In the wake of the Seattle Seahawks being destroyed at home Sunday by the Los Angeles Rams, there have been several calls from fans and armchair GMs that the time has come for a rebuild. Rebuilding doesn’t seem like the right thing to do at this time, since the overwhelming majority of the roster has been rebuilt and retooled over the past couple of seasons.
In fact, in looking at the amount of time players on the roster have been with the team, of the players on the 53 man roster or injured reserve, 33 are in their first season with the team. That’s 33 of 66 players between those two groups.
That’s fifty percent – half of the entire roster.
Looking past just first year players, the portion of the roster that is only in its first or second season with the team approaches 75%. In short, the roster has been rebuilt and retooled over the last two seasons, and here is what a distribution of the roster by the amount of time players have been with the team, for those who prefer a more visual representation.
Now, obviously the amount of time a player has been with a team can be misleading, particularly in specific cases where a veteran player has been added. For example, Michael Wilhoite was added this offseason as a backup linebacker and special teams player, but his addition would not be considered a part of a rebuild as he is 31 years old and not likely to have an extended tenure with the team.
Thus, it becomes necessary to look at the age distribution for the players to see if the roster is young or old. Again, looking at the 53 man roster and injured reserve, this one is pretty simple.
The team is young, with most of the roster comprised of players who are currently 25 or younger. Obviously youth isn’t everything, as the team needs quality out of its players as well, but with the research showing that most players reach their peak level of performance in their mid to late 20s, that would mean most of the roster has yet to reach their prime years of performance.
Of note, of the eleven players who are 27 years old, only Bobby Wagner, Neiko Thorpe and Jeremy Lane are under contract for 2018, with a fourth, Dion Jordan, scheduled to be a restricted free agent. That means the team could realistically have only two of those eleven on the week 1 roster next season, and offers plenty of soon to be available roster spots for the team to make any changes it sees necessary.
Stepping back to the question of the age of the players on the roster, obviously this could be what is referred to as the Major League problem, in that it’s possible that, “most of these guys never had a prime,” or never will have a prime. That’s where it comes back to coaching and development. This is not to say that it is not time to move on from certain players. Guys like Jimmy Graham and Sheldon Richardson likely have not done enough this season to warrant getting a big money contract from the team, but with so much of the roster made up of players who are very early in their professional development, it will be interesting to see how the front office handles those players and their contract matters.
In any case, a total rebuild does not appear necessary. Replace a few components, let others continue to grow and develop and from there the team should retain the ability to remain competitive going forward. Maybe competitive isn’t up to the standard of dominance the team set for itself in the early years of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era, but for those who lived through the Tom Flores and Dennis Erickson eras, 8-6 with an outside shot at still making the playoffs over the final two week of 2017 ain’t all that bad.