Seattle Seahawks Season Prediction

Overview:

Schedule: @ATL, NE, DAL, @MIA, MIN, BYE, @ARI, SF, @BUF, @LAR, ARI, @PHI, NYG, NYJ, @WAS, LAR, @SF

Additions: S Jamal Adams (Trade), CB Quinton Dunbar (Trade), OL Brandon Shell (FA), TE Greg Olsen (FA), EDGE Bruce Irvin (FA), EDGE Benson Mayowa (FA), RB Carlos Hyde (FA), LB Jordyn Brooks (Draft), EDGE Darrell Taylor (Draft), OL Damien Lewis (Draft)

Losses: EDGE Jadeveon Clowney (FA), DL Quinton Jefferson (FA), OL George Fant (FA), DL Al Woods (FA), OL D.J. Fluker (FA), OL Germain Ifedi (FA), S Tedric Thompson (FA), EDGE Darrell Taylor (Injury), RB Rashaad Penny (Injury)

Analysis:

If anything’s certain in the NFL, it’s the Seahawks are going to win at least nine games. That’s happened every year of the Russell Wilson-Pete Carroll era, and shouldn’t end any time soon. Honestly, the real minimum might be the 11 Seattle posted last year. Considering that total was amid a myriad of injuries, they should have no problem surpassing it.

Patrick Mahomes may be the face of the NFL, but Wilson is the next best thing. Number 3 keeps this team competitive in every game, and more often that not, he’s able to lead them to victory behind some late-game heroics. For most quarterbacks, you’d worry about how they’d fare behind such a spotty offensive line. Not for Wilson, though. He’s had terrible lines for years, yet that’s never stopped him. Even with Seattle once again rolling out an awful group, it shouldn’t hurt them too much during the regular season. Once January hits, it could be their kryptonite, though.

Like Wilson, Chris Carson hasn’t let the poor o-line play hold him back. If not for minor fumbling and injury issues, he’d be recognized as one of the top backs in the league. With Carlos Hyde backing him up, the Seahawks are safe in the event their starter misses a couple games again. Once 2018 first-rounder Rashaad Penny returns, this will be one of the best rotations in the league.

Led by Tyler Lockett, the receiving corps is up there as well. By year’s end, D.K. Metcalf might overtake Lockett as Wilson’s top target. That says more about how great Metcalf could be than anything negative about the veteran. Regardless of the pecking order, that’s a great wideout duo to have. Plus, Josh Gordon is poised to join them at some point this season. He’s still solid, albeit unrecognizable from his Cleveland peak. With the addition of Greg Olsen, Seattle has no shortage of dependable options at tight end, too.

Even more than the offensive line, the defense has been the Seahawks’ downfall in recent years. But after a productive offseason, this could be the best group since the Legion of Boom days. Or, at least the best secondary, with Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar coming aboard. Dunbar’s legal situation leaves his availability a little questionable, though. Without him, Seattle will run back the same duo of Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers that gets carved up every year. At least Adams and Quandre Diggs will help cover for them on the back end. Even if the former Jet gets a little bored on his new team, he’s poised to experience the postseason for the first time in his career.

Jadeveon Clowney may be gone, but this year’s pass rush should improve significantly. After posting only 28 sacks last year, they almost have to. Bruce Irvin’s return will help. As will the addition of Benson Mayowa (7 sacks last year with the Raiders). Jarran Reed and Poona Ford are a solid interior duo as well. Paired with the elite linebackers, this is a stout front seven.

So long as they have Wilson and Carroll, Seattle is always going to be dangerous. Those two are good enough to get the team to the playoffs, but the rest of the roster usually lets them down once they get there. This year, it could be different. After making some major defensive upgrades, the Seahawks are as scary as anyone in the wide open NFC. Realistically, they’ll have to win their division to go all the way. Having to win every game on the road would be almost impossible. Luckily, San Francisco has the tougher schedule, so the NFC West champions could once again reside in the Pacific Northwest.

Another thing in their favor, San Francisco’s schedule is tougher, so that could hand them the NFC West


Easier schedule than SF could give them the division
AFC NFC East + Falcons and Vikings

What’s your record prediction for the Seahawks? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.

Looking Back…Who Won the Saints-Seahawks Jimmy Graham Trade?

The History

This deal was huge at the time. New fans may remember him as a slow and overpaid redzone threat, but peak Graham was on a historic tear at his position. With Drew Brees feeding him, Graham was right there with Rob Gronkowski for the title of most dangerous pass-catching tight end in the league.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, the statistical dominance of the combo didn’t translate to team dominance. In Graham’s star 2011-2014 seasons, the Saints never advanced past the divisional round and missed the playoffs entirely twice. Even though Graham was far from the problem, it didn’t seem like New Orleans could get over the hump with the current roster.

