Friday, March 13, 2020

The Franchise 9: Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks have an interesting history. They joined the league in 1976 and struggled through about 30 years of limited success. In 2003, they had their first season with double-digit wins, and have since been one of the winningest franchises in the NFL. Since 2003, the Seahawks have missed the playoffs only four times. They have three Super Bowl appearances and one victory. They were within inches of a second title in that span. It's not surprising, then, that five of the nine players chosen here have been active with the team in the past 15 years. Heck, two of them still play in Seattle.

1. Russell Wilson, QB (2013 Score)

It didn't take Russell Wilson long to establish himself as the best signal caller in franchise history. In fact, after just eight seasons, Wilson already ranks fourth in team history in Pro Football Reference's approximate value ranking. He leads the team in all passing categories and is still going strong. A strong argument could be made that he is getting stronger. He has never received All-Pro consideration, yet he is quietly making a case as the best quarterback in the league.

2. Shaun Alexander, RB (2006 Fleer The Franchise)

Shaun Alexander was a quiet performer and never got quite the attention in Seattle that Marshawn Lynch did. In fact, this spot was initially going to belong to Lynch, but Alexander was not going to be denied. Alexander is the team's leading rusher, outgaining Lynch by 3,000 yards and 43 TDs. While Lynch had his "Beast Quake" run that made him a national sensation, Alexander has the 2005 NFL MVP award. That season Alexander rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns. That single-season mark alone would put him #6 of the franchise all-time.

3. Steve Largent, WR (1984 Topps)

It seems like records are broken constantly in the NFL, especially the passing types. Today's pass-friendly rules sure help receivers and quarterbacks put up big sparkly numbers. So it always amazes me when I look and see records set in the 80s that are still standing. Steve Largent hauled in 819 passes for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns for the Seahawks. All are still franchise records. And it's not even close. The second-place receiver on the list trails by over 250 catches. Largent's numbers are more than triple the closest active player on the list. When he retired, he was tops not only in Seahawk history, but NFL history as well. The kind of production he provided in his era was nothing short of tremendous.

4. Walter Jones, T (2007 Topps Chrome Refractor)

Walter Jones was a Seahawk lifer. After being drafted by the team in 1997, Jones went on to spend 12 years with the franchise. In those 12 years, he received nine Pro Bowl bids and four All-Pro nominations while protecting Matt Hasselbeck's blindside and helping to pave the way for Shaun Alexander's historic run through the first decade of the 2000s. Jones was named to the All-2000s Team, the Hall of Fame, and recently voted one of the offensive tackles on the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

5. Cortez Kennedy, DT (1990 Pro Set)

The Seahawks used the #3 overall pick in the 1990 Draft on Cortez Kennedy. They started reaping the benefits early in his career. In his third season in the league, Kennedy won the Defensive Player of the Year Award on the strength of his 14 sacks. It was the first of three straight All-Pro seasons. By the time he retired, Kennedy would add eight Pro Bowls to his resume. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2012.

6. Bobby Wagner, LB (2012 Score)

Seattle did a fantastic job in the 2012 Draft. They found Russell Wilson in the third round. Wagner was their second round pick, and he has been just as good on the other side of the ball. After eight seasons in the league, Wagner is the team's all-time leader in tackles. He's not an edge rusher, so he doesn't have many sacks. But he still ranks second on the team in tackles for loss. Since he came into the league in 2012, no other player has made more tackles. He already has four All-Pro Teams to his name, and there are probably more to come.

7. Richard Sherman, CB (2014 Topps Valor)

In seven seasons with the Seahawks, Richard Sherman intercepted 32 passes and received credit for an insane 99 pass breakups. From 2011-2017 (Sherman's time in Seattle), he had more PBUs than any other player in the league. Shutdown corners never seem to spend too long at the top of the league, but Sherman did have his time as the premier corner. He was named to four straight Pro Bowls and three straight All-Pro teams.

8. Kenny Easley, S (1986 Topps)

Kenny Easley had the same number of interceptions as Sherman. It took him 16 fewer games. Just as Sherman was the premier corner for a time, Easley had his time as the premier safety. From 1983-1985, he was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams. During that span, he intercepted 19 passes. Easley was named to the 1980s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

9. Earl Thomas, S (2011 Topps)

Earl Thomas ranks just below Sherman and Easley on the team's interception list, but his AV is higher than both. Thomas also reeled off three straight All-Pro seasons, from 2012-2014. During the Seahawks' Super Bowl year, he was a one-man wrecking crew. That year he picked off five passes, broke up nine others, and made 105 stops as flew around the field. He made the Pro Bowl in six out of seven years from 2011-2017 before injuries started to slow him down and he left Seattle. While he was there, he was arguably the heart of the Legion of Boom defense.

Seattle's best-known position unit, the Legion of Boom, is well-represented here. Three of the Seahawks' Franchise 9 came from that squad. In the three year span from 2010-2012, Seattle managed to draft Earl Thomas (2010), Richard Sherman (2011), Bobby Wagner (2012), and Russell Wilson (2012), among others who played important roles in the team's rise to quasi-dynasty. This team also had some franchise greats who were tough exclusions. Some players were long-time accumulators--like Jacob Green, Matt Hasselbeck, or Eugene Robinson--who just didn't have the same burst of dominance that some other shorter-tenured players had. In the end, the team's overall performance and the stardom of a few of those players helped win them a spot on this team.


  1. Largent is my favorite Hawk of all-time. My favorite era of football was watching guys like Dave Krieg, Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson, and Curt Warner.

  2. I was kind of surprised to see Sherman on the list, but I guess if his numbers warrant the inclusion, who am I to say otherwise!

  3. This Franchise 9 is very balanced between all of the skill positions. Easley is the only one I wasn't familiar with. I've heard of him, but he retired before I was really aware of the NFL.

  4. I pulled some baseball cards for you. Send your address when you can.
    Keep up the great work here.

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