Building a competitive NFL team is a delicate business. You have to balance, high-draft picks, low-draft picks and free agents whilst still remaining under the cap and above .500.
The Seahawks have managed this better than most in recent years and find themselves this year in the golden situation of a series of fantastic young players in small contracts.
We’ll look at those contracts later, but first let’s look at how they got those players: 20 of the players on the current roster have come, as with most teams, from the NFL draft. When you approach the draft you want two things, first to not miss with your first and second round picks.
When you have the chance to pick a great player you need to come through with that selection and take a guy who can perform at the NFL level.
Secondly, you need a couple of the lower round picks to be hidden gems and to eventually become stars which other teams look at in years to come and say “Why didn’t we take him?” When it comes to the Seahawks draft strategy? Check and double check.
Their first round pick from 2011 and 2012 James Carpenter and Bruce Irvin are both productive starters as is the second round pick from 2013, Bobby Wagner.
Their only blemish is Christine Michael, a second round selection from 2012 who has had limited carries at running back behind Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks real success has come with their later picks and sculpting those less-favored players into stars. Third-rounder Russell Wilson and seventh rounder J.R Sweezy have turned into effective starters on offense whilst Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Byron Maxwell have all been gelled in to the League’s best defense from lower round selections.
Seattle have also used free-agency well to supplement their team with Jermaine Kearse as an undrafted free-agent and Zach Miller have provided great offensive output for a relatively cheap amount.
In terms of avoiding the salary cap, the Seahawks this year spent $111 million, $12 million less than the cap ceiling. Some of Seattle’s biggest stars are earning less than $2 million a year including quarterback Russell Wilson, cornerback Richard Sherman and receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Looking forward to 2014 and beyond, it is hard to see the Seahawks being able to afford to extend all of their best players when they hit free agency. Despite the strengths of this team and their situation, this Sunday could be the Seattle Seahawk’s best chance of a championship in quite some time.