At this time last week, the Seahawks were the talk of the NFL having just finished off flurry of moves the previous week, trading for Percy Harvin then signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett (more on Bennett in a minute).
Things have slowed down for Seattle since (well, aside from Marshawn Lynch deciding to play in Cal’s spring game over the weekend), but that doesn’t mean things aren’t going on behind the scenes. While it would seem unlikely at this point that the Seahawks would make any more splashy additions (though I think I said the same thing before Bennett signed) there are important negotiations to work on, specifically with current Seahawks. The Seahawks don’t have any big-name free agents right now to worry about, they are working on making sure they don’t lose key players to free agency in the next couple of years. One reason the Seahawks were able to spend a bunch of money earlier this month is that many of their most important players are still in their relatively inexpensive rookie contracts. But safety Kam Chancellor is in the final year of his deal, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman are up in two years. And when you add to that Russell Okung, who becomes a free agent in 2016, and Russell Wilson, who also has three years left on his deal, but can be extended in two years, and the Seahawks could potentially be spending a lot of money to keep their nucleus intact over the next two to three years.
Pete Carroll said at last week’s NFL owners meetings that taking care of their own is a big focus for the Seahawks.
“We are taking care of all of our guys, every single one of our guys,” Carroll told ESPN’s Mike Sando. “We’re working Kam right now and we’re going to continue to work our guys.”
It’s possible that the Seahawks could try to extend Thomas as well, but Chancellor seems a safe bet to get a new deal this offseason if the two sides can agree on something that makes sense. While Seattle could wait until next year—the franchise tag for a safety isn’t prohibitively high if it came down to that—it makes a lot more sense to get a head start on keeping key guys around with so many headed towards free agency in the next couple of years, and Carroll and John Schneider have made it clear they see Chancellor as a key piece of Seattle’s defense, not just for his physical talents, but also the leadership role he has taken on.
The good news for Seattle is that despite their recent big spending, they should still have the cap room to extend guys down the road. Harvin and Avril got pretty significant contracts, Harvin especially, but not monster deals that will handcuff the Seahawks. Bennett’s deal, meanwhile is for only this year, and as we found out last weekend, that likely had something to do with a shoulder injury that, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, is a torn rotor cuff.
Seahaws DE Michael Bennett, who left Tampa for Seattle, was diagnosed with torn rotator cuff. Injury why Bennett got a 1-yr deal in SEA.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 24, 2013
This isn’t a new injury for Bennett, who had shoulder issues last season but still managed 9.0 sacks last season. The Seahawks obviously put Bennett through a physical before signing him, and while they would certainly prefer he didn’t have a shoulder issue, they wouldn’t have signed him if they didn’t think it was manageable. This isn’t entirely dissimilar to what the Seahawks did last offseason when they signed Jason Jones to a one-year deal. Jones, who was coming off of a knee injury, was an effective interior pass rusher early in the season, but he did battle knee problems and ended the year on injured reserve. The good news in Bennett’s case is that a defensive lineman is a lot more likely to survive a season with a balky shoulder than a bad knee.
And finally, if you need to read about a new Seahawks contract, long snapper Clint Gresham, who was a restricted free agent, signed his tender today.