Updated Mar 10, 2014 - 4:20 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 4:00pm
By Danny O'Neil
I began rooting for heartbreak right around 9 p.m. on Saturday.
I'm talking about teeth-gnashing, bracket-busting disappointment. The kind that makes children in the crowd cry and grown men curse.
When his championship pick of Arizona was knocked out of the bracket, Danny O'Neil started depending on a loss for No. 2-seeded Michigan in the Elite 8 to keep his own hopes of winning alive. (AP)
I became a fan of misery once Arizona was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by Wisconsin because at that point my chances of winning the pool composed of my high-school friends went from depending on how well my picks did to how poorly their projections fared.
Don't worry, this story isn't about my tournament bracket. It's about me. More accurately, it's about the dirty little piece of coal that I sometimes mistake for a soul.
I'm a hater. That became clear Sunday afternoon when I was rooting harder for Michigan to lose than I ever cheered for Arizona to win. The Wolverines' loss not only kept me in first place in my pool, but it showed me that it's not as important for me to be right as it is for others to be more wrong.
It also made me wonder why.
Maybe it was because the university I attended, the one I cheer for, was not in the field, Washington having missed the tournament for a third successive year. Or perhaps it was the years spent working in press boxes across a number of sports where cheering is forbidden, objectivity is the goal and cynicism reigns.
But all that is just a way of me trying to justify how much satisfaction and enjoyment I can draw from results that bring misery to others like Oklahoma City, for instance.
My dislike of the Thunder borders on pathological, especially when you consider the fact the Sonics were never my favorite NBA team. Not since I grew up in Oregon with a mild affection for the Trail Blazers before moving to Northern California and becoming a Golden State Warriors fan.
See? I'm ugly on the inside.
And while I don't feel great about Saturday's discovery of just how much I like rooting against other teams, I don't feel bad enough to reconsider this approach, either.
And when Florida plays UConn in the Final Four on Saturday, I won't be cheering for the Huskies nearly so much as I'm rooting against the Gators. I've got a one-point lead in my bracket pool, and if Florida loses, I win.
You know what that means? Pass the Haterade, because I'm hoping for heartbreak in Gainesville, Fla., and I'm not making any apologies for it. In fact, I kind of prefer it this way.
Thursday, March 27, 2014 @ 8:34am
By Danny O'Neil
The market came to them a year ago.
That's the only way to explain how the Seahawks walked into free agency with some short-term spending room last March and ran out with two of the top four pass rushers.
The Seahawks almost pulled off a similar deal this year. Almost. But when Jared Allen agreed to join the Bears, the Seahawks waded out of the first wave of free agency without a single addition to show for it.
Jared Allen and the Bears agreed to a four-year deal that is reportedly worth as much as $32 million and includes $15.5 million guaranteed. (AP)
Seattle didn't need to add Allen, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks couldn't have used him. That was especially true after Seattle released starters Red Bryant and Chris Clemons and lost backup nose tackle Clinton McDonald to Tampa Bay.
That leaves some openings in Seattle's defensive-line rotation at everything from interior run stuffers to outside pass rushers. The Seahawks have some young candidates, one of which is Benson Mayowa, who was promising enough as an undrafted rookie last season for Seattle to keep him on the 53-man roster throughout the year even though he appeared in only two games. Greg Scruggs was emerging as a rookie in 2012 before missing last year because of a knee injury, and Jesse Williams could be a force in the middle if he's ever able to play on that chronically sore knee.
Every one of those players has a chance to blossom. All they will get opportunities. None are a proven commodity at this point.
The Seahawks believe they can replace the defensive linemen who've left the roster. They just don't know who will. That's why Seattle was looking at veterans on the free-agent market, scheduling visits with defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Vance Walker.
It was the courtship of Allen that was most enticing, though. He has posted 10 or more sacks in seven successive season and when he visited Seattle twice in the span of a seven days, it looked like the Seahawks were on the brink of pulling off a pass-rushing coup for the second consecutive year in free agency.
