Latest On Washington’s QB Dilemma

NFL News
August 30, 2015

Kirk Cousins got the surprise start in last night’s preseason game against Baltimore after Robert Griffin III, the presumptive starter heading into the season, was deemed medically unready to play by an independent neurologist. In a series of tweets, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports passes on a few notes on the matter from Washington head coach Jay Gruden.

First, Gruden noted that the team had originally received a verbal report from an independent doctor that Griffin was cleared to play, and then it received an email report that contradicted the verbal and that compelled the club to make a sudden change within a 24-hour window. Also, despite an earlier report that Washington had already determined Cousins would be the Week 1 starter, Gruden stated that he would not announce anything until he had reviewed Griffin’s medicals. Per Mike Jones of The Washington Post (via Twitter), Griffin will receive further tests on Friday, and Jones added in a separate tweet that Gruden, GM Scot McCloughan, team president Bruce Allen, and owner Dan Snyder would have a “long talk” at some point in the near future to finalize Washington’s plans under center.

But even though Gruden would not announce a Week 1 starter last night, the fact that he would not commit to starting Griffin even if RGIII has been cleared to return is significant in and of itself, writes Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com. John Keim of ESPN.com agrees, pointing out that Cousins was far from perfect in last night’s game, but that he did more than enough to reignite the quarterback controversy in Washington.

It looks like we won’t have a formal announcement until sometime next week at the earliest, but at the moment, Cousins seems to have the inside track on the starting job for Week 1. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess.

Fantasy Football 2015: 4-Round Mock Draft and Top Team Names

Fantasy Football
August 30, 2015

The opening day of the NFL regular season is less than two weeks away, which means a whole lot of viewing pleasure is just around the corner for football fans. For fantasy football junkies, it’s a doubly exciting time.

If you haven’t had your fantasy draft yet, we’ll be looking a sample four-round, standard-scoring 10-team mock that can give you some ideas for your early-round picks. Following that, we’ll discuss three notable selections who have potential to either boom or bust this season, and then we’ll look at some witty team names.

Even if you’ve already drafted, stick around—you might get some trade ideas, and maybe you’ll come up with a new team name before you’re done reading.

Four-Round Mock Draft

Notable Picks

RB DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (Round 2, Pick 6)

There’s no question DeMarco Murray has the talent to put up numbers worthy of a first-round pick. His 2014 campaign with the Dallas Cowboys, highlighted by 2,261 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns, showed just that.

Now, he’ll have to prove he can succeed away from the Dallas Cowboys’ all-world offensive line, splitting carries with two other talented backs in Philadelphia and coming off a taxing 449-touch season.

Ryan Mathews, like Murray, is an Eagles newbie, and it’s doubtful the Eagles brought him in just to ride the pine all season. He’s just two seasons removed from a big season as the San Diego Chargers’ bell cow before injuring his MCL in 2014.

And Darren Sproles is Darren Sproles—a dependable scatback who’s made a career of stealing fantasy points from his teams’ top running backs.

Murray has a shot at distinguishing himself enough to get the lion’s share of snaps at halfback, but don’t hold your breath.

WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (Round 2, Pick 2)

Randall Cobb had two big factors working in his favor for his fantasy value in 2014: great talent and the best quarterback in the NFL. The only thing missing for the No. 7 fantasy wideout was big target numbers—he was thrown to just 126 times, fewer than any receiver in the top 10 in fantasy points.

Well, guess what? Now that Jordy Nelson, the Packers’ most targeted receiver from last year, is out for the season with a torn ACL, Cobb is poised to rack up big yardage and touchdowns.

Right now, the concern is a shoulder injury Cobb suffered Saturday night in Green Bay’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers don’t believe it is a broken collarbone, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky posted a picture of Cobb on the sidelines later in the game without any sort of brace, sling or ice.

Keep on eye on Cobb’s status, because if he is good to go for Week 1, he’ll be a solid early second-round pick.

WR Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (Round 3, Pick 8)

Like Cobb, Cooks is in line for a monster role increase as Drew Brees‘ new No. 1 target. However, departed pass-catchers Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills open up even more targets for Cooks than Nelson’s absence will for Cobb.

