2011 Free Agents: WR

For the second installment in this series, I thought we would look at wide receivers.  But before we get to the free agents, we need to decide what the Seahawks need and want in a WR. 

The receivers Seattle has currently under contract are Big Mike Williams, Golden “Maple Fingers” Tate, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, Ruvell Martin, and Isaiah Stanback.  I love that so much of the team’s depth has seemingly come out of nowhere in the last year.  BMW is a pro bowl caliber possession receiver.  I feel good about Butler and Tate as developmental guys who might turn into great receivers in one or two years.  Obo is interesting, to say the least; he isn’t dynamic enough to be a number one WR, but the man has definitely earned his roster spot this past year.

What the Hawks lack is a true dynamic, tall, deep-threat, #1 wideout who will not only stretch the field but also create crazy mismatches against opposing defenses.  You know, the type of player who will have the the other team’s defensive coordinator muttering “oh god, oh god, oh god” the whole game because the guy can take it to the house on any given play.  I don’t believe this is a huge need for the Seahawks, but it’s big enough — it would be well worth it in the long run for the front office to consider signing a true #1, but I don’t want them to break the bank.

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Having that sort of player would open things up on offense not only for the running game, but also would allow us to really contest every part of the field.  We’re all sick of seeing two safeties lined up within ten feet of the line of scrimmage because they aren’t scared of the Seahawks’ deep ball.  That needs to change, and I think this offseason could be a good chance to do just that.  So on we go to the free agents who could be available whenever we get a new CBA:

Vincent Jackson (SD)

V-Jack is an amazing talent.  He is 6’5”, 230 lbs, and he can seriously stretch the field with his speed (4.46 forty at the combine in ’05).  The Chargers have a franchise tag on him, but I don’t believe they want to re-sign him.  Rather, they just don’t want V-Jack to leave without getting something in return for him.  That something would probably be in the neighborhood of a first round pick.  Personally, I understand the asking price, but the Hawks don’t have the luxury of trading a pick given the lack of talent on their roster.  Besides, there are cheaper options available this offseason.  I want V-Jack to be a Seahawk, I really do, but I don’t want to sacrifice in other areas of need to get this playmaker.  But man, would that be wicked sweet!

Sidney Rice (MIN)

Now here is another true #1 who not only has good height (6’5”), build (205lbs), and speed (4.49 forty at the ’07 combine), he is also a proven commodity in the NFL.  The Vikings could have – and should have – franchised this man, but they didn’t.  Instead, they offered him a contract a few days ago, according to the Daily Norseman blog.  Rice has developed into an amazing talent, and has proven himself to be on the same level as V-Jack, if not better.  I would even be willing to say that he would be a better fir for Seattle scheme-wise than Jackson, given that we just hired Rice’s old offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.  Bevell already knows how to place Rice in the best positions to take advantage of his talents on the field, and if Bevell has any type of rapport with Rice then I think Seattle could have an edge in signing him this offseason.  Basically, we should all have our fingers crossed that the two men were BFFs while they were working together in Minnesota.

Rice is used to being in an offense with a productive ground game to complement his receiving stats.  No one focused too much on shutting him down when Adrian Peterson was on the field.  I think that Marshawn Lynch could have a similar effect if Tom Cable is able to improve the running game this coming season.  Add all of this up and you have an outside chance of something working out in our favor.

Donte Stallworth (BAL)

Stallworth is the poor man’s #1 wideout.  He stands only 6’0” with just 197 lbs on him, but he ran a blistering 4.22 forty at his pro day in 2002, so what he lacks for height he makes up for in speed.  Stallworth would be able to stretch the field, and he isn’t on the short side for a receiver, he just isn’t particularly tall for a WR, either.  The thing that scares me (aside from the fact that he would start driving in Seattle if we picked him up) is that he has never really distinguished himself in the league.  He is a guy who is always supposed to be on the verge of a breakout season, but never manages to pull one off – and when you take his baggage into account, it isn’t hard to understand why.  He still has potential, but at 31 his window for finally putting it all together is closing fast.

I think that the team could get Stallworth on the cheap Green Bay style because he is effectively going to be a blue light special.  The Seahawks could sign him and let him show us what he’s made of in camp.  I am all in if this pickup becomes a reality, as long as there’s an understanding that he isn’t allowed to drive while in Seattle — EVER!  Adding inexpensive but good talent is a major plus for any team.

Braylon Edwards (NYJ)

Edwards is 6’3” and 214 lbs, so he has the size to be a candidate, and his forty time is good enough (4.5 at the ’05 combine).  My only major concern with him is not knowing the reason why he was traded away by the Browns in 2009.  Was he traded because he has baggage?  There were some reports of off-the-field violence (he punched a promoter named Edward Givens, purportedly a friend of LeBron James).  Or, was he traded because he didn’t fit into then-offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s offense?  If so, he may end up not being able to fit in Seattle’s offense either, but it’s hard to compare the two since Daboll was trying to run his offense with almost no real talent to speak of on his offense.  Hopefully it was just the off-the-field drama and not a lack of offensive versatility that got him exiled from Cleveland, because he could fit the bill for what the Seahawks need.

