Thursday, February 13, 2014 @ 6:45pm
By Brady Henderson
Evan Silva of Rotoworld joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" on Thursday for a conversation that included his thoughts on the limits to which the Seahawks will go to re-sign defensive lineman Michael Bennett and a potential alternative if they don't.
Below are Silva's thoughts on each subject followed by mine.
Silva's give: The Seahawks likely won't break the bank for Bennett given a) their relatively tight budget and what could be a steep cost to re-sign him, b) the depth of this year's class of free-agent defensive linemen and c) general manager John Schneider's track record of finding bargains in free agency. The market for Bennett and other pass rushers should be soft, just like it was last year when Bennett signed a one-year, $4.8 million deal with Seattle.
"I think the same thing is going to happen because if you look at the defensive ends, if you look at the defensive tackles, these positions are loaded in free agency," Silva said. "Why would a team go out and pay huge money to Michael Bennett when they can get a younger Everson Griffen for two years and $7.5 million while Michael Bennett's out there telling everybody he wants $10 million a year?"
Henderson's take: The Seahawks are already over the projected 2014 salary cap, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and have other key players who are either free agents or eligible for new contracts. That makes it hard to imagine them giving Bennett a deal worth $10 million per season, as good as he was while helping Seattle win the Super Bowl. And while Bennett has said he won't give Seattle a discount in what could be his best and final shot to cash in, it's also hard to imagine him realistically expecting that much money from any team. According to the website spotrac.com, only 10 defensive linemen are making an average of at least $10 million per year, and most of those deals were signed before the market went south last offseason.
Schneider has proven to be particularly shrewd when it comes to finding value via trade, the draft or free agency. The best example of the latter would be last year when Seattle got 16.5 regular-season sacks out of Bennett and Cliff Avril, whose average salaries were a combined $11.3 million. And the Seahawks shouldn't have a hard time convincing pass rushers to come to Seattle, where the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field and the league's best secondary makes it easier to get to the quarterback. That was part of the reason Bennett and Avril signed with the Seahawks, and the seasons they had should only reinforce Seattle's appeal.
The Seahawks have obvious incentive to re-sign Bennett, who was a key member of the pass rush they had been searching for since Schneider and coach Pete Carroll arrived in 2010. They probably won't break the bank for him, but they may not even have to.
Silva's give: Everson Griffen, who has spent his first four seasons playing behind Jared Allen and Brian Robison in Minnesota, is a sleeper in this year's crop of free-agent pass rushers and would make sense for the Seahawks should they not re-sign Bennett.
"This guy can play linebacker, he's an explosive pass rusher, versatile, young," Silva said of the 26-year-old Griffen. "And there's not a whole lot of buzz on him right now. Now, that may pick up when the scouting combine comes next week, and that's when the mingling starts and people start talking who's going to go where, how much is this guy worth. Everson Griffen is a guy that I would keep in mind because he's not one of the bigger names, but I think he could end up having the biggest impact on the defensive-end free-agent market, which is pretty loaded ... I think he can have the best bang for his buck."
Henderson's take: If the Seahawks let Bennett walk in free agency, they would presumably try to find a player who can replicate his ability to play inside and outside. Listed at 6-feet-3 and 273 pounds, Griffen is nearly the same height and weight as Bennett. One question, though, is whether he has the quickness that allows Bennett to overcome the size he gives up when he slides inside and faces bigger interior offensive linemen.
Griffen played for Carroll at USC before he was drafted in the fourth round in 2010 by Minnesota. Such connections are worth noting when it comes to free agency, even though there is no guarantee a team would have any more interest in a player with which it has some familiarity.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 @ 2:44pm
The way Seahawks broadcaster Warren Moon sees it, Michael Sam's homosexuality shouldn't be problem with teammates once he reaches the NFL. The Hall of Fame quarterback says it wasn't an issue during his career when he played on "many teams with gay players" whose sexual orientation was known only within the locker room.
Moon was a member of the 1993 Houston Oilers team that – according to the Houston Chronicle – had at least two gay players whose sexual orientation was not an issue in the locker room. Sam will become the first openly gay player in the NFL, and Moon thinks he'll be judged based on his ability and character as opposed to his sexual orientation.
