Clayton: Seahawks have been ‘all-in’ all along, even as NFL trended a different direction

Aug 5, 2020, 10:29 AM
Seahawks Pete Carroll...
Pete Carroll's Seahawks have made significant additions this offseason. (Getty)

One of the silliest criticisms of the NFL offseason was that the Seahawks’ front office was not “all-in” trying to make a Super Bowl run with Russell Wilson in him prime.

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Fans and critics questioned the Seahawks for not acquiring any big-name free agents. They have been criticized for not getting Jadeveon Clowney re-signed even though his asking price has topped any offer made by any NFL team since the start of free agency. Some of the criticism eased when the Seahawks traded for Jamal Adams. Adams is considered the best safety in football and is a Pro Bowl play-maker who should improve the Seahawks’ defense.

What was unfair about the criticism of the Seahawks is that they were all-in all along.

What was wrong is the critics didn’t study the trends in the league. As much as free agency can help a team, free agency can’t build a roster. The highest-paid non-quarterback in free agency was cornerback Byron Jones, who went to the Miami Dolphins for $16.5 million a year.

The biggest picture was most notable among playoff teams in the NFC. Name me the team that was all-in – the Philadelphia Eagles might be the best candidate. They traded for cornerback Darius Slay and signed defensive tackle Javon Hargrave for $13 million a year.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider added two players who have been to the Pro Bowl. The five other NFC playoff teams totaled only four. That’s right, four. And that includes the San Francisco 49ers, who traded for left tackle Trent Williams to replace a retiring Pro Bowler (Joe Staley).

You can make a case for the New Orleans Saints going all-in. They added wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and safety Malcolm Jenkins, but they didn’t break the bank. Both players signed for $8 million a year.

The 49ers added seven free agents. Does that top the Seahawks, who added 11 players in trades and signings?

Do the Green Bay Packers count? They signed linebacker Christian Kirksey and right tackle Ricky Wagner, but those two signings were about half the cost of their free agent losses – inside linebacker Blake Martinez and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.

The Minnesota Vikings ran into cap problems and lost five starters on defense, plus they traded away wide receiver Stefon Diggs. They signed defensive tackle Michael Pierce to a three-year, $27 million deal, but that fell apart in the past week when he opted out for the season. Their only two other additions were backups on one-year, $1 million contracts.

For NFL playoff teams, this is a marathon, not a sprint. All six NFC payoff teams have high-priced quarterbacks. When free agency started in March, the fear was that the virus could affect next year’s cap. By late March, the question of having no fans in the stands started. Lost revenue would either keep the cap flat at $198.2 million or go lower.

Teams had to be cautious about adding high-priced free agents because a tight cap could cause core group players to be cut next year. As it turned out, the cap may be as low as $175 million, which would cause most of the NFC playoff teams to break up their rosters. Seattle is the one playoff team from last year with decent cap space for next year.

The Seahawks have been “all-in” all the way along, but this was a year that it was hard to overspend on players. That was the real trend.

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