JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Peyton Manning counts $17.5 million against the Denver Broncos' salary cap this season. For less than double that, the Seahawks pay for their entire starting defense.
With some expert drafting and a few selective forays into free agency, Seattle built a dominant unit that's also inexpensive, with the starting 11 costing under $34 million.
It's a young defense, too, and that's a major reason it's so affordable. Of the 18 players who have started at least one game this season, six were drafted by the Seahawks in 2011 or later, which means they're still on their very reasonable rookie contracts.
Where Seattle has spent money is on the defensive line, because depth there is a major priority. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were signed as free agents during the offseason for an $8.5 million tab; neither is expected to start in Sunday's Super Bowl, but both are key parts of the rotation.
"The nice part about working here is we have a real style about how we want to play," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "They know how to bring the players in."
After coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired in early 2010, one of their first big moves was to trade for Chris Clemons. They wanted him for the "LEO" defensive end position in their hybrid 4-3 defensive scheme, the weakside rusher who sometimes plays with his hand off the ground.
Their style has allowed the Seahawks to find great value with players who might not fit into many other teams' systems. Length and speed are attributes Quinn covets at all positions, confident the coaching staff can develop guys with raw skills into productive starters.