Like most of us, I read John Clayton’s article on the labor negotiations in which he says that a proposed change in the collective bargaining agreement that would require teams to spend at least 90% of their salary cap every season is now a fait accompli. My first thought after seeing that was something along the lines of “woohoo — the Seahawks have spend another $38 million? Do you know who we could sign for $38 million?”
You see, I was thinking about how the team could sign three or four premier free agents, but then downer that I am I started looking at the state of Seattle’s roster more closely. To start with, I put together a list of the players currently on the roster as well as those who are now free agents, and I’m hoping that our redoubtable editor Matthew Heuett will correct me if I’ve made any errors in my spreadsheet [well, okay, but only because you called me redoubtable. -Ed.]:
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|Max Unger||C||6’5″, 305 lbs||25||2||Starter|
|Chris Spencer||C||6’3″, 309 lbs||29||6||FA|
|Lemuel Jeanpierre||C||6’3″, 301 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|Walter Thurmond||CB||5’11″, 190 lbs||23||1||Starter|
|Marcus Trufant||CB||5’11″, 197 lbs||30||8||Starter|
|Kelly Jennings||CB||5’11″, 180 lbs||28||5||FA|
|Marcus Brown||CB||6’0″, 190 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|Brandon Browner||CB||6’4″, 221 lbs||26||1*||Backup|
|Kennard Cox||CB||6’0″, 191 lbs||25||1||Backup|
|Roy Lewis||CB||5’10″, 190 lbs||26||3||Backup|
|Byron Maxwell||CB||6’1″, 207 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|Josh Pinkard||CB||6’1″, 218 lbs||25||1||Backup|
|Richard Sherman||CB||6’3″, 195 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|Red Bryant||DE||6’4″, 323 lbs||27||3||Starter|
|Chris Clemons||DE||6’3″, 254 lbs||29||7||Starter|
|Raheem Brock||DE||6’4″, 274 lbs||33||9||FA|
|Jay Richardson||DE||6’6″, 280 lbs||27||4||FA|
|Kentwan Balmer||DE||6’5″, 315 lbs||24||3||Backup|
|Dexter Davis||DE||6’1″, 244 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|Maurice Fountain||DE||6’3″, 268 lbs||28||1||Backup|
|Lazarius Levingston||DE||6’4″, 292 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|A.J. Schable||DE||6’3″, 281 lbs||27||1||Backup|
|Derek Walker||DE||6’4″, 270 lbs||24||2||Backup|
|Colin Cole||DT||6’2″, 328 lbs||31||8||Starter|
|Amon Gordon||DT||6’2″, 305 lbs||29||4||FA|
|Brandon Mebane||DT||6’1″, 311 lbs||26||4||FA|
|Barrett Moen||DT||6’4″, 282 lbs||23||1||Backup|
|Junior Siavii||DT||6’5″, 315 lbs||32||5||Backup|
|Craig Terrill||DT||6’2″, 296 lbs||31||7||Backup|
|John Moffitt||G||6’4″, 319 lbs||24||R||Starter|
|Ray Willis||G/T||6’6″, 340 lbs||28||6||FA|
|Stacy Andrews||G||6’7″, 340 lbs||30||7||Backup|
|Paul Fanaika||G||6’5″, 327 lbs||25||2||Backup|
|Mike Gibson||G||6’3″, 298 lbs||25||3||Backup|
|Paul McQuistan||G/T||6’6″, 315 lbs||28||5||Backup|
|Chris White||G||6’2″, 295 lbs||28||6||Backup|
|Olindo Mare||K||5’11″, 192 lbs||38||15||FA|
|Aaron Curry||LB||6’2″, 255 lbs||25||2||Starter|
|David Hawthorne||LB||6’0″, 246 lbs||26||3||Starter|
|Lofa Tatupu||LB||6’0″, 250 lbs||28||6||Starter|
|Will Herring||LB||6’3″, 241 lbs||27||4||FA|
|Leroy Hill||LB||6’1″, 238 lbs||28||6||FA|
|Matt McCoy||LB||6’0″, 232 lbs||28||6||FA|
|Anthony Heygood||LB||6’1″, 232 lbs||25||2||Backup|
|Michael Johnson||LB||6’0″, 254 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|Joe Pawelek||LB||6’2″, 237 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|Malcolm Smith||LB||6’0″, 226 lbs||21||R||Backup|
|Vuna Tuihalamaka||LB||6’0″, 230 lbs||24||1||Backup|
|K.J. Wright||LB||6’4″, 246 lbs||21||R||Backup|
|Clint Gresham||LS||6’3″, 240 lbs||24||1||Starter**|
|Jon Ryan||P||6’0″, 217||29||5||Starter|
|Charlie Whitehurst||QB||6’5″, 225 lbs||28||5||Starter|
|Matt Hasselbeck||QB||6’4″, 225 lbs||35||12||FA|
|J.P. Losman||QB||6’2″, 217 lbs||30||7||FA|
|Marshawn Lynch||RB||5’11″, 215 lbs||25||4||Starter|
|Michael Robinson||RB||6’1″, 223 lbs||28||5||FA|
|Andre Anderson||RB||6’0″, 212 lbs||23||1||Backup|
|Justin Forsett||RB||5’8″, 198 lbs||25||3||Backup|
|Chris Henry||RB||5’11″, 234 lbs||26||4||Backup|
|Leon Washington||RB||5’8″, 203 lbs||28||5||Backup|
|Mark LeGree||S||6’0″, 211 lbs||21||R||Starter|
|Earl Thomas||S||5’10″, 202 lbs||22||1||Starter|