"All the rest of that stuff, we don't care what people do when they go home at night and what their sexual preference is because we all have our own sexual preferences regardless of what it is," he said, "and that's none of our business as long as they come to work everyday and they do the things that are asked to be done as a football player."
Moon hopes other gay players follow Sam's lead.
"I have no problem with it and I hope more guys continue to come out because I don't see it as that big of a problem," he said. "There are some guys who are a little bit uncomfortable with it, but I think at the end of the day when they see how these guys act on a day-to-day basis they'll understand that they're just regular human beings who are really good football players and good teammates, and that's all it really boils down to."
Monday, February 10, 2014 @ 1:16pm
Much has been made about whether the Seahawks will be able to maintain their championship roster and sustain their status as a perennial title contender.
Like all Super Bowl winners, the Seahawks have a lot of decisions laying ahead as they look to keep key players but stay under the salary cap. This period hasn't snuck up on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, though, as ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt told "Bob and Groz" on 710 ESPN Radio.
Strong drafting by general manager John Schneider has been a key in the Seahawks' rise to world champions, and ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt expects the team to continue to follow that blueprint. (AP)
"Obviously everyone's talking about (Richard) Sherman and (Earl) Thomas and Russell Wilson and the contracts that are gonna come up over the next couple years, but listen – if you and I and everyone else is talking about it, they've been planning it for years," Brandt said. "I mean, this is not something new where they look around and say, 'Oh boy.' So there's a plan."
Brandt certainly has an insider's perspective on what the Seahawks are going through. He was the Packers' vice president from 1999 to 2008, and over that time he built a relationship with Schneider, who was in the team's front office from 2002 to 2009.
"Knowing John Schneider as I do working together for six years in Green Bay, I admit, full-disclosure, I'm a huge fan and a personal friend. I just think if anyone's gonna be able to keep it together, it's him and Pete Carroll," Brandt said.
There's more reasoning behind Brandt's optimism in the Seahawks' day-to-day operations than his personal relationship with Schneider, though.
"I think they've got a good story going up there where they not only can encourage guys to stay, but also the way they have their roster churn," he said. "They turn over more players than anyone in the league – more tryouts, more workouts, more visits. They're always going to be moving through the bottom third to the bottom half of the roster."
The Seahawks have earned a reputation for drafting well, and Brandt sees that as a key to both how they've turned into a championship team and how they can continue to contend for titles. It's already in practice, as in the case of second-year quarterback Wilson, who has two more years left on his rookie contract and can't even be given a raise until after the 2014 season.
"They cannot by rule of the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) invest in Russell Wilson til at the earliest next offseason, which gives them a planning model at least for that player," Brandt said. "There's certainly a plan to invest in one or two young players this offseason. ... The key is solid drafting where you have a good portion of your roster under rookie contracts that can balance out what you need to pay the big guns."
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 @ 10:58am
By Brady Henderson
Surprised that an unprecedented Super Bowl matchup turned out to be a complete mismatch?
The Seahawks weren't.
"I sat next to Kam Chancellor and we're eating pregame meal together and basically we just said we thought we were going to blow them out," receiver Doug Baldwin told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" on Tuesday. "And it's not an overconfident, cocky-type attitude. It's just when you're playing in the Super Bowl you've got to have confidence in your abilities, and for whatever reason this whole team was very confident that we were going to come out and [be] successful."
This was what the same sentiment several Seahawks shared after beating Denver 43-8 for the third-largest blowout in Super Bowl history. They set a few Super Bowl records along the way, including the quickest score (12 seconds in) and the most consecutive points to start a game (36).
It was a shock to just about everyone but them.
"We saw this coming," defensive end Michael Bennett said Sunday. "Like I said, we never went into this game thinking we couldn't win. We always knew that if we played the type of defense we can play then there is no offense that can play with us."
Denver's certainly couldn't. This was the first Super Bowl matchup between the No. 1 offense in terms of both points scored and yards gained during the regular season and the No. 1 defense in both categories. After scoring more points than any team in NFL history during the regular season, the Broncos were actually outscored 9-8 by Seattle's defense Sunday.
And after it was over, the only disappointment was that Seattle couldn't pitch the first shutout in Super Bowl history.
"We thought we could hold them to zero points," linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Monday, February 3, 2014 @ 12:21pm
By Brent Stecker
Until Sunday, that was how long it had been since the city of Seattle celebrated a major pro sports championship.