The free-agent market was more frigid than expected last year with a flat salary cap, and after Paul Kruger went to Cleveland, the Seahawks were able to sign first Cliff Avril and then Michael Bennett. It was a double play no one saw coming as Seattle parlayed the two years of salary-cap room and a great home-field advantage into a pair of top-shelf pass rushers.
The free-agent market was more lucrative this year whether it was Michael Johnson heading to Tampa Bay, DeMarcus Ware landing in Denver or Julius Peppers going to Green Bay.
Seattle wound up priced out of the pass-rush market because while the Seahawks could have signed Allen this offseason, that doesn't mean they should have. Not at the price Chicago paid, and certainly not when you consider the players like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman that the Seahawks must still sign to extensions.
Understanding the rationale the Seahawks used in free agency doesn't change the reality, however. They have three different spots to fill in their defensive line rotation, and with Allen headed to Chicago and the first wave of free agency finished, Seattle must find its answers elsewhere.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 @ 1:13pm
By Brady Henderson
While wide receiver Golden Tate might have been the Seahawks' most significant free-agent departure, offensive line was arguably the position that took the greatest hit.
Offensive line will likely be a focus for Seattle in the draft after losing Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan. (AP)
The likelihood of Seattle addressing its offensive line in the draft was a topic during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil. The transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
Noting all the pressure opposing defenses put on quarterback Russell Wilson last season, Masher asked if Seattle will beef up its offensive line in the draft.
O'Neil: That's a great question. Protecting the quarterback has never been a strong suit for Tom Cable as an offensive-line coach. And as I think about it, they've lost two guys who started a significant number of games for the team. And Russell Wilson got hit a lot the first half of last season.
Doug predicted that the Seahawks will trade back to accumulate picks in the second and/or third round if the right offensive lineman isn't available at No. 32 overall. Seattle doesn't have a 2014 third-round pick, having traded it to Minnesota in the Percy Harvin deal.
O'Neil: The odd thing about Seattle's draft history is that for all the success Seattle has had, it has been better later in the draft than it was earlier in the draft. And early picks on the offensive line have been inconsistent. Russell Okung (first round in 2010, No. 6 overall) was a great pick. James Carpenter and John Moffitt, chosen in the first and third-round respectively a year later, not so much.
Tacodile asked if trading out of the first round is a realistic possibility.
O'Neil: Absolutely, but the Seahawks actually haven't traded back as often as I thought they would under general manager John Schneider. They traded back in the second round last year. And they traded from the second round to the third round in 2011, choosing John Moffitt. But going back to the first draft under John Schneider in 2010 when Seattle stood pat at No. 6 and No. 14, the Seahawks haven't moved back as often as I expected.
JohnnyB noted that banking on rookie wide receivers to produce immediately can be problematic given the time if often takes them to come into their own.
O'Neil: Well, what about Doug Baldwin's first year? He was an impact player, no? I don't think that you bank on finding a starter in the first round, but don't rule out getting someone who can contribute.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 @ 8:58am
By Danny O'Neil
One week before the season started, Seattle let go of a veteran who figured to be part of the rotation to keep from guaranteeing a million-dollar salary.
But then maybe you forgot all that transpired with Clinton McDonald and the Seahawks.
Seattle released Clinton McDonald before the start of last season in order to avoid paying his $1.3 million salary. (AP)
Seattle decided that Wolf was good enough to make the club coming out of spring training, but not good enough to commit to paying all of his $1 million salary. The Mariners wanted him to sign a form that would have given the team 45 days to release him without paying his full salary.
Is that really all that shocking? Wolf hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues in more than a year, and this spring training he has given up six home runs. On Sunday, he also became only the second Mariners pitcher to throw six innings in a spring-training game. Given the injuries to Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma, Wolf was going to make the starting rotation. Given the recovery of Walker and Iwakuma – both of whom could be back before May – the Mariners weren't confident Wolf was going to stay there.
So the Mariners sought to preserve some financial flexibility. Kind of like the Seahawks did with McDonald.
The difference? No one ranted and raved about the Seahawks franchise when McDonald was released. This was a guy who was on the team the previous two seasons and had been tendered a qualifying offer of $1.3 million as a restricted free agent. Instead of paying that salary, though, Seattle cut McDonald one week before the regular season began.
