A story that broke Tuesday about the NFL changing its free agency deadline from June 1 to May 12 might have been easy to overlook.
But contained within is one detail worth keeping in mind as you wonder when the Seahawks may sign one of the handful of veteran centers to whom they have been connected as they continue to explore options for replacing the traded Max Unger.
Specifically, as the story states:
“June 1 had continued significance for another reason. After June 1, unrestricted free agents signed by other teams don’t count toward the compensatory draft-pick formula. Starting this year, that date will move from June 1 to May 12, according to the league office.”
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Several of the centers Seattle has been pursuing — specifically, Stefen Wisniewski and Dan Connolly — are each unrestricted free agents who could count toward the compensatory draft-pick formula.
And that surely will weigh into the decisions the Seahawks make as at the moment, Seattle could be in line for another good haul of comp picks for 2016 — as of now, likely three out of the maximum four.
But a signing of an unrestricted free agent (meaning, a player whose contract lapsed instead of being released) could impact the comp pick formula, essentially meaning you might also be trading a 2016 draft pick to sign someone like Wisniewski before May 12.
With the June 1 date, there might have been more urgency to sign a UFA regardless so you could get him into more of the offseason program. But the shift to May 12 means any UFA signed after that date would be available for all of OTAs (Organized Training Activities, which will start around that time). And that means, as PFT noted, more of a reason to wait until May 12 or after to sign a UFA.
As PFT wrote: “The shift gives free agents more of an opportunity to participate in the offseason program. It also gives teams reason to wait on adding some of the currently available free agents, in order to avoid reducing their potential haul of compensatory picks.”
Seattle has been pretty patient already, having gotten visits from Wisniewski, Shelley Smith (who signed with Denver) and Chris Myers (who since he was released, would not impact the comp pick formula) and said to have inquired into Connolly, but yet to sign anyone. As GM John Schneider said last week at the NFL League Meetings, that’s been on purpose, with the Seahawks willing to wait to get the right player at the right cost.
“Especially with players who are added from the outside as unrestricted free agents, it has to be at a price that makes sense for us,’’ Schneider said.
Also worth keeping in mind is that with the NFL Draft on April 30-May 2, a team like the Seahawks could wait out a UFA like Wisniewski (who is reported to want more than $4 million a year and is also coming off shoulder surgery) and see if it feels comfortable with what it got in the draft (Hroniss Graasu, anyone?). If not, then the Seahawks would know they would have a chance to even more quickly address the issue if there is still a need.