BY Andrew Harvey 05:05PM 01/15/2017

Title window still open? Seahawks say yes

As they cleaned out their lockers Sunday morning at season’s end, the Seattle Seahawks remained optimistic that the championship window remained open to them.

WR Paul Richardson came up big again against Atlanta Saturday. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

The Seattle Seahawks locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center was quiet Sunday morning. The sounds of packing tape unspooling and cardboard boxes being folded up echoed off the walls while players shook hands and hugged, preparing for the off-season after a 36-20 playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Several players took the time to ponder: What’s next?

According to WR Doug Baldwin, the team will be processing Saturday’s loss for some time.

“We’re kind of, like, mourning right now,” Baldwin said. “We’ll get through it, obviously, but it will take us a while.”

Baldwin recorded 1,128 receiving yards on 94 receptions, both career highs. He found the end zone half as often as 2015, however, scoring seven touchdowns.

Offseason improvement was the primary goal for the 28-year-old.

“As receivers, there’s a lot that I want to do better that you don’t have the time to work on during the season,” Baldwin said. “It’s technique stuff, simple combinations that we want to work on that we don’t have time to during the season.”

The playoff exit, Seattle’s second in a row in the divisional round after back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, led one reporter to ask DE Cliff Avril if he thought the team’s window for another championship run was closing.

“The window’s still open,” Avril said. “I think we can make some things happen, but we’ve got to go make it happen.

“I’m very excited — our potential to be great is at an all-time high. Being able to experience the Super Bowl, and then experiencing not getting there, we know what it takes. For our core group of guys on offense and defense, the sky’s the limit for us.”

Seattle’s core group is secure, but questions loom around the periphery.

While the offensive line was constantly shuffled to little positive effect, it may be their coach who is departing. The San Francisco 49ers confirmef Sunday that they were interviewing Seahawks O-line and assistant head coach Tom Cable for its vacant head coaching job:

 

A number of players are entering free agency and may go elsewhere, including kicker Stephen Hauschka and TE Luke Willson.

Willson, who has played for Seattle for his four-year career, is keen to stay.

“This is like a family to me here,” Willson said. “I know the guys, I grew up here, I love the culture. I’ve been doing this for four years. This is all I know. It would be very weird for me to leave, especially with all the bonds, not just with teammates but all the staff around here. I’d be disappointed, for sure.”

Willson was asked if four years had gone by quickly.

“Very fast,” he said. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

For Seattle, the fun is done until spring practices. With a core group and the right acquisitions, the team is confident of another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

At the end of his interview, Avril related coach Pete Carroll’s final message to the team Sunday morning:

“Keep chopping wood,” Avril said. “We have the personnel, we have the formula, we just have to look ourselves in the mirror and see how we can get better personally to make the team better.”

Seahawks’ 2017 unrestricted free agents

Player Pos. Age. AAV Skinny
S. Hauschka K 31 $2,850,000 Missed 7 PATs in 2016
Bradley Sowell LT 27 $1,000,000 Inactive 8 times, including playoffs
Michael Morgan OLB 28 $1,000,000 3 starts in 2016, 42 tackles
Tony McDaniel DT 31 $985,000 Played in 10 games, 43 tackles
Marcel Reece FB 31 $885,000 Signed Dec. 6, big part of offense
Will Tukuafu FB 33 $760,000 Concussion at GB ended his season
Jeron Johnson SS 28 $760,000 Re-signed with Seahawks Dec. 7
Kelcie McCray SS 28 $717,500 4 starts in absence of K. Chancellor
Brandon Williams TE 29 $675,000 One start, played in 16 games
Neiko Thorpe CB 26 $675,000 Special teamer played 16 games
Damontre Moore DE 24 $675,000 Played in 4 games (no starts) in 2016
John Jenkins DT 27 $675,000 Played 7 games after signing Nov. 15
Luke Willson TE 27 $584,633 Played 11 games, caught 2 TDs
Devin Hester KR 34 NA 194 kickoff return yards vs. Atlanta

YourThoughts

  • Comrade C-attle

    Hauschka’s timing on a poor season couldn’t have been worse.

    • art thiel

      Every kicker knows he’s year to year.

  • Gerald Turner

    We need a bookend CB! Not getting full value from Sherman’s awesomeness.

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    • art thiel

      That was my point in the Monday column.

