Seattle’s Not Going Away

The Seahawks have been scary good all season long, but here's the scariest part for the rest of the NFL—it's going to be like this for quite a while. They’ve figured out the formula for sustained success

By
Andrew Brandt
· More from Andrew·

There may be no NFL team better positioned for sustained success right now than the Seahawks. Not only have they reached the Super Bowl, but with a powerful home-field advantage; a young, deep and talented roster; management and coaching driven to succeed; and one of the country’s richest men writing the checks, they are primed for short- and long-term achievement. Let’s take a look at a few of the driving forces fueling the journey.

The general manager

Full disclosure: I worked with John Schneider in Green Bay for more than six years and we remain friends. Away from the game, he is an engaging and funny guy, as well as a solid family man. In his football element, John is driven; I have met few people in football or any other business more determined to succeed. He is relentless in his search for talent; he will look anywhere and everywhere to make the team better and takes great professional pride in the scouting process.

John brings a strong skill-set gleaned from many years of experience despite remaining relatively young at age 42. He had two stints in Green Bay, a previous position in Seattle, a few years in Kansas City and a year in Washington. He certainly subscribes to the “draft and develop” approach honed in Green Bay and appreciates the valuable currency that draft picks represent in the modern NFL. However, John’s philosophy does not restrict talent acquisition to the draft; he will aggressively venture into free agency and trades to pursue a particular talent. He can even become fixated on certain players, as I sense happened with Percy Harvin this past offseason. 

A week into the 2006 free agent period we took notice that the Raiders’ Charles Woodson, a potentially elite player, was still unsigned. We debated entering a negotiation, with me asking my usual red flag question concerning lack of interest from the incumbent team: “If the Raiders, who know him best, don’t want him back, then why should we want him?” Additionally, chasing a player like Woodson was not in our DNA.

John, however, pressed the issue: Woodson was available and could help us; everything else was secondary. After a month of difficult negotiations—Woodson was ambivalent about joining the Packers even though we were offering significantly more than any other team—we finally reached an agreement. John spearheaded the effort to acquire Woodson, who went on to become Defensive Player of the Year for the Packers and was one of the truly impactful free-agent signings in NFL history.

The next year, during the run-up to the 2007 draft, John (along with Aaron Rodgers) championed the cause for Cal running back Marshawn Lynch. While Lynch presented off-field concerns for some within the organization, John stood on the table for him. And when the Bills took Lynch four picks ahead of us in the draft, there was an audible groan and a few curse words from John. Of course, it was no surprise that John, once in Seattle, traded for Lynch and subsequently extended his contract.

Finally, John is a strong believer in constant roster turnover. There is no NFL team that “churns” more players—through tryouts, workouts, bottom-of-roster additions/deletions, etc.—than the Seahawks. As to the tension and lack of security this constant roster churn creates among players at the lower end of the roster, agents and players dealing with the Seahawks know that this is how they operate in their quest for the deepest roster possible.

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The coach

More full disclosure: I admit to initial negative bias toward Carroll as a former agent and good friend of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who was told by Carroll in 2011 that the Seahawks were “moving in a different direction.” Matt moved past that, however, so I have as well.

Carroll and Schneider are in sync with their prolific “roster churn” and understand their roles: Schneider brings the players in and Carroll coaches them.

The one constant I hear about Carroll is that players love playing for him. True, we hear that said a lot to the point of being a cliché, but when it is said about Carroll it always seems that players say more than they need to. Why? Yes, it is the loose, collegiate atmosphere; but the major reason I always hear is this: “He’s got our backs.” Carroll will rarely, if ever, call out a player; he understands they are the lifelines to his success. Carroll will always cover for a player’s mistake. There are few better compliments about a coach.

To that point, Carroll (and Schneider) has greater tolerance for players with “issues” than most. Every team has a different character/talent risk equation; the Seahawks clearly allow for greater risk on the character side. They have brought in players with pasts that include substance issues, arrests and reputations for high maintenance (even Terrell Owens was in training camp last year). Players tend to assimilate easily into the loose culture in Seattle, and they are not muzzled by the coaching staff when they arrive, as they would be under many NFL coaches.

Again, with Schneider and Carroll, it’s all about the talent.

The quarterback

Speaking of the talent/character equation, Russell Wilson has an abundance of each: he has an uncanny ability to do the right thing on the field and say the right thing off it. And his value continues to skyrocket.

