So here we go with the portion of the NFL offseason that some may feel is as fun and interesting as the season itself — free agency.
Teams can begin negotiating with pending free agents Monday at 9 a.m. PT — unofficially, many of those talks began a few weeks ago at the combine in Indianapolis over steaks and drinks.
And teams can officially sign free agents Wednesday at 1 p.m. PT.
Teams, of course, can re-sign their own players at any time, as the Seahawks did last week with Geno Smith to answer their biggest question of the offseason.
But as the frenzied week of free agency begins, here’s a primer to get you, well, primed for what is to come.
Which Seahawks are free agents?
Seattle has 29 pending free agents including 20 unrestricted free agents, four restricted and five exclusive rights.
Seattle has already re-signed four — Smith, fullback Nick Bellore, kicker Jason Myers and guard Phil Haynes.
Unrestricted free agents
So-called UFAs are players whose contracts officially expire when the new league year begins on March 15 and at that moment are free to sign with any other team.
DL Poona Ford: Ford had the highest cap hit on the team in 2022 at $10.075 million. But he didn’t make the same impact in 2022 while adjusting to a new role in a new defense, and his future with the team is unclear.
RB Rashaad Penny: Another devastating injury for Penny in October leaves his Seattle future unclear.
S Johnathan Abram: A late-season waiver wire claim, the former first-round pick of the Raiders may have done enough to warrant sticking around.
DL L.J. Collier: Seattle’s first-round pick in 2019 hasn’t panned out, and the Seahawks might move on.
QB Drew Lock: Despite re-signing Geno Smith the Seahawks have said they want to retain Lock. But it’ll be interesting to see if Lock decides to test the market. Lock has now played just six games in two years and at age 26, might not to consign himself to backup status yet again.
CB Artie Burns: Veteran was a starter in training camp before being injured. Ended up playing only 16 snaps all season and Seahawks might look to younger players to cornerback depth.
WR Marquise Goodwin: Goodwin had some good moments when healthy but missed four games due to injury.
OL Kyle Fuller: Fuller, a backup at guard and center, played just 51 snaps in his fourth season with the Seahawks, and Seattle might want to add some competition to its interior offensive line.
LB Cody Barton: Started all 17 games this season and seemed to grow into his expanded role as the season wore on.
DB Teez Tabor: In-season pickup added depth in the secondary and made one start at safety.
RB Travis Homer: Homer again battled injuries, limited to 10 games, and Seahawks might look elsewhere for the depth spots at running back.
OLB Darryl Johnson: Seahawks were impressed with the play of Johnson after claiming him off waivers before he suffered a foot injury against Detroit.
CB Justin Coleman: Signed last March with the thought he’d be the starting nickel corner, he instead saw rookie Coby Bryant take over that role and played just 60 snaps
OLB Bruce Irvin: The 35-year-old said he hasn’t ruled out continuing to play, something Pete Carroll recently confirmed. But the Seahawks also are undoubtedly going to look to make some major additions to its edge rushing group via the draft and free agency.
Snapper Tyler Ott: Ott missed the entire season with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Carson Tinker, also a free agent.
Snapper Carson Tinker: Seattle needs a snapper, so at least one of Tinker and Ott figures to be back.
S Josh Jones: Took over starting safety role in place of injured Jamal Adams in season opener but then lost it when Ryan Neal got healthy. He suffered a hamstring injury against Rams in December that ended his season.
WR Laquon Treadwell: Late-season signee played the third WR role for two games against Kansas City and the Jets in place of Goodwin but then lost it to Cade Johnson. Upgrading the WR depth seems a priority.
CB Xavier Crawford: Played 60 snaps on special teams and none on defense.
LB Cullen Gillaspia: Had become a core special teams player before suffering knee injury against Arizona on Nov. 6.
Restricted/exclusive rights free agents
Seattle has nine players who are either restricted or exclusive rights free agents. RFAs are players teams can retain by offering them a tender, which means the team can match any offer a player receives or get draft pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. ERFAs are bound to the team as long as they get a tender.
S Ryan Neal: Neal is the biggest priority of the four players on this list and possibly the only one who could get a tender. But Seattle might look to sign him to a conventional, multiyear deal instead of just the RFA tender.
LB Tanner Muse: Solid special teamer showed some promise in two starts at weakside linebacker and would seem a player Seahawks would want back.
WR Penny Hart: Hart played just 34 offensive snaps this season and played just nine games overall in his fourth season with the team.
RB Tony Jones Jr.: Played in four games last year as a reserve running back.
