Seahawks fall short of Super Bowl goal during average season

The Seattle Seahawks’ season ended with a 36-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday. Here is a look at the season and what’s next:

Grade: C

Season summary: Coach Pete Carroll’s team went into this season hoping to return to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. But in the end, the Seahawks simply had too many obstacles to overcome to make a run. On offense, Russell Wilson battled through multiple injuries for the first time in his career, and the line was shaky throughout. On defense, the Seahawks were never able to overcome the loss of safety Earl Thomas (broken leg).

Carroll’s formula for success involves a balanced offense and a dominant defense. But the Seahawks were never able to get their run game going this season. Thomas might be the best safety in the NFL, but it’s worrisome that one injury caused the defense to fall so drastically.

Since Wilson is only 28, the Seahawks’ window for another title is still open. But they need to make some changes this offseason.

Biggest draft need: Offensive line. This one’s pretty obvious. The Seahawks’ best opportunity to contend going forward rests with Wilson. But the organization needs to give him a chance to succeed.

Key offseason questions

What will the Seahawks do with TE Jimmy Graham? He bounced back from a patella tendon injury and had 923 receiving yards, third most among tight ends. But Graham is entering the final year of his contract in 2017. The Seahawks could sit tight or try to sign him to an extension. And then there’s the third option: release him. Seattle could save $10 million in cap space by cutting ties with Graham. It’s possible they believe that money could be spent on another area of the team.

Will the Seahawks extend safety Kam Chancellor? He, too, enters the final year of his contract in 2017. Chancellor held out at the beginning of the 2015 season but has resumed his role as a key leader on defense and has played at a high level. But Chancellor turns 29 in April and could present a tricky negotiation. The Seahawks took care of Michael Bennett last month with a three-year, $31.5 million deal, and Chancellor could be next on their list.

What moves will the Seahawks make on the offensive line? They have only $5.1 million committed to the line for 2017, the lowest amount of any team in the NFL. It’s a young group, but the Seahawks would be making a mistake by just bringing back the same starters and expecting everyone to improve. Seattle could benefit greatly by adding a veteran tackle -- either via trade or free agency. They’ve been willing to roll the dice in the past. Perhaps this is the offseason they decide they’ve got to make a big move to protect Wilson.