Seahawks fans that traveled to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey witnessed Sunday the first major pro sports championship for a Seattle team since the SuperSonics won the NBA title in 1979. (AP)
In between that Sonics NBA title win over the Washington Bullets and Sunday's Super Bowl thrashing of the Denver Broncos by the Seahawks, there were a number of near-misses and heartbreaking moments that twisted the knife in the back of the city's fan base. It was all put in perspective Monday by 710 ESPN Seattle's Dave Grosby while talking with guest host Brock Huard on "Bob and Groz."
"I felt unbelievable happiness for Seahawk fans," said Grosby, who has been a broadcaster in Seattle for 24 years. "Truly did, because there's not been anything like this town."
By saying "there's not been anything like this town," he was talking about a city of sports fans that saw the Sonics teams of the 1990s rip through the regular season, only to be stopped in their tracks when the postseason came along. Same for the 1995 and 2001 Mariners -- the former the most beloved team in franchise history, the latter a record-setting squad, neither of which reached its full potential.
"To win 116 and not even get to the World Series (in 2001). To have that great '95 run and not get to the World Series," he said. "To have the winningest team in the NBA in the years Michael Jordan was out -- the Sonics won the most games and get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs (in 1994), then make it (two seasons later) to face Michael Jordan and the winningest team in NBA history. It wasn't going to happen. Always something seemed to conspire to keep it from happening."
But the stars finally aligned this weekend, and in a big way. It wasn't just the Seahawks' first world championship win, but also Seahawks great Walter Jones' vote into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, and the retirement the same day of NBA commissioner David Stern, who is public enemy No. 1 in Seattle after overseeing the Sonics leaving town in 2008.
"Just keep in mind how many things had to be going the right way for this to happen," Grosby said. "Walter Jones goes into the Hall of Fame, so you get a Seahawk in on the first ballot in the Hall of Fame, which, let's face it, was a long shot. ... And then the ultimate troll in the eyes of Seattle, David Stern, retires. Goes away."
The Super Bowl couldn't have started with a better omen for the people of Seattle -- Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning walked up to the line to communicate with his offense, only to watch the ball snapped back into the end zone for a safety. The Seahawks never looked back from that earliest of leads, rolling to a 43-8 win, and it was that moment that Grosby knew that Seattle's day had come.
"The very first snap of the game -- for a Super Bowl crowd, it was much louder than it normally is. And to see that happen, to me, that moment, I'm like, 'It's going to happen. It's actually going to happen,' " he said. "I really, truly felt that way after the safety. And then (I) saw the first series and it's like, 'Well, there's no doubt. There's no doubt that they're gonna win this game.' "
Saturday, January 25, 2014 @ 12:47pm
The hiring of Lloyd McClendon as manager was just the start of a very noteworthy offseason for the Seattle Mariners.
After Seattle brought McClendon aboard on Nov. 5, it also signed superstar second baseman Robinson Cano to a massive 10-year, $240 million deal, added slugging first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart, and brought in role players including utility man Willie Bloomquist, outfielder Logan Morrison and catcher John Buck. Even the front office was subject to change, as Kevin Mather was promoted Friday to club president and COO to replace the retiring Chuck Armstrong.
New Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he's more concerned with having leaders on the field than in the clubhouse. (AP)
Even with all those transactions behind them, the Mariners may still yet make some big moves before Spring Training opens on Feb. 13, as McClendon told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" Friday.
"I'll just say stay tuned. Hopefully there's some more things to come," McClendon said.
The Mariners still have a few needs to fill, specifically in the starting rotation, where it's expected at least one free agent would fill in a space between All-Stars Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, and prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who both made their Major League debuts late in 2013. The Mariners were reportedly interested in highly coveted Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, but the right-hander signed a big contract with the Yankees, leaving Seattle with few other top-of-the-line starting pitcher options.
Regardless of if Seattle signs another starter or a power bat in the outfield (something else its been rumored to be in the market for), McClendon believes the Mariners roster already looks must better than the team he inherited that finished 71-91 in 2013.
"I think we're getting better," he said. "You know, you're always looking to get better. (General manager) Jack (Zduriencik) has done a tremendous job of getting us some talent to this point. From when I took the job to where we are now, we're a better club."
