NFL

Salary cap ills: Seahawks have picked their poison

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Salary cap ills: Seahawks have picked their poison

Written by Julian Rogers

At some point, the Seattle Seahawks’ reign atop the NFC West will end. With an array of unanswered questions, the blue birds have the aura of a team poised to fall off their perch — possibly soon.

OK, calm down. My guess is that they’ll win the NFC West once again in 2015. That doesn’t mean your local favorites are entering the 2015 campaign with as much momentum as they did the past two Super Bowl seasons. Far from it.

Fortunately, their NFC West competitors, the St. Louis Rams, the Arizona Cardinals and the artists formerly known as the San Francisco 49ers, have talent deficits that outpace the Seahawks. The NFC West crown will remain in the Northwest for at least one more season.

But let’s be realistic. This is a different team as it tries to bounce back from a devastating championship game loss and the strains of stars demanding (usually successfully) to be paid like Super Bowlers. Like every NFL team simultaneously preparing for the start of the season while attending to their longer term goals, the Seahawks have questions. And holes.

The concerns:

  • Non-existent production from their recent high draft picks,
  • Approximately $100M committed to only 10 players,
  • A veteran Legion of Boom that is now more commonly referred to as the Legion of Whom, and
  • An offensive line that only scares people who work at the VMAC.

If you want the full breakdown of the Seahawks’ ouchy parts, you can read a full examination here. For now, let’s talk about their vexing salary cap situation. The good news for you, dear reader, is that you can choose to believe the glass is either half empty or half full. There are good arguments for both sides. Here’s my argument for the not-so-good.

Moneymoneymoneymoney

With the recent big-money contracts handed out to (deserving) Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks have now committed a cool $100 million to 10 players. That kind of salary disparity is at the heart of why other already highly paid players like Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor are asking for similar treatment.

Of course, the Seahawks can no longer afford to buy chewing gum, let alone sweeten deals for other “deserving” players. The cap is tight this year and will be again next year, according to Over The Cap. The Seahawks have a shade under $5M in cap space, placing them ahead of only the Rams, Cardinals, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints. Note that two of their cap-strapped compatriots are NFC West foes.

Here’s the glass-half-full side: If you want to feel better about the Seahawks’ cap situation, I recommend you read Evan Hill’s analysis of the Seahawks’ cap situation on Field Gulls. His premise is that the kvetching you’ve likely heard is probably wrong. He goes into a lot of depth and has a firm grasp of the Seahawks’ cap realities.

However, there are two fundamental flaws to Hill’s prognosis that all is well. Here is an excerpt:

“At the beginning of each season, teams put aside $4M for IR and $1M for practice squad. So in terms of “real space” … the Seahawks are slightly over the cap. They will have to make a move before the NFL season starts, to open up space. However, this can be easily done. This can come in the form of an extension, restructure, or flat-out cut of a player.”

Did you catch that? The Seahawks are out of money, which is not news. According to Hill, they’re not close to the cap — they’re over it. He further opines (wait for it) that they’ll have to cut or restructure player(s) to fix their problem.

Cut players? Who thinks that cutting players is not only not a preferred solution, but exactly the type of problem smart NFL teams strive to avoid? Cutting players is precisely the problem when you’re in cap hell. If you’re OK with cutting players, then nobody is ever in cap trouble. Ever. One’s argument is, let’s say, full circle if you want to claim that cutting players is an “easy” solution to having no cap space. Restructuring, of course, only pushes the problem into the future — it does not solve it.

Tony and Pete agree with me

When it comes to being out of money and looking around the room to see who is gonna go, put the Seahawks at the top of that lamentable list. Just ask Tony McDaniel. And Pete Carroll. The Seahawks already cut McDaniel for reasons solely cap-related. Carroll’s “This decision sucks” pronouncement is just the preamble to the future of Seahawks roster shaping. Was cutting McDaniel “easily done”? Carroll doesn’t think so. And he won’t think so again when the Seahawks, as predicted by Hill, will do so again before cutting down to 53 players.

That’s just this year. The Seahawks’ expensive 10 will all, presumably, be around for the next few seasons, with the likely exception of Lynch. Lynch’s salary will be more than compensated for in the 2016 cap when Wilson’s $7 million cap hit in 2015 more than doubles in following seasons.

So if you buy cutting players as the way to go, then yippee! The Seahawks are sittin’ pretty. If you’re in the Pete Carroll camp, and you don’t like jettisoning valuable (starting!) role players to keep a handful of stars, then you have legitimate reasons for concern.

