SEATTLE – On Saturday, Kenny Easley became the fourth player who spent his entire career with the Seahawks to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Easley played for the Seahawks from 1981-87, earning a rep as one of the best safeties in the game’s history and was elected in February after being nominated by the Seniors Committee.
The three other Hall of Famers who spent their entire careers with the Seahawks are receiver Steve Largent, left tackle Walter Jones and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
Five other players who spent at least a part of one season with the Seahawks are also in the Hall – defensive end Carl Eller, running back Franco Harris, quarterback Warren Moon, defensive tackle John Randle and receiver Jerry Rice.
Easley’s pending enshrinement got us to thinking who might be the next player into the Hall who played at least some time with the Seahawks, as well as assessing the chances of those who are still with the team (and it’s worth remembering that unlike in baseball, there is no specific team designation for football players as they enter the hall, with their busts listing every team they played for).
Let’s divide the candidates by eras of Seahawks football.
The early years
Cornerback Dave Brown: If there’s one other player besides Easley and Largent from the Jack Patera-Chuck Knox years who has a chance it’s probably Brown, who played for the Seahawks from 1976-86. Brown has a surprisingly good case in one specific area – career interceptions. Brown has 62, which is 10th in NFL history (50 came with the Seahawks). Five of the players ahead of him on the list are already in the Hall and two others are locks to get in – Charles Woodson and Ed Reed. Brown, though, was an All-Pro pick just once in his 14-year career, a designation often used by voters to help separate Hall candidates.
Quarterback Dave Krieg: Krieg ranks 19th all time in passing yards (38,147). But few consider him a candidate for the Hall as he was never an All-Pro and was 3-6 in the playoffs.
The Holmgren era
Running back Ricky Watters: The casual NFL fan may remember Watters best for his years with the 49ers, a stint that included a Super Bowl title following the 1994 season. But Watters played more years (four), gained more yards and caught more passes for the Seahawks than any other team for which he played. Watters’ 10,643 rushing yards is 23rd all time and his 467 receptions is just shy of the top 20 among running backs. But despite making it to five straight Pro Bowls, he was never an All-Pro and despite having been nominated for the Hall a few times hasn’t gotten close yet.
Offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson: Hutchinson will be eligible for the hall next year and some regard him as having a good shot to make it pretty quickly, having earned five All-Pro honors in his 12-year career. He earned two of those in five seasons with the Seahawks, whose fans may not celebrate his potential election as much as those in Minnesota given the circumstances surrounding his departure.
Running back Shaun Alexander: Alexander has been nominated a few times and not come close, and as the years pass his resume figures to become a little less impressive. At the moment he ranks 33rd all time in rushing yards with 9,453 and with a yards-per-carry average of 4.3 that is tied with the likes of Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell and LaDainian Tomlinson (as well as Marshawn Lynch). But he was a first team All-Pro player just once.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: Like Krieg, Hasselbeck ranks among the all-time passing yardage leaders – he’s 24th entering the 2017 season with 36,638. But he also got to just one Super Bowl and was never named All-Pro and to just three Pro Bowls in 17 years.
The Carroll era
Safety Earl Thomas: The Seahawks have a number of active players who will one day earn consideration, and obviously have years left to pad their resumes. As of today, the player who may have the best resume is Thomas, who has already been a first-team All-Pro pick three times by the age of 28. If he gets to five All-Pros and plays a normal length career, Thomas might be about a lock by the time he retires.
Cornerback Richard Sherman: Sherman isn’t far off Thomas’ heels having already earned two All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl nods. But his margin for error may be a little less than Thomas since he is a year older and began his career a year later.
Running back Marshawn Lynch: Lynch’s return with the Raiders could greatly aid his Hall of Fame chances. He is currently 37th all time in rushing yards with 9,112. But a 1,000-yard season would put him into the top 30 and also allow voters to assume he would have had a similar season had he played last year. Lynch will also be helped greatly by his postseason performances – he is eighth all time in playoff rushing yards at 937 while averaging 4.9 per carry. Each of the seven running backs ahead of him in career playoff rushing yards is in the Hall.
Quarterback Russell Wilson: Wilson has one Super Bowl title already and has been to another by age 28 and also ranks second in career passing efficiency. One more Super Bowl title combined with a normal length career might just about sew it up for Wilson. Of the 12 QBs with two or more Super Bowl titles, seven are already in the Hall, two others (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) will be someday and each of the others could be (Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Jim Plunkett).
Linebacker Bobby Wagner: Wagner quietly may be building a better case than you think. He has been named All-Pro twice and to three Pro Bowls and at age 27 has a number of years to add to his resume, especially if he has a few more like his 2016 season, when he led the NFL with 167 tackles.
Safety Kam Chancellor: While undoubtedly one of the best strong safeties of his era and a leader of what will be remembered as one of the better defenses in NFL history, the position Chancellor plays won’t help him put up the kind of numbers to entice voters – he has 12 interceptions in seven seasons. He also has never been named a first-team All-Pro.
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