Seahawks Insider

How do young linebackers fit in Seahawks’ plans?

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on April 3, 2014 at 1:56 am with 15 Comments »
April 3, 2014 1:56 am
Greg Olsen, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright
K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are extreme bargains for the Seahawks. / AP photo

One of the notable moments of last season was when San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman was hurt during the NFC title game.

Bowman was down with the ball after a Jermain Kearse fumble at the goalline. San Francisco safety Eric Reid had come in and hit a falling Kearse, whose weight and momentum ended up pushing into Bowman’s planted left leg. It was a gruesome buckle that tore his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament.

The Seahawks were able to wrestle the ball away from the injured Bowman before the referees could sort out who had possession.

Because of the play, fumbles like that can be reviewed for possession starting next season, thanks to what is being called the “NaVorro Bowman Rule.”

“That doesn’t fix my knee,” Bowman said of the rule change to the San Jose Mercury News, “but (the wrong call) won’t happen anymore.”

Bowman is walking again. He may not be ready to play football until the middle of next season.

Bowman turns 26 in late May and is the youngest of what is an expensive and aging linebacker group in San Francisco. Patrick Willis is 29. Ahmad Brooks is 30. Dan Skuta will be 28 in just more than two weeks.

The Seahawks linebackers, which were viewed as arguably the weakest part of the defense heading into last season (before performing very well for the league’s best defense), are much younger and cheaper. Malcolm Smith is 24. Bobby Wagner is 23. K.J. Wright is 24. If you want to add Bruce Irvin to this spot, he’s the old man at 26.

For now, this is another group of steals for the Seahawks. The trio of Smith, Wagner and Wright will make a combined $2,857,618 in base salary next season. Smith and Wright can become unrestricted free agents in 2015. Wagner can become an UFA in 2016.

Compare that to the 49ers: Willis will make a base of $5,285,000 next season, good for a $6,863,000 cap hit. He can become a UFA in 2017.

Bowman has a $4,000,000 base next year, but is a $7,050,000 cap hit. He’s guaranteed $25.5 million overall. He can become a UFA in 2019.

Brooks will make $4,250,000 next season and be a $6,600,000 cap hit.

That makes the 49ers’ trio of linebackers three of their top six cap hits next season. They are also three of the top four total contracts for San Francisco.

The 49ers will be taking a $20,513,000 cap hit for those three linebackers next year. The Seahawks will take a $3,383,829 cap hit for Smith, Wagner and Wright combined.

Each team is going to have to decide how to manage those groups going forward, but for different reasons. It seems the 49ers will soon have to release two of those linebackers. The Seahawks have to decide who they would want to extend, and what they are willing to spend with the looming Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman contracts.

It also appears a position both will be looking at during the draft.

For at least one more season, the Seahawks have another low-cost, high-production group.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. Carlsonkid says:

    The Niners always spend exorbantly on their ‘backers while the Hawks keep refreshing the position with young inexpensive talent . Hawthorne gone – next . Curry traded for a 7th round pick . Wright picked in the middle rounds , our Superbowl MVP taken on the 7th .

    Irvin was a 1st round pick but wasn’t initially drafted as a linebacker . Wagner didn’t seem to be on anybody’s radar but ours before we took him in the 2nd , and almost wound up defensive rookie of the year . All at very affordable contacts – for now . It seems likely the Hawks will keep replenishing the position with young fast inexpensive players and spend the money on defense on the secondary and pass rushers ..

  2. Southendzone says:

    Watching the NFC champ game, I kept thinking how big the SF linebackers were. Wondering if it was a real or perceived difference, I pulled their stats today from Hawk & 49er websites.

    Average Seahawk LB (includes Irvin tho he listed at DE) : 236.5 lbs

    Average SF LB : 250.25 lbs

    Their lightest LB, Nick Moody (don’t even know if this guy plays much) is the same as the Hawks average LB

  3. HawkfaninMT says:

    I think one of the plans already fell through with regards to LB. They have John Lotulei (sp?) the max amount a UDFA can get, if memory serves me, but he has since moved on. I think he was a player they hoped they could stash and groom to eventually replace on of our you lbs when their contracts come up

  4. RDPoulsbo says:

    When PC started letting guys like Hawthorne and Lofa go, there was outrage from the fanbase. I seem to remember Eric Williams mentioning that they were very much deemphasizing the LB group in the new defense. Not so much of that being said anymore.

    They do need to replenish the LB depth though since they won’t be able to keep all 3 starters when their 2nd contract comes up. KJ Wright and perhaps Smith might be looking elsewhere for their paydays while trying to keep Wagner. In any case, we shouldn’t be too worried about JS/PC finding young replacements in the future.

  5. Dukeshire says:

    Actually, I remember the fans feeling they were “devaluing” the LB position nor Eric. From my perspective, neither Lofa nor Heater fit the type of LB Carroll wanted: faster and longer. Much like Carroll’s vision at corner. A very specific player type.

  6. WiscCory says:

    “That doesn’t fix my knee,” Bowman said of the rule change to the San Jose Mercury News, “but (the wrong call) won’t happen anymore.”

    I don’t understand the relevance of that comment since the rule had nothing to do with the injury. Not sure why Bowman would even say that, other than to seek sympathy.

  7. doubledink says:

    I took Bowman’s comment as a sarcastic bit of self depreciating humor. It cracked me up.

  8. Agreed, you can’t take everything everone says as being serious at all times.

  9. trout_hound says:

    I really hope Irvin gets it together this year. Its make or break. On another note, how about those *undefeated* Mariners? Can we get our hopes up yet? Er, maybe not.

  10. jawpeace says:

    Of all the LBs that will be free agents during the next two years, the most important to resign in my opinion is Bobby Wagner.

  11. Macabrevity says:

    Of the existing LB group, Bruce is going to have to find a way to stay on the field. I do like the guy, but he’s lacking the physicality of the rest of the crew. Seems like he’s afraid to get dirty at times…

  12. Wagner is most definitely the most important player in our LB group, IMO.

  13. I think the Hawks have been stashing guys like Korey Toomer in credible athlete very fast and long like JC likes em. They say he’s hurt but….?

  14. I expect us to grab 1-2 LB in 5-7 rds to groom for 2 yrs from 3 yrs from now. We have the group of 4 both this yr and next yr as a contract yr.

  15. LouieLouie says:

    My sphincter tightened up when I watched the Bowman injury happen. He should have been credited with the fumble recovery. However, the Hawks gave the ball right back to them so the bad call didn’t really affect the outcome of the game.

    The game will be made better when they review those plays.

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