Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Apr 2009

Seahawks, Leroy Hill Agree To Long-Term Deal

I feel so much better about this team than I did a week ago.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 30 Apr 2009

12 comments, Last at 01 May 2009, 9:42pm by Jimmy Oz

Comments

1
by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 04/30/2009 - 9:32pm

Everywhere I looked, the consensus was he wasn't going to top the $36 million, 6 year deal that was initially offered to him back in February. I guess he showed everybody up, getting $38 million.

Does anybody know what the original deal promised in guarantees? I mean, he got $15.5 million, which seems like a good amount, but was that any different than the old deal?

2
by PaulH (not verified) :: Thu, 04/30/2009 - 9:43pm

I don't know the specifics, but it sounds like they just threw in an extra couple of million so each side could save face. The Seahawks could not only keep Hill now, but lock him in with a long-term deal, and Hill can say he got a couple million extra by playing hard ball. All in all, though, this deal effectively looks to be almost a mirror image of the original proposal.

I think Hill quickly found himself between a rock and a hard place here, hence he signed the deal.

3
by PaulH (not verified) :: Thu, 04/30/2009 - 9:48pm

I really like what Seattle has done lately on the defensive side of the ball, but I'm still not really sure that this is a team that I like moving forward.

Mora has some experience as a head coach in this league, but I really do not think anyone can say if he's a good coach or not at this point. Moreover, the offense looks to really have a lot of problems, both now and moving forward. Hasselback is probably done to one or two good years left, as is Walter Jones. Branch was obviously worth nowhere near the money they gave him, and while Housh is a good short-term addition, he's probably not a long-term option. Moreover, the tailback situation has been a disaster since Shaun ran into the Curse of 370.

I think the Seahawk defense ought to be very good moving forward, but I just don't know that I like them as a whole. Mora might not be that good of a coach, and things look like they may get ugly on the offensive side of the ball in the near future.

4
by Jimmy :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 8:05am

At least we get to find out whether a team can commit this amount of cap room to one position group. $20+m a year on linebackers, for a team using a 4-3.

If I were playing them (especially if I were in their division) I would spend the whole day in three and four receiver sets just to force the $7m linebackers off the field and bring out the nickel and dime backs.

Then again if they are losing a lot teams will want to run at them which brings back the linebacker.

EDIT: Thinking a little more if there isn't a cap next year they could just dump the bonus money into that year. The owner does have very deep pockets.

5
by DrewTS (not verified) :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 8:34am

"Then again if they are losing a lot teams will want to run at them which brings back the linebacker."

I love it! Have the other team get way ahead, which would then entice them to play to your strength. It's gold, Jerry! Gold!

6
by KarlFA :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 10:20am

I think that's a little backwards. How many teams can pull off a competent spread offense consistently? Definitely not the 49ers or the Rams (both of whom happen to staff great RBs...). The Cardinals pose a problem, being in their division sure - but that would've been the case no matter what they did. There is no response for Larry Fitzgerald on one side and Anquan Boldin (or not...) on the other.

Then, when you consider great defenses such as Baltimore's and Pittsburgh's and Minnesota's - they're extremely strong up front and force offenses into bad situations on third down. We wouldn't say about any of those teams that they're defensive backfields are amazing. The strength of their pass defenses mostly come from the quality of their front seven(s). If the Seahawks are able to get some pressure from their line, this could prove to be a very tough defense to play.

Finally, in the spread situation, why couldn't they go to a 3-3-5? This gives the Seahawks serious flexibility. The main reason I love this is that they become superlative at the LB position - the most flexible, consistent grouping on the defensive side of the ball.

Karl, Miami

7
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 10:55am

While I think Pitt and Baltimore have great defenses, I wouldn't think to put Minnesota in that category. Minnesota may be very good against the run, but their pass defense is average at best. I agree that you don't need a great backfield as long as your front seven on defense is excellent. That was also true of NE's Super Bowl teams, Tampa's run of great defenses with Sapp, and the Giants of the last couple years. And all those teams still had at least one very good DB (Polamalu, Reed, McAlister, Harrison, Samuel, Barber, Lynch, & Webster all come to mind without straining too many brain cells).

9
by tuluse :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 11:25am

It sounds like you didn't see many Minnesota games last year, their pass defense improved tremendously with Jared Allen. Also, Winfield played incredible. Their pass DVOA shows this, as the posted a -19.1% which was good for 5th in the NFL.

8
by Jimmy :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 11:03am

I suppose they could play a 3-3-5 but it isn't Mora's style of defense, doesn't fit the personnel on their defensive line at all and probably makes them more susceptible to the run than they would be if they simply swapped a LB for a NB. Teams like Pittsburgh and the Ravens can pull this off because they already have the 30 front linemen to control the gaps on the line. The Seahawks haven't got those guys and Taputu has struggled when he isn't protected by his DTs. Three good linebackers in a 30 front is fine, like you say the nickel package becomes 3-3-5. In most 40 front schemes (if not prety much all) one of the linebackers is a two down player.

As for the competition in their division, I haven't a clue how the Rams offense is going to look next year, but I would imagine it involves a lot of running the ball. Singletary seems to intend something similar for the Niners but if they wanted to run more spread Crabtree certainly has some pedigree in it and Hill and Smith played it in college (and Hill produced a passer rating in the 90s last year, with the Niners line and the Niners receivers). I am not saying it would automatically be a huge success but there is a bit of a gamble paying all that money to three linebackers. Besides which they had three good linebackers last year and how did that work out? Are they going to be vastly improved on defense by the addition of Corey Redding?

12
by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 9:42pm

Also: Pittburgh & Baltimore have the best two safeties. We have Brian Russell.

10
by DC (not verified) :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 11:42am

I know this is Seahawks thread but the comment that the Vikings pass defense is average at best is, I think, a myth – at least when talking about 2008. This site's stats ranks the Vikings as having the fourth=best defense overall and fifth-best pass defense in 2008. So I think they were a great defense – although they often struggled covering tight ends and running backs. If you take away the 50-plus points the team gave up last year on special teams gaffes and Gus Frerotte interceptions, I think they D gave up an average of around 15 points per game. That's pretty good.

The improvement in defending the pass came from a much better Vikings pass rush (thanks Jared Allen). Karl is right when he says the Vikes d-backs were nothing special. So the point about having a strong front seven is extremely valid. If you don't have a pass rush, it's tough to be good defending the pass, which was the Vikings problem in 2006 and 2007. There's hope Seahawk fans.

11
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 05/01/2009 - 12:03pm

I'm pretty sure that I added Leroy Hill as one of my "most underrated players in the NFL" in the 2007 season superlatives on this site.