After a disappointing loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX, the Seattle Seahawks biggest obstacle to making it to a third straight Super Bowl isn't coaching, play, or opponents— it's the salary cap. Can Seattle weather free agency and maintain one of the top-ranked fantasy football DSTs in 2015?
Super Bowl Blues
The Seahawks lost a tough Super Bowl match-up against the Patriots which came down to the last meaningful play of the game. In what is now being called the worst call in Super Bowl history, Pete Carroll had Russell Wilson throw the ball instead of handing it off to Marshawn "The Beast" Lynch from the one yard line with three plays to punch it in.
Wilson dutifully threw the ball but Malcolm Butler jumped the route and aptly picked off the pass that would end Seattle's run at a second straight NFL championship. Just like that the Patriots got to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in a game that they probably should have lost.
Salary Cap Concerns
If losing the Super Bowl wasn't bad enough, the Seahawks now have to deal with the salary cap issues. In this regard, Seattle has a few primary concerns.
- Byron Maxwell will garner huge attention as a free agent
- Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith will certainly want a good chunk of change to stay in Seattle
- Players like Russell Wilson are approaching the end of their contracts
The Seahawks have already announced plans to extend Russell Wilson’s contract this off-season and make him the highest paid player in NFL history. The problem is that Russell Wilson is an average and extremely replaceable part of their team. There is a salary cap in the NFL, so paying one player a ridiculous amount of money means less money to go to the rest of the team.
Richard Sherman recently signed a contract extension with the team and his salary is set to balloon from about $1.3 million in 2014 to $10 million in 2015—a huge cap hit for the team that’s trying to keep all the pieces to their Super Bowl squad in place.
Maintaining Defensive Dominance
The Seahawks should focus on re-signing defensive play-makers instead of breaking salary records with Russell Wilson. Maxwell has already made it clear that he plans to test the free agency market so he certainly won’t be giving the Seahawks a home-team discount. As Maxwell put it:
"I’m the prettiest girl at the dance.... I would love to stay here but…I’m ready to see what’s out there,"
The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the NFL, so losing only Maxwell wouldn’t spell the end of the Legion of Boom. However, it could set a shaky precedent to pay Wilson a ridiculous salary and not even entertain Maxwell. It is decisions like this that tend to ruin Super Bowl franchises.
Long-Term Damage of Huge Contracts
For an example, look no further than the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints, who have had huge problems with the cap since winning Super Bowl XLIV. Sure, the Saints have made it back to the playoffs three times in the five years since their big win, but they seem to have regressed every season since then, culminating in a 7-9 finish in 2014.
The problem is that the Saints had to clear out so many key players in order to pay Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham that the team as a whole is not able to compete at a Super Bowl level anymore. They mortgaged the future of the team on players who are no longer performing at an elite level. Seattle seems primed to make that same mistake.
Lynch's Pending Deal Complicates Things
In recent days, it has also become apparent that Wilson's potential contract may not be the only obstacle to resigning Maxwell. After it was rumored for most of the 2014 season that the Hawks would cut running back Marshawn Lynch at the end of the season in order to free up almost $10 million in cap room, the Seahawks reportedly working to extend a contract to the power runner that would make him the highest paid running back in the league behind Adrian Peterson. Could this be the Seahawks' penance for not giving him the rock in Super Bowl XLIX?
Salary issues eventually ruin good teams. Byron Maxwell may very well prove too expensive to keep in Seattle, but if he walks it may certainly start an ugly trend for the Seahawks and their DST prospected in 2015. Do you think Seattle's defense will remain a dominant force in the NFL this season? Tell me about it in the comments below.