March is the time of year when the lure of the big name can prove hard to resist in the NFL.
And unless the league changes course and delays free agency due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, once the clock hits 1 p.m. PDT Wednesday, hundreds of veteran players will become free to sign with any team.
The list includes the likes of Tom Brady, Bryon Jones, Amari Cooper, Derrick Henry and Seattle’s own Jadeveon Clowney, just to name a few (assuming they aren’t locked up by their own teams first).
It’s a frenzy the Seahawks have often stayed on the periphery of during the 10-year Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, especially once the core of the 2013 Super Bowl-championship team was built.
For much of the rest of the decade, the Seahawks generally devoted the bulk of their dollars to re-signing their own players, including last year when Seattle’s two biggest offseason signings were quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
But if the Seahawks haven’t always been major players in free agency, they’ve still made their share of moves during the Schneider/Carroll era.
So with another free-agent signing period approaching, let’s look back at the five best, and worst, Seattle free-agent signings during the last decade.
And to make clear the definition here, this is a list of players signed during the free-agent signing period, so it doesn’t include players acquired via trade (such as Marshawn Lynch) or signed via other ways (Brandon Browner, for instance, who came from the CFL).
The Top 5
1, Defensive lineman Michael Bennett, 2013.
The one-year, $5 million deal Seattle was able to get Bennett for on March 14, 2013 will forever be one of the best acquisitions in team history. Seattle took advantage of what was something of an inexplicably soft market that year for defensive ends, as well as the fact that Bennett had played really well the previous few years in the relative purgatory of Tampa Bay. Bennett led the 2013 Super Bowl champs in snaps by a defensive lineman and then signed a four-year deal worth $28.5 million a year later.
2, Defensive end Cliff Avril, 2013.
The Avril signing — two years for $15 million — came a day before Bennett’s and was no less important as the two helped solve what had been Seattle’s one major weakness the year before, a consistent pass rush.
3, Safety Bradley McDougald, 2017.
The measure of a good “prove it’’ free agent deal is usually whether the player hangs around for a second one. That was the case with McDougald, who in 2017 signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks for $1.8 million, less than the $2.553 million tender he had played on the year before with Tampa Bay. McDougald filled in capably as an injury replacement to start nine games the following year, then stayed with the Seahawks on a three-year deal worth almost $14 million.
4, Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, 2013.
Yep, 2013 was a really good year for the Seahawks in a lot of ways. It’s easy to forget now what a coup the signing of McDaniel turned out to be. He’d worn out his welcome in Miami, where he had played only 11 games the previous year and made 11 tackles, and the Seahawks got him a few weeks into the signing period on a one-year deal for $890,000. That proved a steal when McDaniel had a career season, starting 15 game and playing 50 percent of the snaps with six tackles for a loss, which tied for third on a defense that will always be regarded as one of the best in NFL history. McDaniel re-signed with Seattle the next year (two years, $6.3 million) but was released following the 2015 season.
5, Tight end Zach Miller, 2011.
The Seahawks paid Miller a fair amount — $17 million guaranteed on a five-year deal that could have paid him $34 million overall — and they ended up restructuring it after three seasons. But if Miller didn’t put up the same kind of numbers as he had with the Raiders, he was still a dependable and consistent weapon from 2011-13 as both a receiver and a blocker, the latter particularly critical during a time when Seattle emerged as one of the best running teams in the NFL.
The Bottom 5
1, Cornerback Cary Williams, 2015.
Seattle made the decision following the 2014 season to let Byron Maxwell go to the highest bidder. No problem there as Maxwell made it only one full season with the Eagles after signing a six-year deal worth up to $63 million with $25 million guaranteed. But the other part of Seattle’s plan — essentially trading Maxwell for Williams, who had been with the Eagles — didn’t work out. Williams, who signed a three-year deal worth up to $18 million with $7 million guaranteed, was cut after starting just 10 games.
2, Quarterback Matt Flynn, 2012.
The Seahawks did indeed find their quarterback of the future in 2012. Only, they did so in April in the draft with Russell Wilson and not in free agency in March, when they signed Flynn to a three-year deal worth up to $26 million with $10 million guaranteed. Give the Seahawks credit that they didn’t stop adding quarterbacks after signing Flynn, who had famously made just two career starts in four years before signing with Seattle. He made more than $1 million a pass attempt with the Seahawks, traded by Seattle in 2013 after losing the job to Wilson and throwing just nine passes in 2012.
3, Guard Robert Gallery 2011.
Seattle hoped a reunion of Gallery with OL coach Tom Cable — the two had worked together in Oakland — would help solidify the team’s offensive line in what was Carroll’s second season. Instead, after signing a three-year deal worth up to $15 million, Gallery was able to play just 12 games due to injury, and was almost benched during one midseason contest. He was then released in March 2012, a season in which he would have been due a $5 million base salary.
4, Running back Eddie Lacy, 2017.
Following a 2016 season when hoped-for Marshawn Lynch-heir apparent Thomas Rawls struggled to show he was all the way back from a devastating ankle injury, the Seahawks searched far and wide for a veteran running back, getting visits from the likes of Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray and Jamaal Charles. They ultimately agreed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal with Lacy that included $2.85 million guaranteed, which famously also included some weight clauses. Whether it was weight or inability to recover fully from an ankle injury the year before, Lacy never looked in Seattle like the player he was in Green Bay, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. He had averaged 5.1 the year before with the Packers. Lacy played in just nine games and started just three and hasn’t played in the NFL since.
5, Tight end Ed Dickson, 2018.
Looking for a veteran tight end to fill the void after the departures of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, the Seahawks turned to the usually dependable Dickson, who had missed only four games in eight previous seasons, signing him to a three-year deal with a guarantee of $3.6 million and $10.7 million possible overall. Dickson, though, suffered an injury in offseason training and played just 10 games in 2018, making 12 catches, then missed all of last year with a knee injury and it’s been widely speculated he’ll be released before his final season in 2020.