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

From a Moneyball “bang for the buck” perspective, Wilson is the most valuable player in the NFL. His third-round earnings—$2.2 million over four years, $526,000 this year—represent rounding errors compared to other premium-level quarterbacks, including this week’s counterpart, Peyton Manning, making $20 million this year and next.

There is no greater value from a management perspective: having the team’s franchise player at a fixed (read: cheap) rate for at least one more season allows for that treasured roster flexibility. It is no coincidence the Seahawks were active this past offseason, supplementing an already flush roster with additional talents such as Percy Harvin, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and more. Wilson’s value, from a financial and team-building perspective, cannot be overstated.

Yes, as many ask, Wilson’s compensation will obviously ramp up dramatically at some point, but if we are talking about it, the Seahawks are planning for it. Moreover, that time is not near. With two years completed on a four-year rookie contract, the CBA mandates that a renegotiation to provide compensation more commensurate with his value cannot happen until, at the earliest, one year from now. Wilson will play the 2014 season at the relatively minimal cost of $662,000, while Manning, for example, will make $588,000 each week next season. As he was in 2013, Wilson will likely be the most undervalued player in the NFL in 2014.

The cornerback

Lost amidst the sociological dialogue involving Richard Sherman is the fact he has become a rare and treasured commodity in the NFL—a shutdown cornerback. With that comes value; Sherman is soon to enjoy tremendous wealth to match his growing fame.

Sherman joined the NFL in the class of 2011, the first class of rookies signed under the new CBA. Like Wilson, he had to sign a four-year contract. Unlike Wilson, he’s now past the three-year prohibition on renegotiations. And with the Seahawks certainly planning a major investment in Wilson in 2015, the time is ripe to secure Sherman. If and when that decision is made, negotiations will ensue debating comparables of top cornerback contracts such as those of Darrelle Revis, negotiated upon a trade, and recent top-of-market free agent contracts for Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan.

Sherman has less leverage than those players, as he is under contract for $1.4 million next season; the others were either at the end of their deals or had the leverage of a trade. Regardless, my strong sense is that Sherman will never see the last year of his rookie contract, as a glittery new one (complete with a large bonus) will replace it and give him long-term financial security. And that will be something to truly boast about.

The Seahawks are well positioned today, next season and into the future. We may be talking about this team in January for years to come, as they are poised for what every organization strives for: sustained success.

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77 comments
PaulChristopherMargolis
PaulChristopherMargolis

I like your breakdown Peter! What nobody saw coming was the Seattle Defensive Line playing the game of the century as well as the Legion of Boom. Let's hear it for the Defensive Line!! D!-Fence!

MikeNolte
MikeNolte

The 49ers split with Seattle and had them in the closing minute of their last game.   It is not a forgone conclusion that Seattle will repeat.   Yes they are good but so is the team from the Bay Area.

rheffero
rheffero

Do teams end up following the Seattle model? Jets hired on of their key guys last year, and their roster has to be one of the worst "rounded" ones in the NFL.


Overall, this is a very "optimistic" position taken by a buddy of the Seattle GM. One thing fans know for sure, players/agents expect to be paid coming out of Super Bowls. Patriots model for success, keep core 5-7, make everyone else expendable.


For a players coach, Carroll is not afraid to fire anyone, which to his credit, shows the ruthlessness hidden under the "loose" persona he wants to have.


This is the same guy who left his college program in shambles though, his whole resume needs to be included in every discussion. So let's not anoint him a saint. He got caught cheating in college and ran.


For all the hype, Harvin was not needed for Seattle to win this game. Some Seattle writer wants to grant him knighthood for 3 touches and a KR that about 15 return guys in the NFL could have made. Seattle has 15 million between him and Rice, something will have to give there.


It will be interesting to see if Seattle does the right thing with Wilson. In the private sector, anyone who has had his success would expect a very nice raise.

Hello1813
Hello1813

It's been said earlier.  They have 2 key players on rookie contracts (R.Wilson & R. Sherman).  It allowed them to be aggressive and sign guys like Cliff Avril and trade for Harvin (signing for a big extension).  Earl Thomas may still be on his rookie deal as well.  Once they have to pay their top guys with their market value, they will have to make some tough salary cap decisions.   But overall, they do have to be given a lot of credit for drafting this guys and developing them. 

JubJub
JubJub

Nonsense.


Look, the Carroll and the front office have done a masterful job of building this team.  But let's not forget that many of their best players are still on rookie contracts.  Yes, the Seahawks are young and immensely talented, but there's no way they'll be able to keep everyone.  

HazelMcGuireMarston
HazelMcGuireMarston

Seahawk dominance ??????     The niners were two plays away from replacing the seahawks in the super bowl.

