Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, whatever you want to call it… that one was tough. To come so close to repeating and get that close to scoring. This one will stay with Seattle, team and fans alike, for a long time.
Still, the Seahawks will be back strong for next season, and you can bet that coaches and players alike will be looking to make up for the Super Bowl loss with a ring next year. Here’s why they’re poised to get back to the Super Bowl-
1. Returning Talent
For the most part, the band will be back together next season. The Seahawks will see a small number of their core hit free agency, most notably Byron Maxwell and Jermaine Kearse (more on that later). Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, should he return, will be rejoined on offense by promising receiver Paul Richardson (once he returns from injury), the emerging Riccardo Lockette, Super Bowl breakout Chris Matthews and the vastly underrated Doug Baldwin. Kearse could return, while Luke Willson and Tony Moeaki provide a solid outlet for passes at the tight end position. Like Richardson, Zach Miller will also be coming back from injury.
Defensively, Seattle will welcome back a host of players from injured reserve. Brandon Mebane, one of the game’s best defensive tackles, will be healthy. Promising youngsters Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Cassius Marsh and Kevin Pierre-Louis will return as well.
Other than the returning injured players, the majority of the starting defense is under contract with Maxwell, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Williams the only prominent free agents.
2. Few Free Agent Priorities
One of the main reasons the Hawks won their first Super Bowl was due to the additions of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, players they were able to poach from other teams in free agency. Last offseason, the team was limited in free agency and had to spend most of their offseason cash on retaining the likes of Bennett and Avril.
While Seattle will spend this offseason thanks to potential extensions for Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Bobby Wagner, the team won’t have as many key players hit free agency as last season when the team lost Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan, Brandon Browner, Clinton McDonald and Walter Thurmond. The team also had to cut defensive lineman Red Bryant and Chris Clemons.
Things will be much different this time around. Notable Seahawks hitting free agency include Byron Maxwell, Jermaine Kearse, James Carpenter, Malcolm Smith and Kevin Williams.
Besides handing out potential extensions, the ‘Hawks should focus on bringing back Maxwell. Since last season he’s seamlessly stepped in the Legion of Boom’s starting contingent. The cornerback will be one of the most sought-after free agents should he hit the open market. The question becomes whether the Seahawks brass trusts Tharold Simon to take over for Maxwell, similar to the recent transition of Maxwell for Browner.
While Carpenter may be brought back, the team can withstand the potential losses of Smith and Williams. The respective emergences of Kevin Pierre-Louis as well as Jordan Hill (5.5 sacks in the last six regular season game) should more than make up for the respective Super Bowl MVP and former Viking if Smith and Williams aren’t retained.
3. Continued Youth Development
Seattle can afford to let Smith and Williams go thanks to the development and potential of the aforementioned duo of Pierre-Louis and Hill. These two are just two of the latest players undervalued in the draft that Seattle has developed into quality contributors or starters, joining the likes of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Wilson, Wagner, J.R. Sweezy, Kearse, Baldwin, Willson, K.J. Wright, Smith, Lockette, Jeremy Lane, Simon and Robert Turbin among others.
Quite frankly, Seattle is the best at finding and developing talent—few NFL teams come close.
The continued development of players like Chris Matthews, Sweezy, Simon, Hill, Pierre-Louis and Cassius Marsh will only improve the Seahawks’ depth and quality heading into next season.
The Seahawks loss in the Super Bowl was incredibly tough, it may go down as one of the most gut-wrenching and painful losses in the history of the NFL, let alone American sports. Still, if there was ever a group to rebound from it, come back strong and make good, it would be the current group of Seahawks.
Remember, the last time Seattle was dealt a heartbreaking (albeit less painful) playoff loss it was Atlanta a few years ago. The Hawks responded with a ring the next year.
They’ll be back.
All stats courtesy of http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.