Seahawks Thoughts: Day One Of Free Agency

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There is an old saying that movement does not equal progress. Free agency in the NFL proves that more than most things. Teams that make a lot of noise with big signings rarely are the ones making significant progress on the field. The Philadelphia Eagles were dubbed the “Dream Team” by some after their free agent spending spree last year, but the results did not match the hype. Meanwhile, a team like San Francisco let a number of players leave and signed only modest names, and nearly went to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks front office has been taking a discerning approach to free agency in their first few seasons. They will not turn up their noses at free agency, but there are certain qualifications they look for. Namely, they want someone young (25 is ideal, no older than 27 in most cases), affordable (i.e., not record-setting deals or big guaranteed dollars that gum up the salary cap), and with a high ceiling.

Players like Mario Williams just don’t fit the profile for what the Seahawks target in free agency. If his price was far lower, you can bet they’d love to have him, but they will not move off their principles. Williams is said to have spent the evening with the Bills, who are talking about making him the highest paid defensive player in the league, with as much as $50M guaranteed. That will not happen with the Seahawks. Move on, folks.

Matt Flynn is reportedly negotiating with the Browns and the Dolphins (or not). Bidding wars on players of uncertain quality are also not something the Seahawks are likely to dive into. Flynn is going to get a premium starting quarterbacks salary. He becomes the person Schneider and Carroll pin their legacy to if they sign him to a contract like that. If you were in their shoes, would you be ready to take that plunge with Flynn? Staying with Tarvaris Jackson allows them to keep the door open. If Flynn was available for $5-7M/year, with around $10M guaranteed, the Seahawks might be interested. He’ll get way more than that. Seahawks will look elsewhere.

The reports of Chad Henne making a visit is only mildly surprising. He fits the bill as a young enough player who has way more wins and experience than a guy like Flynn, but can be had for a back-ups salary, with low guaranteed money, or even no guaranteed money. There is little downside in bringing in a player like that to compete with Jackson, Portis and whoever the team adds in the draft. Many fans will freak out thinking this is how Carroll and Schneider plan on handling the quarterback position every year. It is not. This is a product of who is available, who they believe in, and confidence that they can compete for the division this season without upgrading the quarterback spot.

Re-signing Red Bryant was good news. I had predicted $9-13M in guaranteed money for him. He ended up with $14.5M. Interest from other teams was high enough to convince the Seattle front office that they would lose him if their offer did not increase. Bryant may have been able to get more money elsewhere, but clearly wanted to return. Both parties gave a little, and both should be pleased with the result. Bryant’s health will be the only question about whether this becomes a good deal for the team. If he stays on the field, the Seahawks will be thrilled with this move.

DT Jason Jones is said to be in St. Louis meeting with his former coach Jeff Fisher. Reports have said his next visit will be to Seattle. Logic would lead one to believe Jones’ agents are the ones broadcasting the planned Seattle trip so that they have leverage when talking to St. Louis. Jones knows Fisher, knows his system, knows he thrives in it, and knows the Rams have big dollars to spend. The most likely outcome is that Jones signs with St. Louis, but the ideal outcome is that he visits the Seahawks and gives the team an interior pass rush it simply has not had for some time. A few fans have questioned why the Seahawks would be more interested in a guy like Jones with only 15.5 career sacks than a guy like Williams. First, Seattle could sign Jones, a rush linebacker and draft a DE with their 1st round pick for less money than Williams. That group would almost certainly eclipse whatever production Williams could add, and for a longer stretch of time. Second, an interior lineman like Jones is not measured solely by sacks. The most common way a quarterback avoids pressure from edge rushers is to step forward into the pocket. A player that can push that pocket back into the quarterback’s face may not get the sack, but can either drive the QB into a teammates arms or force an inaccurate pass. It is far more difficult to find an interior lineman who can collapse the pocket than an edge rusher. Jones would be a fantastic addition to the Seahawks, but there is a big hurdle in St. Louis that must be cleared first.

Seattle also re-signed LB Heath Farwell. He was a great special teams player, and is a good guy to have back on the roster.

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