The playoffs have only made clearer what we already knew about the Seahawks — they have some serious work to do this offseason.
The NFC West is a glittering 4-1 in the postseason, with either the Rams or 49ers guaranteed a Super Bowl berth, and the only loss by a division team in the playoffs coming against another team in the division (L.A. over Arizona).
So yes, Seattle can maybe take some heart in that it came in last place in the toughest division in the NFL, and went 3-3 in division play.
But it also illustrates, as the offseason approaches, that the Seahawks better hit more than they miss with their key personnel decisions if they want to get back to the playoffs in 2022.
Which makes it a good time to review some of the key dates of the offseason and how they might affect the Seahawks.
Feb. 22-March 8: Franchise tag window
The Seahawks have used the franchise tag just twice in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, and only once since 2010 — on Frank Clark in 2019, mostly so they could retain his rights long enough to trade him.
Seattle has one possible candidate for the tag this year — safety Quandre Diggs.
Diggs, 29, would like a long-term deal. But the tag would at least represent a significant raise, paying him a projected $12.9 million for the 2022 season — more than twice the $6.2 million average of his previous contract — and allow Seattle to keep him around for now and worry about the future later.
Conversely, Seattle already has a $2.525 million dead cap number on Diggs for 2022 due to the void year added in August. Seattle would seem more likely to try to work out a two- or three-year deal with Diggs. But the tag could be an option to avoid Diggs hitting free agency and work out a deal down the road. Teams have until July 15 to sign tagged players to long-term deals.
March 1-7: NFL combine
There was no combine a year ago, but the plan is for the NFL to again gather for a week in Indianapolis. Seattle has six picks in the 2022 draft and projected at the moment to have four from picks 41 to 113. So while Seattle doesn’t have a first-round pick thanks to the Jamal Adams trade, it still has plenty of opportunity to improve the team in 2022 and the combine is where draft season really kicks into gear.
March 14-16: Start of ‘legal tampering period’ and free agency
A week after the combine ends, things really get busy in the NFL as the free agent signing period kicks off. Starting at 9 a.m. PT March 14, free agents can begin talking to other teams, and news of deals usually breaks quickly, even though contracts cannot be signed until the new league year begins at 1 p.m. March 16.
Seattle has 15 players who can become unrestricted free agents March 16, as well as three others who are restricted free agents and can be UFAs on that day if not given a qualifying offer by 1 p.m. that day.
March 21: Russell Wilson roster bonus due
There figures to remain some national chatter about Wilson’s future with the Seahawks. Internally, the feeling is that talk is much ado about nothing and this offseason could be a lot quieter on the Wilson front. Wilson has two years left on his deal, and the general feeling is that it’s next offseason when things will come to a head, when he has just one year left, the usual time to ask for an extension — and when if the team doesn’t want to give him what he wants, that a trade could be more realistic.
But if you’re looking for a date when the talk could really quiet, it is March 21 — or, five days after the start of the new league year — when Wilson is owed a $5 million roster bonus for the 2022 season. Wilson also has a similar bonus in his contract for the 2023 season. Each are designed in part as deadlines that if a move is to be made, it’s made before that bonus is paid.
April 18: Start of offseason program
The Seahawks, and any other team with returning head coaches, can begin their offseason programs on this date (teams with new coaches can begin two weeks earlier). Last year, much of the program was done virtually, and many veterans did not attend much of the on-field work until minicamp due in part to COVID-19. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has already intimated he hopes that greater participation in the program this year might help lead to a better start to the 2022 season.
April 28-30: NFL draft
Unless Seattle makes a trade, then it will again be sitting out the first round — and first day — of the draft.
But as noted earlier, the Seahawks will be busy on Days Two and Three.
Seattle’s first pick is No. 41 overall and that has yielded some pretty good players in recent seasons, notably receiver Robert Woods (Buffalo, 2013), defensive end Harold Landry (Tennessee, 2018) and running backs Dalvin Cook (Minnesota, 2017) and Jonathan Taylor (Colts, 2020). Last year’s 41st pick was former UW standout defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike by Detroit.