Seahawks outlook: Running back

February, 27, 2015
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I’m on vacation until March 4, but while I’m out, here is a position-by-position rundown on where the Seattle Seahawks stand at that spot and what they might need heading into 2015.

Today, it’s the running backs and fullbacks.

Lynch
Running backs: It’s all about the Beast. Marshawn Lynch has let it be known that he might retire. Don’t bet on it. Lynch is in the final year of his contract (which pays him $7 million in 2015) and he wants an extension, which the Seahawks are willing to discuss. But Lynch is starting his ninth season and the Seahawks must look to the future. Do they have it waiting in the wings with Robert Turbin and Christine Michael? It’s really impossible to say because neither man has played enough to know if they can do the job as a full-time starter.

Some draft experts believe the Seahawks will pick a running back in the first round regardless of what happens with Lynch.

Fullbacks: Veteran Will Tukuafu was a nice addition at midseason as a rare two-way player as a fullback and defensive lineman. But Tukuafu is a free agent and starting fullback Derrick Coleman should return after having surgery for a broken foot. There's no doubt the Seahawks will bring another fullback-type runner to training camp.

Draft: The Seahawks certainly have more pressing needs, but they might be tempted to do it if Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley are still on the board when they pick at No. 31.
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ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky discusses how the botched onside kick recovery in the NFC Championship Game has affected the life of tight end Brandon Bostick.

Seahawks outlook: Receivers

February, 26, 2015
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I’m on vacation until March 4, but while I’m out, here is a position-by-position rundown on where the Seattle Seahawks stand at that spot and what they might need heading into 2015.

Today it’s the receivers.

Baldwin
Wide receivers: Starter Doug Baldwin is right: This group is unfairly maligned and plays at a higher level than it is given credit for because the Seahawks don’t throw the ball as much as most teams. But it’s still an area where the team lacks a star. The Seahawks continue to try to find one, but that’s tough to do when you’re picking at the end of the first round. They want a big-bodied wideout who can outmuscle defenders for the ball, and they might have found something close to it in Chris Matthews, who had a breakout game in the Super Bowl. But judging off one game is a big gamble. Starting wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is a restricted free agent, meaning the Seahawks have a right to match any offer he gets. Paul Richardson, the top draft pick in 2014, is coming off ACL surgery and might not be ready to go for the start of 2015. The coaches still have high hopes for 2014 rookie Kevin Norwood, who could end up being better than Richardson in the long run.

Miller
Tight ends: A lot depends on what happens with Zach Miller, who spent most of the season on injured reserve after having ankle surgery. He restructured his contract last year, but he’s still a $4 million cap hit for 2015. He’s far and away the best blocking tight end the Seahawks have, but the coaches were impressed with Luke Willson’s improved blocking in 2014. Are they ready to move on without Miller and keep Willson as the starter? Tony Moeaki had some good moments after joining the team at midseason, but he’s a free agent. And Cooper Helfet improved and could continue as a decent backup. Anthony McCoy is coming off his second Achilles tendon surgery, but he’s also a free agent.

Draft: This is a clear area of need for the Seahawks, but would they make a wide receiver their first pick two years in a row? Maybe if the right player fell to them at the end of the first round. Sammie Coates of Auburn comes to mind. And drafting a big tight end isn’t out of the question.

Honorary USC degree for Pete Carroll

February, 25, 2015
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[+] EnlargeSeattle coach Pete Carroll
Harry How/Getty ImagesSeahawks coach Pete Carroll is headed back to USC to receive an honorary degree.

LOS ANGELES -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is going back to Southern California to pick up an honorary degree.

The University of Southern California said Wednesday that Carroll will be among six recipients of honorary degrees at the May 15 graduation ceremony in Los Angeles. Mellody Hobson, a money management expert and the wife of filmmaker George Lucas, will deliver the commencement address.

Carroll returns to the campus where he restored the Trojans' football program to national prominence as coach from 2001-09. He helped the Trojans win a national championship before leaving to coach the Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl under him in 2014 and lost in this year's Super Bowl to New England.

He will be inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame the day after graduation.

Carroll founded A Better LA and A Better Seattle, gang-violence prevention and community organizations that empower inner-city youth.


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Looking at Seahawks' offseason needs

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
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ESPN Seahawks reporter Terry Blount talks about the team's outlook at several positions heading into 2015.

Seahawks outlook: Quarterbacks

February, 25, 2015
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I’m on vacation until March 4, but while I’m out, here is a position-by-position rundown on where the Seattle Seahawks stand at that spot and what they might need heading into 2015.

