SEATTLE — While the Peyton Manning saga plays out in Indy the Seattle Seahawks have more pressing needs. The Seahawks ranked tied for 19th in the league with 33 sacks in 2011 with Chris Clemons accounting for one-third of those. Linebacker Leroy Hill was the closest behind Clemons with four sacks and defensive tackle Alan Branch tallied three sacks.
It’s no secret the Seahawks have lacked that elite pass-rushing defensive end since Patrick Kerney retired after the 2009 season. Clemons, who has recorded 22 sacks in his two seasons with the Seahawks, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and Red Bryant is set to hit the market this offseason.
While the two differ in style and size, both have made a significant impact on the Seahawks up-and-coming defense. With that in mind the Seahawks have made upgrading their defensive end slots a high priority this offseason.
Holding the eleventh or twelfth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft the Seahawks could use it to improve their defensive line with Melvin Ingram out of South Carolina. Seattle could also sign one of the many elite defensive ends in free agency.
Mario Williams, a 6 foot 6 283 pound menace at defensive end would be the ideal solution to the Seahawks sacking woes. A former No.1 overall pick in 2006 Willams has led the Texans in sacks four out of his six years. Only his rookie season in 2006 and this past season where he missed the final 11 games with a torn pectoral muscle.
At his worst Williams is a game changer. At his best he’s one of if not the best defensive end in the NFL. Simply put the Seahawks could be top five in the league on defense with Mario Williams. As history has shown wanting someone, and targeting someone doesn’t’ mean you’re going to end up with that player.
The Seahawks saved a lot back in salaries last offseason and come in with roughly $15 million in free cap space. That doesn’t include the contracts of players set to hit free agency like Marcus Trufant, Leroy Hill and Marshawn Lynch among others.
Seattle will likely franchise tag Lynch which would cost around seven million on a one-year tender. Both sides would like a long-term contract but Seattle doesn’t want to go beyond four years. What that means for the chances of signing Williams is who are the Seahawks willing to sacrifice.
Williams has said he’s not looking to become the highest paid defensive end, but he’s not going to leave Houston and take a massive pay cut either. With Jason Babin getting five years at $28 million in 2010 from the Eagles and DeMarcus Ware getting $79 million over seven years from the Cowboys Williams is going to get something in between.
While it won’t be easy the Seahawks stand at least a one in three chance to land Williams given there are only nine teams who can afford him. Houston stands at under one million under the cap and will need to make several moves to get in the range William’s is seeking.
Whether or not Seattle ends up with Williams they do need to make him their number one priority in free agency.
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