Here’s a review of the Seahawks’ week since the NFL free-agent signing period began and what might be ahead.
The NFL’s free-agent signing period passed the one-week mark Wednesday, with most of the big-ticket moves having already been made.
Consider that only 11 of NFL.com’s rating of the top 50 available free agents remain unsigned.
The top name left on that list? Seahawks (for now) left tackle Russell Okung.
Here’s a review of the Seahawks’ week and what might be ahead:
The big story: Taking care of their own
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The Seahawks’ philosophy the past few years has been to re-sign as many of its players as possible, which has kept them from spending wildly in free agency. Last year’s big move, recall, was a trade for Jimmy Graham in which the Seahawks dealt center Max Unger’s significant salary.
They have stuck to that philosophy this year. The three biggest contracts the Seahawks have handed out were to their free agents — cornerback Jeremy Lane (four years, $21 million), receiver Jermaine Kearse (three years, $13.5 million) and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (three years, $12 million). They also re-signed punter Jon Ryan (four years, $10 million).
Having entered free agency with 10 players accounting for $90 million of the $155.2 salary cap, the Seahawks had no choice but to be judicious. They let three players walk away — linebacker Bruce Irvin (four years, $37 million with the Raiders), guard J.R. Sweezy (five years, $32.5 million with Tampa Bay) and nose tackle Brandon Mebane (three years, $13.5 million with the Chargers).
The Seahawks have signed just three players from other teams (offensive linemen Bradley Sowell and J’Marcus Webb and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga) to contracts that total roughly $8 million.
The big question: What happens to the offensive line?
Though the departures of Irvin and Mebane might require adjustments, they were not unexpected. And the Seahawks have under contract nine of 11 starters and 21 of the top 24 players from a defense that led the NFL in fewest points allowed for a fourth consecutive season in 2015.
It’s also a deep draft for defensive linemen and linebackers, and the Seahawks, who have nine picks, figure to be able to find capable players to contend at those spots.
The offensive line, though, loomed as a question entering free agency and remains one.
Not only did Sweezy leave, but Okung also could be headed out. He visited Denver on Wednesday — the fourth team he has toured in the past week, along with the Giants, Lions and Steelers. Okung is representing himself, and he is facing questions about a shoulder dislocation that required surgery in February — he might not be ready until June. Those issues appear to be prolonging his decision.
Webb is slotted to be a tackle but is more likely a fit on the right side.With the roster as currently constructed, that could mean a shift of Garry Gilliam to left tackle, with Sowell regarded initially as more likely to be a swing backup player.
That, though, is far from the big move many fans may have been anticipating to revamp the line.
But the biggest-name left tackle remaining is Okung, meaning if the Seahawks are to make a significant addition it will either be via a trade or a player who becomes available (such as if Denver releases Ryan Clady, as has been anticipated).
Regardless, Seattle seems far from done adding to the offensive line, and the questions remain.
What’s next: Finding more bargains, re-signing more of their own
The Seahawks have 13 other free agents besides Okung, and a few seem likely to return. That includes running back Christine Michael, linebacker and special teamer Mike Morgan and maybe quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. If the Seahawks do not re-sign Jackson, then signing another veteran to compete for the backup spot would seem likely.
They also seem certain to make a few more inexpensive and low-risk signings to bolster the depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, at linebacker and at running back, where the Seahawks have just two players under contract — Thomas Rawls and Cameron Marshall.
Speaking of running back, though Marshawn Lynch has retired, the team has yet to place him on a reserve/retired list. That has to happen because he remains under contract, or else he must be released. Some have wondered why this has yet to happen, but there is no indication that Lynch could still want to play.
Instead, it could be a procedural thing allowing Seattle to spread out the salary-cap benefits from his retirement if Lynch were to be released after June 1.
The big unknown: the contracts of Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett
Both players remain under contract through 2017, deals they were unhappy enough with last year to either hold out (Chancellor) or consider it (Bennett). Some of the events of the offseason have made Bennett appear even more underpaid. But if the Seahawks are going to redo any existing deals (receiver Doug Baldwin also could be due for a new contract) it isn’t likely to happen until they are pretty much through the free-agency period.
As for Chancellor, he intriguingly tweeted Wednesday afternoon what appeared to be a response to rumors he could be on the trade block: “Seattle is my second home. I don’t plan on going anywhere unless some higher power places me elsewhere.’’