McDonald was re-signed a week later for a reduced salary and went on to have an eminently productive season as the nose tackle in Seattle's nickel defense. He had 5.5 sacks. He started in the Super Bowl. But that only happened after the Seahawks rolled the dice by letting McDonald go so they could save $500,000.
The Mariners are making a value assessment when it comes to Wolf. They believed he was a better option for the starting rotation than Blake Beavan, but they did not believe Wolf to be so much better to guarantee him $1 million.
The rationale isn't all that different to the logic the Seahawks used with regard to McDonald. The difference is how the fans have reacted.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 @ 10:59am
By Brady Henderson
Who is your favorite wrestler of all time?
That questioned spawned the latest incarnation of our annual March Madness parody. After ranking Seattle sports-media members and local restaurant dishes in previous years, the bracket has given way to Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage and the other characters of pro wrestling.
After a weekend retreat, the selection committee pared the field down to 64, and you can cast your votes here.
Monday, March 24, 2014 @ 12:43pm
By Danny O'Neil
Wondering what's taking Jared Allen so long to decide on accepting the Seahawks offer?
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he didn't have much to comment on Monday regarding free agent DL Jared Allen, who still has an offer on the table from Seattle. (AP)
Because coach Pete Carroll isn't. At least not judging by Monday's interview with Pat Kirwan on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
"We don't have any date," Carroll said. "This is something we've talked about, and it's a big business decision for him and really not much to comment about it right now."
Well, so let's read between the lines then because it's not just what Carroll said, but what it means that is worth breaking down after Monday's interview from the owners' meeting down in Florida.
What Carroll said: "We're very restricted in what we can do, you know? We have a lot of work to get done here on our roster and a lot of guys we've got to work with and we're excited about extending and stuff like this."
What Carroll meant: We're not in position to offer the dollar amount that Allen wanted. We just can't. Not with cornerback Richard Sherman now eligible for an extension, safety Earl Thomas with one season left on his deal and a new deal for Russell Wilson looming on the horizon.
What Carroll said: "So we have a lot of concerns, and not everything is real easy. Can't move as swiftly as anyone would like."
What Carroll meant: It isn't a matter of the Seahawks closing the deal nearly so much as Allen deciding whether he wants this opportunity. Because we're not in a position to keep sweetening the pot.
Allen has had 10 or more sacks in each of the past seven seasons, the last six of which he played in Minnesota. He visited Seattle twice in the span of a week, but as of Monday there was no word on any decision he had made as a free agent.
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 1:26pm
By Danny O'Neil
The Seahawks can't afford to keep everyone.
That became obvious as Seattle has already had seven of its unrestricted free agents sign elsewhere this month.
You never know what you're going to be able to buy, either, and for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks just may have waited out the market and come away with a premier pass rusher that most people expected would be too expensive.
In 2013, it was Cliff Avril and then Michael Bennett. In 2014? It could be Jared Allen, who is reportedly mulling a contract offer from the Seahawks after visiting with the team for a second time Thursday.
How big of a deal is this?
Well, depends on what you mean by that. The actual size of the contract offer has yet to be seen, and any calibration of just how good of an acquisition this would be depends on how much Seattle is potentially committed to paying Allen.
But strategically, the acquisition of Allen would be huge because it means the Seahawks aren't looking to withstand the departure of four-year starter Chris Clemons, they're looking to upgrade.
Allen is certainly that. Clemons exceeded 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons in Seattle; Allen has accomplished that in each of the past seven seasons. Clemons is older, too.
But after deciding Clemons' contract was prohibitively high to retain him, the Seahawks didn't plunge into the free-agent pool to come out with a pass rusher so much as they waded in. Deliberately. Patiently.
Signing Jared Allen would follow a pattern for the Seahawks, who took a patient approach last offseason before adding Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. (AP)
Seattle wasn't quite that aggressive as the big money was getting spent first by the Bucs, then the Broncos and finally the Packers bringing in Julius Peppers on a three-year, $27 million deal.
