Seahawks deal for Sheldon Richardson


While we baseball fans wring our hands about the lost Sonny Grays and Justin Verlanders of the big-game world, there's another sports coach in town who feels very little hesitation about adding Stars to his roster.  If you ever get frustrated about a local sports team getting just a leeeeeetle too "responsible" with its resources management, hey.  Switch internet channels and wallow in the football team across town.

So you guys check me where I'm wrong.  The most common formation in the NFL is the 3-1-1, right, with three wideouts a tight end and a single back, right?  The default against this is a 4-2-5 formation:





Is this a defensive setup that you spend time comparing to other lineups across their own conference, or is this a setup you spend time comparing to other lineups from other eras?


Here's the NY Post with the basics:  that the Jets are in a rebuild, that Richardson walks at the end of the year, that the 2nd-round pick and the $8M in space is big.


Here is Niners Nation, notably AZ9rfan, offering hopefully that "for some reason I just don't see this as some sort of major upgrade."  That "some reason" being emotional insulation against unspeakable horror, of course.  Ah, silly me.  I'll go to my grave trying to kick the guilty pleasure of visiting NinersNation at moments like this.


John Clayton has been one of my faves since the early days.  He thinks the 'Hawks go into 2017 lookin' realll strong.


Here is 4:00 worth of Richardson highlights, including some excellent quickness shots.  Are the Seahawks going to let him punch in TD's like that? :- )

In 2013 he won the ROY; in 2014 he was All-Pro.  Here is his highlight video going into 2015.

Be Afraid,

Dr D




But it's easy to get fired up for the Seahawks. 

On basically the same day, the Mariners appear to get outmaneuvered by both conpeting division rivals, the Seahawks move a player and local favorite for what's widely been lauded as a power move that changes the dynamics in the NFC towards Seattle (again).

The Mariners, even with the lack of Japanese ownership presence, still play like Sony or Toshiba in a game full of Apples and Googles. And that is frustrating.

On Richardson, I have no clue how good he is. But I'm excited. Maybe I'll cancel my MLB.TV and get the NFL package. 


since they gave up a 2nd round pick, but Richardson is about as good of a player as you see get traded in the NFL.  And his presence could make MB, Avril, and Clark look even more dangerous than they did last year (which would really be something).

They've got a legit Fearsome Foursome in the D-Line in Seattle now.  All four of those guys are superior pass rushers, and all but Avril can line up essentially anywhere and be plus to plus-plus.

I smell a BIG year for interceptions by Seattle's DB's...

Nathan H's picture

There are several thoughts on this deal; each could fill a 500 word blog post:
- Doug willing to restructure contract to convert base salary into signing bonus
- Coaches remove Kearse from the Red-Zone equation
- For those who don't know, the 2nd round pick given up is significant. Bobby Wagner, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed were all 2nd rounders.
- Would this deal have happened had Malik McDowell not been pile driven by an ATV?
- This historically good defense has not had an interior DL presense of Richardson's calibre...ever. Let THAT marinate. Think...what impact does Aaron Donald have on the Rams' fairly pedestrian D?
- Richardson is a rental, perhaps, yes...but he's also in a contract year. What better FA sell job than a year of championship ball?
- Hawks' defensive depth is stupid right now. Corner back depth is a concern but that's it. Stars will be champing at the bit for rotational snaps.
- Here's hoping Tom Cable can successfully convert him into another mediocre guard. I keeeed, I keeeeed.
- Bennett may be slowing down. This move could also be a hedge against that.
- Seahawks run a 3-4 with 4-3 principals. Meaning the usual D-line vs. nickel is more likely to be:
Leo: Avril/Bass
3-T: Richardson (Great! He was moved to 1-T by the Jets last year and suffered for it)/Nazair Jones
1-T: Rubin/Reed
End: Bennett/Clark
I got your roster-mirrorring right here.
- Tanking sucks. Jets fans must be nauseous.
- New 53-man cut-down rules are forcing more trade action. That's good for fans, bad? for GMs, worst for fringe players. NFL Network must love it.


