Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Will the Seahawks Have Too Many Holes to Fill?

by: William P. Tomisser

After browsing through your comments on the free agent list for the Seahawks, I was thinking about the worst case scenario and how our team might look if we end up with way too many holes to fill.

Let's make some suppositions. First of all, some of you don't think we should or will be able to re-sign Hill and that Peterson is getting old. Peterson will probably be asked to restructure and take a pay cut or he might need to be released. Ruskell has a chart that shows the relative value to the team each position brings. Last season he used that chart to determine what a cornerback was worth and refused to pay Trufant what he initially wanted because it was close to quarterback money and he figured a cornerback wasn't worth that much to the team.

I figure he will slot Hill into his chart and not want to pay more than an OLB is worth to the Seahawks. Hill isn't going to give the Seahawks the hometown discount that Trufant did. I see it as a definite possibility that both Hill and Peterson will be gone, and that's a huge blow to the defense. We have one of the top linebacker corps in the league, and to have to rebuild that would put the defense in a big hole.

Weaver is coming into his own as a legitimate all-pro prospect. He's become a solid blocker and he's also a dangerous man carrying the ball as well as being a very good receiver coming out of the backfield. While we do have Owen Schmitt in reserve, losing Weaver would mean losing a big part of our running game. I don't see him giving Seattle any kind of discount either, so he's another one who might get an offer from another team that's outside Ruskell's value chart for a fullback.

Bernard, Green, and Pork Chop are players who a lot of you said we wouldn't resign next season for various reasons. That list includes half of our defensive tackles and the offensive lineman who probably had the best year other than Jones. Engram is probably gone and the long snapper Robinson will surely go back into retirement.

For the sake of argument, let's say we re-sign Heller, Willis, Lewis, and Pork Chop, we lose Hill and Weaver to higher offers than we want to make, and Peterson is asked to take a pay cut and refuses so we cut him because no one will trade and pick up his salary. With Bernard and Green gone, we're down to Bryant, Mebane, and Terrill on the defensive line. We can live without Engram, but Morris might hurt if we don't get another running back. Frye is no problem whatever happens with him.

We have all pretty much said through previous discussions that we think we need to acquire offensive linemen, a corner, a safety, a defensive tackle, and a wide receiver or two to patch the holes we perceive the team to have without additional problems being added.

If we figure that Ruskell can get really hot, we might be able to find three draft choices who can come in and plug some of those holes next season and maybe sign a couple of free agents. That's five players I see tops who can be acquired to come in and produce next season. An offensive lineman, corner, safety, receiver and defensive tackle eats up those five opportunities and makes us a contender. Right?

Not so fast. If we lose two thirds of our linebackers, need an additional defensive tackle or two, and have to replace our starting fullback with a backup who for all intents and purposes is still a rookie, then we all of a sudden have more holes than I can see us filling. We probably should be looking at a running back, too. We can't fill all-pro linebacker's positions with average linebackers and not expect the team to suffer as a result. Schmitt could fill Weaver's position, but can he fill his production next year?

Here's the question: what happens if we lose more players in free agency and all of a sudden are 9 or 10 players down instead of 4 or 5? What happens to the team? If you're the GM, how do you handle the player turnover and meet team needs? Do you overpay for free agents or stand pat on keeping our cap manageable like New England does by finding lower priced free agents and draft choices to fill in and keep on trucking? Lastly, will losing too many of our own important free agents derail the club from being on a fast track back to the division crown?