Seahawks' biggest key to success

Keep doing what you're doing.

Those five words are the simple answer to how the Seattle Seahawks can continue their success over the next three seasons. It sounds easy. It isn't.

Keeping the core players of a Super Bowl winning team in place is always a difficult task. The Seahawks have done a remarkable job so far, working new contract deals for free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive end Michael Bennett.

However, it's going to get progressively more difficult. In light of the new contract signed by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is in line for a new contract, starting in 2015, that likely will pay him between $23 million and $25 million a year over five years. Probably $70 million will be guaranteed.

The contracts to Thomas, Sherman and Bennett are worth $125 million, with $84 million guaranteed.

All those deals were good decisions, but it means the Seahawks will have to let some key performers go in the next two years. Running back Marshawn Lynch probably is one of them, which is why they are grooming second-year player Christine Michael to take his place after 2014.

Seattle has three quality starters on defense who are free agents after 2014 -- defensive end Cliff Avril, outside linebacker K.J. Wright and cornerback Byron Maxwell. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner also can renegotiate his rookie contract after 2014.

From a salary-cap standpoint, Seattle can't keep all of them. What the Seahawks must do to maintain a championship level is continue to get quality play from young players, rookies, undrafted free agents, etc., to fill the gaps.

The Seahawks have done a better job of that than most teams, finding talented players who fit their system -- players other teams didn't want or didn't see as having the same value the Seahawks saw.