Hawk Talk highlights: How would the Seahawks replace Bruce Irvin?

Feb 2, 2016, 5:25 PM | Updated: 5:32 pm
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis struggled in his only start for the Seahawks last season. (AP)...
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis struggled in his only start for the Seahawks last season. (AP)

Danny O’Neil hosted a live Seahawks chat Tuesday, as he does each week during the season. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.

An anonymous guest asked about the most likely candidate to replace Bruce Irvin at strong-side (SAM) linebacker if he were to sign elsewhere in free agency.

O’Neil: A year ago, I would have mentioned the possibility of moving K.J. Wright to SAM and pushing Kevin Pierre-Louis to WILL. But in his one start this season, KPL really struggled in his pass drops. If he’s going to play his way into the starting lineup, he has to show that’s significantly better, especially after the season Wright had.

Tom Page contended that Pierre-Louis is looking like a bust and that he seems lost in pass coverage.

O’Neil: Here’s the one sliver of hope. He never pass dropped in college. Never. He exclusively rushed so there’s always a chance that something will click, but given what we saw this season, there’s also the possibility that won’t happen.

Tom Page asked if the Seahawks will be more likely than they have been in the past to sign a free-agent offensive lineman given what happened with that group this season.

O’Neil: It’s a great question, and I really don’t know the answer. For that matter, does the pain they experienced make them reevaluate the importance of Russell Okung? I mean, you can look at each offensive lineman the Seahawks let walk away – first Breno Giacomini then James Carpenter – and understand it. But on a larger scale, the Seahawks’ inability to develop consistency and belief that Tom Cable could make the most of the athletes he had on hand came back to bite them. The Seahawks didn’t have one lineman last year playing on a multi-year contract that wasn’t originally signed as a rookie deal.

Tom Page noted that trades are uncommon in the NFL and wondered if the likeliest outcome with Kam Chancellor is that the Seahawks bring him back.

O’Neil: I don’t know how to gauge what is most likely. And it’s certainly not a stretch to think he’ll be back. This is a guy who was one of the most impactful members of that defense for three years who didn’t have as great of a year after sitting out six weeks. That shouldn’t be a shock. But here are the questions you have to answer: 1) Is he going to be more willing to accept his contract as is this year? Not asking if he’ll be happy, but if he’ll show up for work and play hard. 2) If he’s not, is the team willing to hold the same kind of showdown this year? The Seahawks can ultimately win. They’ve shown that, but in some ways nobody won last year’s stalemate. 3) Is the relationship between player and organization so strained at this point that it’s worth getting what you can and using that money elsewhere?

An anonymous guest stated that re-working Chancellor’s deal could force the Seahawks to do the same with Michael Bennett, who also expressed dissatisfaction with his contract.

O’Neil: Bennett is a different question in my mind. Bennett “deserves” a raise if you can use that term. He is underpaid for what he does on the defensive line. I see this as similar to Marshawn Lynch in 2014. Lynch had outplayed his deal. How do you give a guy a short-term raise without breaking the long-term protocol of not re-doing deals with more than a year on the contract?

Could Seattle convince Bennett to accept a $2 million bump in base salary for 2016 with the caveat that if he continues to play well, he’ll be in line for a raise like what Lynch received in 2015? That would be the work-around. The reason I think the situation with Chancellor is different is that I believe you’re past the point of being able to smooth the situation over with a short-term raise.

Tom Page said the Seahawks made a mistake by giving Lynch a new deal last offseason, calling it “wasted money” for his past contributions.

O’Neil: From a very narrow perspective, you’re correct. From a broader perspective, you had an entire locker room to worry about. How was the rest of that team going to react if you played hardball with Lynch after the way that Super Bowl ended? There would have been a price to pay in that regard, too. I tend to think that paying an additional $7 million or whatever it was – over what Lynch was scheduled to earn in the final year – was a pretty moderate price for keeping the peace.

Tom Page responded by saying that “sometimes teams need to use logic and not emotion” in contract decisions and that teams make mistakes by looking back as opposed to forward.

O’Neil: With the emotions that Seattle allows its players to express – by design from Pete Carroll – there’s also a price for playing economic hardball. I guess what I would say is that in hindsight the new contract for Shaun Alexander was a horrific waste of money. So was the trade for Percy Harvin and the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I’m not willing to put the Lynch extension in the same boat. In fact, I don’t think it was even as bad as the Charlie Whitehurst addition (and I didn’t think that was all that bad, either).

Tom Page asked if the Seahawks would try to recoup the $5 million in remaining signing-bonus money from Lynch if he were to retire.

O’Neil: I haven’t seen the contract, which is the only reason I don’t say definitively “No.” But I am very confident that given the fact the deal was written with the understanding he might choose to retire after the season that there will be no going after bonus money. And frankly, if that was going to be an issue, Lynch could just sit and wait and force Seattle to cut him.

AK Jester said Johnny Manziel could be available for next to nothing and noted that the Seahawks have taken chances in the past with players from whom they could move easily on.

O’Neil: I know Carroll has always been intrigued by his athleticism and his playmaking. But for all the chances the Seahawks have taken on guys in the past six years, they haven’t tended to bring in someone who has the sort of off-field baggage that is pursuing Manziel. They’ve tended to bring in guys who have difficulty getting along with coaches and organizations, and I think those acquisitions have come from Carroll’s belief that he can handle those specific personalities and improve those problems. And if he can’t, he’s got the conviction to cut ties quick. Manziel is dealing with something else entirely. It’s not that he’s difficult for coaches to deal with. It’s that you can’t trust him when he’s outside the facility.

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Hawk Talk highlights: How would the Seahawks replace Bruce Irvin?