Exclusive rights free agents: RB Godwin Igwebuike, CB Michael Jackson, LB Jon Rhattigan, WR Cody Thompson and DL Myles Adams. Any and all can be retained with the team simply giving them a qualifying tender.
How much money does Seattle have to spend?
As of Friday afternoon, Seattle was listed with just over $20 million by OvertheCap.com. However, that number shrinks to just over $9 million in “effective” cap space, which accounts for the cap space Seattle has to reserve for its 10 draft picks, among other things.
Seattle figures to make some moves to create more through possible contract restructures or possibly even releases of some current players (one oft-mentioned possibility is veteran defensive lineman Shelby Harris, who has a $12.1 million cap hit for 2023.)
The Seahawks always like to keep some flexibility for things that could happen during training camp or the season, such as being able makes trades like the team has in the past for the likes of Duane Brown, Sheldon Richardson and Jadeveon Clowney.
So, Seattle may keep to its usual M.O. of making some moves, but probably not being among the biggest spenders, and certainly not spending down to zero.
What positions are of the most need for the Seahawks?
Seattle’s biggest area of stated improvement is its front seven, and you can expect the Seahawks to make a few signings to address that need.
The good news is that this is regarded as a pretty good group of defensive tackles available. The bad is that it’s not regarded as overly deep in edge rushers.
From a practical standpoint, Seattle simply needs to add some depth at center (only one is on the roster, practice squadder Joey Hunt), linebacker (Jordyn Brooks is coming off a knee injury and Barton is a free agent) and maybe receiver and running back (especially if the team doesn’t re-sign Penny or Homer).
Seattle will need more than just one QB on its roster — Smith is currently the only one. So if Seattle can’t re-sign Lock, the Seahawks might have to get someone, unless they just wait for the draft.
Are there any potential reunions at hand?
The Seahawks have never been shy about re-signing their former players, and there are two big names out there — middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and rush end Frank Clark.
Seattle general manager John Schneider said last week the team has talked with Wagner, who is serving as his own agent, and would keep in contact throughout free agency. That indicated there is interest, but maybe not so much that the team was ready yet to make a “can’t refuse” offer.
A report from Jordan Schultz on Friday stated that Wagner’s market is “heating up” and that the Chargers and Cowboys are also interested.
Signing with the Chargers means Wagner would stay in Los Angeles, his hometown.
Dallas would mean a reunion with Dan Quinn, Seattle’s defensive coordinator during the Super Bowl seasons of 2013 and 2014, and the Cowboys also have needs at linebacker.
Clark, 29, was released last week by the Chiefs and should have a pretty active market.
Other former Seahawks include center Ethan Pocic, cornerback Shaquill Griffin and, well, Clowney.
Griffin and Clowney are the biggest names of that trip. But as noted, Seattle needs a center or two so Pocic would fill a real need. And for what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus rates him as the best center available in free agency after giving him the third-highest grade of any center in 2022.
Who are some other good free agent fits?
It can be tricky trying to guess what a team might really do in free agency, especially a famously close-to-the-vest team like Seattle. But here’s a random throw-a-dart-at-the-board list of five who could be Seattle targets.
WR Jarvis Landry: You wouldn’t expect Seattle to spend much on a veteran WR with so much invested in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. But the 30-year-old Landry might not cost a whole lot and might be worth a gamble as a slot receiver.
DT Greg Gaines: The former Husky is just 26 and could be a low-cost option to add depth inside and it’s known Seattle liked him coming out of the draft in 2019. PFF projects he could be signed for $3 million a year.
OL Graham Glasgow: The 30-year-old Glasgow started 13 games for Denver last season, mostly at center but also some at guard, and as noted, Seattle needs some interior offensive line depth. Denver cut him Friday to save $11 million against the cap. But he won’t command the $9 million a year he got with Denver now.
ILB Alex Singleton: Maybe we should have included Singleton in our look at former Seahawks since he was in camp and then on the practice squad with Seattle in 2015. But he never played a game with the Seahawks, and after reviving his career in the CFL, he has started 31 games the past three years with the Eagles and Denver (he made nine tackles against Seattle last year). If Seattle doesn’t re-sign Wagner, Singleton could be a good, inexpensive get in what is a pretty deep corps of inside linebackers available.
RB Jerick McKinnon: Even if Seattle re-signs Penny, the Seahawks could be in the market for a third-down back, especially if Homer isn’t brought back. McKinnon will be 31 next season, so Seattle wouldn’t want to invest much. But he showed he still has some tread in the tires with 56 catches for the Chiefs last year, as well as another 291 yards rushing.
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