Seattle heads into offseason with core intact


Seattle heads into offseason with core intact

RENTON, Wash. (AP) As belongings were packed up, the phrase became a popular refrain coming from all corners of the Seattle Seahawks locker room.

``We have a really good core group here.''

Whether it was safety Earl Thomas or rookie quarterback Russell Wilson or veteran fullback Michael Robinson uttering those words, they resonated with substance because the Seahawks went from a young team with potential to a team on the cusp of being an NFL power this season with most of its key components returning next season.

The expectations will be different in 2013 and everyone already understands that fact. No longer will the Seahawks be a pleasant surprise, but instead hold the title of contender.

``There is nobody in our building that doesn't think that this is going to be an extraordinary offseason for this club,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``Knowing that all of the kids that made the team last year that get to come back, and played a lot and they come back. It's such a big jump that happens from year one to year two.''

The biggest reason for Seattle's optimism going forward is that core group that has been solidly constructed in three seasons by Carroll and general manager John Schneider and is mostly locked up for the 2013 season. Among their starting 22 on offense and defense, the Seahawks have just two players who are unrestricted free agents - defensive tackle Alan Branch and outside linebacker Leroy Hill. They have only eight unrestricted free agents total and another three who are restricted and can have any offers from other teams matched by the Seahawks.

Unlike last offseason when Seattle was tasked with trying to lock up running back Marshawn Lynch and find an answer to its quarterbacking situation, the Seahawks enter this offseason with the ability to supplement through free agency and the draft while also trying to solidify their roster long-term.

``It is unfinished business,'' Robinson said. ``We are a good team right now but we've got to go from good to being a championship football team. We need to take that next step. We thought we had it this year but hopefully we've got to take this offseason, use it to compete to keep our jobs, compete against other teams ... and draw on this experience next year if the opportunity presents itself.''

Branch and Hill said they would like to return, but defensive line and linebacker could be an area where Seattle looks for upgrades. Carroll was blunt in his season-ending news conference that the Seahawks needed at least two defensive linemen in the hopes of trying to solve a pass rush that floundered for most of the season aside from one memorable night against Green Bay.

``It's kind of hard just sitting on your hands waiting for interest to be brought in your direction or whatever,'' Branch said. ``Hopefully, they want me here and the whole money situation gets settled. But if not there won't be a better group of guys than this, I'm sure.''

Seattle currently has 10 draft picks come April and that is where Schneider and Carroll have found the most success. It's not so much the early-round selections that have paid off - although Thomas and Russell Okung in the first-round in 2010 created a sturdy foundation - but the picks in the later rounds that have proved valuable.

The Seahawks grabbed starting strong safety Kam Chancellor and all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman in the fifth round; outside linebacker K.J. Wright in the third round; right guard J.R. Sweezy in the seventh round; and of course, what turned out to be Seattle's greatest steal, Wilson in the third round last April.

Carroll said with the depth already on the roster, it will be difficult for some of those draft picks to make the team.

``What's going to be hard is for the 10 guys that get drafted to make this team,'' he said. ``That's what I think the challenge is, and that's how much I believe in these guys. I think they're going to come back ready to go.''

Because there are so few free agents to deal with this offseason, the Seahawks may start looking ahead to the next offseason - 2014 - when a number of key players can become free agents. Among those whose contracts expire after next season: Chancellor, Robinson, receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Brandon Browner, right tackle Breno Giacomini, guard Paul McQuistan and receiver Golden Tate.

But being in that position of looking head is a luxury for Seattle thanks to the work already done.

``The key is the guys that are the nucleus of our football team always growing and us always developing and seeing how we can all get better individually, but also collectively,'' Wilson said.


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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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