Allen's contract likely wouldn't average that much. But Seattle's offer included something else: An opportunity to play for a team that has allowed the fewest points in the league in two successive seasons and is coming off a Super Bowl victory.
That buys more than just credibility in the eyes of a player. It's part of the entire package that a team can offer, and while free-agent negotiations are often distilled down into dollars and years, there can be more to it than just that even for a veteran like Allen.
No, especially for a veteran like Allen. He's already collected the biggest check he'll receive in his career, just having completed a six-year, $72 million contract he signed with the Vikings in 2008.
That's not to say money no longer matters. Certainly it does, but after the top-shelf deals came and went for Johnson and then Ware and then Peppers, Allen was left to look at what was left.
The fact that he may pick Seattle speaks to just how attractive the Seahawks can be. They may not be able to offer the most money. Not with a payroll that must be tailored with an eye toward the future big-bucks contract offers for guys like Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks can offer both their status as the reigning champs and a home-field advantage tailor-made for a pass-rusher like Allen.
No, Seattle won't be able to afford to keep everyone, but for the second straight year, the Seahawks might pull off a surprise in terms of what they can buy on the free-agent market.
Thursday, March 20, 2014 @ 9:48am
By Danny O'Neil
Golden Tate never mentioned Percy Harvin by name.
Let's make that clear. But it wasn't hard to determine who Tate was referring to as he expressed his unhappiness over the size of Seattle's contract offer during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz."
"The organization is offering guys from other places two times what they even – almost three times what they offered me," Tate said Tuesday. "And I was like, 'Are you serious?' "
Hmmm, who could that be considering Harvin signed a six-year, $67 million contract after being acquired from Minnesota a year ago? Turns out the shadow cast by that deal might be the most significant detail to emerge from this week's discussion of Tate's departure since the rest of that story really isn't all that complicated.
It isn't surprising that a team like Detroit would make an offer like it did to Tate. The Lions have cast their lot with quarterback Matthew Stafford, they have the game's top wide receiver in Calvin Johnson and Tate provides a playmaking counterpunch that will make opponents pay for paying too much attention.
And it's not shocking that the Seahawks would decide they couldn't offer as much to Tate in this salary-capped league. After all, Seattle will have to sign its All-Pro safety, Earl Thomas, within the next 12 months. And its All-Pro cornerback, Richard Sherman. And quarterback Russell Wilson is now halfway through his rookie deal.
But when Tate mentioned a contract Seattle offered a player from outside the team on his way to Detroit, he pointed to something that could constitute the elephant in the room for future negotiations, too.
The deal Seattle signed Harvin to a year ago is going to make it more difficult for the Seahawks to sell their players on re-signing for less than other teams offer. Not impossible, but more difficult.
Because if Seattle was like the Steelers and the Packers (usually), two franchises known for being composed predominantly of players they drafted, then it would be easier to sell players on the idea of taking a little less so everyone could stick together.
Golden Tate referenced Percy Harvin's deal while bemoaning the "laughable" offer he received from the Seahawks. (AP)
And it's natural for fans to wonder whether part of Seattle's sales pitch in negotiating players to re-sign is that everyone has to take a little less than they want if the Seahawks are going to retain this core of players it has first drafted, then developed.
But in that case, how does Seattle explain Harvin's deal? He didn't take less to come to the Seahawks. He got a contract that was a notch below the two industry leaders at his position, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Tate's new teammate Johnson, but it's right at the top of the next tier.
Ultimately, the Seahawks valued Harvin more than they did Tate. A lot more. Only time will tell over the next few years whether Seattle's calibration between the two was correct, but the fact that Tate referenced Harvin upon his exit demonstrates that Harvin's contract was a benchmark he looked to, not believing he deserved that same deal but wondering why the offer the Seahawks gave him was so small in comparison.
The Seahawks acquired Harvin in 2013 because they believed he was among the 10 or so most explosive offensive players in the league, quarterbacks excluded. The contract Seattle signed him to reflected how highly the Seahawks regarded him, and for better or worse, that contract is going to be a landmark that some players look to when deciding whether to re-sign with Seattle.
Tate made that clear this week even if he never mentioned Harvin by name.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.