It is a well-established notion that the 2013 Seahawks will be a good team. I don’t doubt it, and I doubt many who read this blog do either. If anything, I’m usually more pessimistic than most, so if I’m buying in then most are. I’ve been burned so many times before that I’m often cynical regarding my favorite teams, and that’s an unfortunate condition but not the topic of this article. Lets examine the other exciting factor about the 2013 Seahawks; which is that this team is very young.
Being both good and young is a beautiful thing because it carries with it the implication of sustained success. Not the guarantee, but the implication.
What I wanted to look at today was what old players are still sticking around on the Seahawks and what role they play with this team. Although a great deal of lip service is played to veteran leadership, experience and locker room presence, we on the outside have absolutely no way of knowing to what degree any of that matters. It seems to me that Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner were fairly impressive leaders of their respective sides of the ball in their rookie years so age isn’t everything. So what are these greybeards doing on the Seahawks roster anyway? Below is a list of every over 30 player on this roster at this moment listed from oldest to youngest:
#1: Antoine Winfield
Role: Nickel Corner
Summary: The 36 year old Winfield was a starter, and an effective starter at that, last year in Minnesota. This year he comes to Seattle in pursuit of a championship for what could possibly be his last hurrah in the NFL. He is known for his run-support tackling and even at an advanced age looks to be one of the best 3rd corners in the league. Even if he is not technically a starter he figures to get a lot of snaps on defense.
#2: Chris Clemons
Role: Starting LEO if healthy
Summary: The contribution Clemons makes to the success of the 2013 Seahawks will depend entirely on how quickly he is able to recover from his horrific knee injury suffered in last year’s playoff game against Washington. Clemons has registered 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks over the last three years with Seattle and has been a great fit for Pete Carroll’s defense. He is at an age where his ability to rush the passer may soon come into question, especially if he struggles to return from injury.
#3 Jon Ryan
Role: Starting Punter
Summary: Ryan punts balls. He does so effectively but not absolutely extraordinary. My gut instinct is to say he’s a top 10 punter but I’m really not willing to dig deep enough into league wide punting stats to find out if that’s true or not. Sorry. I do give him additional credit for being Canadian, like me, and being a ginger, not like me but still somehow amusing for a professional athlete.
#4 Heath Farwell
Role: Special Teams Ace
Summary: Farwell does not offer much as a linebacker and instead has been a special teams specialist for the duration of his career. He is expensive for the type of player he is, costing over $1 million dollars a year, but also very effective within his role. Not a mortal lock to make the team, but would be missed if he were released.
#5 Michael Robinson
Role: Starting Fullback
Summary: Robinson is a bit old for a fullback but around these parts we’ve seen enough Mack Strong to believe in a fullback in his thirties. They say the position of fullback is dying but not in the type of offense Pete Carroll likes to run. There has been some chatter about Robinson as a potential cap casualty but I’m not buying it. This team is still going to want to use the I-formation and Robinson is very effective leading the way for Lynch. His competence catching passes and ability to throw the ball for trick plays is icing on the cake.
#6 Tarvaris Jackson
Role: Backup Quarterback (probably)
Summary: I am fairly confident that Jackson will beat out Brady Quinn to be the backup to Russell Wilson in 2013. He has a good grasp of the offense and some chemistry with some of the receivers and is basically all you could ask for in a backup. I don’t ever want to see him play this year, but I am glad that he’s around.
#7 Paul McQuistan
Role: Backup Offensive Lineman/LG if James Carpenter is injured
Summary: McQuistan is a guy you don’t really want to have start, but is a nice luxury as a versatile bench player. That being said he is making a somewhat ludicrous three million dollars this year and could be cut if younger options step up in camp. I suspect he sticks around because the Seahawks don’t really need more cap space this year and he is a reassuring guy to have.
When looking at this list it is apparent that the Seahawks rely very little on guys over the age of 30. This is a comforting thing to see in terms of their long term future. There are some valuable role players here but no one that couldn’t be replaced. It is interesting that Pete Carroll has a team with very young starters and reliable veteran backups as opposed to the more common model of reliable veteran starters with cheap young backups chomping at the bit to get their opportunity.
The fact the Seahawks can carry such veterans in a backup capacity demonstrates the excellent drafting and cap management of this front office. However, when big extensions like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas come up these guys might be some of the first to go to clear the way. Enjoy the veteran depth while it lasts, it’s not such a common thing.