Let’s start with the quarterbacks:

Wilson
Russell Wilson: He’s about to become one of the highest-paid players in the NFL (with a contract probably worth more than $100 million overall with more than $50 million guaranteed), and he deserves it. Wilson led the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls and has set several league records in his first three seasons, including the most victories of any quarterback in NFL history in his first three years. And he’s done it at times under tremendous pressure because of pass-blocking problems up front in many games. Besides his physical skills as a runner and passer, Wilson is the type of person any organization would be proud to have has the face of the team. Pay the man.

Tarvaris Jackson: He’s an unrestricted free agent, but assuming the price is right (he played for a bargain price of $1.25 million in 2014) it makes sense to bring him back as a veteran backup who knows the system and is respected by the players. Whether Jackson returns will depend on what type of offers he gets elsewhere and how confident the Seahawks are in the team’s other quarterbacks.

B.J. Daniels: The Seahawks thought enough of Daniels at the start of the playoffs that they added him to the 53-man roster. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he was rewarding Daniels for all his hard work, although Daniels didn’t make the 46-man active roster on game day. But the Seahawks are high on him as an athletic quarterback who plays in a similar style to Wilson. Daniels is an exceptional athlete who often lined up as a receiver in practice. Some experts question his throwing skills, but he is an accurate passer who can make plays on the run. Sound familiar?

R.J. Archer: The Seahawks signed him as a free agent earlier this month out of the Arena Football League as someone to look at in offseason workouts. He’s a big guy (6-foot-2, 220) and 27 years old out of William & Mary.

Draft: A quarterback would be way down the list for the Seahawks, if not the bottom of the list.
Take a listen to this week's NFL Nation TV podcast as the crew breaks down the lessons it learned from last week's NFL combine in Indianapolis, as well as the latest in the push for bringing the NFL to Los Angeles.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by four other NFL Nation reporters.

Eric Williams (San Diego Chargers reporter) joins to give an idea of how feasible it would be for the Raiders and Chargers to share a stadium in Southern California. Pat Yasinskas (Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter) discusses why he thinks Jameis Winston is all but a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) breaks down which direction the Jets will go with the No. 6 overall draft pick. Will they go with a quarterback? Defense? Receiver? Paul Kuharsky (Tennessee Titans reporter) weighs with his thoughts on where the Titans will turn at No. 2 if Winston is off the board.

Be sure to watch NFL Nation TV live on ESPN.com at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT each Tuesday, and be sure to give the show's a podcast a listen following each taping.

NFL Nation TV wraps up the combine

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
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Join us today at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT for NFL Nation TV's Spreecast as we return from a one-week hiatus for episode No. 45 with a decidedly combine feel.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by four other NFL Nation reporters throughout the show.

Eric Williams (San Diego Chargers reporter) and Gutierrez will attempt to make sense of the notion that the Chargers and Raiders, who have both called Los Angeles home in the past and have been fierce rivals since their AFL inception, could share a stadium in nearby Carson.

Pat Yasinkas (Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter) will also let us know what the Buc's might do with the No. 1 overall pick after James Winston's showing at the combine.

Staying with the QB vibe, Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) will give us an update on what he thinks Gang Green will do at No. 6 overall in the draft if both Winston and Marcus Mariota are off the board.

And Paul Kuharsky (Tennessee Titans reporter) opines on what the Titans might do at No. 2 overall, go with one of the QBs or perhaps rising USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, or might they go in an entirely different direction?

Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.

Earl Thomas to undergo surgery

February, 24, 2015
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Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas will have surgery Tuesday to repair the torn labrum in his left shoulder, potentially jeopardizing his availability for the early part of the NFL season.

Thomas suffered the injury, which caused his left shoulder to dislocate, while trying to tackle Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb in the NFC Championship Game. Thomas later returned to the game wearing a shoulder harness, which he also wore as a starter in the Seahawks' loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

The typical rehabilitation for this type of surgery is six to eight months, and that jeopardizes Thomas' participation for training camp and availability for the early part of the NFL season.

Thomas had 97 tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception last season for the Seahawks.


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Youth remains a Seahawks' advantage

February, 24, 2015
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One encouraging sign for the Seattle Seahawks moving forward is they remain an incredibly young team.

Of the 22 players who started in Super Bowl XLIX, defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel were the only ones over 30. Williams, now a free agent, is 34 and McDaniel turned 30 in January.

Along with those two, only four other starters had more than five years NFL experience -- running back Marshawn Lynch (8), defensive end Cliff Avril (7), defensive end Michael Bennett (6), and center Max Unger (6).

