Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) talks to his defensive backfield teammates during their game against the Carolina Panthers at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington on December 4, 2016. File photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo
RENTON, Wash. -- As the heart of Seattle's offseason wound down in June, the Seattle Seahawks tried to put Band-Aids over any lingering issues surrounding offseason trade talks regarding star cornerback Richard Sherman.
Sherman and the Seahawks claimed there was plenty of communication both ways, and each side said they felt comfortable with the way things were handled. Teammates and coaches vouched for Sherman after multiple incidents late last season and into the spring when he criticized coaches and teammates.
Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider insisted they were just doing their due diligence and listening to anything that came across their table. In any case, the Seahawks made it public knowledge they had received calls on Sherman's availability and said they had considered offers for the mercurial corner, despite having depth issues behind Sherman.
Now, they'll be put to the test with training camp opening to see whether they can put the offseason of uncertainty behind them.
The Seahawks and New England Patriots are the only teams in the league to have won at least one playoff game in each of the last five seasons. Seattle is a resilient team that has dealt with other issues internally and still managed to find success on the field. Additionally, Seattle didn't lose any significant free agents of note this offseason while adding a few strategic pieces in free agency and an 11-man draft class.
Seattle heads into training camp as the favorite to win the NFC West yet again. The Seahawks' roster remains the most talented in the division, and their track record of success is easy to point to in predicting their performance in 2017.
But what happens if the team struggles early? Will old fissures begin to emerge once again in the locker room? Will the team still be able to find ways to win?
The Seahawks have the talent to earn another trip to the Super Bowl. But for the first time in Carroll's tenure, it's a real question if he will be able to keep everything together.
TOP THREE TRAINING CAMP GOALS
--Stabilize the offensive line. The biggest area of weakness for Seattle a season ago was a young and inexperienced offensive line that was far too inconsistent for the offense to perform reliably. The team is hoping a year of experience will lead to a significant boost in performance across the group, with the additions of Luke Joeckel, Oday Aboushi and Ethan Pocic bringing competition and depth. The team has shuffled guys around, but the presumed starting unit returns mostly intact with Joeckel the only change.
--Find out what Eddie Lacy can bring. The Seahawks lamented the erosion of their rushing attack in the post-Marshawn Lynch era last season. The signing of Lacy was a direct response in an effort to bring a more punishing running style to the group. But Lacy was limited in the early stages of the offseason while recovering from ankle surgery and remains a relative unknown to Seattle.
--Develop young secondary pieces. The Seahawks used four of their 11 draft picks on members of the secondary. While Shaquill Griffin may be the only rookie that has a real chance to earn a starting role, all four will need to be significant contributors right away. Griffin, Tedric Thompson, Delano Hill and Mike Tyson will be core special teams pieces and key backups in the secondary. It's a talented, but inexperienced, group that faces a steep learning curve to be ready for Week 1.
PROJECTED CAMP DEPTH CHART
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Russell Wilson. Backups -- Trevone Boykin, Austin Davis.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls. Backups -- C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, FB Tre Madden, FB Algernon Brown, FB Kyle Coleman.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jimmy Graham. Backups -- Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, Marcus Lucas, Tyrone Swoopes, Steve Donatell.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett. Backups -- Paul Richardson, Amara Darboh, David Moore, Tanner McEvoy, Kenny Lawler, Kasen Williams, Rodney Smith, Cyril Grayson, J.D. McKissic, Darreus Rogers.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT George Fant, LG Luke Joeckel, C Justin Britt, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Germain Ifedi. Backups -- G/T Rees Odhiambo, G/T Oday Aboushi, C Joey Hunt, G/T Ethan Pocic, C/G Will Pericak, T Justin Senior, G Jordon Roos, T Robert Myers.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LE Cliff Avril, DT Jarran Reed, NT Ahtyba Rubin, RE Michael Bennett. Backups -- DE Frank Clark, DE Malik McDowell, DE Cassius Marsh, DE Quinton Jefferson, DT Nazair Jones, DE Dion Jordan, DT Garrison Smith, DT Jeremy Liggins, DT Shaneil Jenkins, DE Tylor Harris, DE David Bass.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB K.J. Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, SLB Michael Wilhoite. Backups -- OLB Terrence Garvin, MLB Arthur Brown, OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, MLB Dewey McDonald, OLB Kache Palacio, OLB Otha Peters, OLB Ronald Powell, OLB Nick Usher.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Richard Sherman, RCB Jeremy Lane, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor. Backups -- CB DeShawn Shead, CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Mike Tyson, CB Neiko Thorpe, FS Bradley McDougald, FS Tedric Thompson, SS Delano Hill, CB DeAndre Elliott, CB Pierre Desir, CB Demetrius McCray, S Marcus Cromartie, S Jordan Simone.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Blair Walsh, P Jon Ryan, LS Nolan Frese, LS Tyler Ott, KOR/PR Tyler Lockett.