece of good news for the Seahawks is that Tyler Lockett feels good about his recovery from his fibula injury. He believes he will come back even stronger. Lockett has been one of the best kick returners in the NFL, and he’s really coming along well as a major threat as a receiver. Free safety Earl Thomas seems to be in good shape after his broken leg, leaving only cornerback DeShawn Shead as someone who will need half the regular season to be fully healthy coming off a serious knee injury.

Walsh’s contract. Blair Walsh ended up signing a one-year deal to possibly replace Stephen Hauschka as the Seahawks’ kicker. Walsh’s base salary is $950,000. With Hauschka coming off his worst seasons in terms of missed extra points and blocked kicks, it’s not surprising the team is going in a different direction. He just completed a three-year contract that averaged $2.85 million. As a Pro Bowl alternate, it might have cost the Seahawks between $3.5 million and $4 million a year to re-sign him. Signing Walsh for roughly $1 million gives the Seahawks a cheaper, younger kicker with a powerful leg who has to regain his confidence after too many missed kicks with Minnesota. It made sense to take that chance.

Coaching changes. The Seahawks adjusted their coaching staff, making Chad Morton the running backs’ coach. He replaces Sherman Smith. Lofa Tatupu, who worked with linebackers, apparently decided to get out of coaching. Before that, assistant head coach Rocky Seto decided to leave the team to join the ministry. Carroll’s coaching staff got a little younger. Smith was a great backfield coach and Seto was a great mind and historian of Carroll’s defense. They will be missed, but the Seahawks’ staff remains pretty strong.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on

About the Author

John Clayton

John Clayton is hosting a new weekday show from 10 to noon and writing columns for as part of his expanded role at 710 ESPN Seattle. Clayton also hosts his own Saturday morning show and appears each weekday on "Brock and Salk" as well as "Danny, Dave and Moore." Nicknamed "The Professor" for his wealth of football knowledge, Clayton has been covering the NFL for more than four decades, starting as a high-schooler in 1972 for the Daily Press in St. Marys, Pa. He joined The Pittsburgh Press in 1976, moved to The News Tribune in 1986 and joined ESPN full time in 1998 as a senior NFL writer and commentator. In 2007, Clayton was inducted into the writers' wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @ClaytonESPN


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