I want to say the coolest news of them all dropped on Friday, after all the signings I just mentioned in the title of this post. That’s when we found out the Seahawks received 3 extra draft picks in this year’s draft: a third rounder, a fifth rounder, and a sixth rounder. These compensatory picks are my favorite things in the world, because they reward smart teams (who are smart because they build through the draft) for other teams’ stupidity (who are stupid because they build through free agency). Last year, the Seahawks let Byron Maxwell explore free agency, and the Philadelphia Eagles made one of the more mind-boggling signings in recent memory (made all the worse on their part by Maxwell having his worst season ever as a starter). Similarly, the Seahawks let James Carpenter go to the Jets, and Malcolm Smith to the Raiders. We got the third round pick for losing Maxwell, the fifth rounder for Carpenter, and the sixth rounder for Smith; these are determined by the size of the contract. All told, this brings the Seahawks up to 9 total draft picks: a first, a second, 2 thirds, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and 2 sevenths; four of those draft picks are in the Top 100. Here’s to hoping we don’t trade them away for any suck-ass veterans.
I was under something of a time crunch last week, so I couldn’t really comment on everything as it was happening. Last week, of course, was the start of Free Agency, and news was flying around like crazy. I’ve already written about the Seahawks re-signing Rubin and losing Irvin, Sweezy, and Mebane. Now, we’re on to happier posts: the Seahawks retaining bigtime contributors.
You’ll notice that the first week of free agency has seen the Seahawks only sign guys who were on the team last year, and no guys from outside the organization. That’s by design. For starters, every time you sign a guy from outside the organization, it nullifies all the players from your team that others have signed away (when it comes to those compensatory draft picks I was writing about up top). Right now, we’re looking at something like a 4th rounder for Irvin, maybe a 5th rounder for Sweezy, and maybe a 6th rounder for Mebane. If we were to sign a guy from outside the organization for big money, it would take away that draft pick we’re getting for Irvin. If we sign a guy to a medium deal, it likely cancels out Sweezy’s draft pick, and so on.
The other reasons why the Seahawks haven’t signed anyone from outside of the organization include the fact that we really don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around like the Raiders, Giants, and Jaguars. Also, it’s just not a smart model for NFL success. Like I said before, you build your foundation with the draft, and you supplement that team through free agency. But, once you start over-paying for your building blocks on the free market, that’s how you get into cap hell. Free agents tend to be older, and more prone to breaking down or declining in their skillsets; draft picks have nowhere to go but up!
But, finally, probably the biggest reason why the Seahawks haven’t signed anyone from outside the organization yet is simply because we need to re-sign our own guys, who tend to be better than anything else that’s on the market (and if not better, then at least they know our system better).
Jeremy Lane, for me, is probably the most important signing the Seahawks will make in this offseason. He came in at 4 years, $23 million, which is FANTASTIC. The first two years are beyond reasonable for a guy with his skillset, who can play outside in our base defense, and who can shift inside when we go nickel. If he proves to be as indispensable as I think he’ll be, then the last two years are still at a reasonable cost to the team (especially when you consider the salary cap overall should still be going up at that point). But, if he plays poorly or is injury prone, we can cut him after two years with relatively little damage.
You may recall that Lane was one of my 12 priorities for this offseason (scroll to the very bottom for the TL;DR version of that post). I thought 4 years, $30 million was reasonable, so this deal is even better in my book.
In looking at the rest of my wishlist, it really hasn’t gone down the way I had it, but that’s not the worst thing in the world. Sweezy is gone, but Okung is still in play. Considering Okung is the better lineman, if we can get him back at a reasonable cost, I’d be for it. If he leaves, I wouldn’t be depressed. We haven’t signed any of the stud left guards out there, but there’s still a chance to draft one. We re-signed Rubin and let Mebane go, instead of the other way around; but it does look like we’re both going to sign a cheap DT and draft one high. Given Irvin’s contract, we couldn’t have brought him back on a reasonable deal, so we’re using the savings in other areas.
And, if you look at #9 on my list, one of those areas just might be re-signing Jermaine Kearse. I predicted 3 years, $13 million, which was based on the extension we gave Baldwin before. Kearse ended up getting 3 years, $13.5 million, which I guess accounts for inflation (for what it’s worth, I still think the Seahawks are going to work on extending Baldwin this year, if he’ll go for it).
I love the Kearse deal for all the reasons I wrote about here. He solidifies our WR corps as a whole, meaning we don’t necessarily have to count on Kevin Smith and/or Kasen Williams to make a huge leap in production; or count on Richardson and/or Lockette (if he makes it back) to stay healthy. He knows the system, he works well with Russell Wilson, he’s a reliable pass-catcher, route runner, and blocker on the edge. He’s got big play ability, obviously. And, this means we’re less likely to trade away draft picks for receivers on other teams. I like any move that will save this front office from itself, and while John Schneider and Company have a lot of great strengths, one of their weaknesses is certainly how they value low-end first round draft picks (and how they give away multiple draft picks for other teams’ star receivers). Likewise, this buys us at least a year when it comes to drafting a receiver in the upper rounds. This draft is heavy along the O-Line and D-Line. It’s not so great at receiver. So, what say we fill up on beef in 2016, and maybe look at the 2017 draft for a top-notch receiver, huh?
A wide receiver unit that goes Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, and Richardson inspires a LOT more confidence in me than one that goes Baldwin, Lockett, Richardson, and Smith. For that price? $13.5 million, with the option to cut him after two years for relatively little dead money? That, my friends, is what I am talking about.
Finally, the MVP is back! I don’t think I want to live in a world where Jon Ryan isn’t our punter. He signed a 4-year, $10 million deal that gives him a $2.4 million signing bonus and only 2016’s base salary is guaranteed ($1 million). We could cut him after this year and have less than $2 million in dead money (very unlikely, if you ask me), and his cap hits don’t go over $3 million until the third year of the deal (at which point, it’s probably the going rate for MVP-quality punters anyway).