Seattle is learning how the rest of the league must have felt in 2013.
That’s when the Seahawks demonstrated the full range of benefits of having a fully-formed Super Bowl contender with a cost-controlled quarterback as they followed up an 11-win season and playoff victory by adding two veteran defensive players and trading a first-round pick for what they believed would be a game-breaking wide receiver.
It’s exactly what the Los Angeles Rams have been doing for the better part of a month. The Rams haven’t just followed the playbook Seattle wrote, they’re adding chapters as they take advantage of the salary-cap space that comes with having a quarterback on a rookie contract.
They traded for cornerback Marcus Peters. They traded for cornerback Aqib Talib. They signed Ndamukong Suh after he was released by the Miami Dolphins. And on Tuesday, the Rams traded their first-round pick to acquire Brandin Cooks, a receiver who’s only had three straight seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving.
After that deal, I fully expected to spend the next 24 hours trying to talk Seahawks fans off the ledge. I expected angst. I expected people in town to feel certain the Rams were assured of winning the division for at least the next five straight years.
Instead, the news was met with little more than a collective yawn.
So I’ll sound the alarm: People should be worried. Last season, the Rams became the first team in six years to blow-out the Seahawks in Seattle, and the talent gap between the two franchises has widened this offseason. Significantly.
In fact, the biggest danger to the Rams in the NFC West just might be themselves. They are still relying upon the youngest coach in the league to balance a team that’s now more temperamental, which is risky. They’re also counting on Jared Goff to sustain his level of play from last season, which is even riskier.
But the Rams have taken full advantage of this window of opportunity as Goff is cost-controlled for at least the next two years. They haven’t changed the formula on either side of the ball, either. Their best player on offense remains Todd Gurley. The best player on the defense is still Aaron Donald. They’ve just got more talent around them.
That’s exactly the approach Seattle followed after the 2012 season when the Seahawks won 11 games in the regular season, beat Washington in the first round of the postseason and came within a minute of reaching the NFC Championship Game.
Seattle began that offseason by trading for Percy Harvin. The Seahawks followed that up by signing Cliff Avril in free agency, then Michael Bennett, creating a momentum that carried Seattle to its first Super Bowl title.
After the Rams acquisitions, the Seahawks now understand how the rest of the league felt back then.