Brandon Stokley (SEA)

(He isn’t a #1 WR, but nonetheless deserves some attention.)  The all-pro slot receiver is currently a free agent and I believe he proved his worth this past season, but he was brought in mainly becaue he knew Jeremy Bates’ offense.  Now that Bates is gone, I think that we can assume that Stokley isn’t coming back either.  He made our slot wideout position one that defenses had to pay attention to.  This was a huge advantage to having him on the team, but I don’t believe it was the biggest.  Stokley was able to show our younger WRs how to play the game and be professionals.  He’s legendary for not only how he preps for games, but also in his professionalism everywhere else.  Eddie Royal has been quoted as saying that all of the success he’s had in the NFL has come from being mentored by Stokley and following his example.  If Stokley does come back, I would welcome him with open arms.

Randy Moss (TEN)

Talk about an interesting prospect.  Moss can be a game changer.  He’s already on the NFL’s top 100 list of all-time players (#65, to be exact).  He also has baggage like Paris Hilton traveling for a weekend getaway, but you can’t argue with the guy’s raw talent.  Moss is getting older too, and more importantly for the Seahawks he was recently fired by the Vikings while Darrell Bevell was the offensive coordinator.  I think this last fact is going to make it impossible for Moss to come to Seattle.  If Moss had issues with just head coach Brad Childress, then we might be in business, but for some reason I doubt this.  It’s more likely that Moss’ issues extended to the entire coaching staff, Bevell included.  If that’s the case, there is no way the team will even entertain Moss as a possibility.  On one hand that’s good, because I don’t want his drama, but on the other I sure would love to have his talent.

Santonio Holmes (NYJ)

Too short (5’11”).

Malcolm Floyd (SD)

Here’s another Chargers player who might be an interesting option for the Hawks.  Floyd is 6’5” and ran a sub-4.5 forty in his pre-draft workouts in 2004 (he wasn’t invited to the combine).  He’s also 29 and has yet to have a breakout season, although his production has been respectable the last two seasons.  I also know he could be signed for a cheaper price than most of the other players I’ve discussed so far.  For an undrafted guy out of Wyoming, Floyd’s not too bad.

Steve Smith (NYG)

Too short (5’11”)

Terrell Owens (CIN)

The mere thought of TO joining the Hawks had me curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the room.

James Jones (GB)

Jones is 6’1”, 208 lbs with a 4.54 forty at the combine in ’07.  Coming from Green Bay, Schneider is going to have a history with him, so it’s possible that Jones would want to sign with Seattle, but he isn’t what I would consider an ideal solution.

Steve Breaston (ARI)

I don’t see Breaston as a #1 and think we should pass on him.  But I also need to be honest that I’m biased on this one.  I’m preconditioned to hate him and his crimson jersey.  Dang Cardinals.

TJ Houshmandzadeh (BAL)

Been there, done that.

Other Notable Free Agents (thanks again to Football’s Future for the list):

Early Doucet (ARI)
Brian Finneran (ATL)
Rashied Davis (CHI)
Devin Aromashadu (CHI)
Chansi Stuckey (CLE)
Sam Hurd (DAL)
Jacoby Jones (HOU)
Mike Sims-Walker (JAC)
Kevin Curtis (MIA)
Hank Baskett (MIN)
Greg Lewis (MIN)
Lance Moore (NO)
Courtney Roby (NO)
Derek Hagan (NYG)
Darius Reynaud (NYG)
Brad Smith (NYJ)
Johnnie Lee Higgins (OAK)
Legedu Naanee (SD)
Laurent Robinson (STL)
Danny Amendola (STL)
Mark Clayton (STL)
Maurice Stovall (TB)
Santana Moss (WAS)

We all know that the Hawks made a push to sign a player like this twice in the last year (Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson) and neither worked out.  But just imagine the potential of our offense with a true #1 in the mold of Sidney Rice or V-Jack stretching defenses vertically, allowing Marshawn Lynch to go into full beast mode with only six or seven defenders in the box . . .  sorry, I started drooling there for a minute!  A signing like this would make every other skill player on offense that much better.  BMW would draw less double coverage, leaving him open for the jump ball checkdown pass.  This translates to moving the chains, people! 

Still, the real question for the front office is whether adding a true #1 WR is worth the cost this offseason.  If that cost involves trading draft picks, then I would say no, it isn’t worth it.  But, if we’re able to get Sidney Rice for a fat contract but keep our draft picks, then by all means sign him up!  Remember, BMW and Obo signed relatively small contracts, which means that if Schneider allocates resources on a percentage basis (think business budgets: 20% for a starting QB, 20% for RBs, etc.) then the team should have enough money in its budget to add a top shelf talent like Rice.  We’re also still in the dark about what the future CBA is going to look like with respect to a salary cap, nor do we know what the teams’ cut of the NFL’s revenue will be.  But even without that knowledge, teams are still businesses who understand how to manage costs.  So, even if there isn’t a ton of wiggle room in the current budget, I think Seattle could still make a push for someone like Stallworth or Braylon Edwards.  Even Floyd could be a nice pickup, but I would rather take a late-round flyer on a tall, fast WR who has the potential to become amazing than really pursue Floyd.

If the team is able to add a prototypical #1 WR this offseason, they’d have all the skill players they need to put together a dynamic, high-powered offense.  (Of course, they’d still need a QB of the future and help for the o-line, which is why I was careful to only say they’d have all the skill players they need).  In the next installment, I’ll address the offensive line.