Cooks flashed prodigious potential as a rookie in 2014, putting up 53 receptions for 550 yards in 10 games. If you extrapolate those numbers to a full 16-game slate, they balloon to 85 catches and 880 yards. And that’s with Stills, Graham and Marques Colston all competing with him for touches.

In case you forgot, Brees is the NFL’s reigning passing-yardage king and has held that title five of the past nine seasons. The Saints’ offensive mojo comes through the air, and Brees will look to Cooks a whole bunch in 2015 as New Orleans looks to maintain that passing identity.

Team Name Ideas

Are you still at a loss for what your team’s name should be? See if one of the below monikers suits your fancy or sparks your imagination to come up with something even better.

Gronky Kong

Turn Your Head and Coughlin

Watt Me Whip, Watt Me J.J.

Dezervoir Dogs

The Boldin the Beautiful

Forgetting Brandon Marshall

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2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Overall Drafting Stategy and Cheat Sheet

Fantasy Football
August 29, 2015

You have read the magazines, studied the injury reports and analyzed all the offseason movement.

Perhaps you have participated in a couple of mock drafts or created your own war list. But the time for study is getting short. Your fantasy draft is coming up in the next few days—or perhaps the next few hours.

In years past, there was only one way to go. If you did not pick two running backs with your first two picks, you risked being ridiculed by your entire league.

But some forward-thinking fantasy players who didn’t care about the laughter of lessers made a break from that philosophy. Instead, they decided that the only thing that mattered was points. If Calvin Johnson was available with his boarding-house reach, immense size and strength along with his fantastic hands, he was a better choice than most running backs not named Adrian Peterson.

It still makes sense to go with quality running backs early, but there simply are not enough of them to warrant taking those players before anyone else.

While daily leagues enable players to put their knowledge on display every week when it comes to filling out a roster, season-long fantasy leagues may be a greater test of all-around football knowledge. There will be opportunities to make roster fixes throughout the year, but the key to a successful season is always doing well on draft day.

While there is some luck involved—dreaded injuries have ruined many a sharp selection—knowing your players, the scheme they are involved in and understanding their position in a team’s hierarchy is vital to success.

For example, fantasy players knew LeSean McCoy was the man during his run in Philadelphia. His ability to dart quickly through the hole and produce nearly as much as a receiver made him a surefire fantasy stud. But now McCoy has hamstring issues in Buffalo, and while the Bills need more from him than the Eagles did, are they really going to get it from him with Tyrod Taylor or EJ Manuel at quarterback?

McCoy’s mindset is undetermined at this point. It doesn’t matter what he says, either. It’s how he performs in his first few games that will give the true indication of his fantasy value.

The point is that players who change teams may or may not be in favorable position. While you may “think” or “feel” that a player is in a better situation with his new team, it’s just a guess. Our philosophy is to stick with a situation that has been successful in the past rather than hope a new situation works out.

The quarterback position is a big conundrum. After Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck, there are a lot of questions. Actually, there’s a pretty big question with Rodgers in that he has already lost his best receiver in Jordy Nelson. While there’s little doubt that the Packers will adjust and still find a way to play competitive and winning football, just how much will Rodgers’ stellar production be impacted by his loss?

In the past, you could always count on Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Manning’s game dipped dramatically when he played hurt at the end of the 2014 season, and it’s unlikely he’ll have an injury-free season at the age of 39. A decision on Brady’s suspension appeal is now in the hands of a federal judge, and nobody wants to use a high draft pick on a player who may or may not be there for the first few weeks of the season.

When it comes to quarterbacks, tread carefully.

The wide receiver position is loaded with talent. However, there’s a difference between the top-tier elite receivers and the productive receivers who are fixtures in the second rank. Antonio Brown of the Steelers and Dez Bryant are about as sure as any players in the league when it comes to big-play productivity, but it could be a dangerous year for Calvin Johnson. He may not be the fantasy monster he was during his heyday.

Odell Beckham Jr. certainly looked like a surefire fantasy superstar in 2014, but how will he do in his second tour of duty? It’s not that we don’t love Eli Manning, but just how will he perform with a less-than-stellar offensive line blocking for him? It will be hard for Beckham to make plays if Eli is on his back.

The Falcons certainly believe Julio Jones, as they signed him to a contract extension Saturday, per NBC Sports. However, he was injured in 2013, and he was good but not great (104 catches, but just six for touchdowns) last year.

