The Seattle Seahawks have just won the Super Bowl, and Malcom Smith has just gone to Disney World. In Seattle, the time has come to celebrate and savor the moment. Elsewhere in the NFL, the time has come to figure out how to dethrone the defending Super Bowl Champs. The moment the big game was over (roughly around the second quarter), speculation began to swarm about the possibility of the Seahawks becoming a dynasty. That speculation is not without merit. NFL’s most recent ‘dynasty,’ the New England Patriots, may still have something to say about that, but as my great-grandmother used to say, “if ifs were fifths, we’d all be drunk.” Before Seattle can truly tackle the ‘dynasty’ questions, they must first figure out who they can hold on to and who they can’t.
Seattle is young, and with a nucleus of budding stars like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Percy Harvin, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and proclaim that this a future dynasty. However, NFL teams are a business-a commodity-and they have salary caps to work within. Owner Paul Allen may be one of the richest men in the world, but Seattle has only $2 million in cap space moving into next year, and has one of the highest payrolls in the league.
The talent of these players is unquestionable, but that could turn out to be what breaks this team apart in the near future. With the exception of Percy Harvin, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Okung, Max Unger, and Kam Chancellor, the Seattle roster is full of bargain basement rookie contracts. Wilson is only making an average of $749,176/year until 2016. At that point, Seattle will unload top dollar to retain the services of their franchise quarterback. Wilson is such a team player, many point out that he could take a team-friendly contract to keep the core together, however the market price for a 27 year-old, Super Bowl winning quarterback is very steep, so even team-friendly will cost them huge.
Richard Sherman is one of the loudest cornerbacks in the league, and quite possibly the best. His 5th Round deal is set to expire the same time as Wilson’s, and is even a friendlier $555,606/year until 2015. The cornerback position can be a well-paid position in the NFL, if the CB is elite. Richard Sherman is elite. Sherman has the most interceptions over the past two seasons and is widely considered the best cover corner in the league. At the young age of 26 when his contract expires, every team in the NFL would pay top dollar for his services. It has been mentioned that Sherman too, would be willing to take a team-friendly deal, but much like Wilson, team-friendly is still expensive for the top corner in the league.
Earl Thomas is the anchor of this dynamite defense, and the third most important player on this team (Wilson, Okung). Seattle will pay Earl Thomas enough money to make him (deservedly) the highest paid safety in the league. Thomas is a lynchpin in the Legion of Boom, and unfortunately for Seattle, his contract will expire the same day as Richard Sherman’s.
There are only so many rich contracts a team can carry, and with the necessity of a strong offensive and defensive line, the secondary cannot hold four $7+ million dollar/year contracts. Not all players will rework their contracts when 31 other NFL teams will pay top dollar to dismantle the Hawks. The Seahawks are a deep, talent-rich team who have drafted brilliantly since the arrivals of Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and this will be their saving grace. In order to build a great, long-lasting dynasty in the NFL, you have to be willing to rate your players and let go of some stars. It will be hard for the city of Seattle to see a Richard Sherman go, but it is necessary for the strength of the organization.
The New England Patriots are a great model of a team that drafts well, works contracts, and lets stars go. This is a team that let Randy Moss walk after the most prolific season for a wide receiver, ever. Carroll and Schneider are in sync, and are prepared to say bye, bye to any player/contract that gets in their way. Carroll’s philosophy is to compete every day, and that is a long-term philosophy.
The good news for Seattle and the bad news for the rest of the NFL is that the team largely remains the same for the 2014 season. This regime’s focus has been building for the future, so it is safe to assume that they are prepared for all of this, however, we should be reminded that dynasties have more than one Lombardi Trophy, so Seattle’s top priority will be to lock down number two while the stars are aligned.