  • jafabian

    It’s still open but it’s slowly closing. The past two seasons the team seems to lose focus at mid season. They’ve also had incidents this season with squabbling about contracts, squabbling with the press and squabbling with each other on the sidelines. Notice the theme there? If the players do another getaway to get their focus back I’d recommend Cheney over Hawaii. Too many distractions there. Go back to where it all started. Maybe have Zorn and Largent or Hasselback and Walter Jones be a part of it.

    • Comrade C-attle

      The window is not closing, your best players are still in their prime. The Seahawks have what most teams would envy – an elite young QB.

      As for the squabbling with the press and contracts. That happens to every team. The good teams are able to put that aside. Despite all these “distractions” and more importantly the team’s best player being out at the end of the season, winning a division title and a playoff win makes this a good season.

      What would Zorn, Largent, and Jones do? None of them won Super Bowl titles. Zorn I would argue should be kept AWAY from the team after his time coaching Washington.

      • jafabian

        I wouldn’t call a 28 year old young. Players are blessed if they make it that far. I suggest Zorn and Largent because they know what it is to be in Cheney. None of the current team does. When August practice breaks or a home exhibition game they can all head over to the Muckleshoot Casino. Not so in Cheney. As I suggested, it would be about getting back to your roots. I don’t think their time in Hawaii was as successful as they think.

      • art thiel

        You’re right, the squabbling follows every successful team. Hell, the Pats overcame a murderer in their midst.

    • art thiel

      I think you’re familiarity with history has seduced you. Nothing about Spartan training will make a difference. It’s an issue primarily of talent, and under-performing draft choices.

      • jafabian

        My point more or less was that I don’t think their Hawaii trip accomplished a whole lot. I’d recommend someplace without so many distractions but honestly I don’t see them doing that at all. Most likely they’re all taking off on vacations until OTAs and then gone until August.

  • MrPrimeMinister

    I don’t really buy the injury excuses. Every team has them. In answer to the headline, No. Emphatically No. They were outcoached, outprepared, and outplayed. This is a herretical point–but the final 4 qbs left are stand -alone drop back passers.

    • art thiel

      It’s true that they were outprepped, especially since Quinn had two weeks to find Seattle’s defensive weaknesses. Injuries are always reasons for poor outcomes, but I don’t the Seahawks turned them into excuses.

  • wabubba67

    Keep Hauschka (low price given stats in 2016, much blame goes to new long smaller), Wilson, maybe Morgan, Reece (priority), maybe McDaniel, maybe Moore (if healthy and no DUIs… doubtful, though), …and think about Hester if cheap. Should have enough room to go out and get one stud OL… especially since cap goes up to $160 million.

    • art thiel

      Free agent signees along OL are often hard to mesh. But not impossible. Carroll will try hard to fix what he has there.

      • wabubba67

        I still have no idea why they didn’t keep Evans around instead of Webb or Sowell. He started and did fairly well after rejoining a Saints line that had the fewest sacks in the league. Was also on an extremely small contract (minimum?).

  • cocktaildave

    I just watched Kam Chancellor’s interview after the game with Ian Furness. Wow, what honesty. He said the team must knockoff the extra curricular fighting and be true to themselves and the team. Definitely worth a watch. Ian later asked Russ about Kam’s comment and of course Russ gave his “patented” non answers. Just guessing, but I wonder if some on the team are a bit tired of the always optimistic, canned Russ. Just once I like to see him get real with it. I do understand that is not going to happen and Russ will always be Russ.

    I think not disciplining Shem for the two tirades he had this season has really created discord on the team and maybe a double standard between what the core players can get away with and what the underpaid rest of the team can do. I think the championship window is closing on the team as it stands now. I not saying a complete blowup is necessary but new hungry blood is needed. Just like in college when the seniors move on the new recruiting class takes over. I have long thought that Pete’s coaching approach works great with young players but as they age and mature they lose a little of “run through the wall” devotion to him. Players can’t help but start thinking more about themselves than the team as their playing days get shorter.
    I hope I am wrong because I love this team and have been a diehard Seahawk fan since the first playoff team in ’83. But something is off on the current team and is manifested with the Shem and Mike B blowups. Just look at the current gold standard for NFL success the hated Pats. Their coach is all business and takes absolutely no nonsense. That is polar opposite of Pete. Letting your players be themselves is great right up to the point where they drive off the cliff.

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    • art thiel

      Many players laugh at Wilson’s robo-podium work, but they know he believes it and remains a helluva player.

      We still don’t know if Sherman was disciplined, but none included any game suspension. Perhaps he didn’t get an invite Casual Friday. Sherman created distraction, and to the extent it went unpunished, undercut Carroll.

      Sports-news consumer rule No. 1: Always read before writing.