Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports
February 3, 2014
The first question the talking heads immediately start debating on TV after the Super Bowl is whether the champions will be able to do it again the following year. And many of them will say that they like that team's chances to do it again the following year. It makes sense. The winner is always coming off a string of clutch wins and they have a competent, if not elite, quarterback, which is always important. Still, everyone in Baltimore recently witnessed just how hard it is for the Super Bowl champions to repeat.
But if there is any recent champion that is built to go back-to-back, it is these Seahawks, who constructed a championship team with excellent drafting, savvy free-agent signings and players at premium positions who are virtually making peanuts.
In just a few years, general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll turned the franchise around by stocking the roster with talented players and creating legitimate competition at every position. That was proven a year ago when Russell Wilson, a "too short" third-round draft pick, beat out Matt Flynn, an expensive free-agent signing, to start at quarterback as a rookie. The was one of a bunch of great draft picks for Schneider, who also found later-round gems in Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor and linebacker Malcolm Smith, an emerging player who was named the MVP of the Super Bowl. Schneider has also found productive undrafted players like wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse and signed former starting cornerback Brandon Browner in the Canadian Football League. He supplemented an already deep defense by signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on short-team show-me contracts.
As we saw last year in Baltimore, it is hard to keep a championship team intact because the price for free agents always spikes after a Super Bowl run (see Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe). But the Seahawks -- one of the youngest Super Bowl teams of all-time -- will continue to have roster flexibility because Wilson is heading into the third year of a cheap four-year rookie contract. Teams like the Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are tasked with trying to build a contender around a big-money quarterback. With so little money tied up in Wilson -- he pretty much made as much in all of 2013 as Peyton Manning made in one game -- the Seahawks' championship window will remain wide open for at least another year. Sherman is also making next to nothing, though he will probably be re-upped this offseason. But by drafting well, the Seahawks have developed tremendous depth, which means they should probably survive if they lose a few key players.
I'm not saying the Seahawks are a sure thing to repeat and are on the verge of starting the next NFL dynasty. The odds are still stacked against them. But with Wilson and Sherman and Schneider and Carroll still around, you know the Seahawks will have something to say when the playoffs roll around next year.