Randall Cobb was one of the best No. 2 receivers in the NFL last year. He appeared to have the opportunity to step up in light of Nelson’s injury, but now he may have a shoulder injury himself, per the Packers (h/t NFL on Twitter):

On the tight end front, Rob Gronkowski is healthy and clearly the No. 1 player at his position. He had legitimate competition from Jimmy Graham when he was with the Saints, but will the Seahawks and Russell Wilson take advantage of his immense talent the way the Saints and Drew Brees did?

Greg Olsen of the Panthers, Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and Martellus Bennett should be quite productive, but after that tight ends are a mystery. Fantasy Sports Radio noted some of Kelce’s 2014 stats:

In our mock draft, we are offering the first two rounds in a 12-man league. We use a basic scoring system that includes four points for a passing touchdown, six points for a rushing or receiving touchdown, one point for every 10 yards rushing or receiving and one point for every 30 yards passing.

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Extra Points: Cobb, Pouncey, Okung

NFL News
August 29, 2015

A week after losing Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson to a season-ending ACL injury, the Packers are hoping fellow Pro Bowl wideout Randall Cobb doesn’t join him on the shelf. Cobb suffered a right shoulder injury during the Packers’ game Saturday against Philadelphia. The severity of the ailment is currently unknown, but one injury that has been ruled out is a broken collarbone, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted. A serious injury to Cobb would be a devastating blow to the Packers, given that their receiving corps already lost Nelson. He and Cobb combined for a whopping 189 catches (25 of which were touchdowns) and nearly 3,000 yards last year.

More from around the NFL:

  • Dolphins center Mike Pouncey hurt his left knee during Saturday’s game against Atlanta and will have to undergo an MRI on Sunday. Pouncey, who is wearing a brace, vows not to miss any regular-season time, Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (Twitter link). Head coach Joe Philbin also expressed optimism regarding Pouncey’s injury. “We think he’ll be OK,” he said, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung will probably use the five-year, $66MM extension Washington signed Trent Williams to earlier today as a benchmark for his next deal, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry (via Twitter). Okung, who’s in a contract year, was the sixth overall selection in the 2010 draft, going two picks after Williams. Okung has since made 59 starts and one Pro Bowl, while Williams has made 70 and three, respectively.
  • Don’t count on a reunion between the Giants and free agent safety Stevie Brown, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. The Giants are scheduled to work out Brown, but he has interest from “a number of teams,” according to his agent. Brown spent 2012-14 with the Giants before a brief stint in Houston this year.
  • The Colts scratched running back Vick Ballard from Saturday’s game in St. Louis. That doesn’t bode well for his chances of making the roster, according to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Ballard has battled serious injuries over the past couple years and has played in just one game since 2012 as a result.
  • Lions running back Joique Bell, who underwent knee surgery in January, is unsure if he’ll play Week 1. “I’m not going to say I’m ready to go out there and take every play and run every down, right now, but you never know how I’ll feel in two weeks,” Bell said, according to Justin Rogers of MLive.com. The fourth-year man is coming off his most productive season (1,182 total yards, eight touchdowns).
  • Patriots fullback James Develin suffered a broken tibia in Friday’s loss to Carolina, and ESPN’s Mike Reiss tweeted that the hope is recovery from surgery would take six to eight weeks. However, David Chao – the former team doctor for the Chargers – responded that it could actually take Develin six to eight months to return (Twitter link).

Offseason In Review: Seattle Seahawks

NFL News
August 29, 2015

After falling a yard short of winning their second straight Super Bowl title, the Seahawks used the offseason to lock up three franchise corernstones to long-term deals and add a feared playmaker to supplement their passing game.

