With another Seahawks Training Camp looming, it's once again time for that annual DKSB tradition: The Jersey-Buying Guide. First, the usual general information and admonitions:
As usual, let's start with the 1st Commandment of jersey ownership: NEVER PUT YOUR JERSEY IN THE DRYER! Dryers kill jerseys! Don't do it under any circumstances. If you abide by this decree your jersey(s) should hold up for a nice, long spell. If possible, wash them on the delicate cycle in cold water by themselves.
For the purposes of this article, I'm setting aside throwbacks, personalized jerseys and #12 jerseys (though I've changed my tune on the #12's over the years. I used to be dead-set against them, but given how precarious roster spots are under PCJS's rule, I can't blame a fan for playing it safe with such a substantial investment). I also feel strongly that there's no compelling reason to opt for the more opulent Nike models. The $100 replicas are plenty expensive enough, and will look sharp for years with proper care. If you are lucky enough to fit into a "youth" size, those are only about $70 (and I found out that Youth XL = Women's L, and that saved me $30).
There's good news and bad news for those in the market for a new jersey this season. On one hand, you can get just about any jersey you can imagine or desire over at the NFL Shop site. However, the terrifying reality is that the Seahawks have THIRTY-THREE players slated for free agency after this season (Holy shit!). Like many of you, I've felt the sting of buying a jersey just to see that player leave Seattle a year (or less) later. My hope is that with this guide, I'll help you get a jersey that A) will be a good investment for years to come and B) will make you stand out from the crowd a bit.
In general, I'd say stay away from players slated to be free agents in 2016 (see link above). This is a group that includes Bruce Irvin, Russell Okung, Brandon Mebane, Jermaine Kearse, Derrick Coleman, Jon Ryan, and many others. Given his threats of a training camp holdout, it's probably a good idea to stay away from a Michael Bennett jersey. I'd be hesitant to buy the jerseys of guys coming off serious injuries like Jeremy Lane and Paul Richardson, too. Rookies? I know that Marcus Mariota jerseys are flying off the shelves, but it's hard for me to get behind the idea of dropping a Benjamin on a Tyler Lockett or Frank Clark jersey.
WORTH ROLLING THE HARD SIX:
Bobby Wagner is set for free agency after this season, but the Seahawks seem pretty dead-set on retaining the Pro Bowl Linebacker. I think he's a safe investment. Then there's Russell Wilson. Ugh.
I own a Wilson jersey, and he's my favorite player. So I'll grant that I'm not entirely unbiased here. Despite all the strum und drang, I have a hard time picturing him ever playing an NFL game in anything other than a Seahawks uniform. But here we are, on the eve of training camp without Wilson locked down for the next half-decade or so. I still think a deal will get done, but it might not be until after this season. That small but persistent uncertainty over his long-term future in Seattle makes it hard for me to unreservedly recommend his jersey this season. I'd put Wagner and Wilson at the bottom of my Top 10 Best Jersey Investments For 2015. Here's the top eight:
8. Steven Hauschka
You read that right. I'm one of many Twelves who snapped up a jersey of The Traitor Josh Brown after the 2006 season, only to see him bolt for St. Louis in free agency. I've said before that I'd never buy another kicker's jersey. However, Haus is a much better placekicker than Brown ever was (despite The Traitor's flair for the dramatic). Hauschka has evolved into one of the NFL's most reliable kickers, and he's now under contract through the 2016 season. I also think I look better in single-digit jerseys, so Haus gets extra points thanks to that weird personal quirk.
7. K.J. Wright
Itching to buy a defensive players' jersey, but outside the Legion of Boom? With Wagner's contract status unsettled, K.J. Wright is your best bet. Not only is he a key contributor who got named to NFL.Com's "All-Underrated" team- He's also under team control through the 2018 season.
6. Doug Baldwin
Still one of my favorite Seahawks (though his style seems to be wearing thin with some Twelves), and still the best wide receiver on the roster, 2014 was the most productive season of the former undrafted free agent's career. He's under contract through 2016, and should have another big year with Jimmy Graham drawing defenders away from him.
5. Jimmy Graham
I've been scorched over and over when I've bought the jersey of a big-name acquisition before they'd even played a down for Seattle (Deion Branch? Ugh), but Graham seems like the safest bet ever if you want to buy an incoming player's jersey. Simply put, Graham is one of the most reliable and dangerous offensive players in football, and probably a safe bet for a dozen (or more) touchdowns. He's under contract through 2017, and everyone looks cool wearing number 88.
4. Marshawn Lynch
Year after year, I've discouraged people from buying Beast Mode jerseys. His long-term presence in Seattle always seemed precarious, and it might still be- But let's be honest: Lynch is the best running back in Seahawks' history, and at the moment it's hard to argue against him as the best back in the entire NFL today. He's reached legendary status among Twelves, and now it's reasonable to snag his jersey not just for now, but to hold onto after he retires for his inevitable Ring of Honor ceremony. Side note: I say it's better than even odds that we'll see some sort of Fury Road-themed end zone celebration from Shawn this season. WITNESS! MARSHAWN IS AWAITED IN VALHALLA!
3. Kam Chancellor
2. Richard Sherman
1. Earl Thomas III
It's a virtual tie among the Hall-of-Fame-bound triumvirate that anchors the Legion of Boom, and in a larger sense the best defense in the NFL. Sherm and ETIII get a slight nod over Bam Bam Kam because they are under team control for an additional year (free agency in 2019 v 2018 for Chancellor). Thomas edges Sherman for the top spot simply because I think he's SLIGHTLY more important to Seattle's defensive dominance. If I am fortunate enough to snag a new jersey this summer, I'm probably going with the former Longhorn Thomas.
What do you think, sirs? Did I leave anyone or anything out? Let me know in the comments!