Started talking about this a bit yesterday, but here’s the full dive.
First, we’ll start with the unrestricted free agents. These are the guys who are free to sign with whatever team they want, with no draft pick penalties. On offense, we have, in no particular order:
- Russell Okung – left tackle
- Jermaine Kearse – wide receiver
- J.R. Sweezy – right guard
- Tarvaris Jackson – quarterback
- Will Tukuafu – fullback
- Ricardo Lockette – wide receiver
- Fred Jackson – running back
- Lemuel Jeanpierre – center
- Anthony McCoy – tight end
- Chase Coffman – tight end
- Bryce Brown – running back
I could take or leave the last five guys on that list. I feel like Jackson was a 1-year deal, but we’ll probably look to get younger at our 3rd down back spot on the roster. I like Jeanpierre as depth, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to have him come into camp, but I could easily see the team looking to move on. McCoy and Coffman are probably both camp fodder, desperately trying to make it as a 3rd tight end, but probably won’t make it here unless we have a bunch of injuries. Brown might be a good guy to have around, if the team looks to move on from Lynch, but I think we can do better.
As far as Lockette is concerned, he’ll need to fully recover from his injury. If that works out, I wouldn’t mind having him back as a low-end receiver/special teams guy. I like Tukuafu a lot; if he’ll come back for the right price, I wouldn’t mind having him around. And, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have Tarvaris Jackson around for another year, but at some point, I think the team might want to look to the draft for a backup quarterback.
There’s really just three primary unrestricted free agents on offense this year: Okung, Sweezy, and Kearse. I could see the team bringing all three back, I could see the team moving on from all three, or any combination in between. Okung looks to be the priciest of the three, since he was originally a draft pick under the old CBA, and he’s a noted Pro Bowl left tackle (and also, not for nothing, our best offensive lineman by a thousand miles). Given his injury history, and the fact that he’s nobody’s Walter Jones clone, I’m less inclined to do whatever it takes to bring him back. If he opts to return under something of a team-friendly deal (i.e. not a ton of dead money lurking, if we decide it’s time to move on), I’d be cool with his coming back. But, considering he’s acting as his own agent, I feel like he’s going to use these negotiations to make a point, and try to get the best possible deal he can. Don’t be shocked if that comes from another team.
I had high hopes for a higher ceiling out of Sweezy, but I think what we’ve seen is what we’re going to get. He flashes a lot of toughness and agility, but he also flashes complete ineptitude at letting our quarterback get killed. Again, I’d be okay with the team bringing him back on a team-friendly deal; but, I’d also be okay with the team punting on this whole issue of converting defensive linemen into guards and rebuilding the interior of the line through the draft (of high picks) and/or free agency. It might be difficult to replace 3-4 spots on the line, so if Sweezy is able to return on a moderate deal, maybe we can devote resources elsewhere (like shoring up the left guard position and selling Britt down the river).
Kearse, as I’ve said before, I’d like to have back. While he’s not a #1 receiver, he does all the little things you like out of someone who plays the position. He blocks well, he has good hands, he has a decent catch radius. He plays his role on this team perfectly. The pragmatist in me would say that we have a guy like that in Kevin Smith, who’s cheaper and under team control already, so in that sense, I wouldn’t be totally devastated if Kearse moves on. But, as a pure fan, I’d be disappointed to see him go.
In other offensive free agent news, the following players are restricted free agents and will almost assuredly be back with the team, so long as the team wants them to be back:
- Cooper Helfet – tight end
- Derrick Coleman – fullback
- Patrick Lewis – center
- Alvin Bailey – guard/tackle
- Christine Michael – running back
My guess is, Helfet and Coleman will be back for sure, and most likely under a very minor deal. I like the idea of drafting a center relatively high this year and letting him learn behind Patrick Lewis on a 1-year deal, then having him take over in 2017. Bailey is a quality backup and should be worth keeping around for his versatility alone. Michael is an interesting case; he would’ve been under team control had we not waived him earlier in the season. I imagine the team will tender him a pretty low offer too and we’ll see what happens. If Lynch goes, this is probably his best opportunity to compete for a job with Thomas Rawls.
On defense, here are the unrestricted free agents, again in no particular order:
- Brandon Mebane – defensive tackle
- Bruce Irvin – outside linebacker
- Ahtyba Rubin – defensive tackle
- Mike Morgan – outside linebacker
- Jeremy Lane – cornerback
- Demarcus Dobbs – defensive tackle/end
From what I’m reading, it sounds like the team likely wouldn’t be able to bring back both Mebane and Rubin, so we’d have to choose. The fan side of me wants Mebane back, and to retire as a Seahawk. Rubin is slightly younger, and had a really breakout year for us. I’d honestly like to have both back, but again, you can’t pay everyone. My gut tells me Mebane stays and Rubin goes, but what do I know?
I’m less inclined to believe Irvin will be back. I’d pay more heed to his words during last year’s offseason, where he was talking about practically being out the door. Maybe Atlanta brings him in, with Dan Quinn? Maybe Oakland, with Ken Norton as their defensive coordinator? Maybe some other team with deep pockets who could use an athletic pass rusher? I’d put the chances on Irvin being a Seahawk next season at less than 30%.
In which case, as I noted yesterday, Morgan is an interesting option to replace him, as he figures to be cheaper, and HAS to know the system. The thing is, I’m not totally sure if he plays the same position, or if he’s more of a weakside linebacker. I seem to remember him spelling Irvin this year, but whatever.
Jeremy Lane should be our highest priority, but again, if some team over-values Seahawks cornerbacks, I could see him taking a lot of money to play elsewhere.
As for Dobbs … we like Dobbs. More training camp depth!
Our restricted free agents include:
- DeShawn Shead – cornerback
- Steven Terrell – cornerback/safety
- Marcus Burley – cornerback
- Nick Moody – linebacker
- Jesse Williams – defensive tackle
- Mohammed Seisay – cornerback
- Eric Pinkins – linebacker
- A.J. Francis – defensive tackle
Shead will definitely be back. Terrell, Burley, and Seisay will all most likely be back, in the hunt for a couple of those backup cornerback spots on the roster. I don’t see why the team would let Moody and Pinkins go, or for that matter, Francis (whoever that is). I keep thinking every year is the last chance for Jesse Williams, but I would think 2016 is the for real, very VERY last chance. Given his injury history, consider him the longest of long shots.
So, yeah, that’s sort of an overview of all the Seahawks who could potentially be gone (I’m not going to get into the guys under contract for next year who might be cap casualties). Tomorrow, I’ll dig into what I think the plan should be for the Seahawks, as we wrap up Death Week for another year.