2011 Free Agents: TE & RB

Tight Ends

The Seahawks seem set at tight end this offseason.  John Carlson still needs to live up to his full potential, but we have decent depth behind him in Cameron Morrah and Anthony McCoy, both of whom seem very capable and have lots of potential.

Gone are the two tight end sets favored by Jeremy Bates, and that change in offensive scheme is going to make us less likely to carry four TEs on the roster this year.  It should also lessen the need for a full-time blocking TE like Baker was for us in 2010.  I think that it is fair to assume that Viasanthe Shiancoe is a good baseline for gauging the sort of TE our new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is going to be looking for talent-wise, plus his role in Minnesota’s offense should give us an idea how Bevell might use the tight ends we already have. 

But even though the chances of Seattle actually signing a free agent tight end are minimal at best, I think that it’s only fair that I point out at least one that the team might be interested in.

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Zach Miller (OAK)
25 years old, 6’5”, 255 lbs

Miller is young and a great talent.  He is without a doubt the Raiders’ top offensive weapon in the passing game.  He’s a reliable target who has produced at a high level despite not having a great team surrounding him.  Unlike many hybrid pass-catching tight ends around the league, Miller is also a good blocker.  I’ve been a big fan of this kid for a while now, and he has a bright future ahead of him.

Other Notable Free Agents:
Marcedes Lewis (JAC)
Ben Patrick (ARZ)
Dante Rosario (CAR)
Jeff King (CAR)
Desmond Clark (CHI)
Reggie Kelly (CIN)
Alex Smith (CLE)
Leonard Pope (KC)
Joey Haynos (MIA)
David Thomas (NO)
Matt Spaeth (PIT)
Kris Wilson (SD)
Randy McMichael (SD)
Daniel Fells (STL)
John Gilmore (TB)
Bo Scaife (TEN)

Anyone else noticing a huge trend this offseason in Raiders free agents?  I would assume that this is due to the coaching change in Oakland, but whatever the reason it could turn out to be a huge benefit for us!  If we still had Jeremy Bates as offensive coordinator, I would love to see Zach Miller signed as a Seahawk — the thought of Miller and Carlson lining up in a two TE set makes me feel warm and tingly on the inside. 

However, I don’t see us going after Miller now that Bevell is our offensive coordinator.  Seattle is going to be linked to Miller in the press because of the Tom Cable connection, but I just can’t see it happening.  I really thing the Hawks are going to stand pat at the tight end position this offseason, which is fine because we have too many other holes to fill.

Running Backs

The worst position in football for signing free agents is running back because they just don’t hold up to the beatings they take.  The best, most productive years for any running back is when they’re fresh out of college, or roughly ages 22 through 26.  Once they have four years in and ready to hit the free agent market they’re more between the ages of 26 to 28, and most RBs that age will be looking for a longterm, lucrative contract that will set them up for life after football.  It simply isn’t cost-effective, especially since the dreaded 30 year old mark is still proving to be true.

Because of the wear and tear at the positions, most teams are now going with a running back by committee approach.  Why spend huge amounts of money on one back when you can hedge your bets with three decent backs?  Or in the Hawks’ case, three better than decent backs.

The running back situation for the Seahawks is now a strength.  Between the earthshaking power of Marshawn Lynch (signed through 2011), the small but mighty Justin Forsett (also signed through 2011), and the lightning-quick Leon Washington (signed through 2012), I don’t believe Seattle is going to seriously spend time this offseason looking at free agent RBs, or at least not at ones any of us have heard of before.  So if you’ve been having visions of Mike Tolbert wearing down defenses for us next season, you can keep dreaming because it isn’t going to happen.

Still, thought I would at least throw up a list of free agents so you’ll know who is going to be out there whenever free agency begins (please, Football Gods, let it happen soon!).

The Big Hitters at RB in Free Agency:
DeAngelo Williams (CAR)
Arian Foster (HOU)
Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG)
Cedric Benson (CIN)
Mike Tolbert (SD)
Darren Sproles (SD)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE)
Ronnie Brown (MIA)
Ricky Williams (MIA)
Michael Bush (OAK)
Pierre Thomas (NO)

Other Notable Free Agents:
Tim Hightower (ARZ)
Jerious Norwood (ATL)
Mike Bell (CLE)
Laurence Maroney (DEN)
Kevin Smith (DET)
Brandon Jackson (GB)
Derrick Ward (HOU)
Joseph Addai (IND)
Mike Hart (IND)
Patrick Cobbs (MIA)
Sammy Morris (NE)
Kevin Faulk (NE)
Fred Taylor (NE)
Danny Ware (NYG)
Jerome Harrison (PHI)
Mewelde Moore (PIT)
Brian Westbrook (SF)
Kenneth Darby (STL)
Michael Spurlock (TB)
Cadillac Williams (TB)

(As always, thanks goes out to Football’s Future for the free agent lists.)