To make matters worse, Graham wanted elite compensation for his elite status. New Orleans and its star spent the 2014 offseason locked in a contentious arbitration battle over Graham’s true position (with the Saints ultimately winning and applying the cheaper tight end franchise tag). Eventually, they agreed on a massive $40 million deal and the 2014 season played out per usual—with Graham posting gaudy numbers and the team stumbling to seven wins.

On March 10, 2015, Mickey Loomis decided something needed to change. That day, Graham was dealt to a Seattle team looking for offensive reinforcements following a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss. The Seahawks gave up their starting center and a first-round pick with the hopes that an upgrade at tight end would extend their streak of Super Bowl appearances.

Seattle Post Trade

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Seahawks were this close to being back-to-back Super Bowl champs, so adding one of the best weapons in the league had to certify them as a dynasty, right?

Kind of. Seattle is yet to have a losing season since the trade and advanced to the divisional round in Graham’s first year. But, they also haven’t made it past that round since.

Part of that is the result of the trade. It didn’t take long to realize Graham wasn’t going to make the same impact in Seattle as he did by the bayou. Unlike the pass-happy Saints, the Seahawks were built on defense and the run game.

Even still, Graham was on track to post strong numbers once again in 2015. Then, for the first time in his career, he suffered a serious injury. A torn patellar tendon ended his season and cemented a rocky start to his stay in the Pacific Northwest.

A bounce back 2016 season proved to be the outlier in Graham’s career outside of New Orleans. He lasted one more disappointing season in Seattle before somehow earning two more big contracts with the Packers and Bears. Despite playing with Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, glimpses of the old Graham were few and far between.

Besides getting less impact from their star acquistion than expected, this trade really crippled Seattle. On the bright side, they did a great job with the pick they received, coupling it with some of their own picks to trade up for Tyler Lockett.

That’s about all we have for the bright side. Trading away the linchpin of their offensive line led Seattle down the dark path of turnstiles protecting Wilson they’ve become known for.

As we all saw, age and injuries hit the Seahawks hard. The youthful and exciting Legion of Boom crumbled quickly. The money dedicated to Graham or the departed first-round pick would have been the perfect means to replenish the defense. Or reinforce the offensive line. Instead, those holes went on to sink Seattle’s championship aspirations.

Wilson and Pete Carroll have overcome these issues remarkably, with the aforementioned streak of winning seasons being truly mind-blowing outside of New England. Once the calendar turns, though, the heroic efforts of those two fall short against more complete teams.

It would’ve happened eventually, but the Graham trade accelerated Seattle’s transition from a young and deep team to an aging and incomplete one.

New Orleans Post Trade

Photo by Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

Nothing really changed early on for New Orleans. The offense remained potent and the defense porous. Just as they did in Graham’s last year, the Saints went 7-9 in 2015 and 2016.

With Sean Payton’s genius guiding him, Brees continued to light defenses up, as Brandin Cooks took over as his favorite target. Overall, the Saints didn’t seem to lose much by trading Graham. Given that, it almost didn’t matter what the Saints did with the crown jewel of their return—Seattle’s 2015 first-round pick.

Well, it’s a good thing it didn’t matter because that pick did not turn out well. Their selection, linebacker Stephone Anthony, flashed as a rookie before injuries and inconsistency led the team to give up on him. Shortly into his third season, the Saints flipped Anthony for a fifth-round pick. Needless to say two unspectacular years of play and a day three pick in return are not a good return on a first-round pick.

That pick was the meat of the deal, but the sides ended up making up for the main course in this case. Dumping Graham’s contract helped to unclog the Saints’ perennially messy books. Max Unger started all but one game and made a Pro Bowl in his four years with the team. He played a large role in establishing the offensive line as a strength of the team, as it has remained for years now.

Both Unger and the money saved were instrumental in leading New Orleans to this current era of regular season dominance. There have surely been times when Brees missed his old favorite target, but that trade was a key stepping stone to the current team status.

Final Verdict: Saints Won

This trade was neither great nor destructive for either side. While Seattle got less impact out of Graham than anticipated, he was still solid and the pick they received was key to landing Lockett.

New Orleans completely botched their pick and missed the playoffs the first two years after the trade. Still, they win this trade relatively comfortably. They were going nowhere fast with Graham, so getting out of his contract while picking up a stud center was a shrewd move.

Who do you think won the Graham trade? What trade should I look at next? Sound off in the comments.