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The Seattle Seahawks’ Newest Solution to an Old Problem

Thursday, March 19, 2015

 

The Seattle Seahawks have decided to play coy with NFL free agency thus far into the 2015 NFL year. That doesn’t mean all’s quiet on the veteran acquisition front. In fact, the Seahawks are exhibiting the same approach as always when it comes to top receiver talent: let’s go shopping. 

The shot heard ‘round the world, the Seahawks’ successful trade for former New Orleans Saint tight end Jimmy Graham, revealed the Seahawks’ continuing acknowledgement that the blue birds’ offense cannot continue to rely on a steady diet of Marshawn Lynch and the wheels of quarterback Russell Wilson. The passing game remains the biggest obstacle to getting the Seahawks back on top of the NFL world. Not good in today’s uber pass-happy game.  

Wheeling and Dealing

Two years, two Super Bowls (a 1-1 record). That’s almost as an impressive of a run a team can accomplish in today’s NFL. Still, the Seahawks know as well as anybody that they need a viable third offensive threat—one coming from the receiver corps. Once again, the Seahawks swung for the fences in their pursuit of that vital cog for the offensive machine. Eschewing NFL free agency (for now), the Seahawks gave up a Pro Bowl player (center Max Unger) and their first-round draft choice (No. 31 overall) for the right to add Graham to the team, plus a fourth-round pick. 

First-round draft picks are expected to start in their rookie campaigns. The Seahawks, in effect are trading two starters for Graham and a developmental player or a backup. Can Graham lift the Seahawks’ passing game out of the lower third of the NFL’s offensive rankings (27th-ranked in 2014, 26th-ranked in 2013, 27th-ranked in 2012)? 

The Seahawks are counting on it. 

New Birds?

One week into the new league year it is too soon to tell if the Seattle Seahawks’ passing game will be sporting a new look in 2015. Right now, the pricey trade for Jimmy Graham is really just more of the same. When it comes to pass catchers, the Seahawks look anywhere but at home. 

The Seahawks most recently took a heavy swing at bringing in an offensive difference-maker for the passing game in their 2013 trade for former Minnesota Viking Percy Harvin. Not only did the Seahawks give up a first-round and a seventh-round pick for Harvin, they also handed over $25.5 million in guaranteed salary for what turned out to be a total of six games played. Harvin was sent packing last October. 

In 2015, the Seahawks are counting on that kind of lightning to not strike twice. 

Before the Harvin debacle, the Seahawks established their pattern of behavior when it comes to No. 1 receiving targets by acquiring one-time Pro Bowler Sidney Rice, formerly of the Vikings in 2011. Clearly, the Seahawks do not believe in their own ability to feature homegrown talent at the featured receiver spot. The Seahawks invested in Rice to the tune of $18 million in guarantees over the five-year, $41 million contract. Injuries derailed the once-promising career of Seattle’s first premium veteran acquisition of the Pete Carroll / John Schneider era. 

You can also add the recently departed tight end Zach Miller to the growing list of veteran Seattle receiving saviors that weren’t. When acquired by Seattle in 2011, Miller was (like Rice) a one-time Pro Bowler sporting some impressive stats collected with his first NFL team. The Seahawks rewarded Miller for his tenure with the Oakland Raiders with a five-year, $34 million deal, $17 million of which was guaranteed. Miller is currently a free agent, having concluded the 2014 campaign on injured reserve after a scant three games played.

You can bet that if Rice hadn’t flamed out, the Seahawks wouldn’t have swung for the fences with Harvin. Likewise, had Harvin not crashed and burned so quickly, the Seahawks would not have been once again shopping this offseason for a No. 1 receiving option among veterans. It remains a troubling enigma for the draft-and-develop Seahawks—and it goes against the grain of how they’ve built most of the rest of the roster. 

A shocking as it was to see the Seahawks pull off the Unger-for-Graham trade, it really is in keeping with their way of doing business … for this one position group. It hasn’t worked so far. Will the fourth time be the charm? 

GoLocalPDX partner Oregon Sports News: Since 2011, Oregon Sports News has provided entertaining, hard-hitting local sports news & commentary every weekday. To read more from this author, check out Oregon Sports News by clicking here.

 

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