Notable signings:

  • Cary Williams, CB: Three years, $18MM. $7MM guaranteed.
  • Tarvaris Jackson, QB: One year, $1.5MM. $1.5MM guaranteed.
  • Ahtyba Rubin, DT: One year, $2.6MM. $1MM guaranteed.
  • Clint Gresham, LS: Three years, $2.705MM. $300K guaranteed.
  • Mike Morgan, LB: One year, $1MM. $150K guaranteed.
  • Greg Scruggs, DE: One year, $785K. $100K guaranteed.
  • Anthony McCoy, TE: One year, $905K. $75K guaranteed.
  • Will Blackmon, CB: One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K guaranteed.
  • Demarcus Dobbs, DE: One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K guaranteed.
  • Lemuel Jeanpierre, OL: One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K guaranteed.
  • Will Tukuafu, FB/DL: One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K guaranteed.
  • Jermaine Kearse, WR: One year, $2.356MM. Signed second-round RFA tender.
The Seahawks’ only significant move in free agency was the three-year, $18MM signing of cornerback Cary Williams, who is now on his fourth team in eight seasons. The 30-year-old was most recently a member of the Eagles, with whom he spent the past two seasons and collected five interceptions. Williams graded out slightly above average relative to his competition last year, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which ranked him the NFL’s 35th-best corner out of the 74 who played at least 50 percent of defensive snaps. The durable Williams has appeared in 64 straight regular-season games and his presence in Seattle should help make up for the loss of Byron Maxwell – who, ironically enough, took Williams’ spot in Philly. However, there’s no guarantee Williams will join No. 1 man Richard Sherman as one of the Seahawks’ starting corners. That job could go to Tharold Simon, Stephen Cohen of SeattlePI.com wrote Thursday.
Regardless of whether Williams starts for the Seahawks, they’re happy to have the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder aboard their defense.
“It starts with his length and his height, his aggressiveness and just the style of play that we have here, playing a lot of press,” general manager John Schneider said in March, according to 710 ESPN Seattle.

Notable losses:

  • James Carpenter, G
  • Heath Farwell, LB
  • Jeron Johnson, S
  • Byron Maxwell, CB
  • Zach Miller, TE: Released
  • Tony Moeaki, TE
  • Stephen Schilling, G
  • O’Brien Schofield, LB
  • Malcolm Smith, LB
  • Bryan Walters, WR
  • Kevin Williams, DT

The Seahawks lost one major defensive contributor via free agency, the aforementioned Maxwell – whom they couldn’t afford to retain. Maxwell broke out as a member of the Seahawks’ dominant defense the previous two years and parlayed that success into a $63MM contract with the Eagles. With Sherman still in the fold and a pair of capable corners in Williams and Simon competing for time opposite him, the Seahawks are properly equipped to handle the loss of Maxwell and defend their reign as the league’s top-ranked pass defense. Of course, much of that will also depend on the statuses of star safeties Kam Chancellor (holdout) and Earl Thomas, who’s on the mend after undergoing offseason surgery on a torn labrum.

Offensively, Seattle’s most noteworthy departure in free agency was left guard James Carpenter, who signed with the Jets. A first-round pick in 2011, Carpenter spent four years in Seattle and made 39 starts – including a personal-best 13 last season. PFF (subscription required) wasn’t enamored with Carpenter’s play the previous two seasons, rating him 47th out of 78 qualifying guards last year and 65th out of 81 in 2013. Nevertheless, the Seahawks are having trouble finding an able replacement for Carpenter. They recently courted two-time Pro Bowler Evan Mathis, but he ended up signing with Denver. That means Carpenter’s successor is very likely to come from within. One candidate is Justin Britt, a 2014 second-round pick who started all 16 games at right tackle as a rookie. Britt shifted to left guard earlier this month and lined up there in the Seahawks’ preseason contest against the Chiefs a week ago. Head coach Pete Carroll said Britt “looked very comfortable at left guard,” Gregg Bell of The News Tribune tweeted. Britt is the fifth different left guard the Seahawks have lined up with their No. 1 offensive unit this summer, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times wrote last week, which points to the lack stability that Carpenter’s exit has led to.

Trades:

  • Acquired TE Jimmy Graham and a 2015 fourth-round pick from the Saints in exchange for C Max Unger and a 2015 first-round pick.
  • Acquired a 2015 third-round pick (No. 69; WR Tyler Lockett) from Washington in exchange for a 2015 third-round pick (No. 95; RB Matt Jones), a 2015 fourth-round pick (No. 112; G Arie Kouandjio), a 2015 fifth-round pick (No. 167), and a 2015 sixth-round pick (No. 181; S Kyshoen Jarrett).

The Seahawks made a bold, game-changing trade in March when they acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham from the Saints for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. While Unger was an integral part of their offensive line, he struggled to stay healthy, missing 13 games the previous two seasons, and certainly isn’t the impact player Graham is.