Another thing the Mariners were expected to address was clubhouse leadership, especially after a Dec. 7 Seattle Times story painted the franchise as particularly dysfunctional. McClendon said he feels the tales of the Mariners' lack of leadership was overblown, and that their poor records had more to do with the on-field product.
"I've heard this word, leadership, ever since I took the job, and I read all the articles about the club, and lack of leadership in the clubhouse and stuff, and I just don't buy into that," McClendon said. "I need leaders on the field. I need guys to hit three-run homers, execute a pitch, make a play, get an out. I can put my cheerleading outfit on with the best of them in the clubhouse and get that done, but I need guys on the field to be good."
Friday, January 24, 2014 @ 4:23pm
By Brent Stecker
The elements that were expected to help the Seahawks and their run-heavy offense in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos don't look to be nearly as severe as previously thought.
Weather.com's latest forecast for MetLife Stadium at night next Sunday calls for a low of 25 degrees, with just a 20 percent chance of precipitation and fairly calm winds of eight miles per hour to the northwest. During the day the high is predicted to be 35 degrees with rain and/or snow showers, but kickoff isn't set until 6:25 p.m. Eastern time, over an hour after the scheduled 5:15 p.m. sunset.
The Seahawks would likely benefit from more dramatic weather, so the current forecast is a boost for the Peyton Manning-led Broncos offense, which led the NFL with 340.3 passing yards per game during the regular season.
In the ground game, where the weather doesn't have as big an effect, the Broncos ranked 15th in the NFL with 117.1 rushing yards per game, while Seattle was fourth at 136.8 yards per game.
In the video above, 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" discuss what the forecast means for the Seahawks and Broncos.
Thursday, January 23, 2014 @ 2:11pm
It's been so long since Bruce Irvin even came close to a sack that merely hitting 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the NFC title game was enough to give him delight.
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin hasn't recorded a sack since Week 8, a streak he can end in the Super Bowl against the Broncos and their pass-happy offense. (AP)
That will happen when a player drafted for his pass-rushing chops goes 10 games without bringing down a quarterback. Not since Week 8 has Irvin recorded a sack, a streak he can end in the Super Bowl.
The Broncos had the league's best offense during the regular season – both in terms of points scored and yards gained – and most of the damage was done through the air. Denver averaged just over 42 pass attempts per game, the second-most in the league.
"The Broncos have got a great offense and they're more of a passing team," Irvin said, "so hopefully the way it's looking I'm going to get a lot of chances to rush the passer."
Irvin hasn't had as many of late, playing mainly on early downs and then leaving the field when Seattle subs in its nickel defense. He was primarily a situational pass rusher a year ago when he led all rookies in sacks with eight after he was drafted 15th overall. But when the Seahawks added Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency, it left their defense with a glut of pass rushers and led to the decision to move Irvin to strong-side linebacker as a way to get as many of them on the field at once.
The four-game suspension he served at the beginning of the season – for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy – didn't make his position switch any easier. There was nothing easy about the path Irvin took the NFL, and his second season has been no different. That makes the opportunity ahead of him even more special.
"I never thought I'd be in a situation like this, especially coming from where I've come from. My biggest thing back then was just to get out of the situation I was in," Irvin said, alluding to a past that includes jail time and a period in which he lived on the streets after flunking out of high school.
"But for me to tell you that I knew or dreamed of playing in the Super Bowl, I'd be lying to you. So I'm just going up here, just enjoying every moment of it because there's a lot of people wanting to be in this situation who played numerous years and never got to experience a Super Bowl."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
- March 6, 2014 - Hour: 1Is Michael Bennett the best available free agent in the NFL? Bob and Chris Egan discuss that as well
- March 6, 2014 - Hour: 2ROOT Sports' Bill Krueger joins Bob and Egan to share his thoughts on Mariners camp so far and whet
- March 6, 2014 - Hour: 3With Michael Bennett set to enter free agency, The Professor, John Clayton, joins Bob and Egan to di
- March 5, 2014 - Hour: 1Is lineup protection a myth? ESPN and Fangraphs' Dave Cameron joins Bob and Jim Moore to talk about
- March 5, 2014 - Hour: 2UW head football coach, Chris Petersen joins Bob and Jim Moore to talk about the challenges of year
- March 5, 2014 - Hour: 3What does Colin Kaepernick's asking price mean for Russell Wilson when he's allowed to restructure