The biggest intrigue of the Seahawks’ offseason — the fate of Jadeveon Clowney – remained unresolved as the NFL free agent negotiating/signing period hit the one-week mark Sunday.
Well, as of Sunday afternoon, that is.
Things can change quickly.
But as this is written, Clowney remains reportedly in Houston, weighing his options.
While we wait for that sizeable shoe to drop, let’s review what else the Seahawks have done in the first week of free agency.
Q: Who have the Seahawks lost?
A: Of Seattle’s 19 players who became unrestricted free agents Wednesday (not counting those the team did not give qualifying offers), two have signed/agreed to terms to sign elsewhere — defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson with the Bills and offensive tackle George Fant with the Jets.
Q: How many of its own free agents has Seattle re-signed?
A: Officially, just one — defensive tackle Jarran Reed, signing a two-year deal worth a reported $23 million overall. The NFL has bans prohibiting travel for league business due to the coronavirus outbreak, but Reed was in town and able to sign the deal and get it officially completed. Tight end Luke Willson also tweeted the team had asked him back, but his signing has not yet become official.
Q: Of Seattle’s other 15 free agents who remain available, who might be the next to sign?
A: Right tackle Germain Ifedi would seem to have the biggest market of the Seahawks who are left. What’s clear at this point, though, is that he won’t be back in Seattle after the Seahawks signed two other tackles this week (Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi). Same goes for left guard Mike Iupati, whose spot appears taken by free agent guard/center B.J. Finney. The Seahawks also on Sunday agreed to terms with guard Chance Warmack, further indicating Iupati’s days in Seattle are done.
Most of the rest of Seattle’s free agents — a list that includes the likes of key contributors from a year ago such as defensive end Ziggy Ansah, defensive tackle Al Woods receiver Jaron Brown and linebacker Mychal Kendricks — may take a little while longer to find new homes.
Q: Isn’t Marshawn Lynch also a free agent?
A: Indeed he is. And Michael Silver of the NFL Network — who like Lynch is a Cal grad and has always had a close connection with the Lynch camp — said again this week that Lynch may want to return for the 2020 season. But he also said any return wouldn’t likely happen until months from now, either close to the beginning of training camp or possibly beyond.
Q: What other free agents have the Seahawks agreed to terms with/signed?
A: Officially, Seattle has signed just one free agent — Finney, whose contract terms have been revealed (two years, $8 million). Four others have agreed to terms — Shell, Ogbuehi, Warmack and defensive end Bruce Irvin. Irvin, the team’s first-round pick in 2012 who spent last year with Carolina, is thought to have agreed to a one-year deal in the $3 million to $4 million a year range, but exact details have yet to emerge.
Q: Seems as if Seattle has brought back a lot of players from the 2013 Super Bowl winners, doesn’t it?
A: Indeed Seattle has.
Irvin is now the ninth player who took part in the Super Bowl win over Denver who has left and re-signed with Seattle at some point since then. The others are Willson, Lynch, J.R. Sweezy, Chris Clemons, Byron Maxwell, Robert Turbin, DeShawn Shead and Tony McDaniel. Two others who were on the roster that year also left and later returned — Brandon Browner and Christine Michael.
Q: Does Irvin have much left at age 32?
A: He appeared to with Carolina last season. After missing the first three games with a hamstring injury and easing his way into the fourth, he then had 7.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits in the final 11 games of the season, each totals that would have led the Seahawks for the entire season.
Q: How have the signings of the offensive linemen been received?
A: The signing of Finney, who spent the last five years with the Steelers and is regarded as likely to take over for Iupati at left guard, has largely gotten rave reviews from NFL observers.
The website WalterFootball.com gave it an A-plus, writing: “This is a stellar signing. B.J. Finney played very well last season when taking over for the suspended Maurkice Pouncey. He showed the ability to be a solid starting lineman in the NFL, so the Seahawks are getting him for great value. Finney can start at both center and guard, so the versatility, upside and price combine to give Seattle an A+ grade’’
But the signing of Shell, who was benched briefly last year by the Jets and figures now to take over for Ifedi at right tackle, has been met with more a more mixed reception, with both ESPN and WalterFootball giving it a C.
Wrote ESPN’s Bill Barnwell of the Shell signing: “Shell was an average to below-average right tackle for the Jets over the past three seasons. Last year was his worst as a pass protector, with the South Carolina product giving up seven sacks across 13 games worth of action. Shell is better as a run-blocker, though, and the Seahawks see him as a cheaper replacement for Germain Ifedi, who was always better as a run-blocker himself.’’
The addition Ogbuehi also raised some eyebrows since it has been reported as being for $3.3 million when he made $895,000 last year as a reserve for Jacksonville. But a full judgment will need to wait until all the details of his contract are in. The Seahawks, though, appear to be banking that the 2015 first-rounder can live up to the potential teams saw then in a role in which he will likely be a swing backup tackle and possibly filling the Fant role as an eligible linemen.
Warmack, a former three-year starter at guard for the Titans, appears to be a depth signing on a contract not likely much above the league minimum, but also Seattle taking a flyer on a player who they hope, in his age 29 season, may still have something left.
The four free agent signings, though, give Seattle 15 offensive linemen under contract (or agreed to terms), meaning the Seahawks may be pretty well set up front until the draft.
Q: What areas does Seattle need to still address?
A: The defensive line is jobs 1, 2 and 3 the rest of the way.
Seattle has 11 defensive linemen under contract but needs to add two or three more, particularly rush ends.
Clowney would obviously be a big return and would create a potential starting line of Clowney, Reed, Poona Ford and Irvin, with players such as Rasheem Green, L.J. Collier, Branden Jackson and the easy-to-overlook Nazair Jones potentially mixing in.
But if Clowney doesn’t return then the Seahawks will need to react fast to sign someone such as Everson Griffen. And even if he does, adding another end or two seems a given.
The Seahawks can also be expected to sign a running back or two, a receiver or two, a defensive back or two, maybe a linebacker.
Seattle also needs a backup quarterback, and on Monday would be able to sign XFL star P.J. Walker, whom the team scouted during a game two weeks ago. The NFL ruled that teams can begin signing XFL players Monday.
But a resolution to Clowney’s fate, and how it impacts the cap, will likely dictate much of what Seattle does the rest of the way.
Q: Does it seem as if Seattle hasn’t done much yet?
A: Certainly, other teams have done more.
But the Seahawks would point out that the signing of Olsen — to a one-year deal worth up to $7 million — was significant. It also came before the signing period so it won’t count against the formula for compensatory picks in 2021, which is always a major factor in how Seattle approaches free agency.
At the moment, Seattle is at a net of plus-2 in free agents who count against the formula, according to OvertheCap.com, but if Seattle loses Clowney and Ifedi then the Seahawks could move to the net-loss side eventually and potentially eligible for a pick or two.
That, too, may indicate the Seahawks are waiting for some resolution to Clowney’s situation before doing a lot else.
And despite what may seem like a cautious approach so far, the Seahawks are down to $18.2 million in cap space before accounting for the contracts of Irvin, Shell and Ogbuehi. If Clowney agrees to re-sign, the Seahawks figure to have to do some roster shuffling to create more cap room, such as cutting the likes of Ed Dickson and Tedric Thompson, and maybe restructuring the contract of Justin Britt.
But it’s also worth remembering that the Seahawks under Pete Carroll and John Schneider have typically been more cautious in the March free agency than many other teams. The Seahawks currently have 65 players either signed or having agreed to terms, and eight picks in the draft.
There’s still a lot of work left to get the roster to the offseason maximum of 90.