With an offseason that started earlier than the Seahawks planned under way, the team’s brain trust — which apparently isn’t changing to any major degree — can set about making the moves to try to get back to the playoffs in 2022.

And what Seattle will have to do first is figure out which of its free agents to re-sign.

Here’s a look at Seattle’s free agent situation entering the offseason.

Cap space and new league year date

First, it’s worth noting that the NFL’s new league year begins March 16, with the “legal tampering” period, when players can negotiate with other teams, starting March 14.

Teams can always re-sign their own free agents, but those dates when players can talk to outside teams and usually when most major moves begin to be made.

Seattle on paper appears to have ample cap space — $52.5 million according to OvertheCap.com of the $208.2 million allotted to NFL teams in 2022.

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But that drops to just over $40 million in effective cap space, meaning the maximum a team would have once it signs 51 players (teams only count their 51 top-salaried players against their cap from the start of the new league year until the first week of the regular season, which allows teams to go over the number to fit in all 90 players during training camp).

That may sound like a lot — and indeed, it ranks fifth among all NFL teams.

But during his radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday, coach Pete Carroll warned “that money will go faster than you think” because the Seahawks will prioritize re-signing many of their own free agents.

“We have to keep our guys,” Carroll said. “So that space you are talking about, we have to keep our guys around.”

Of course, cap space can always be created by restructuring contracts (converting bonus into salary and spreading it out over the life of the deal), redoing deals to add void years (likewise spreading out the cap hit over a longer life of a contract) or cutting players (Bobby Wagner, for instance, could be a candidate to be released, which would clear up $16.3 million in cap space).

How might Seattle spend that money? Let’s look at their impending free agents.

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Unrestricted free agents

So-called UFAs are those whose contracts officially expire on March 16 and are then free to sign with any team.

Seattle has 15, according to OvertheCap.com.

Here’s a look at each:

SS Quandre Diggs: His leg injury shouldn’t change the team’s plan to try to re-sign him.

LT Duane Brown: Brown ended the season playing well and a one-year deal would make sense to return in 2022 at age 37.

C Ethan Pocic: Pocic regained the starting center job at midseason and would seem a priority to re-sign with the strong way that the offensive line ended the season.

TE Gerald Everett: Everett is one of four players with void years contracts who will become UFAs (Diggs, Brown, Pocic are the others). He might want to hit the market, though Seattle would then need to find a replacement.

RB Rashaad Penny: Suddenly one of the biggest questions is how much it will take to re-sign Penny? Seattle may want to make a proactive move to keep Penny from hitting the market.

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RT Brandon Shell: Shell ended the season with a shoulder injury, allowing Jake Curhan to take over at RT. The Seahawks could decide to ride with Curhan.

TE Will Dissly: Carroll noting the big impact Dissly had on the running game at end of the season would seem to foreshadow they want him back. Dissly had the 14th best run blocking grade of 77 tight ends from Pro Football Focus.

DT Al Woods: Veteran had his best season at age 34, ranked 13th out of 127 DTs by Pro Football Focus, and another one-year deal would make sense.

CB D.J. Reed: After showing he can be play well as a full-time starter — he finished the year with the ninth-highest grade of 120 cornerbacks from Pro Football Focus — Reed might want to test market. But given Seattle’s cornerback issues to start this season, continuity makes a lot of sense, too.

CB Sidney Jones: Also played well down the stretch, finishing 27th out of all CBs from PFF, and would seem a player Seattle wants back.

QB Geno Smith: Arrest on suspicion of DUI aside, Seattle also has Jacob Eason under contract and might want to give him a shot as the backup.

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RB Alex Collins: Another one-year, minimum deal might make sense to assure RB depth.

DE Rasheem Green: Had career-high 6.5 sacks and is just 24.

OL Jamarco Jones: A valuable reserve who the Seahawks could make more of a priority if Brown doesn’t return.

DT Robert Nkemdiche: Interestingly, saw his most playing time since September in the regular-season finale. A one-year, minimum deal might also make sense.

(RB Adrian Peterson, who was on the practice squad, also is now a street free agent, meaning he could sign with any team immediately).

Restricted free agents

So-called RFAs are players who teams can keep by making a qualifying tender. That means the player can solicit other offers but the Seahawks would have the right of first refusal or get a draft pick as compensation if they sign elsewhere. RFAs can also be signed to extensions at any time. If RFAs are not given qualifying offers they then become UFAs at the new league year.

Seattle has three RFAs: OLs Phil Haynes and Kyle Fuller and cornerback Bless Austin. Haynes in particular would seem a priority to retain after starting the final two games of the season, one at each guard spot.

Exclusive rights free agents

So-called ERFAs are players with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If the Seahawks offer a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams. Meaning, essentially, ERFAs will return if the team wants them.

Seattle has 11: DT Bryan Mone, DB Ryan Neal, OL Dakoda Shepley, CB John Reid, LB Jon Rhattigan, DB Nigel Warrior, CB Gavin Heslop, LB Tanner Muse, DE Marcus Webb and WRs John Ursua and Penny Hart.