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Seahawks have decisions to make

RB Marshawn Lynch is one of Seattle's 18 unrestricted free agents

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By John Boyle
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the Seahawks' 18 unrestricted free agents.

    Associated Press

    Running back Marshawn Lynch is one of the Seahawks' 18 unrestricted free agents.

RENTON -- As the Seattle Seahawks cleaned out their lockers a day after the final game of the season, fullback Michael Robinson and running backs Marshawn Lynch and Leon Washington gathered for a playful three-man huddle.
It was a lighthearted moment, but deep down all three knew that there is a real chance they won't all be teammates next year.
Throughout the NFL -- and over the past two years, in the Seahawks locker room in particular -- change is one of the few certainties from one year to the next. And while the Seahawks figure to have a lot more continuity from 2011 to 2012 than they have in the last two years, not everyone will be back.
"The only constant thing is this league is change, we know that's going to happen," said Washington. "But if this team can stay together, the sky's the limit for us."
Washington, who signed a contract extension last year, will almost certainly be back next season. The future of Lynch, as well as several other Seahawks free agents, however, is less certain. Lynch is one of 18 unrestricted free agents who finished the season either on the active roster or injured reserve, and along with defensive end Red Bryant and linebacker David Hawthorne, is one of Seattle's biggest offseason priorities.
"Not too much I can do about it but just wait," Lynch said. "... I'd like to come back, but if it don't happen, it don't happen."
Lynch said he isn't necessarily interested in testing his value on the open market. Then again, the 25-year-old back, who is coming off his best season, isn't going to re-sign with the Seahawks if they don't make a serious offer.
"Hopefully I don't have to (explore free agency)," he said. "Hopefully I can get taken care of where I'm at. But if that's not the case, that would be the next step."
And while players almost always express a desire to come back to their teams, Seahawks free-agents-to-be seemed particularly sincere in their desire to come back to build off of an impressive second half. After starting the year 2-6, a young team came together and won five of six before losing its final two games.
"We've got a great group of core guys," said Robinson, who will also be a free agent. "If we keep this group together, the sky's the limit."
While Lynch is the highest profile player the Seahawks are hoping to re-sign, Bryant may be even more irreplaceable. A little-used defensive tackle during his first two seasons, Bryant moved to defensive end last season, and through six games anchored a stout run defense. A knee injury ended his 2010 season early, however, and his value became very evident as the defense struggled in his absence. Bryant was even better this year, and this time was able to stay healthy for 16 games while also emerging as a leader of a young, talented defense. Like Lynch, Bryant said he'd just as soon avoid hitting the free-agent market.
"The reason I say that is because I know what we have here," he said. "The people here are great, from the equipment managers to the trainers to the people that work in the cafeteria to the media, it's a great culture around here that you really have an appreciation for the people here and what they do. Just talking to other guys, it's not always greener on the other side. The Seahawks organization is first class in everything they do so I have a desire to be here."
And if Bryant is top defensive priority to re-sign, Hawthorne is a very close second. Despite playing on an injured knee all season, Hawthorne led the Seahawks in tackles for a third straight season with 115. He also matched a career high with three interceptions, including one he returned 77 yards for a touchdown that helped clinch victory over Philadelphia.
"I'd love to (stay in Seattle)," Hawthorne said. "Me and my agent are doing everything we can to get back. ... I feel like we're building something special, and I'd definitely like to be a part of that."
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
Story tags » Seahawks

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