Thirteen starters in that game were playing in their fourth season or less, including eight with three years in the league or less. The average age of the 22 starters was 26.9.

Of those 22 players, only cornerback Byron Maxwell, left guard James Carpenter and Williams are unrestricted free agents.

Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (31), punter Jon Ryan (33), and fullback Will Tukuafu (31), were the only players over 30 among the other 24 players on the active roster for the Super Bowl. Twelve of the non-starters were 25 or younger.
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Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is a man of few words, but when he utters those words, he sometimes trademarks them.

Lynch last week filed for the trademark to the phrase "I'm just here so I won't get fined" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Lynch famously uttered the phrase as the answer to more than 20 questions on Super Bowl XLIX media day before walking off the podium.

"We heard from our fans, and so many of them were saying that they wanted that phrase on the clothing," Chris Bevans, who runs Lynch's "Beast Mode" apparel line, told ESPN.com. "This is just listening to the marketplace."

The Seattle Times first reported news of Lynch's latest trademark filing.

Bevans said the phrase will appear on shirts and sweatshirts on the Beast Mode website within the next month.

They likely won't have trouble selling, as every item on the website made for men is sold out in all sizes.

Lynch's brand had its own pop-up shop in Scottsdale during the Super Bowl. Although the store's location was off the beaten path, it quickly sold out of its 1,000 hats, after Lynch sported different versions of the hat with his logo on it at media appearances during the week.

Sponsorship evaluation firm Front Row Analytics calculated total exposure for the "Beast Mode" brand that week to be more than $3 million in equivalent advertising time.

The NFL was exploring whether to fine Lynch for wearing the hats because the logo wasn't authorized by the league. Days after the game, the NFL announced that Lynch would not be fined because the hat was made by NFL licensee New Era Cap.

His latest effort isn't the first time Lynch tried to trademark a phrase he used on media day.


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ESPN Seahawks reporter Terry Blount breaks down the team's decision to add 1,000 seats to CenturyLink Field for the 2015 season.
Three important things we learned about the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL scouting combine at Indianapolis, which ended Monday:

1. Lynch will be back -- It's not official yet, but it's almost a certainty that Marshawn Lynch will return next season as the starting running back. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear that the team has made Lynch a "big offer" and they expect him back. That offer is reportedly $11 to $12 million for 2015 and $9 million for 2016. But this really is about 2015, which the Seahawks realize could be Lynch's last year before calling it quits. He wasn't going to return for the $7 million he was scheduled to make on the last year of his current deal. He will come back for $12 million.

[+] EnlargeRussell Wilson
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesGuaranteeing Russell Wilson's entire contract could save the Seahawks room in the salary cap.
2. The walking wounded Legion of Boom -- If cornerback Byron Maxwell leaves in free agency as expected, it means the top five remaining players in the Seattle secondary all have injuries to get over before next season. Two new problems we learned about at the combine are nickelback Jeremy Lane's upcoming ACL knee surgery (he already had surgery to repair the compound fracture in his left arm) and possible surgery for cornerback Tharold Simon to repair the shoulder he dislocated late in the season. Lane may not be ready until midseason. Simon is the likely starter at this point if Maxwell leaves.

All three of the other starters have injuries -- free safety Earl Thomas will have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, strong safety Kam Chancellor has a torn MCL that won't need surgery, and cornerback Richard Sherman has a torn ligament in his left elbow, but won't need Tommy John surgery. What all this means for the Seahawks is they have to get help in the secondary, through the draft and probably through free agency. One possible target could be former Seahawk Walter Thurmond, a free agent who can play outside or in the slot.

3. Wilson's upcoming deal could set a new standard -- Everyone knows that quarterback Russell Wilson soon will sign a new contract that will make him one of the highest paid player's in the game. Both Carroll and Schneider said there is no timetable to get the deal done, but they are working on it, and Schneider already said they are thinking "outside the box" on Wilson's deal. What could make this deal unique is the possibility of it becoming the first major NFL contract to be fully guaranteed in order to help the Seahawks with salary-cap issues.

That's a revolutionary concept. All guaranteed contracts aren't done in the NFL because of the high risk of injury, but in this case it makes sense. NFL contracts are misleading. A star player can sign a $100 million deal, but maybe only half of that is guaranteed money, and that's what counts. Wilson could sign a $100-million deal with $50 million to $60 million guaranteed, or he could sign a $75 million deal with all of it guaranteed. Wilson and his representatives might be willing to go that route, which would help the Seahawks. Even if Wilson were to suffer a season-ending knee injury next season, it isn't like they are going to release him. So make it all guaranteed and save some cap room.

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