Cut me, Mick

Speaking of cutting, the NFL’s first cut-down date is today. All NFL teams will be down to 75 players today and will have to do final cuts down to 53 on Saturday. It’s always a bit rocky to trim the roster. This year, it’s going to be even tougher, thanks to the Seahawks’ salary cap situation. One valuable veteran was already let go. Look for at least one more significant cap cut coming out of Renton before the Seahawks settle on their opening-day squad.

Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

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USATI

Ryan Tannehill has high praise for Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota may no longer be the starter in Tennessee, but he is still making an impact for the Titans. 

Mariota, the former No. 2 overall pick, has failed to live up to lofty expectations in Tennessee. Midway this season, he found himself relegated to the bench as the team gave Ryan Tannehill the keys to the car. 

The story from here didn't play out as many fans expected. 

There were no hard feelings. Rather then be all "woe is me," Mariota supported the move and supported Tannehill. 

In fact, as the Titan's season came to an end in the AFC Championship Game, Showtime camera caught an exchange between the two quarterbacks that truly shows the type of person Mariota is. 

That's right, a visibly frustrated Tannehill was stopped and consoled by Mariota, with Mariota telling him “I am excited for you... it’s the start of something great, brother. I am so excited for you.”

Tannehill replaced Mariota, led the Titans on an improbable playoff run, and is now in Orlando prepping for the Pro Bowl. 

In an interview with the media, he had nothing but high praise for Mariota. 

Marcus is an incredible human being, and I have so much respect and love for him. The way he handled things... it was an incredibly tough situation. He was in Tennessee for five years, and it was his team and where he made his home. The way things went down, I don't think many guys in the world would handle it the way he did. He handled it like a true professional. He was supportive of me from Day One. I know he was hurting, and I tried to be empathetic with that throughout the season and give support to him as well. But he handled it so well.. he was supportive of me, helped me out on game days, in preparation during the week. He was just a consistent guy throughout the year.

That wasn't all. He added, "We are great friends and we will continue to be great friends."

It's moments like this that the world gets to find out what fans in the Northwest already knew -- Marcus Mariota is truly special. 

Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

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Marcus Mariota was a consummate professional until the end with Titans

The Titans season ended and so, too, has Marcus Mariota's time in Tennessee. 

After the Titans 35-24 loss to the Chiefs, the Heisman Trophy winner was confronted with the reality that he'll be an unrestricted free agent heading into next season.  

Benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill midway through the season, Mariota remained a consummate professional. He accepted head coach Mike Vrabel's decision, even if he might not have agreed with it.

And rather than try to force his way out or become a disruptive teammate, Mariota took the high road. He stuck with it.

Now, it's time to move on.

[RELATED: Teams that could most likely land quarterback Marcus Mariota]

Here was the scene in the locker room postgame.

Always classy, indeed. 

Reflecting on this past season, Mariota said, "It’s been a true pleasure. The organization took a chance on me and I felt like I gave them everything I’ve got. We’re not sure what’s gonna happen but I know when it’s all said and done that I gave this organization everything I could."

Mariota threw for over 13,000 passing yards with 76 passing touchdowns. Add another 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. 

In the process, here are some of the franchise records he holds:

  • Most passing touchdowns in a season by a rookie: 19
  • Most completions in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 230
  • Most passing yards in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 2,818
  • Most passing attempts in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 370
  • Most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback: 112
  • Longest run by a quarterback: 87 yards
  • Youngest quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 300 yards in a game since moving to Tennessee: (21 years, 332 days) September 27, 2015
  • First quarterback to catch a touchdown reception
  • First player to throw a touchdown pass to himself
  • First rookie to start at quarterback in Week 1
  • Highest single game completion percentage (95.7)

Despite all of that, the Titans moved away from Mariota. The Titans made the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship Game and became an integral part in the team's preparation for Lamar Jackson. 

Until the end, Mariota showed how a professional is supposed to act. 

It's been a gift, it's been a true pleasure," Mariota said. "The organization took a chance on me... Obviously, we're not sure what's going to happen, but when it's all said and done, I gave this organization everything I got. "

So, what has Mariota learned throughout his career and this most recent experience of getting benched?

"Faith," he said. "Having faith in things you can’t really see. No matter what happens, I know I gave it everything I got and we’ll see what happens next."

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

Chad Johnson to tryout for XFL as a... Kicker?

In breaking XFL news, the second go-around of the league started by WWE chairman Vince McMahon could be adding a former NFL star to the mix. 

Former Cincinnati Bengal star and Oregon State wide receiver Chad Johnson is getting a tryout with the XFL. But not as a pass-catcher, but as a placekicker. 

According to Johnson's Twitter account, he has a tryout next Monday in Houston. 

Johnson has big goals. As he stated, the hope would be to turn a successful XFL season into a chance to be a kicker in the NFL. 

Although it was in the preseason, Johnson does have a made extra point field goal on his resume. 