|Jordan Babineaux||S||6’0″, 210 lbs||28||7||FA|
|Lawyer Milloy||S||6’0″, 211||37||15||FA|
|James Brindley||S||5’11″, 191 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|Kam Chancellor||S||6’3″, 232 lbs||23||1||Backup|
|James Carpenter||T||6’5″, 321 lbs||22||R||Starter|
|Russell Okung||T||6’5″, 310 lbs||23||1||Starter|
|Sean Locklear||T||6’4″, 310 lbs||30||7||FA|
|Chester Pitts||T||6’4″, 308 lbs||32||9||FA|
|Tyler Polumbus||T||6’8″, 300 lbs||26||3||FA|
|Breno Giacomini||T||6’7″, 318 lbs||25||3||Backup|
|Caz Piurowski||T||6’7″, 271 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|William Robinson||T||6’5″, 297 lbs||26||2||Backup|
|John Carlson||TE||6’5″, 251 lbs||27||3||Starter|
|Dominique Byrd||TE||6’3″, 255 lbs||27||3||Backup|
|Jameson Konz||TE||6’3″, 234 lbs||24||R||Backup|
|Anthony McCoy||TE||6’5″, 259 lbs||23||1||Backup|
|Cameron Morrah||TE||6’3″, 251 lbs||24||2||Backup|
|Nick Tow-Arnett||TE||6’3″, 248 lbs||26||R||Backup|
|Ben Obomanu||WR||6’1″, 204 lbs||27||5||Starter|
|Mike Williams||WR||6’5″, 255 lbs||27||4||Starter|
|Ruvell Martin||WR||6’4″, 220 lbs||28||6||FA|
|Brandon Stokley||WR||6’0″, 192 lbs||35||12||FA|
|Deon Butler||WR||5’10″, 182 lbs||25||2||Backup|
|Chris Carter||WR||5’11″, 191 lbs||?||R||Backup|
|Kris Durham||WR||6’5″, 216 lbs||23||R||Backup|
|Dominique Edison||WR||6’2″, 204 lbs||24||2||Backup|
|Isaiah Stanback||WR||6’2″, 208 lbs||26||4||Backup|
|Golden Tate||WR||5’10″, 202 lbs||22||1||Backup|
|Patrick Williams||WR||6’1″, 204 lbs||25||1||Backup|
(* Browner also has five years of CFL experience.)
(** Assuming you can even accrue starts as a long snapper, that is.)
Now I realize this is a very basic snapshot of our roster, but it does tell a tale of what the Hawks need to do once free agency begins. Let’s start with the top, shall we?
With only Max Unger and Lemuel Jeanpierre under contract at the position, the Seahawks will need to sign a serviceable backup in case *gasp* Unger gets injured again. If that happens without a reliable player to replace him, our highly touted (by us, at least) new offensive line would take a huge hit. I see two ways this need could be filled:
1) Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA) – As the lockout drags on and on, the likelihood of this happening goes down. However, the wonderful thing about running a zone blocking scheme is that there’s plenty of undrafted talent available. You see, the big colleges run power blocking schemes because they have better recruiting and can pick up bigger physical specimens for their o-lines, while the smaller colleges who get by on the big colleges’ leavings tend to gravitate toward zone blocking schemes because they play to the strengths of smaller, more agile linemen. When the draft rolls around, the big college players get all the press and thus tend to get drafted higher, while all those small college guys don’t get much attention and end up getting picked in later rounds or going undrafted altogether. This means that there should be plenty of UDFAs available who could potentially be great fits in Seattle’s zone blocking scheme, and they can almost all be signed for an NFL minimum contract (the exact amount of which will be defined by the as-yet nonexistent CBA).
2) Free Agent – Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Tom Cable have all said that given the players currently on the roster that the starting o-line would include Okung, Unger, Carpenter, and Moffitt, but they didn’t say it would stay that way. It’s possible that they don’t regard Unger as highly as we think; remember, he was drafted by the previous regime, so they have no real ties to him, and he was injured for most of last year. That, coupled with Cable’s history with Raiders free agent Samson Satele (I know, I know, yet another Oakland player people are only talking about because Cable was hired — annoying, isn’t it?), could mean that he could be brought in as a backup or even to compete with Unger for the starting job. Satele is only the 7th ranked free agent center on the market, so the cost of signing him would be minimal, and even if he got a raise from his previous salary (he made approximately $550k last season) his asking price should still be south of $1 mil.