At this time of year, every year, my one true solace is that as the Mariners swoon down the stretch, my sorrow is seamlessly displaced by one of the best-run franchises in American sports. The Hawks sure know how to swing blockbuster trades, which makes them basically the only NFL team who does. Harvin, Graham, and now "Shelrich." It's like watching Theo Epstein run a football team, and I can't get enough. My thoughts on the move:

  • Nathan, to your point about a 2nd being a big give: yeah, it sure is. However, this team will be winning a ton of games, and getting a very late 2nd round pick. Bobby and Jarran were mid-2nds, and Clark only dropped to the end of the round because of character concerns. Late 2nds look like Justin Britt (useful but uninspiring starters, which also describes Reed) as often as they turn into stars. The Hawks have a long history of shipping off picks for a guy who is getting paid more, but is the caliber of player you dream of drafting with the pick you just gave up. In Doc parlance, they're happy to pay 1.25 on the dollar to get back the best player in the deal. They do this ~once per year. Also, you know they'll just trade back with their 1st rounder, turn it into a mid-2nd, and get some other picks besides.
  • Removing Kearse is addition by subtraction, f'sho. I'll miss him though. He's had some HUGE plays for us, in between all the mediocrity.
  • Doc's right, we spend most of our time in nickel these days, which means 9/11 guys on the field are legit pro-bowl caliber stars (and three of those are all-pro future HOFs). The only recourse for opposing offenses will be to run and hide.

But the most important part of this deal is that scheme-wise, this is the one piece the Hawks have been missing for years. They've got the best safeties at their respective positions, the best linebacker tandem in the league, Sherm's side of the field is radioactive and dotted with tripwires and spike-pits, and Avril/Bennett/Clark rip around the edges like people who hate sandwich crusts. The only position where they've never had a star in the Carroll era is at DT, and it's a kind of big deal. I can't count how many times our DEs have missed a sack by inches because the quarterback stepped up in the pocket and dumped it off. We just haven't had anyone capable of pushing the interior of the pocket until now. It's led to the offense having one relatively safe location on the field, in a bubble behind the center, and that's why pocket passers like Brady, Rivers, Ryan, and Roethlisburger have been able to create a blueprint for competing with (see: NOT beating, but competing with) our historic defense.

I don't want to promise anything, but there is a chance that this final piece acts as a force amplifier that leads to another 2013, Team of Destiny march to the Superbowl. If QBs can't count on climbing the pocket anymore, the only valid gameplan against the Legion of Boom goes out the window. Shelrich may only get 4.5 sacks this year, but he may also add 5-7 sacks to our trio of edge rushers, and this could in turn add 5-7 interceptions to the secondary, as QBs feel the pressure and start making bad decisions. Have you noticed that no one goes deep on Sherm anymore unless they have a lineman bearing down on them? It's easier to make good decisions when you're not running for your life.

And all of this is in ADDITION to the very real chance that Russell Wilson is a top-5 quarterback, camouflaged by a season lost to injury right after he jumped the most recent plateau. His deep ball is back, and the o-line looks better than last year, and we have a stable of 4 starter quality running backs, and Jimmy Graham and Dougie Fresh are the real deal. Right up until this move I figured this would be the year the offense officially surpassed the defense. Now, I have no idea which unit is better. Either way, opposing coaches are going to be losing a lot of sleep trying to survive those units. Oh, and did I mention Ty Lockett is a top-3 return man, and the Hawks special teams coverage unit is always one of the best in the league?

Yeah, I'm ready for some football.


With regards to the trade for Shelrich. I have a couple questions...

1. If Shelrich does leave for free agency after having the great year we all hope for, is there a good chance the Seahawks get a 3rd or 4th round pick as compensation?

2. If Bennent and Avril are slowing down as many people suggest, do you think there is a chance that the Seahawks let them both go and just resign Shelrich?

Lastly, provided the injury is not career ending, getting Malik for the 2018 /19 season is kinda like getting a 2nd round draft pick.


Those are the right questions to ask, definitely.

1. If he stays healthy and produces as expected, then secures a fair contract from someone else, we should get a 3rd round comp pick back. 4th would be unlucky. So yeah, that also drastically mitigates the loss of the 2nd.

2. Avril hasn't showed signs of slowing yet, and 31 isn't as old for a DE as many other positions. He set a career high for sacks last year, and looked the part. Bennett seemed off last year, but he was battling injury and we ran him ragged. Funnily enough, this trade my help on that front too. One of the things the Hawks love about Bennett is that even though he's a wrecking ball of a DE, he could slide inside to DT on passing downs and let them pretend they have a decent interior rush. Unfortunately, this is a big ask physically for a guy who weighs 285 (most DTs are over 300). I imagine if Richardson can pick up the slack inside, Bennett will be a lot fresher and healthier this year. Again, the synergy of this move is just off the charts.

