Heaps: Seahawks can take a page from how Buccaneers built their roster
Feb 8, 2021, 1:56 PM
The 2020 NFL season is officially in the books, and while there were high hopes for the NFC West champion Seahawks entering the postseason, they lost in the Wild Card round and had to watch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl on Sunday.
In 2019, when the Seahawks earned a Wild Card spot and won in the first round, the Buccaneers were at home after going 7-9. But this past offseason Tampa Bay added Brady in free agency and built an elite roster around him, which resulted in the organization’s second Lombardi Trophy and Brady’s seventh title.
After looking at the way Tampa Bay built its roster for this title run, Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy said it revealed something the Seahawks should be paying close attention – namely “positional spending.”
“There are a lot of different ways this can take shape and form,” Heaps said. “But if you’re talking about the formula that the Seahawks could implement to their roster now, it’s quarterback, it’s offensive line, it’s your defensive line, and then it’s your offensive skill players.”
As noted, the Buccaneers have Brady under center, but their offensive line was among the league’s best and added right tackle Tristan Wirfs with the 13th pick. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have a great quarterback in Russell Wilson, but the offensive line has two starters hitting free agency and has struggled at times in pass protection, resulting in Wilson being sacked at least 47 times each of the last three years.
Sticking with offense, Tampa Bay has had elite receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the roster for years, but it also added Antonio Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski in free agency. The Seahawks have a great one-two punch at receiver in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but the team hasn’t found a true No. 3 or 4 option at receiver or tight end that can exploit defenses like Grokowski or Brown can.
On defense, the Bucs have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL with edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett as well as interior defensive linemen like former UW Huskies star Vita Vea, a 2018 first-round pick, multi-time All-Pro Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston. Seattle’s defensive line improved after trading for Carlos Dunlap, but it’s still not as good as Tampa’s line and started the year really struggling to generate pressure before Dunlap joined the team.
“I believe the Seahawks have that ability to do that, as well,” Heaps said when looking at how Tampa Bay’s roster is constructed. “You’ve obviously got a big contract with Bobby Wagner, you’ve got a big contract coming with Jamal Adams, but overall when you talk about how you build your roster you have to be able to make sacrifices at other positions.”
When it comes to those “sacrifices,” Heaps pointed to the cornerback position.
“D.J. Reed is a perfect example as to why you don’t need to go and spend big money on a corner,” he said. “Because if you have a great defensive line like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it makes all of those rookie players or young players that the Buccaneers had in their secondary better.”
Heaps also noted that the Seahawks have built a roster like the Buccaneers’ in the past. He said the legendary Legion of Boom secondary, which included star safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas as well as shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman and a capable No. 2 corner in Byron Maxwell, had a great complement in a potent pass rush led by Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Those two signed in free agency ahead of 2013 and the Seahawks went on to win the Super Bowl that season after finishing the year tied for eighth in sacks.
“(The Legion of Boom) are all great players, but they when they went to the Super Bowl they were all playing under their rookie deals as well,” Heaps said. “And I think the best way to spend your money and utilize your money is up front in the trenches and then use those other pieces to build around what you need to fit exactly the roster you want to have.”