The Other 31: Seahawks make upgrades to already imposing team

Russell Wilson

After a standout rookie season, quarterback Russell Wilson, above, will have an opportunity to throw passes to game-breaking wide receiver Percy Harvin. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

Seattle Seahawks

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Last season’s record: 11-5

Players released: RB/KR Leon Washington, WR Ben Obomanu

Key free agents lost: DT Alan Branch, WR Deon Butler, CB Marcus Trufant, DE Jason Jones, TE Cameron Morrah

Key free agents re-signed: K Steven Hauschka

Key free agents added: DE Cliff Avril, DE Michael Bennett, DT Tony McDaniel, QB Brady Quinn, WR Brett Swain, CB Antoine Winfield

Key player traded: QB Matt Flynn

Key trade addition: WR Percy Harvin

Draft:

Rd. 2 (No. 62 overall)… Christine Michael, RB, Texas A&M

3 (87)… Jordan Hill, DT, Penn State

4 (123)… Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State

5 (137)… Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

5 (138)… Tharold Simon, CB, Louisiana State

5 (158)… Luke Wilson, TE, Rice

6 (194)… Spencer Ware, RB, Louisiana State

7 (220)… Ryan Seymour, G, Vanderbilt

7 (231)… Ty Powell, DE, Harding

7 (241)… Jared Smith, DT, New Hampshire

7 (242)… Michael Bowie, T, Northeast Oklahoma State

Analysis: The Seahawks were a very good team last season, winning a playoff game at FedEx Field and nearly pulling off another postseason victory in a thrilling NFC semifinal in Atlanta. Even if they’d made no offseason upgrades, merely bringing back the same team and counting on the continued improvement of quarterback Russell Wilson would be enough to count the Seahawks as one of the Super Bowl favorites in the NFC.

Instead, the Seahawks made a series of key moves, trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin and signing cornerback Antoine Winfield and defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett as free agents. Those maneuvers potentially have put the Seahawks right on the heels of the San Francisco 49ers in the race for supremacy in the NFC West and the entire conference — and maybe even on even footing with the defending NFC champions, given the offseason injury to 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Harvin has yet to have a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL, and the fact that the Minnesota Vikings were willing to part with him does create just a bit of wariness. But he is capable of being a game-breaking player as a receiver, runner or kick returner, and if things fall into place, his addition could be what puts the Seahawks over the top.

Winfield picked the Seahawks over the Vikings, who attempted to re-sign him after releasing him earlier in the offseason, and the Redskins. He won’t have to do the heavy lifting in the Seattle secondary, given that the Seahawks already have Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner at cornerback. Now the Seahawks are able to match up with even the deepest sets of opposing wide receivers. They also should be more effective at getting to opponents’ quarterbacks, with Avril and Bennett in the pass-rushing mix. Avril had 9½ sacks last season for the Detroit Lions, and Bennett had nine sacks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Expectations are soaring for this team, and that alone creates a few potential problems. But this is a roster with more than enough talent to justify the high hopes, and the Seahawks will enter the season with a legitimate chance to be among the last teams standing at the end.

Why Redskins fans should care: The Seahawks perhaps are one of the teams to beat in the NFC this season after eliminating the Redskins from last season’s playoffs.

Conversation starter: Who will have the best second NFL season among Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III?

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @john_keim | @D3Keith | @Insider | @PostSports

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