Contracts hanging over Seahawks more than Super Bowl loss
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Forget about the Seattle Seahawks suffering from a ''Super Hangover'' after what happened in February.
The events of the closing seconds in the Super Bowl became a secondary story line for the Seahawks this offseason, replaced by the ongoing questions about quarterback Russell Wilson's long-term future in Seattle.
It was expected that Wilson would sign a contract extension that would keep him in a Seahawks uniform for years, make him one of the top paid quarterbacks in the NFL, and be structured in a way to help Seattle remain competitive through the life of the deal.
Except that didn't happen. Wilson is about to start training camp under the final year of his rookie contract, making $1.5 million with no guarantee beyond this season. It's created an air of uncertainty around a franchise that's been solid - until now - locking up key pieces for the future.
''Whether I'm fortunate enough to receive a lot of money for a lot of hard-earned work or I'm still working for it every day, I'm never going to change in that aspect of it all,'' Wilson said.
Seattle took care of Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, K.J. Wright, Cliff Avril and Marshawn Lynch with new contracts in recent years. But the Seahawks struck out so far with Wilson, have yet to lock up All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, and also are dealing with defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker Bruce Irvin being unhappy with their contract situations.
The contracts have quieted the talk of Seattle's stunning Super Bowl loss to New England, but brought a new circle of questions and distractions.
''Last year's issues that we dealt with are different than this year's issues that we dealt with, but they can be issues that cause problems just the same, winning and losing,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Here's what to watch as the Seahawks open training camp at team headquarters Friday:
NEW TOY: Whether Wilson gets a contract extension completed, he'll have another new offensive toy this season: tight end Jimmy Graham. Training camp will be the first opportunity to see how Graham can use his size and athleticism in the framework of Seattle's offense that is conservative compared to the pass-happy system he's coming from in New Orleans.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: The departure of Max Unger in the trade that brought Graham to Seattle leaves center as one of the biggest uncertainties entering camp. The Seahawks used a variety of options during the offseason program, but the likely candidates are Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre. The pair combined to start seven games last season when Unger was out due to injury.
SECONDARY MARKET: Seattle's vaunted defensive backfield was struggling by the end of last season. Sherman, Chancellor, Thomas, Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon were all injured, while Byron Maxwell and Jeron Johnson left town in free agency. Sherman, Chancellor and Simon will be fine for training camp. Seattle added reinforcements by signing veterans Cary Williams and Will Blackmon.
But Lane and Thomas might be missing more time than expected. Lane had a setback in his recovery from a broken arm and torn knee ligaments suffered in the Super Bowl. Thomas' recovery from labrum surgery on his shoulder may have his availability for the first week of the season in question.
SUPER BOWL MEMORIES: The Seahawks have said all the right things about being past the sting of the final seconds of the Super Bowl, when Wilson's pass at the New England 1-yard line was intercepted by Malcolm Butler. They've insisted there isn't a lingering hangover from that play and it will be motivation for the upcoming season.
''The way our guys have worked and the dedication that they've demonstrated and the camaraderie that they've demonstrated makes me think that we're ready to have a great training camp coming back,'' Carroll said.
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