I admit to being conflicted with the Seahawks’ unrestricted free agents. I know they can’t keep all of them, and there’s no doubt some they don’t want to keep anyway.
As recently as a week ago, I rated Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy as higher priorities than I do now. Back then, I thought it was extremely important to keep most of the offensive line intact. We saw improvement in the second half of the season, and we know how the line struggled with position changes before the start of the season.
I’ve always heard how critical continuity is with the offensive line, more so than any other position group. Who wants to go through O-line upheaval again? Offensive line coach Tom Cable can only do so much.
I’ve changed my mind – not completely, but enough to think that the Seahawks would be better off to focus more on their defensive UFAs than their offensive UFAs.
That includes Jermaine Kearse too. Yes, I’d like to see him return. But he’s really not a high priority compared to other players. He’s been great at times, but the Seahawks have Doug Baldwin as a No. 1 receiver and Tyler Lockett, who could be a No. 2 in 2016. They also have Paul Richardson returning from injury, and two more capable former Huskies in Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith.
And if someone told me: “Hey, did you hear the Seahawks released Jimmy Graham?” it wouldn’t bother me either. The Seahawks averaged nearly 30 points without their starting tight end, and if they could use the savings from Graham’s $9 million salary to retain defensive UFAs, sign me up for that.
Remember, too, that Graham is trying to come back from a ruptured patellar tendon, an injury that has typically prevented players from being as good as they once were.
But at this point, the Seahawks are standing firmly behind Graham, hoping he’ll be the guy who tore it up in New Orleans and not the one who had mixed results in his first season here.
The reason I’ve changed my mind? Watching the Broncos in the Super Bowl. We all saw it, they won with their defense. And it’s not just the Broncos. I read something about teams with No. 1 defenses in the Super Bowl – they’ve won the Lombardi Trophy a big majority of the time. Teams with the No. 1 offense have not had as much success.
So I’m hoping General Manager John Schneider turns most of his attention to defensive UFAs such as Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin and Jeremy Lane. Make them the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 priorities if you can keep them at reasonable rates. Or heck, if you like them enough and have to overpay a bit to keep them, I’d rather see Schneider do that than risk seeing them leave if he focuses on Okung, Sweezy and Kearse instead.
I would hate to see Russell Wilson suffer an injury as a result of a missed block along the offensive line that Okung might have made if he hadn’t signed with another team. But if the Seahawks could allow the fewest points in the league for the fifth consecutive year in 2016, they would have a better chance of staying competitive with a backup quarterback and a still-solid defense. Denver won with Peyton Manning on his last legs.
Ideally, you want to see both sides of the ball clicking, I get that. But if sacrifices have to be made, I hope Schneider makes them on offense instead of defense.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for SeattlePI.com, KitsapSun.com and jimmooregocougs.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.