Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - The 2015 season is officially over. The NFL Combine is fast approaching at the end of the month. Free agency begins soon after that and the 2016 season will be here before we know it.
But for now it's time to look at some of the questions that you have regarding the Seattle Seahawks and what they must accomplish this offseason. So we've decided to do some Twitter mailbags to answer some of those questions.
So let's get to it...
@Curtis_Crabtree how does Marshawn Lynch retirement count toward 2016 cap total? Is it all dropped or is bonus still dead money?— Pete Breneman (@Everclearboy) February 16, 2016
Marshawn Lynch signed a two-year extension last March that included a $7.5 million signing bonus. When it comes to contract accounting purposes, the cap hit of the signing bonus is spread out evenly over the life of the contract. In this case that means $2.5 million a year for the remaining three years of his contract (2015-17). But with Lynch retiring, the remaining $5 million of signing bonus proration comes due this season.
They don't have to pay Lynch $5 million. They already gave that to him up front, but now they have to account for it in their salary cap.
Lynch was scheduled to make $9 million in base salary this season. Add on one year of the signing bonus proration and Lynch's cap charge would have been $11.5 million this season. With his retirement, the base salary goes completely away and the team will save $6.5 million against the salary cap ($11.5 million minus $5 million in leftover signing bonus proration).
Technically, the Seahawks could seek to have Lynch repay that $5 million in signing bonus money as well, but it seems unlikely they'd go that route.
@Curtis_Crabtree Where will TRawlsbackup come from? The draft, free agency, or is he already under contract?
— Dave Swart (@swart_dave) February 16, 2016
All of the above. As it currently sits, the only running backs under contract for 2016 are Thomas Rawls and CFL signee Cameron Marshall. Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Will Tukuafu, Christine Michael (restricted) and Derrick Coleman (restricted) are all free agents and Marshawn Lynch is retiring.
So Seattle will have to add depth in multiple ways. A draft pick seems likely. A veteran free agent would seem like a smart move too. And there will likely be undrafted free agent signings as well.
Pete Carroll said they want to bring Michael back, so he may currently be the favorite for the job if they can re-sign him.
They usually carry at least four running backs on their 90-man roster into training camp, so there will be plenty of competition to go around for the jobs.
@Curtis_Crabtree with the way the Seahawks have focused resources into building an elite defense, is a perpetually inept O line inevitable?
— MegandSam(@NoJacketReqd) February 16, 2016
I wouldn't say it's inevitible, but it's a reality the Seahawks have to work within. Decisions have to be made when it comes to determining which players to sign to long-term contracts. By having to pay Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and so forth, there has to be somewhere that goes without those resources expended.
Seattle has gone comparatively light on the offensive line as a result. This isn't a secret. However, the decisions made there have not worked as well as the team hoped they would.
Much like when the Seahawks made the decision to start Wilson over Matt Flynn in 2012, the team hoped that Drew Nowak would progress faster and with the experience gained become their best option at center. Well, that didn't work last season. They hoped Alvin Bailey would grab the left guard job in training camp. Instead, they had to try Mark Glowinski, Kristjan Sokoli, Keavon Milton and, finally, Justin Britt to find something that would work to start the season.
The failing isn't the way Seattle has decided to proportion their salary cap pie. It's not "wrong" to skimp financially on the offensive line considering the other pieces the Seahawks had to keep in place, but the decisions made within that framework has not worked as well as the team has hoped.
That being said, the line has never been as bad as fans want to make it out to be. After putting Patrick Lewis at center, the offensive line performed well the second half of the 2015 season. They could run the ball and protect Russell Wilson consistently.
The 2005 Seahawks offensive line isn't walking through the door. It's not going to happen. And if that's the standard you're holding offensive line play to, you're going to be perpetually disappointed.
@Curtis_Crabtree How would evaluate Britt's performance his first two years @ RT & LG and what does that mean for his role in 2016?
— s|n|a(@sna23) February 16, 2016
I'd say Britt has been up and down. I thought he played great at right tackle in Super Bowl XLIX. And then he seemingly couldn't block anyone at right tackle throughout the preseason before being moved inside to left guard.
I think guard is a better fit for Britt in the long term.
That being said, I don't feel qualified to try to breakdown the play of an offensive lineman. There's just too much I don't know about the line calls, assignments, techniques and so forth that I think I'd be doing a disservice by speaking in certainties.
Having played both spots gives Seattle the versatility to move Britt around based on the players they add (and keep) this offseason. If Russell Okung is going and they have to move Garry Gilliam to left tackle, then maybe Britt makes sense again at right tackle. If Okung is back, then keeping Britt at guard would seem to be more likely. But his versatility to play both gives Seattle options depending on what they add in the draft and free agency.
@Curtis_Crabtree What do you think about Kasen Williams' chances of making next season's 53?— Barry Fishler (@BEATTHECONTROL) February 16, 2016
It's really difficult to say when we don't know the receivers that will be in camp with them come the end of July. Will Jermaine Kearse be back? Will Ricardo Lockette be able to continue his NFL career after the neck injury suffered last season? Will Seattle draft one (or more) receivers in the draft? Will they add any free agent receivers?
Until we know the full picture, it's difficult to say. But Williams will always have an uphill climb because he's not a special teams player for the team. Seattle requires the lower receivers on the roster to be special teams contributors. Even starters Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett and, previously, Golden Tate have all played special teams. With only 53 roster spots, Williams will lose ties to players that can play special teams. It's why B.J. Daniels and Kevin Smith were promoted to the active roster in 2015 instead of Williams.
So until Williams can become a contributor on special teams, or move far enough up the depth chart to become too valuable as a receiver to let go, it will be a struggle.
@Curtis_Crabtree has there ever been a team more impossible to do a mock draft for?
— John Trupin(@TroopDogg24) February 16, 2016
Haha. Unless you're talking a Top 5 pick, it's all pretty much impossible. You can peg team needs and which positions still need to be addressed and stuff like that, but trying to pair one prospect with one team out of a pool of 500 players or more is such a massive stretch.
General manager John Schneider has said he wants to draft a quarterback every year, just like they tried to do in Green Bay. He's only drafted one quarterback in his tenure in Seattle. That being Russell Wilson in 2012, obviously. Even their best intentions can't ever come to fruition all the time because there are 31 other teams fighting for the same players.
We know Schneider covets draft picks. If he doesn't have many, you can expect him to trade down to get more. It gets Seattle more bites at the apple, so to speak. Beyond that, it's just guessing.