As for resigning Shelrich, I dunno where the money would come from. Cap manipulation is usually beyond my ken, but Pete and John are pretty elite at it. They've managed to keep the band together this long, losing only 2nd tier stars like Irvin, Maxwell, Tate and Okung. Personally, I imagine that Shelrich replacing one of the DEs is the most logical choice, given that they can still keep the other one and Frank Clark. Keeping everyone at once would be tough, as seen by the need to restructure Baldwin's contract just to fit Shelly for this year. I dunno though, if this fearsome foursome D-line carries us to a Superbowl, we may be obligated to let someone like Graham go instead, and try to keep the defense at historic levels for another few years. It'll be fascinating to watch.

3. Great point on McDowell. Our D-line looks terrifying this year, and that's BEFORE we get a passrushing DT who fell to the 2nd due to work ethic concerns, not physical ones. That dude is terrifying. His technique was horrid in college, but the raw physical ability is way higher than anyone on our current line, including Frank Clark. There are some highlights where his short area burst to the quarterback is horrifying, like watching a panther pounce or on hapless wildebeest. If he ever learns a decent club or swim move, they'll be saying "break up the Seahawks' and meaning it, too. Quarterbacks would become an endangered species with Clark, Bennett, Avril, Shelrich and Peak McDowell all gunning for them at the same time. Maybe we'd pioneer a 5-man defensive line in base downs against the Patriots and put a forceful end to Tom Brady's career...

Or, more likely, a successful McDowell return would make it easy to let one of the other linemen go, and stay out of cap hell. Either way, it would be huge. Let's hope he heals up well.


They've done a SUPERB job of staying out of cap squeeze territory to this point, but the first crack in the dam on that front is ALWAYS something like restructuring Baldwin's deal.  I'm not saying the sky's falling, but that's EXACTLY what the beginning of cap chaos looks like.

I'm guessing, however, that they would prefer to trade Sherman rather than any of the guys currently on the D-line if they're all playing at a high level.  You get the kind of pressure we can expect to see from this group and you don't *need* a blanket corner shutting down 1/3 of the field.  You run a press-man, bump-and-run scheme like the Seahawks already do, and mid-tier CB's will look great stats-wise at the end of the year with this D-line shredding pockets.

And like your namesake suggests, I think Sherman is an AMAZING player and I love what he does for the Seahawks.  But his *marginal value* diminishes once you've got legitimate tops-in-the-NFL pocket pressure from the front four.  If Richardson is part of the long-term plan (as I think he probably should be, assuming his play translates to the system--which I think it definitely will) then Sherman seems to be no better insulated against addition-by-subtraction than Bennet, Avril, or Richardson.  If one of them declines this coming year and the rest keep producing at a high level, the question of who to let go answers itself.

The Seahawks are a SUPERIOR run team.  It is a pleasure to watch them go about their business, isn't it?


Yup, my thoughts exactly on the restructuring of Baldwin's deal. It's the football equivalent of mortgaging the future. Imagine a baseball team literally deciding that to afford a player this year, they will lower their payroll by about 2 million for the next three! It sounds bizarre out of salary cap context, but there we are. At least it's just two mil a year this time.

Personally, I'm not terribly worried about the Hawks hitting cap hell anytime soon. The cap keeps going up, and they keep juggling like pros. And again, if they ever hit dire cap straights, they can just tighten their belts and let one (1) pro bowler walk, and be just fine, thank you. This team is so good that it really could function just fine without Graham, or Avril, or KJ, or Bennett, or maybe even Kam or Sherm. Personally though, I'd let them walk in that order, all things being equal. I think Russell can make just about any pass catcher look good when he's on his game (which is what happened to Kearse for a few years there), KJ is like the Kyle Seager of linebackers, and the D-line does have one more DE than it needs to be an elite unit right now. If Shelly acts as a force magnifier, by all means keep them all, but otherwise letting one go would probably be a good way to leverage *marginal value*.

