Jan 20, 2014; Mobile, AL, USA; Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with head coach Jason Garrett seen in the stands of the North squad practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The Super Bowl champion isn’t always the best team in the NFL, but after storming through the regular season with a 13-3 mark, and finishing off an impressive playoff run with a 43-8 trouncing of the record-setting Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks certainly appear to be the most talented and most complete team in the NFL.
It’s only natural for fans of other teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, to look at a team like that and think “We can do that, too.”
But the truth of the matter is, most teams, including the Cowboys, shouldn’t be trying to build a team like the Seahawks just won the ultimate prize with. That’s not to say that the Seahawks didn’t do an excellent job of creating one of the most complete teams in recent NFL history. It’s just that they had a lot of luck along the way, and no team should ever count on every break going its way.
Although Seattle was led by a dominating defense, quarterback Russell Wilson has been steady, sometimes spectacular, presence at the league’s most important position. But, Wilson wasn’t even supposed to be the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks as recently as 22 months ago. No, that job was supposed to go to Matt Flynn, who signed a 3-year contract with $9 million guaranteed.
Publicly, Wilson, a third-round-pick, was said to be competing for the starting job. But in reality, it was Flynn’s to lose. And lose it, he did. It takes a lot for a 5’11, third-round rookie quarterback to make a start on opening day, but that’s exactly what Russell Wilson did, and neither he nor his team has looked back since.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, Wilson is still “stuck” in his rookie contract for one more season. His cap hit in 2013 was $681,085 and will increase to “only” $817,302, before he can renegotiate for the big deal that everyone assumes is coming.
Wilson’s incredibly low cap number (relative to his position) helped Seattle to be able to spend money a lot of other places, and fill in a lot of missing pieces.
The same can be said for cornerback Richard Sherman, a 2011 fifth-round-pick, who many consider to be the best in the game at his position, but only counted $600,606 against the team’s cap in 2013.
To summarize, the Seahawks found two steals in consecutive drafts, who turned out to be arguably their best players on both offense and defense, and combined, the two counted only a little under $1.3 million against the salary cap in a Super Bowl championship season. Yes, that’s a TREMENDOUS way to build a team, but also probably not a great plan to have, given how unlikely of a scenario it is.
Truth be told, the current version of the Seahawks isn’t likely to be able to stay together for too much longer, as all of these bargain players (and there are more than a few) will eventually look to get paid their actual worth. That’s not to criticize anything that the Seahawks have done in building their team. It’s simply the reality of the current NFL. You can only keep so many diamonds in the rough at a bargain price for so long.
As far as the Cowboys are currently constructed, it’s foolish to try and make any comparisons to the Seahawks, and hope that “Jerry figures out how to build like them.” Dallas is a fairly veteran team, with a $100 million quarterback and a lot of money tied up in “star” players that CAN’T go towards free agents, unlike Seattle’s recent situation.
At some point, Dallas will eventually need to blow things up, and start over again, but even then, it’s probably not a good idea to count on finding a Super Bowl caliber quarterback in the third round and a shutdown cornerback in the fifth (and yes, I know, the current $100 million quarterback wasn’t even drafted. It does happen. But it’s not good to bet on it.).
Although fans remember it differently, the 2013 season wasn’t a total disaster. The Cowboys didn’t finish 3-13. They went 8-8 and lost five games by a combined eight points. That’s not a team that needs to be blown up. It’s a team that needs to be shaken up. With the recent coaching hires and changes amongst the responsibilities, Dallas is doing exactly what they needed to do.
No, Dallas doesn’t SEEM to be a player or two and a coach away winning a Super Bowl, but in today’s NFL, you never know when things might break your way just enough times and send you on a run that could surprise everyone.