Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (41) celebrate a touchdown during the first half against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks can emulate Patriots in free agency, stay true to Seattle

It has been suggested by comments in a recent article that the Seattle Seahawks should begin to emulate the New England Patriots. I want to address that a little bit because this is actually an excellent point.

When the Patriots started their incredible run to yearly runs at the AFC Championship and Super Bowl, they were almost an exact replica of what the Seahawks are now, young with a lot of unknowns becoming stars. Remember New England was also that team, you know, the one that everybody loved to hate on their instant success with Brady and Belichick. When you look at the two teams after their first Super Bowl wins, they are extremely similar.

Therefore,  being able to emulate the Pats is a great position to be in isn’t it? There is a fundamental difference between that Patriots team and the Seahawks now, which is that the Patriots never actually had anything resembling a dominating defense. An interesting theory brought to the table was to let go of one of the young up-and-coming defensive stars to garner picks in the draft. The particular names that came up are Malcolm Smith and Byron Maxwell.

The problem with this theory of moving Smith is that he is the insurance if the Hawks have to let a Bobby Wagner go in the next couple years. Smith has proven during the season that he would fill in more than admirably as a starter and wouldn’t require a star-contract like Wagner will the first time around. We’re talking about Smith being a top-7 ILB out of high school and a top-4 ILB out of college, yet falling right into the Seahawks’ lap in the 7th round due to concerns about whatever it was that there were concerns about. Those concerns are obviously behind him, yet he will still be a cheaper option as an upper-echelon starter at MIKE when it comes down to it in a couple years, which basically makes him in-expendable.

Sherman and Thomas are the two names there that the Seahawks absolutely must have on that back end and they are looking to take care of that in short order. Chancellor got his payday already and won’t be going anywhere for a while so there’s no need to worry about him. So we get to Maxwell as a trade option.

While Maxwell is a fantastic fit to the defense, reality is he might be expendable for the right price. The free agency CB pool is deep, but his stock will be especially high as teams look for a back-end starter for cheap (on the money front) in free agency. If Max is brought up to a team that is in need of such a player but can’t pay top-end for an Aqib-Talib or Alteron Verner, well that’s a steal in my book. Problem is, Walter Thurmond is probably gone already to make room (or keep room) for Thomas’ contract extension and of course we can assume Brandon Browner won’t return, so can the Seahawks afford to lose three potential starters at the RCB? I don’t think so.

What the Seahawks are doing that isn’t unique but looks to be more consistent than it is elsewhere (and it’s brilliant) are paying their guys BEFORE they have to make them a roster killing deal in free agency. Basically they’re giving the guys extensions that won’t break the bank but still honor their work, which means they would never ‘overpay’ for their biggest guys in the free agent market. Chancellor last year, Thomas this year, Sherm and Wilson next (at least that’s what they will attempt to do).

But you still can’t pay everyone and I have a feeling Tate is that guy this year. He brings special teams capability along with a solid No. 2 receiver rep (No. 1 if necessary), so someone will overpay for his growing value, if nothing else to keep him away from a return to Seattle. The question is: will Tate be willing to take less than his value to stay a Seahawk? He’s said as much over the past few days and we know that a) he probably means it right now and b) the Seattle organization would never try and disrespect any of their players by offering an insulting deal.

But I’m not sure that the Hawks have the money to both pay Earl Thomas before ’14 like they want, keep Michael Bennett like they want (and need) and still be able to take care of Tate the way he deserves. Bennett’s a cheaper option simply because of his position. Because of Baldwin’s deal out of free agency and the performance of last year, he’s obviously going to stick in his restricted tag. If the Hawks decide then to draft a couple receivers and can find a lot of good value on their late round board, which I can’t imagine they won’t do as the receiving talent seems to be deep, that’s likely the end for Tate.

There are more things to think about that I’m sure 12th M.R. will cover in the coming month or two, but for now just some thoughts on where this goes. A good model to follow is the Patriots model for sure, but the Seahawks need to continue to be true to the model that they’ve drafted for themselves.

Starting to trade away their young talent for more young, cheap talent isn’t a horrible idea with the way the Seahawks have been able to draft. At the same time though, beginning to pilfer your own roster, which has in several corners been dubbed as “the deepest in the NFL” unnecessarily could be detrimental to a return to any elite status in 2014. I imagine keeping Smith as insurance and eventual starter, as well as keeping L-O-B in tact as much as possible is probably a priority.

World Champions! Go Hawks!

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