Expect the Hawks to spend the NFL minimum salary up to about $1 million to fill this need.
Despite scuttlebutt to the contrary, I don’t expect the Hawks to make any moves at signing Bengals cornerback Jonathan Joseph or any other CB. First off, Carroll doesn’t tend to use elite CBs in his defense, the exception being Ty Law during Carroll’s tenure as head coach of the Patriots. Secondly, the current regime has now invested three draft picks in the last two years on CBs; if you sign a starting cornerback in free agency, you limit their chances to develop and contribute, thus nullifying the value of those picks. And thirdly, the rumored asking price for Joseph is $8 – $10 million, which is a huge chunk of the team’s capital, especially considering the many holes on the roster the team still needs to fill.
That being said, it’s still possible that the Hawks could make a run at signing Joseph for a couple of reasons. For one, Trufant is 30. His skills are declining, and his man coverage abilities don’t necessarily fit the scheme of the current regime. Carroll prefers larger, faster corners who can play bump and run coverage, which gives his d-line an extra second or so to sack the quarterback and disrupt his throwing. As expensive as good corners are, good pass rushers are even pricier. If you can get a good bump and run corner who can provide that extra second, you can make an average pass rusher into a great one.
Despite what the rumors might be saying, the Hawks already have eight cornerbacks under contract. I don’t see a move happening here unless Trufant is traded, maybe in a package deal to land a QB like Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton, which in turn would free up some cap space that could be used to sign the younger (and frankly better) Joseph.
Here my friends is where I fully expect the Hawks to make a signing. Despite Chris Clemons’ sack-fest last year, it’s been widely noted that most of those sacks came on blitzes. Clemons’ performance in non-blitz situations, i.e. when he didn’t have an extra rusher coming in to tie up a blocker, left something to be desired. The result was too many big passing plays in which he almost got to the QB. There’s a virtual Baskin Robbins of ends available out there, and the one who has me salivating the most is Mathias Kiwanuka. But whatever your flavor, this pickup would be expensive, most likely in the range of $8 – $10 million, eating up a large chunk of that $38 million the Seahawks must spend.
Spending Update: Adding the cost of a DE to the cheap center we signed earlier, we’ve now spent $8.5 – $11 million in free agency
This is another place where I expect the Hawks to make a move, but even if that just involves re-signing Brandon Mebane you’re still looking at another investment of $8 – $10 million.
Spending Update: We’ve now spent $16.5 – $21 million. Dang, that $38 million is disappearing fast, isn’t it? If we’d pursued Jonathan Joseph also, we would now be down $23.5 – $31 million.
Everyone and their uncle has predicted that Robert Gallery will be signed by the Seahawks, for obvious reasons. The man has already turned down a $5 million contract offer from Oakland, so his asking price is somewhere north of that. Let’s assume $5 – $7 million for this signing.
Spending Update: $21.5 – $28 million.
Olindo Mare made $2.8 million last season. I don’t care who you are, that’s just way too much to spend on a kicker. He could still come back, but I expect the Hawks to bring in someone else for a much smaller contract.
Spending Update: I’d put the range for this one at $500k – $2.8 million, leaving us at $22 – $30.8 million spent.
Quarterback & Wide Receiver
Judging by that last total, the team should have enough to sign a decent QB, but exactly how much money gets spent here depends largely on the Hasselbeck situation. He reportedly turned down a $7 million contract offer from the Seahawks, and based on the projected moneys spent I’ve surmised so far, I’d say he’s just about priced himself out of Seattle. Kolb is scheduled to make over $12 million on a one-year contract, but obviously if the team traded for him you’d hope to renegotiate for a long term contract and bring that number down. The other possible QB trade target I’ve already mentioned, Kyle Orton, will be in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make $7.5 million.
There are two options here, the first one being to go sign a QB to start, whomsoever that may be (Hasselbeck, Orton, Kolb, etc.), and then short of adding a UDFA or two you’re done. The second option is to anoint Charlie Whitehurst the starting QB, then bring in some lower-priced QBs like Tarvaris Jackson or Matt Leinart to play backup and push Charlie for the starting gig. If we go this route, we’d still have enough capital left over to help the QB out by picking up a free agent wide receiver like Lance Moore, Steve Smith, James Jones, or Sidney Rice. However, as anyone who owned Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon in fantasy football last year can tell you, a franchise-caliber QB makes your receivers better. Likewise, anyone who owned Larry Fitzgerald can tell you that having top-flight receivers doesn’t mean squat if you don’t have someone who can get the ball to them.
Whether or not the Seahawks go after a wide receiver seems predicated on whom they pursue for the QB position. I think we all know that BMW is better suited to a #2 WR role, and I think the team would love to add a potential #1 receiver to complement him. But which comes first, the egg (WR) or the chicken (QB)?
At this point, I think the Seahawks are poised to go either way on this one. If free agency doesn’t get too overpriced, which is doubtful considering the shortened time frame in which is must occur, they could possibly address both the QB and WR needs, but I wouldn’t count on it.