ESPN’s Graziano: Seahawks had worst offseason in NFL, but there’s still promise

May 17, 2018, 2:06 PM | Updated: 3:26 pm
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With Russell Wilson, the Seahawks still have the best quarterback in the NFC West. (AP)

Did the Seahawks have the worst offseason in the NFL? That’s what ESPN’s Dan Graziano said during a segment on NFL Live earlier this week, citing the single-offseason loss of longtime stars Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and possibly Kam Chancellor.

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But that doesn’t mean Graziano thinks the Seahawks will sink to the bottom of the league – in fact, he thinks Seattle can still very much compete for the NFC West title. Graziano joined John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle Thursday to clarify his comments and give his assessment of where the Seahawks stand heading into the 2018 season.

“It’s not just that they lost so many guys, but (it’s) the caliber of players that are no longer there,” Graziano said. “And the Seahawks’ recent run of success has been fueled in part by just how excellent these guys were. I know they found Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman in the fifth round of the draft, and you say that and you think, ‘Oh, you can do that again.’ But I think it’s unusual to find players that are that good and develop them into what those guys have become.”

Seattle lost several key pieces of its defense this season – and longtime coaches – in what has been the biggest turnover under Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

But Graziano told Clayton he believes the decline started last season, prior to the departure of Sherman, Bennett and Avril.

“I feel like it’s only natural to expect it to continue to slide down a little bit for Seattle,” Graziano said. “John Schneider and Pete Carroll can be trusted to execute a plan as well as any front office and coaching combination in the entire league. But they can do the best job they could possibly do and still not find players the equivalent of Richard Sherman, and Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril, and Kam Chancellor, and I don’t know if Earl Thomas is still a guy that may be traded before the season starts. You start talking about replacing guys like that, it’s a lot easier said than done.”

Still, Graziano doesn’t think Seattle has hit rock bottom. Far from it, in fact. There are more question marks on this team now than in any other offseason, but they still have four-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson under center, stalwarts Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright on defense, and just as importantly, the same head coach and general manager heading it all.

“It’s not as if they have no good players,” Graziano said. “I don’t see them as a team that goes down the way Arizona did last year all of the sudden, or drop off like the Giants last year from 11 wins all the way down to three. I think they certainly stay competitive and could certainly win the division if things don’t go as well for the Rams, for example, as a lot of people expect them to.

“If I’m a Seahawks fan, I would worry because of the caliber of player the team is losing. But what you really want as a fan, I think, is to know that the people running the organization have a plan and a vision. I go back to last year’s draft when they drafted five defensive backs. Because they saw it coming. Even if they didn’t see the injuries coming, they knew they wouldn’t be able to continue to pay Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at the level they were at this year and beyond, so they knew they would have to turn it over. This year they take the running back they loved in the first round, even if it wasn’t a guy that a lot of people loved, because they know what they wanted to do. He ran behind a fullback in college, he can do the kind of things they need him to do. So they’re not just flailing; they know who they are and what they are and what they need to do to stay afloat.”

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