Johnson last played in the NFL in 2012 as a member of the New England Patriots. He spent one season in New England, after spending the previous ten in Cincinnati. For his career, Johnson caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. 

Here's to hoping the 42-year-old gets to add to that already impressive career. 

In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

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In defense of Marcus Mariota, could he have been Titans X-factor in win?

The Tennessee Titans are heading to the AFC Championship after knocking off the No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens 28-12 Saturday night. 

Their road to this point has been an improbable one. They benched starting quarterback Marcus Mariota after the team started the season 2-4. 

Any sort of benefit of the doubt or long leash he might have gotten finally withered away.

Enter Ryan Tannehill. 

The Titans under Tannehill went 7-3 to end the season and earned a Wild Card berth. 

They shocked the world by beating the New England Patriots on the road. 

And they did it again by beating the No. 1 team in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Many people would like to attribute the Titans success to the benching of Marcus Mariota. 

While people pour on Mariota, he remains a hard worker and a good teammate. 

And while some people say Tannehill was the answer, it's not like he lit up the stat sheet in the Titans two playoff games. 

Tannehill has 72 yards and 88 yards passing, respectively.  

Derrick Henry's performance will be lauded as one of the greatest performances of the postseason, rushing for 195 yards in the Titans win. 

But Mariota played a unique role for the Titans this week. He simulated QB Lamar Jackson as the Titans prepared for the Ravens. 

There's not many teams that have a 26-year-old backup quarterback with the pedigree that Mariota holds. A mobile QB, Heisman Trophy level talent, starting experience. 

Could he have been the difference maker, the X-factor for Tennessee?

Lamar Jackson got his, throwing for 365 yards and rushing for 143 yards. But he was picked twice and was held without a rushing touchdown. 

The Titans moved away from Mariota. They had every right to do that. But he remains an integral piece in for the franchise. Whether he'll be on the Titans next season remains to be seen, but piling on seems like low hanging fruit. 

Congratulations to the Tennessee Titans!

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

Rainn Wilson and Joel Mchale can't wait for Seahawks football in Los Angeles

The Seattle Seahawks (10-2) travel to play the Los Angeles Rams (7-5) for Sunday Night Football in Week 14. With the crucial NFC West game being played in the City of Angels, quite a few celebrities should be in the house. 

Ahead of the contest, two high-profile Seahawks fans shared their text messages in anticipation of their favorite team coming to town.


The actors are most well known for their starring roles in some of the more iconic comedy television series of the millennium; Rainn Wilson played Dwight in The Office and Joel Mchale played Jeff Winger in Community.  

They both grew up in the state of Washington as Seahawks fans and later attended the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Last season, Wilson got to party with the Seahawks in their locker room following a 27-3 victory in the UK over the Oakland Raiders. During the celebration, many Seahawks players called Wilson by his characters’ name. Maybe he’ll get to repeat that tonight.

Mchale quoted the tweet and asked for Seahawks twitter to show off their hats for the night.


They delivered.


 

https://twitter.com/megankaestner/status/1203821975128424449

 

Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

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USATI

Armstead is all smiles talking about Buckner's big touchdown

The Seattle Seahawks pulled off the big victory on Monday, handing the San Francisco 49ers their first loss on the season in a 27-24 overtime thriller. Despite the loss, a couple of former Oregon Ducks on the 49ers side of the field were making players. DeForest Buckner scooped up a Seahawk fumble in the second half and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. His big played brought the 49ers within one score and allowed the team to tie it late. Unfortunately for Buckner, his team lost. However, his teammate and former Oregon Duck Arik Armstead was all smiles talking about the play postgame. 

Armstead called Buckner's scoop and score, "one of the dopest things I've seen a long time."

Take a listen in the video below from our friends over at NBC Sports Bay Area and as always, Go Ducks. 

Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

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Pro Football Focus Week 7 grades: Seahawks best and worst players vs. Ravens

Pro Football Focus’ grades are about what you’d expect following the Seattle Seahawks 30-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7. Just two players were given grades of at least 80.0.

Here’s a look at PFF’s best- and worst-graded Seahawks from Sunday’s game.

Best offensive grades

Chris Carson – 71.1

Carson gained just 66 yards on 21 carries, but PFF gave him a 70.2 grade in the passing game where he added three receptions for nine yards. This grade is somewhat curious in general as Pete Carroll said that Carson bounced his runs outside too much rather than taking the two or three yards that were blocked for him.

George Fant – 69.7

Fant improved tremendously in his second start at left tackle, earning a 79.2 pass block grade. He only allowed two pressures compared to the eight he allowed against the Browns in Week 6.