One thing the Seahawks’ offense sorely needed in recent years was an elite weapon in their passing game, and Graham fits the bill. The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder has put up staggering totals over the last four years – since 2011, the 28-year-old has averaged 89 receptions, 1,099 yards and 12 touchdowns per season. Those numbers dwarf the ones Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s previous leading pass catcher, accumulated in 2014: 66 catches, 825 yards, three scores. Regardless of Graham’s production this year, opposing defenses are going to have to focus on him. That will open things up for the rest of Seattle’s offense, and could make running back Marshawn Lynch an even bigger problem for defenses to contain.

Of course, the negative to adding Graham was losing Unger. As with Carpenter, the Seahawks are still looking for a replacement for Unger. They reportedly visited with free agent Samson Satele earlier this week and have been holding an in-house competition between Drew Nowak and Lemuel Jeanpierre, Condotta wrote Wednesday.

Satele, an eight-year veteran, has started a combined 114 games for three different teams. He made 16 starts last season for the Dolphins and ranked 22nd out of 29 centers who played in at least 50 percent of snaps, per PFF (subscription required). However, he has been a decent run blocker through most of his career and might help ease the pain of losing Unger in that respect – to an extent, anyway. If the Seahawks don’t sign Satele, it would mean a starting job for Nowak or Jeanpierre. That would be a significant step for either, as Nowak has zero NFL starts under his belt and Jeanpierre has a mere 11 during his four-year career in Seattle.

Extensions and restructures:

  • Marshawn Lynch, RB: Extended through 2017. Three years, $31MM. $7.5MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $4.5MM, $9MM, $7MM. $3MM roster bonus in 2017.
  • Russell Wilson, QB: Extended through 2019. Four years, $87.6MM. $31MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $12.34MM, $12.6MM, $15.5MM, $17MM.
  • Bobby Wagner, LB: Extended through 2019. Four years, $43MM. $8MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $3MM, $4MM, $10MM, $10.5MM.

Five-time Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch considered retirement early in the offseason, but the Seahawks summarily put that thought to bed by giving him a new contract. A future without Lynch surely isn’t one Seattle wants to ponder, as the 29-year-old has been a revelation during his five seasons with the team. Lynch has totaled 56 touchdowns (48 rushing, eight receiving) and accrued at least 280 carries and 1,200 yards in four of those seasons, also eclipsing the 100-yard mark on the ground in six playoff games. Thanks largely to Lynch, the Seahawks have finished top five in the league in rushing – including first overall last year – three straight times.

One of the other reasons Seattle has had such a tremendous rushing attack lately has been the work of dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson, to whom the team also gave a new contract. The 26-year-old got a much richer deal than Lynch, inking a four-year, $87.6MM agreement with a $31MM signing bonus and $60MM in guarantees. Wilson’s new contract strongly resembles Ben Roethlisberger‘s pact with the Steelers – a four-year, $87.4MM deal with a $31MM signing bonus – and it’s deserved company for Wilson. Since the Seahawks took Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft, the ex-NC State and Wisconsin standout has dazzled both through the air and on the ground, helping lead the team to its first-ever championship and nearly another one. Wilson has thrown 72 touchdowns against just 26 interceptions and put up a 98.6 passer rating in 48 regular-season starts, averaging a lofty 7.95 yards per attempt along the way. He’s been just as difficult to stop as a rusher, confounding defenses for 1,800-plus yards and 11 more scores. Last season, Wilson totaled career bests in rushing yards (849) and touchdowns (six), and led the league in yards-per-carry average (7.2). Wilson’s personal success has helped lead to resounding team success for the Seahawks, who have a ridiculous .750 winning percentage with him under center (36-12 in the regular season, 6-2 in the playoffs).

Linebacker Bobby Wagner followed in the footsteps of Lynch and Wilson and became the third Seahawks Pro Bowler to sign an extension this year. Wagner is now the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league after inking a four-year, $43MM extension ($22MM in guarantees). Despite missing five games in 2014 with turf toe, Wagner racked up a prolific 135 regular-season tackles and was named an All-Pro for the first time. PFF (subscription required) ranked the 25-year-old fifth out of 60 qualified ILBs in 2014, grading him as an above-average contributor in pass coverage, as a pass rusher, and especially against the run.

