Every NFL team will carry a long list of defensive backs, linebackers, wide receivers and defensive ends into training camp because depth is a necessity. This year, 137 players were drafted at those positions and nearly 200 more were brought in as undrafted free agents. These numbers make the NFL’s origins all the more interesting where roster limits stood at just 25 in 1937. Hall of Famer “Slingin” Sammy Baugh was drafted that season by the Washington Redskins to play on both sides of the ball in the Last season, opponents found it difficult to cross the end zone against a deep and talented Seahawks defense, a key to Seattle’s run to become Super Bowl champs. midst of the leather helmet era. Baugh helped revolutionize the forward pass. The rookie QB led the Washington Redskins to an NFL Championship in which he threw for a rookie playoff passing record 335 yards against the Chicago Bears, a record that stood for 75 years. That same season Baugh also played defensive back and punter. In 1943, he led the league in completions, punting yards and interceptions. Baugh played what was known as ironman football, and it was quite common in the NFL’s early days, especially when manpower was scarce during WWII. “It’s not ironman football, where you stay on the field for 60 minutes,” said Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik. “Everybody! We were ironmen.” Although Baugh was able to put up impressive numbers in the 1937 NFL Championship, football was very different from the modern game. That season, the 10 NFL franchises averaged 93 passing yards per game. By the end of Baugh’s 16-season career, the league average soared to 160 yards per game. In 2013, the 32 teams averaged a league-record 235.6 yards per game. The gains have become so rapid that quarterbacks passed for almost 13,000 more total yards than they did just a decade ago. Prior to leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title, it was quarterback Russell Wilson that broke Baugh’s rookie playoff passing record. Wilson is one of several young stars on the team’s roster, and one of the biggest oppositions to cultivating and retaining the depth to succeed long term is the salary cap. Teams are bolstered by the great play of their young stars, but that exceptional play comes along with well-deserved pay raises. Seattle has several standout players, including Sherman ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and Pro Bowler Wilson, who have played above the level of their rookie contracts. Wilson will not even be the highest paid QB on the team. Sherman’s recent contract extension was a major factor in the team’s offseason moves. The four-year, $56 million deal will cause his cap number to rise above $12 million. That’s 20 times more than 2013 and just over nine percent of the total cap. Under the current CBA, Wilson can renegotiate his contract after this year, and young Super Bowl winning QBs don’t come cheap. DE Chris Clemons, RT Breno Giacomini, WR Golden Tate, DT Red Bryant, Thurmond and Browner were all lost to free agency this season. With just $8 million in available cap space and the impending contract extension that the team will offer Wilson, it was impossible for the Seahawks to keep their roster intact. Coach Pete Carroll will replace these players the only way he knows how, with young overlooked players that he sees potential in. Two of the players expected to step up and compete for the nickel cornerback position are Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon. Both players are late round picks of the Seahawks, just like fellow DBs Sherman, Chancellor and Byron Maxwell.
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