Russell Wilson – 69.0

Wilson completed 20-of-41 passes for 241 yards one touchdown and one costly interception that resulted in a pick-six. The fact that his grade was still above average indicates that PFF likely didn’t think Wilson left much on the field in terms of missing open receivers. That said, on his pick-six, he had DK Metcalf running wide open down the left sideline.

Worst offensive grades

Jamarco Jones – 47.2

Jones 3 pressures and was given just a 34.7 pass block grade. With D.J. Fluker set to return, it will be interesting to see what happens with Jones. He may move to left tackle in order to get Fant back in his normal role. Pete Carroll sounded desperate to have Fant back as the team’s extra offensive lineman/tight end.

Luke Willson – 49.8

Willson didn’t catch his only target and was given a 50.2 pass blocking grade.

David Moore – 53.2

Moore had just one catch for 14 yards on three targets.

Best defensive grades

Jadeveon Clowney – 82.7

Clowney had four hurries, two stops and one tackle for loss. He continues to play better than his one sack would indicate, but he’s had little help on Seattle’s defensive line.

Tre Flowers – 80.4

After getting his first career interception the week prior, Flowers had another impressive showing against the Ravens. His big hit against Mark Andrews highlighted his day. Flowers only allowed two receptions for 14 yards according to PFF. He also had five tackles and two stops.

Al Woods – 76.9

Woods was given a 74.7 grade in run defense.

Worst defensive grades

Rasheem Green – 37.7

Seattle’s 2018 third-round pick has been largely a non-factor in his second season. He’s got 28 total tackles and two sacks as he, like most of the defensive line, struggles with consistency.

Branden Jackson – 46.5

Jackson accounted for Seattle’s first sack in three games, but it was due in large part to Lamar Jackson slipping on the wet turf at CenturyLink Field.

K.J. Wright – 49.2

Wright was given a coverage grade of just 47.5. Per PFF, Wright allowed three receptions on six targets for 59 yards, including 24 yards after the catch.

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

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USA Today

Ducks and Beavs in the NFL

The Ducks and Beavers both took to the gridiron on Saturday. On Sunday, a handful of former Ducks and Beavers showed off their talents at the NFL level. 

Here is how some of them did:

OREGON STATE BEAVERS:

Jordan Poyer: Buffalo Bills

Poyer put on a show in the Bills' 17-16 season-opening victory over the New York Jets. He led both teams with nine total tackles, six solo, and a sack. 

Brandin Cooks and Johnny Hekker: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams came out victorious on Sunday in Carolina. Johnny Hekker only had to punt three times, but when he was called upon he averaged 46 yards per punt. As for Brandin Cooks, he had just two catches on the night for 36 total yards, but his 24-yard reception was the longest passing play of the game.

Steven Nelson: Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh had a rough go in Week 1, losing to the Patriots 33-3. Steven Nelson ended the game with three tackles, one solo.

OREGON DUCKS

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans

Mariota was on point in the Titans' 43-13 victory over the Browns. Mariota was 14 of 24 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 24 yards. 

Kenjon Barner: Atlanta Falcons

Barner didn't see any touches on offense, but he was a standout on special teams. He had four punt returns for 46 yards, and two kick returns for 44 yards. 

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner: San Francisco 49ers

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner helped anchor a defensive line the held the Buccaneers to 295 yards of offense in the 49ers' 21-17 victory. Armstead had five tackles, two solo, and a sack. Buckner had two solo tackles, one of them for a loss. 

 

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Don't worry, there will always be those willing to play football, and watch it

Would you want your child to play football?

That’s the question I found myself asking this morning, in the wake of the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck.

I was lucky. My son got through high school concentrating on basketball and baseball, two sports he played well. He never asked to play football and that was fortunate because I might have said yes.

But we know a lot more about the long-term consequences of playing the sport now than we did a few years ago. And when we see someone like Luck walking away from the game, it has an impact.

He was raised in a football family. His father, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback. The kid became a better quarterback than his dad, earning a scholarship at Stanford and eventually becoming the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

But then the injuries started to mount.

I don’t need to list them all now, but when he said he’s spent the last four years in year-round rehab, that should tell the story. This game is a legalized crippler. If you’ve ever watched an NFL game from the sideline, you know what I’m talking about. Every play sounds like a head-on collision, which it often is. I will try to be delicate here, but the fact is, it’s played by a lot of people who are crazed physical specimens who thrive on contact and even pain.

You don’t want to be there in the middle of that. And I doubt you want your children there, either.

Yes, the talent pool will inevitably shrink for this league and even for college football. But don’t worry about the long-term viability of the sport. There will still be people who need the money so bad they’re willing to take their chances with the injuries or simply those crazies who just love legally hitting people.

And, of course, there will still be plenty of people willing to spend good money watching them do it.