Center Max Unger #60 of the Seattle Seahawks gets ready to snap the ball during the first quarter of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle,Wa. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - Coming off the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks had to sit and watch as several key pieces of their championship roster signed with new teams in free agency.
WR Golden Tate (Detroit), T Breno Giacomini (NY Jets), DE Chris Clemons (Jacksonville), DE Red Bryant (Jacksonville) and DT Clinton McDonald (Tampa Bay) all found new teams to call home.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks focused on re-signing key pieces to their future. Contract extensions for DE Michael Bennett and S Earl Thomas have been completed and a new deal for CB Richard Sherman is also reportedly in the works as well.
With the departures in free agency, the Seahawks will have to replenish their roster through the draft. However, Seattle is set to enter the draft with just six draft picks, which will put a premium on hitting on their draft picks.
In the first of our series looking ahead to the draft, it's time to take a look at which positions need to be addressed when the draft kicks off next Thursday night.
More Draft Picks:
Under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, the Seahawks have never had fewer than nine draft picks at the conclusion of the selection meeting. Currently, Seattle only has six. It will likely be the intention of the front office to trade down a couple times to acquire more draft selections at some point over the three days of the draft.
The offensive line was the weakest link in the Super Bowl roster season. While injuries depleted the line throughout the year, the group struggled for consistency all season.
In addition, Giacomini and G Paul McQuistan (Cleveland) are longer on the roster and haven't been replaced through free agency. While the team is bullish on youngsters T Michael Bowie and T Alvin Bailey, there is a definitive need to add to the line.
Because of the versatility of Bowie and Bailey, the team likely doesn't have to feel locked in to needed a guard or a tackle, specifically. Instead, they can take the best player at either position and shuffle their line accordingly.
Also, T Russell Okung has an inflated cap number in 2015 that could potentially become problematic as the team looks to lock up QB Russell Wilson. There is a possibility Okung is the player that is left out of the wave of contract extensions and the team will be looking for a future left tackle in the next couple years.
Making sure their depth is addressed now would be a wise decision.
There was a reason the Seahawks were kicking the tires on DE Jared Allen this offseason. Losing Clemons and Bryant in free agency have created a void that needs to be addressed at defensive end.
While the team did re-sign DE Michael Bennett, they could use an additional pass rusher for passing downs. While the team remains optimistic about the ability of DE Benson Mayowa and DE Greg Scruggs, additional depth would be beneficial.
The pressing need for additional receiving help was somewhat lessened by Seattle's decision to re-sign WR Sidney Rice in April.
With Rice back in the fold, the Seahawks have several options at receiver. However, both Rice and WR Percy Harvin have a long history of injury issues that will continue to remain a question mark.
The Seahawks should look to add a receiver to the mix to add competition to the group and provide insurance in case of injuries.
With CB Brandon Browner (New England) and CB Walter Thurmond (NY Giants) leaving in free agency, the Seahawks are need of replenished depth at the cornerback position.
The signing of CB Phillip Adams this offseason helps with the depth and last year's fifth-round pick CB Tharold Simon may be able to contribute after a year lost to injury.
However, CB Byron Maxwell is entering the last year of his rookie contract. With Thomas, S Kam Chancellor and Sherman all potentially getting big money contracts, keeping Maxwell would seem to be unlikely. The Seahawks should make sure they have potential replacement options in place for the long term as well.
DT Clinton McDonald picked up 5.5 sacks last season as a rotational interior pass rusher last season. The Seahawks will need to find a way to replace that production.
DT Jordan Hill showed flashes as a rookie but also dealt with injury issues. DT Jesse Williams struggled at times in training camp last year before being lost to a knee injury as well.
DT Brandon Mebane has a sizable cap hit in the 2015 as well that could lead him to potentially be a cap casualty next offseason. Seattle will have to find some long term solutions along the defensive interior.
LB K.J. Wright, LB Malcolm Smith and LB Heath Farwell are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents after next season. In addition, LB Mike Morgan will be a restricted free agent.
In addition to adding depth to the roster for next season, Seattle may have to plan for replacement for at least a couple of those players. The Seahawks may not have the funds available to sign their linebackers to bigger contracts once they reach free agency and may have to turn to cheaper, younger options.
It would be wise for Seattle to make sure they have strong options to turn to in the event they can't re-sign players with Wright and Smith after next season.