JOHN CLAYTON

Seahawks’ future is still the brightest of all NFL teams

Jul 14, 2016, 10:12 PM
The Seahawks and Bengals were tied by ESPN.com for the best roster for the next three years in the ...
The Seahawks and Bengals were tied by ESPN.com for the best roster for the next three years in the NFL. (AP)
(AP)

Earlier this week, ESPN.com projected the three-year future of 32 teams in the NFL.

The Seahawks came out No.1, which should be no surprise. They are in the middle of one of the best runs in Super Bowl history, perfectly situated in the middle. Their 10-player draft could produce as many as six or seven starters who could start in this league. Every starter is under contract through next year and beyond.

Because of that franchise positioning, ownership needs to get Pete Carroll and John Schneider locked up with long-term deals. Both are free agents after the season and the worst thing that could happen is if the architects of this successful run are available to other franchises after the season.

Here are a few observations from the futures story, which is located on ESPN Insider:

• It was interesting seeing the talent breakdown. The Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals were tied for having the best roster for the next three years with an 86.7 rating. Both franchises are among the best at locking up their draft choices or top undrafted players to second contracts. Doing that sustains what might be runs of four to six years and can carry the run to as many as eight years. Carroll and Schneider started the rebuilding in 2010. The Bengals started their run in 2011 with five straight playoff seasons – and no playoff wins.

• The 2013 Seahawks had the highest futures ranking at 89.8 in the last three years of rankings. It dropped slightly to 89.7 last year and down just a little this year, but if the 2016 draft is as good as it looks, that number could jump higher in next year’s rankings.

• It was a little surprising the Arizona Cardinals didn’t do better than 81.7, but I can understand. Calais Campbell, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and other key starters are in the last years of their contracts. Carson Palmer will be 37 in December. The Cardinals jumped from a 73.3 roster ranking in 2014 to 81.7 this year. With the additions of Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche and the explosion of David Johnson in the backfield, this is the best Cardinals team possibly ever.

• The Green Bay Packers rank slightly behind the Minnesota Vikings (81 to 80), and that has to be concerning to Packers fans. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a great season last year and the Vikings won the division. The Packers offensive line, which ranks as one of the best in the league, has three starters whose contracts run out this year – Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and David Bakhariari. Julius Peppers might be in his last season. And the numbers are trending toward the Vikings. They’ve gone from 73 in 2013 to 77 last year to 81 this year. The Packers’ future numbers dropped from 88.3 in 2014, when they lost to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, to 80.

• Thanks to Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers have made the big jump to be among the top teams in the NFC. They went from 70 to 83.3. Still, the loss of cornerback Josh Norman and questions about the pass rush hurt.

Summing it up, the Seahawks are in a strong position to get back to the Super Bowl a couple of times, based on the future’s evaluation.

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 710Sports.com.

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