RENTON, Wash. (AP) - As belongings were packed up, the phrase became a popular refrain coming from all corners of the Seattle Seahawks locker room.
"We have a really good core group here."
Whether it was safety Earl Thomas or rookie quarterback Russell Wilson uttering those words, they resonated with substance because the Seahawks went from a young team with potential to a team on the cusp of being an NFL power this season.
The expectations will be different in 2013. No longer will the Seahawks be a pleasant surprise, but instead hold the title of contender. Among their starting 22 on offense and defense, the Seahawks have just two players who are unrestricted free agents - defensive tackle Alan Branch and outside linebacker Leroy Hill.