The offseason started earlier than the Seahawks were hoping, Seattle’s season ending with Sunday’s 28-23 loss to the Packers in a divisional playoff game.
That kicks off what will be a typically busy offseason for the Seahawks as they begin to decide which of their 19 unrestricted free agents to retain while also diving knee deep into preparations for the NFL draft.
The free agency period hits first, beginning March 18, though teams can re-sign their own players at any time, with the draft April 23-25.
Eight starters or significant rotation pieces are unrestricted free agents— defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah and Quinton Jefferson, defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Al Woods, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, left guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Germain Ifedi.
Of that group, the two biggest question marks are Clowney and Reed, players Seattle would have to make significant moves to replace if neither were to re-sign.
But with a projected $58.3 million in cap space entering the weekend — seventh-most in the NFL — the Seahawks will have their most flexibility to make big moves since the offseason that led into the 2013 season.
Seattle also could clear out more space by moving on from some veterans who have big cap numbers but little or no guaranteed money.
Here’s a list of Seattle’s free agents, in alphabetical order, and a thought on their future.
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah: He earned roughly $8.5 million this season while making just 18 tackles and 2½ sacks. Seattle would seem to want and need more reliable options for that much money going forward.
Wide receiver Jaron Brown: Began the year as the team’s No. 3 receiver but lost that spot at midseason and finished with just 16 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns after coaches said all offseason they hoped to get him more involved in the offense. Seattle would seem likely to pursue other options for a third receiver.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney: His status will be the big intrigue of the offseason. The guess here is he hits free agency with Seattle keeping close communication and hoping for a chance to match or, maybe, barely exceed any offer. But he got Seattle to agree not to franchise him, which indicates he’s planning to hit free agency unless the Seahawks blow him out of the water with an offer.
Offensive lineman George Fant: A valuable player both as a spot starter and regular in his eligible tackle role. It seems Seattle would want him back, and Pete Carroll said Monday that maintaining continuity on the offensive line is a goal for this offseason. But Fant said Monday he also wants to have a legit shot at winning a starting job as a left tackle, which probably won’t happen with Duane Brown around.
Wide receiver Josh Gordon: Gordon is still serving an indefinite suspension — nothing has been announced yet on specifics — so for now there’s nothing to decide even if Seattle wanted him back, which is hard to tell.
Offensive lineman Germain Ifedi: Ifedi, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, played 100% of the snaps in the regular season and playoffs this year, which on an offensive line that battled injuries everywhere else counted for quite a bit. He’s started all but four games in his career and all but one the last three years. But he could get an offer Seattle won’t want to match given the scarcity of decent OLs around the league. If Seattle doesn’t, though, it obviously means finding a way to replace him.
Offensive lineman Mike Iupati: Started 15 games before missing the playoffs with a stinger. He’ll turn 33 in May, so health and age could be determining factors in whether Seattle will want to bring him back. Second-year Jamarco Jones showed promise as his replacement, and Carroll also said rookie Phil Haynes played well against the Packers when Jones went out with a concussion. So Seattle has some guard options.
Defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson: Jefferson broke his foot against the Packers and needs surgery but otherwise was one of Seattle’s more consistent defensive linemen this season. Given the Seahawks’ issues on defense, it seems they’d want him back.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks: Suffered an ACL injury against the 49ers and might not be ready for the start of the 2020 season given the normal timeline for ACL recovery. With Cody Barton as the presumed future at strongside linebacker, Kendricks’ Seattle future seems iffy at best.
Cornerback Akeem King: Got three starts as an injury fill-in and played some in the nickel defense. But Seattle needs some significant upgrades at cornerback.
Running back Marshawn Lynch: Hope everyone enjoyed his three weeks back as much as he seemed to because logic dictates that was the end. Still, Carroll didn’t rule out that Lynch might still want to play and even didn’t rule out that they’d be open to again bring back Lynch at midseason if needed.
Running back C.J. Prosise: The Seahawks really tried to get the most out of Prosise after taking him in the third round in 2016. But every time he got a shot, he got hurt, playing just 25 of a possible 64 regular-season games. Seems each side would be ready for a fresh start.
Defensive lineman Jarran Reed: He ranks just after Clowney as the big free-agent decision for Seattle. His sack numbers were way down this year after his breakout 10½ a year ago — just two in 10 games, suspended for the first six for violating the league’s conduct policy. But Seattle obviously needs help on defense, and Reed was one of Seattle’s better overall performers. Pairing him for a whole year with Clowney might seem really tempting. Still, it would be no surprise to see him test the market.
Quarterback Geno Smith: Wasn’t needed to take a snap this season and might want to go somewhere he’d have more of an opportunity. Also will be interesting to see if Seattle would rather try to have someone younger in that role than Smith, who is 29.
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe: Turns 30 next month and has battled injuries the last two years playing just 19 of a possible 32 regular-season games. That might indicate he won’t be back.
Running back Robert Turbin: He was an emergency fill-in. The assumption is Seattle will fill out running back depth spots for 2020 with younger players.
Defensive end Dekoda Watson: Late-season fill-in, and Seattle might look to fill out end of roster with younger players.
Tight end Luke Willson: Sadly, he battled injuries down the stretch, which helped limit him to eight catches for 79 yards and no touchdowns in eight games. With Will Dissly coming off a significant injury, and Ed Dickson maybe not coming back, tight end could be a spot where the Seahawks will look to make significant additions in 2020. That might make it tough to bring back Willson.
Defensive lineman Al Woods: His four-game suspension ended with the Green Bay game. Was dependable when he played this year.
The Seahawks also have five restricted free agents, who can be retained with qualifying offers that aren’t matched by other teams: DE Branden Jackson, WR David Moore, TE Jacob Hollister, center Joey Hunt, cornerback Kalan Reed.
And Seattle also has eight exclusive rights free agents who are assured of returning if Seattle makes a qualifying offer: DT Bryan Mone, LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, CB Jeremy Boykins, OL Jordan Roos, OL Jordan Simmons, WR Malik Turner, safety Ryan Neal, TE Tyrone Swoopes.
The deadline to submit offers for RFAs and URFAs is March 18.