Draft picks:

  • 2-63: Frank Clark, DE (Michigan): Signed
  • 3-69: Tyler Lockett, WR (Kansas State): Signed
  • 4-130: Terry Poole, T (San Diego State): Signed
  • 4-134: Mark Glowinski, G (West Virginia): Signed
  • 5-170: Tye Smith, CB (Towson): Signed
  • 6-209: Obum Gwacham, DE (Oregon State): Signed
  • 6-214: Kristjan Sokoli, OL/DL (Buffalo): Signed
  • 7-248: Ryan Murphy, S (Oregon State): Signed

The Seahawks’ defense finished last season toward the top of the league in most major statistical categories, but the unit ended up just 21st in sacks. Second-round pick Frank Clark could help in that department, and he’s been impressive this summer. In his preseason debut earlier this month, a loss to the Broncos, Clark led the Seahawks with nine tackles and showed off his ability to play on both the right and left sides.

“We’re trying to gain some information about where he’s most effective,” Carroll said afterward, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN 710 Seattle. “He had a good edge rush and (chased) the football, too. He forced a fumble tonight. He looked really good, so we’ll just figure it out and see where he’s best suited. It will take us all the way through the preseason to do that.”

While Clark has acquitted himself well on the field, the same wasn’t true off the field during his college football career. A domestic violence arrest last November got him kicked off the team at Michigan, but the Seahawks were apparently satisfied enough with Clark’s character to draft him.

“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background—we have done a ton of research on this young man,” Schneider said after the draft, per Condotta. “There’s hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That is why we have provided Frank with this opportunity, and we look forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”

Joining Clark as a potential high-impact player from the Seahawks’ 2015 draft class is third-round receiver and return man Tyler Lockett, a former Kansas State star. Lockett has been rather effective in two preseason games with the Seahawks: He totaled 146 yards on four kick returns, including a 103-yard touchdown, and 18 on a punt return against the Broncos. He followed that with a solid performance as a receiver in the Seahawks’ loss to the Chiefs last week, leading the team with 42 yards on three catches. Lockett has the potential to end up as the type of electrifying, multi-threat presence Percy Harvin was supposed to be for the Seahawks. That would make him one of the steals of this year’s draft.

Other:

  • Promoted Kris Richard to defensive coordinator to replace Dan Quinn.
  • Declined 2016 fifth-year option for LB Bruce Irvin ($7.751MM).
  • Signed 11 players to reserve/futures contracts.
  • Signed 12 undrafted rookie free agents following the draft.

In 2013, the Seahawks lost defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to the Jaguars, who hired him as their head coach. History repeated itself this past offseason, as Bradley’s successor in Seattle, Dan Quinn, left to be the Falcons’ head man. Quinn’s absence probably won’t be felt to any large extent in Seattle, which has the talent to continue as one of the league’s premier defenses. It might help that a familiar face, Kris Richard, is taking over for Quinn. Richard has been a member of Seattle’s defensive staff since 2012, previously coaching their secondary.

This season could be the last in Seattle for linebacker Bruce Irvin, who has been a Seahawk since they used a first-rounder on him in 2012. Despite his on-field prowess (16.5 sacks, six forced turnovers), he’s likely to be a victim of the Seahawks’ success. With a salary cap in place and multiple breakout players on the Seahawks having already signed big-money extensions, not every star can be retained long term. Thus, the team decided in April not to pick up Irvin’s fifth-year option for 2016, which means he could become a free agent next winter.

Top 10 cap hits for 2015:

  1. Richard Sherman, CB: $12,200,000
  2. Marshawn Lynch, RB: $8,500,000
  3. Cliff Avril, DE: $8,000,000
  4. Michael Bennett, DE: $8,000,000
  5. Jimmy Graham, TE: $8,000,000
  6. Earl Thomas, S: $7,400,000
  7. Russell Okung, LT: $7,280,000
  8. Percy Harvin, WR: $7,200,000 (dead money)
  9. Brandon Mebane, DT: $5,700,000
  10. Kam Chancellor, S: $5,650,000

The Seahawks aren’t perfect (their offensive line is a testament to that), but they’re about as close as any team in the league. They’re a good bet to win the NFC West for a third straight year, clinch a fourth consecutive playoff berth, and vie for their third Super Bowl trip in a row.

Contract information from Over the Cap and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.