As for Sherm himself, I love the man with an undying passion. That aside, I'm kind of split on how much the defense would miss him. It might be that Carroll, who I think is hands down the best DB man in the league, can patch together a Browner-esque Frankenstein replacement, but who knows. Keep in mind, Sherm and Earl used to be the two guys we'd never seen this defense without during the LOB era. When Earl got hurt last year, his absence created a plethora of problems, because he acts as a true force amplifier to the entire backfield. People assume that a shutdown corner doesn't have the same effect, but I'm not sure that's true. Think about how much easier it is to scheme, knowing that one third of the field is taken care of. Short, deep, run or pass, doesn't matter, Sherm has it dead to rights. The other team probably won't even try it more than a few times a game. Now you can shade Earl the other way, bring Kam down into the box, and give LB help in the slot or the opposite flat. Basically, by shrinking the playable field I suspect that Sherm makes every other DB and LB better before the ball is even snapped. Add that to his personal HOF talents, like the best fade route coverage in history (maybe) and the best CB tackling in the league (definitely), as well as the ability to bait QBs into ~4 interceptions per year even though they know that's what he's doing, and I figure I'd let everyone but Earl and maybe Bobby go before I parted ways with Richard.

As for watching them play the run... man, it's a joy. All of their linemen can play the run well, even Avril who really isn't built for it. Having Wagz and KJ filling the gaps, with Kam and Earl flying up behind them and Sherman begging some poor running back to try him in the open field, it's really beautiful to watch. My favorite is when teams try to string it out towards the sideline and get the edge. The second the o-line fires towards the sideline, I start chuckling and mumble to myself "never try to beat the Hawks to the outside. They ARE faster than you. Fact." Now with Shelly, other teams are may not even wait until the end of the first half to abandon the run. They'll start doing it in their Tuesday gameplanning sessions.


And I think you're *definitely* right that the impact he has on the rest of the DB's is significant.  Maxwell's success came *exclusively* because he (and everyone else on the field) knew for certain that the ball was going his way.  All (heh!) he had to do was stay on his assignment's hip and keep his eyes on the QB to create those interceptions.  Add to that his incredible punch-out skills on ~caught balls, and he was a true impact player here in Seattle--PRECISELY because Sherman was on the other side of the field, forcing all the plays Maxwell's way.

And I used to think ET was more important than the other DBs, but after seein how the D looked during his absence and contrasting that to how they looked sans Chancellor, I'm inclined to say that he and Kam are no worse than equals in terms of total impact on the D--and I'm starting to think Kam's more important in the aggregate.  The interplay between ET and Sherman is massive, no doubt, since they complement each other so beautifully, but Kam seems like every time he comes back from an injury (or after his sit-out to start the season) he immediately makes a game-saving play that's 100% him.

It's a lot of fun following a WINNING sports team.  I'm glad to see the steps the M's have taken down that road; they've got a few more to take before they're in the same conversttion as the Seahawks, though.


Hmm, you really think Kam = Earl? That's an interesting take. Statistically speaking, the Hawks went from a top three pass defense with Earl to like the fourth worst without him last year. We even got blown out by the Packers, marking the first blowout loss in several millennia. There's a general consensus in the Seahawks community that this was almost entirely due to Earl's absence. Kam, meanwhile, has missed one or two games at a time here and there, and the defense always looks like a worse approximation of itself without him, but is still recognizable. It looked dramatically different without Earl.

I see your point about Kam winning games singlehandedly though. The punchout vs Megatron, the ankle tackle on Blount and the endzone coverage on Gronk last year... if anyone hasn't seen it, do yo'selves a favor and google "Kam Chancellor here comes the boom." Best soundtrack on a highlight video ever. And man, Kam has put up a HOF level highlight reel, even though he’ll surely never make it. Still and all, I'm not sure he has the force amplifier thing going for him. Maybe he does by virtue of being the only SS who can really play the "Deathbacker" role in the league, but the way I see it his value comes from exceptional individual plays. Sherm and Earl make the plays too, but they also shut down the left third and deep middle respectively, and I think that field-shrinking is where a good 1/3 of their value lies.


I used to be solidly in the Earl > Kam camp, but I see so much that Kam ends up doing that just doesn't seem to get done otherwise.  And yeah, I buy into the whole Earl + Sherman synergy argument 100%.  Those guys were made to play together, and they've been coached to perfection.

But in the end this is a little bit like ARod vs. Griffey vs. Edgar in their primes.  Reasonable arguments abound as to which is superior--which is a testament to their individual and collective quality ;-)


Yeah, but all (Kam and Gar) do is hit. (Earl and Griffey) have to play centerfield too! And what about (Sherm and A-Rod)? Sure they're polarizing, but love'em or hate'em, they'll probably have better, longer careers that either of their peers...

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