The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team and with one of the youngest rosters in the league and talent spread out on both sides of the ball, this team is primed to be a strong contender over the next several years. Expectations are high but let’s face it - the NFC is stacked with good teams.
To get a better understanding of what the Cowboys are up against, we are going to take a look at all of the NFC playoff teams from a year ago in this Eye on the Enemy series. We will look at the talent each team has on their roster right now, but also the financial commitment the organization is making with these players. Today’s spotlight falls on the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are an interesting team. Back in 2014, they were on the verge of winning back-to-back Super Bowls before a costly goal line turnover late in the game cinched another championship for the New England Patriots. Seattle was a dominant team back then, but since then - they haven’t been able to make it out of the divisional round of the playoffs. Cowboys fans feel that pain.
Still, the Seahawks keep plugging away. Many label this team in rebuild mode, yet they’ve made the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. The team certainly has gone through a lot of changes, but they somehow manage to keep up with their winning ways. How do they do it?
One thing that stands out about the Seahawks is that they live and die by their star quarterback, Russell Wilson. So it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s the highest paid player in the entire NFL with a contract averaging $35 million per year. There was a time when the antics of Wilson were just a bonus to the spectacular performance of the Seahawks defense. From 2012 to 2015, the Seahawks defense ranked no. 1 in points allowed for four straight years. After losing key pieces to their defense, the unit then dropped out of the top 10 over the past two seasons.
The losses to their secondary are the most publicized as members of the Legion of Boom have departed. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and now Earl Thomas, are all gone, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the defense has also taken big hits to their defensive line. Players like Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and now Frank Clark, have all left to go play for other teams. The current cast of defensive linemen features a rising star in Jarran Reed whose entering the final year of his rookie deal. They also added Ziggy Ansah to help out along the edge. While those guys are good players, they also have two players in Poona Ford and rookie L.J. Collier thrown into the mix.
The defense still has one of the best linebackers in the game in Bobby Wagner, but many of his supporting cast in the back seven are mediocre at best. Young players who haven’t reached their potential combined with veterans who are just so-so make for a defense that is going to have problems at times.
What’s holding this team back?
While the Seahawks offensive line showed some improvement last year, this group is still an area of great concern. The team got a nice boost from veteran Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown, but they paid a hefty price to get him. Seattle traded a second- (2019) and third-round (2018) pick to the Houston Texans for him and then turned around and gave him an extension. He definitely helps, but Brown is 34 years old. And considering the rest of the offensive line is average to weak - this unit should continue to give them fits.
Why they can be dangerous
Any time you have the playmaker Russell Wilson on your team, you got a chance. Tyler Lockett is an underrated receiver that can hurt defenses in the blink of an eye. Factor in that the team got the nice upside receiver D.K. Metcalf in this year’s draft, and one could say that their already productive offense will keep producing. It doesn’t hurt that they have the top rushing attack in the league with the fresh young legs of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.
In a way, the Seahawks are the opposite of Dallas. They’ve been carried by their defense for so long that when they’re offense is actually pretty good, the defense has backslid. If they can somehow regain their footing on the defensive side of the ball, this team can be very tough to beat again.
Should we be worried about them in 2019?
On paper, this team has too many holes, both on offense and defense. Sure, Pete Carroll’s group always seems to find a way and it would be premature to just write them off, but in contrast to the uprising in talent in the NFC, the Seahawks are trailing behind. They aren’t good enough to dethrone the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, so they’re going to have to take the wild card route. Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re hanging around in contention towards the end of the season. That’s just a Seahawks thing to do.
Should we be worried about them for the future?
A little bit.
To their credit, the Seahawks organization are taking a financially responsible approach to revamping their team. They had to endure a dead money hit due to Chancellor and Doug Baldwin, but the team didn’t panic. Instead, they are relying on the draft to replace positions previously held by All-Pro players and the Seahawks have a good track record of finding guys later in the draft that can play. The trade off is - they aren’t restocked with ready-to-win players now, and their talent is lacking. But if their young guys develop, it won’t be much longer where they’ll be strong again.
A players value was determined using the Approximate Value numbers from Pro Football Reference. They were taken from the last season that player saw action and prorated over a full 16 game season (if a player missed games).
The cost is determined from salary cap numbers from Spotrac. Most figures are just that players cap hit, however to more accurately represent their cost, some exceptions were made. A player signing a new contract may have a low cap hit initially, and that figure doesn’t accurately represent the team’s investment in them. In those instances, we are using their average salary value. And finally, there are some contracts where teams structure it in a way to give them a possible out later. Both cap hit (too low) and average salary (too high) aren’t accurate representations so yearly cash is used because regardless of whether or not they get cut - that money must be accounted for against the cap. Each players contract was individually evaluated to provide the most logical representation of that players cost.