The 6 Toughest Decisions the Seattle Seahawks Will Have to Make This Offseason

Keith Myers@@myersNFLContributor IJanuary 20, 2014

The 6 Toughest Decisions the Seattle Seahawks Will Have to Make This Offseason

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    No matter what the result is when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in two weeks, the offseason that follows won't be an easy one in Seattle.

    The Seahawks will have 19 players becoming free agents, and thus are likely to see a relatively large amount of turnover on their roster before next season. 

    Whether it be letting a franchise icon like Matt Hasselbeck leave in free agency, or turning the keys to the franchise over to an undersized third-round pick quarterback, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have never shied away from making the tough decisions in Seattle. 

    This offseason will be unlike any other that Carroll and Schneider have seen. They have a successful team with a deep roster, and must now find a way to keep as much of it together as possible. They also have salary-cap problems, and some young stars that need to get paid. 

    This offseason will likely be what ultimately defines their legacy in Seattle. Did they build a team with a short window of success, or were they able to build the perpetual contender that they set out to create?

    With all of that in mind, here are the six toughest decisions that the Seahawks will face this offseason. 

Which Players Can the Team No Longer Afford?

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    Seattle's salary-cap problems for 2014 are well documented. The team is going to have to cut multiple high-priced players in order to generate the spending flexibility required to assemble its roster for the 2014 season. 

    Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, wide receiver Sidney Rice, and tight end Zach Miller are just some of the players who could end up on the wrong side of the salary cap. While each player represents some serious salary-cap savings if cut, removing them from the roster also removes production that must be replaced. 

    Cutting veteran leaders is never easy, but sometimes it is a necessary part of running an NFL team.

Can the Team Re-Sign Michael Bennett?

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    None of Seattle's other impending free agents had the impact that defensive end Michael Bennett had this season. While technically not a starter, Bennett played more snaps than any other Seattle defensive lineman. Bennett was also the team's most productive pass-rusher.

    If Bennett is allowed to leave in free agency, it would create a hole that likely cannot be filled by a single player. Bringing back the productive pass-rusher is likely to be Seattle's highest priority this offseason. 

    But it remains to be seen if the Seahawks can get Bennett back into the fold for the 2014 season. The defensive end signed a low-cost deal to come to Seattle for 2013, and will be looking to maximize his next contract to make up for it. 

How Much Is Too Much for Golden Tate?

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Golden Tate has led the Seahawks in receiving for the past two seasons. He's also a free agent this offseason. 

    Tate has uncanny athleticism that terrific yards-after-catch running ability. He isn't a great route-runner, so he tends to struggle getting open for quarterback Russell Wilson and can disappear from the offense for long stretches.

    The Seahawks need to figure out what they're willing to pay to keep Tate, and what they are going to do to replace his production should the free-agent market push his price too high this offseason. 

Where Does Michael Bowie Fit?

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seahawks are going to need to right tackle Breno Giacomini and fill one of the guard positions before next season. Michael Bowie looks like he will occupy one of those spots, but exactly which one still remains a mystery. 

    Bowie started seven games at right tackle this season, and was very inconsistent in his play at the position. His last two starts have both been at guard, where he has played very well. While Bowie appears to be a better fit at guard, a starting tackle tends to require a larger investment from the front office.

    The Seahawks need to make a decision on Bowie...and quickly. Deciding where he fits will ultimately determine their overall strategy in the NFL draft. 

How Much Will It Cost to Extend Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    Two of Seattle's most important defenders will be entering the final year of their contracts next season. Cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas are both set to become free agents before the 2015 season. 

    The best thing for the Seahawks would be to get those guys contract extensions during this offseason and remove all doubt about their future heading into next year. It will also allow the team to plan for the upcoming draft knowing that those two positions are taken care of long term. 

    The problem will be how to fit their new contracts under the salary cap in 2014. The Seahawks already lack spending room, and giving well-deserved, significant raises to these two players won't help that situation. 

What Can Be Expected of Percy Harvin in 2014

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    After being the highest-profile addition to the Seahawks this past offseason, Seattle will get no more than nine quarters worth of football out of wide receiver Percy Harvin this season. That isn't what the Seahawks expected when they traded three draft picks for the explosive playmaker. 

    The Seahawks now have to figure out what can be reasonably expected out of Harvin next year. The team has some serious concerns at wide receiver for the 2014 season even with a healthy Harvin. If the front office believes he will not be healthy next season, then it will need to target multiple new weapons for Russell Wilson and the Seattle passing game.