First : Questionable  personal foul call on niner linebacker who sacked Drew brees. If niners win that game they have home field in the playoffs.

Second: yes Sherman made a great play in the end zone, but a deeper pass and Crabtree makes the catch.


The point is these games are separated by very little and it's a long season. 

redandgoldforever
redandgoldforever

Kudos to the Seahawks for getting to the Super Bowl, but frankly this article could've been written about the Niners or even the Panthers. Just replace the names of the GM, Coach, and QB. Admittedly neither the Niners nor the Panthers have a shutdown corner (yet) and Russ Wilson is more articulate and generally just more likeable than either Kaep or Cam (though both will probably adjust to the spotlight soon)...The author does fail to mention a couple of key reasons (again, like the Niners) the Seahawks will be successful for a while: a terrific D and a strong running game/solid offensive line. No way the Seahawks get to the SB without Lynch or that secondary. Would be a lot more interesting to hear the author's thoughts about what makes this team different than other NFC contenders. 


By the way, the Broncos are a good team as long as PM is at the helm. Without him they don't make the playoffs (Indy redux circa 2010). And how weak is the rest of the AFC? Props to Belicheck, but the Patriots seem a cut below the NFC's elite teams. 

Drifter1
Drifter1

And now  you understand why the Seahawks, unrecognized for so many years, now have so many frothing-at-the-mouth haters on the internet.


If this team loses Sunday, they'll still be a threat for deep playoff runs over the next several years.  This is the fourth-youngest team in the entire league right now.


If they win on Sunday, as the second-youngest team in SB history, they're potential juggernauts.


Carroll and Schneider stripped almost the entire roster and built this team from the ground up in only four years.  They've also shown a knack for finding talented contributors in the later rounds and as UDFAs.  Now, add to this that survey last week that said Carroll was the coach NFL players most wanted to play for.  If you're a talented vet who is tired of playing for underachievers and want to bust your butt for less money in order to go for that ring, I'm sure Schneider and Carroll will be willing to talk.

RJJustrj
RJJustrj

Give Sherman a lot of money and he will be acting a fool and causing akinds of problems just like any immature child.

RJJustrj
RJJustrj

Right! Give them drug tests before and after every game on the away games and at the home games they don't have to have any talent. They just have to be very loud. Could They actually win on their own merit? NO!


raindog308
raindog308

Stop with the home field advantage nonsense.  They didn't win as many games as Cincy at home.  And if a loud home field was such a huge advantage, the Chiefs wouldn't have sucked for the last five years.

CasinoGal
CasinoGal

I guess everyone has forgotten what happened with the Patriots AFTER he left. Three Super Bowl titles.

matthewmhunter
matthewmhunter

They have 2 good years ad an otherwise unremarkable history and we have already decided they have figured out sustained success? 

jjazznola
jjazznola

I don't see them winning ANY titles. Anyway, dynasties in the NFL are a thing of the past.

jackieau87
jackieau87

this article just makes me smile. go hawks.

Serena
Serena

So none of those young talented players are going to want significant pay increases once their rookie contracts are up?

Holland
Holland

Everything is always great when you are winning! Once you lose its "Theres some questions that need to be answered" and "where do they go from here" Talk about dynasties and greatness the week after the big game! Not the 2 weeks leading up to it!

JubJub
JubJub

Here's the formula for sustained success in the NFL: get a franchise QB.


If Wilson is one, and he may end up being one but the jury is still out, they will have sustained success.


If Wilson isn't one, then they won't have sustained success.  


Everything else is window-dressing.  

Baconpizza
Baconpizza

I see this game as a must win for both teams. 

sea-fan
sea-fan

@MikeNolte  mike, by that same mentality, sea had the lead late at candlestick, only to lose on a very late field goal.  nobody doubts that sf is a good team.  you could say that sea was closer to sweeping the niners than the opposite.   imo, had sf gone to the superbowl, they'd have beaten denver almost as soundly.   

Robert85
Robert85

@rheffero  What was Carroll's cheating in college? If Reggie Bush's family takes money and cars from boosters how can Carroll know about that? The idea that he left USC in shambles is silly. A national title mean anything to you? Also IMHO they should pay college athletes so I don't see taking money from boosters as immoral.

lionoah
lionoah

@JubJub  Nonsense? They did draft those players after all no? Some of them will stay, others will be replaced, and they will reload. It's the organization in Seattle. There is no franchise player there...

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@HazelMcGuireMarston  Geez you Niners fans just won't let it go will you?

