Is it wrong to be dreaming of improving the roster with 3 games still left to play? If it is, why does it feel so right? Is that why it is called rosterbating? Moral dilemmas aside, let's dig into the Hawks' defensive roster needs in free agency. There is one player that is obviously the focus of this article, but while on the subject, why don't we look at a few other names for just a moment. (Your moment, not mine. This stuff takes way longer to type than to read.)
First off, in two free agent periods, Mr. Pete Carroll and Mr. John Schneider have established that they are not as free-agent phobic as Schneider's roots in Green Bay, and even his words during his first offseason, may have suggested. I expect that John and Pete are also not going to make as many free agent acquisitions in the future as they did in the truncated 2011 free agency period. However, they have cap space, and they have chutzpah, so I do expect to hear some names. Maybe just from rumor-mongers like Incarcerated Bob, but heard nonetheless. Keep in mind that so far, they only break the bank for youngish free agents.
Terrell Thomas, New York Giants
6' 0", 199 lbs; Current age: 26
Terrell will be mentioned for four reasons: he is a physical press corner who accumulates tackles on running backs, he gets interceptions, he played for Pete at USC, and he is only 26. Oh, a 5th reason: the departure of Marcus Trufant is more than likely. Thomas is coming off an ACL injury in training camp, so his recovery should be well along by March's free agency start. They weren't afraid to draft another player of this profile, Walter Thurmond, so I wouldn't expect any squeamishness over Thomas if his recovery looks good.
Adam Carriker, Washington Redskins
6' 6", 315 lbs; Current age: 27
Carriker is first of all a Kennewick native, and second, would fit in Carroll's non traditional 4-3 role that Red Bryant has thrived in. Think about what you know of Pete's ultra physical scheme, and read the following words from Jim Haslet, who coached Carriker both in his less than successful stint in St Louis and his current role in Washington. Haslet said, about why Carriker did not make it as a traditional 4-3 three technique scheme fit,
"For a guy who ran the 40 in 4.7 and was 6-6, 315 pounds, you'd think he could do that. But that's not what he wants to do. He wants to play with strength and power, and he does a pretty good job of it. He feels so much more comfortable in this."
Strength and power? How is that not a scheme fit for Pete?
Carriker is a signing I would be very excited about. He would not so much be depth for Red's position as he would be a rotational starter with Red. He is a better pass rusher than Bryant, and would ease the minds of fans and coaches alike about what happens if Red is unable to play.
Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions
6' 3", 260 lbs; Current age: 25
Finally, we would get a player back from the Seatroit Sea Lions pipeline. If you're not familiar with Cliff, think Chris Clemons but 5 years younger. He isn't better than Clemons, just younger. His growth curve is just taking off, while Clemons is fighting the undefeated Father Time. In fact, he shows somewhat less commitment to run stopping than Clemons but has some college background as a linebacker, possibly a result of the get-after-the-QB scheme Jim Schwartz is running in Detroit. He is getting sacks, forcing fumbles, and racking up personal fouls in Detroit at a prodigious rate. The latter skill might make him fit in Seattle as much as anything, right?
Detroit will not let him go easily, though. If Avril makes it through the team re-signing period, I expect interest for him from a lot of teams. Seattle included.
Mario Williams, Houston Texans
6' 6", 283 lbs; Current age: 26
Initial response of all sane people: "You, sir, have apparently misplaced your sanity. Clearly, Houston will not be letting this guy get away at any cost."
I understand your initial response. I had trouble believing he was not even under contract past this year. Before you holler "Franchise tag, dummy," know this: (from David Dalati at FoxSports Houston)
Williams is now a linebacker, meaning he would be categorized among linebackers when it comes to salary calculation. Franchising a player means you are guaranteeing that player at least the average of the top five salaries at his position and the average salary of the top five linebackers is roughly $10 million. Problem: Williams' current cap number is $18 million. Since Williams' cap number is greater than $10 million, franchising Williams means the Texans must guarantee him 120 percent of his current salary next season. It's the way the rule works, either the average of the top five salaries or a 120 percent of the player's salary, whichever is greater. In short, franchising Mario would commit the Texans to paying him over $21 million for the 2012 season alone.
From a mathematical standpoint, the Texans can't commit $21 million for a linebacker for one season, regardless of his impact. From a practical view, there is no way the Texans would pay that amount for a player coming off consecutive seasons in which he has been seriously injured. It's not happening and anyone discussing the franchise tag in Williams' case simply doesn't know what he or she is talking about."
I know, that is a mouthful, possibly even a brain full, but think about what that means for the Hawks.
3-4 teams will not be going after Mario Williams. Simple economics dictate that he will make more as a 4-3 defensive end than he will as a 3-4 linebacker. See Julius Peppers salary vs Jerome Harrison salary. That reduces the list of teams competing for his services by about half. Yes, he could play 3-4 end, but he won't; that is not where the money is either.
Salary cap concerns and current roster considerations further limit some of the 4-3 teams that would compete for Mario Williams, leaving the Seahawks as one of the handful of 4-3 teams that would compete for what undoubtedly will be the star of 2012's free agency. A quick look of 4-3 teams only shows a handful of teams - and by handful I mean three others - that are competitive, cap friendly, and schematic fits while not having huge amounts of capital already tied up at defensive end. Goody, goody, we are one of them! Watch the Giants be our main rivals for Mario's services when they let Osi walk.
If that one player is Mario, I can honestly say that this defense is one player away from dominance. Sure, there are other positions to address in Seattle on defense, but this is the one addition that would improve the secondary and linebacking corps immediately. The injuries would be a legitimate concern, but it is a surgically repaired pectoral, not his knees or ankles, so I can't see what would stop Seattle from pursuing Mario except price. Which will be steep.
Make it happen, John.