It appears that this NFL lockout may be ending soon. The result? Football will be back in full swing, and that means one of the first things that will happen is free agency. Thank God we can start talking about signing players and training camp, rather than needing to go through these pointless “top-10 whatever” lists on NFL.com. If I were to put a date on when free agency would start, I’d probably say sometime around July 20.
At this time, our Seahawks team is not ready to make another deep playoff run. Free agency is going to be critical to a successful season this year. Below I’ve listed my top 5 free agent priorities, their approximate contract costs, and reasons why I think we need to sign them quickly.
Notice also that the new CBA should allow all players with 4 accrued seasons or more to become free agents, meaning there will be 500+ players on the market. We have approximately $37-39 million to spend in order to reach the cap.
1) Matt Hasselbeck, $9 million
We didn’t draft a single quarterback, so we still only have one quarterback (Charlie Whitehurst) on our roster. Because the lockout dragged out for so long, I don’t believe the team is interested in signing someone else to come in and try to lead this team. Hasselbeck knows the playbook and he’s been practicing on his own with his Seahawk teammates, so he’d be the only guy that would realistically give us a chance to win this season.
I also don’t believe the team will trade for Kevin Kolb (I think he’s bound to be traded to Arizona). In the end, I think we have to choose between two options: Either sign Matt Hasselbeck back to be our starter, or give the reigns to Charlie Whitehurst and probably wind up being in the Andrew Luck/Matt Barkley sweepstakes in the 2012 draft.
2) Brandon Mebane, $7 million
Mebane is a stud, and will likely be a hot commodity on the market (Denver and Carolina will surely be interested). He is a very talented 4-3 DT; he just so happened to underachieve last year. In addition, we will be very short on defensive linemen this season if we don’t sign him back, so I think it is especially important to sign him back.
3) Johnathan Joseph, $6-8 million
Johnathan Joseph is a young (27), big (5-11, 193) cornerback from the Cincinnati Bengals. Experts consider him as a “shut-down corner”, and is regarded as one of the best young corners in the league. He fits Pete Carroll’s mold as a big and physical cornerback. More importantly, he’d fill a position of need and would come at a much better price than Nnamdi Asomugha.
If we manage to re-sign Hasselbeck and Mebane, it would leave room for probably one more big free agent signing; Johnathan Joseph should be that signing, in my eyes. Robert Gallery has been a popular name tossed around for the past 3-4 months because of his ties to Tom Cable, but I don’t really think this signing will happen. Pete Carroll is trying to make this team younger, not older. Is he really willing to invest $8 million into a soon-to-be 31 year-old guard? Add that to the fact that we drafted two offensive linemen with our first two picks, and I’m not sure Gallery is as sure of a signing as people may think. Davin Joseph, the guard from Tampa Bay, would be a more likely signing than Gallery in my opinion.
4) Deuce Lutui, $4-6 million
We still have somewhat of a need on the offensive line. Lutui is a solid player that has potential to become a very good offensive guard. He’d come at a much lower price than Robert Gallery or Davin Joseph, and would effectively fill a need. He would fill out our offensive line nicely, and it would probably look something like this: Okung-Moffit-Unger-Lutui-Carpenter. Not bad, eh? I’d take that over what we had last year.
5) Will Herring, $2-3 million
As it stands right now, the linebackers we have under contract are: Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Aaron Curry, Joe Pawalek, and Anthony Heygood. We have our starting three intact, but our back-ups are sub-par. Herring has done a nice job as a rotational player here in Seattle, and I would definitely like to see him continue contributing to our team. K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith, our rookie LB’s, will be signed soon, but we cannot count on them alone to be adequate back-ups to our starting linebackers.