You lost, and if you want to play the game of what if's, then you also have to say that the touchdown thrown to Boldin was less than an inch away from getting knocked away or even picked off by Earl Thomas, and there was yet another pick that was just dropped. What if's work both ways, and the Seahawks could have just as easily won that game by more than two scores playing that silly game.

Get over it Niners fans, your team is NOT as good, your QB is NOT as good, you defense is NOT as good, and your coach is NOT as good as Seattle's.

Mina
Mina

@RJJustrj  Clearly you aren't following the Hawks. 


liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

@RJJustrj  SURE. Because he's done that so far, right? It does take a fool to be the best CB in the league. & it certainly takes a fool to be a Stanford graduate.

Drifter1
Drifter1

@RJJustrj


Zero failed PED tests this season.


# of players on the Super Bowl roster who have served suspensions for PED use:  One.


You fail at life, RJJustrj.

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

@RJJustrj  Holy cow, you're an imbecile. You're right, this team has been the a top 3 team the last 2 years because of Adderall & noise. 

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@raindog308  You're right about a couple of things, if it was ONLY noise, then Kansas City wouldn't have stunk for so many years recently, they have a terrific homefield advantage, and have for as long as I can remember.

You're also right that Cincy finished winning all their home games, good on them.

They also lost in the playoffs at home (meaning what I have no idea).

So yeah, TALENT is what wins, and the Seahawks have that overflowing.
BUT, never dismiss the affect the crowd has on the game, not just in disrupting the flow of opposing offenses, but in the way the team feeds off the energy. Don't believe me? Ask a Seahawks player, they'll explain it to you loudly.

Drifter1
Drifter1

@CasinoGal The first season BB was in NE, they went 5-11.


In fact, it wasn't until Drew Bledsoe got hurt and BB was forced to start Tom Brady that things began to turn around.


But keep re-writing the history you obviously don't know much about.

SpencerForHire
SpencerForHire

@CasinoGal and since he left he has reorganized his coaching style and philosophy, won 2 national titles in college, 2 NFC West titles and one NFC title in 4 years as head coach. 

dkmightyhammer1968
dkmightyhammer1968

@matthewmhunter They had bad years in the 80's and 90's and so that means they can't be successful now??  Guess what?  There isn't a single person left from even barely as far back as their 2005 Superbowl season.


Things change.  I don't know why so many use this argument that unless you have some great history you can't be on to a good thing now.

RobKnorr
RobKnorr

@jjazznola  LOL! Looks like you were wrong about the title, probably wrong about the rest too.

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@jjazznola well they have won titles Division Titles NFC Titles and Sunday Super Bowl Titles and they will be great for years to come so kiss my white arse don't care what you haters think 

justsaying..
justsaying..

@Serena  there is probably a point to this if you want to concede it. The team is filled with undrafted free agents and low round draft picks that are now all pro and pro bowlers. The front office is brilliant at developing talent and actually seeing it when everybody didn't. Wilson will get big bucks but almost every other position can be developed to keep the salaries down. This is where as long as the management and coaching styles remain intact, money will not be near the issue it is on other teams.

E.
E.

@Serena The point is, with a good formula for finding talent, and an atmosphere that attracts undervalued free agents, this should continue. Nicely, many of the re-signings are spread out over the next three years. Yes they will lose some players, but they should be able to afford the key core players.

jackieau87
jackieau87

@Serena yeah they will. I believe that it was mentioned they will all get huge raises in the future.

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@Holland what else to writers have to write about only so much since it's two week's long and why not us Hawks are deserving of being great for a long time to come just as other teams have in the past 

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@dkmightyhammer1968 @matthewmhunter ya precisely look at the Patriots they were horrible for many many years before BB and Brady came to town and with the spy gate the won championships but with out it they have sustained a decade of great years so these idiots that use that old adage that you can't be good unless you have a great past is pathetic heck the 9ers were pretty laughable tell they got their coach and Joe Montana and Rice then they were great for a while and since then they haven't been so great and now they have become pretty good so with our combo of GM and Coach and Russell Wilson I think we can sustain long term success myself and don't really care what other idiots say

PaulMaggard
PaulMaggard

@E. @Serena Yup should be able to extend Sherman's contract and a couple others this year then secure Wilson ET and Kam that and when a team has success like we are having we can get big time players to come to our team so yes we shall have long term Success need to get Carroll resigned this off season to a long term contract and things will be looking great here for years to come

jjazznola
jjazznola

Some, from other teams. That's the way it works.

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