One constant in the NFL is roster turnover.
And so it is that we will soon get a much better idea of how different the Seattle roster will look in 2020 than it did in 2019.
Next Wednesday, when the new league year begins, 18 players who were on Seattle’s roster at the end of the season can become unrestricted free agents, meaning free as of 1 p.m. Seattle time to sign with any other team.
That includes 14 players who were on the team’s final 53-man roster of the season for the playoff loss at Green Bay.
Which of those 18 might return? Here’s a look, in order of most likely to re-sign (in our estimation, anyway) to least:
DL Quinton Jefferson: Just to make clear, this is a ranking in order of who I think is most likely to re-sign, not necessarily the most important. Jefferson is at the top of the list for his combination of good play last year and affordability. Jefferson had the second-most snaps of any defensive lineman last year, behind only Clowney, and was ranked by Pro Football Focus ahead of bigger-name defensive linemen such as Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Williams and Gerald McCoy. Spotrac assessed Jefferson as having a market of roughly $5 million a year. If so, then it seems like a relative slam dunk for the Seahawks to make that move.
DL Jarran Reed: Expect Reed to test the market, and if some team makes a crazy offer then he’ll be gone. But the guess here is that the market for Reed won’t be too absurd and Seattle will want to – and be able to — keep him.
OL George Fant: Fant likewise seems likely to test the market and made clear at the end of the season he’d like a shot to play left tackle. But assuming Germain Ifedi departs — which seems likelier than not — then Fant’s importance to the Seahawks increases. If the Seahawks try hard enough and Fant knows he has a shot to be the starting right tackle, with left tackle maybe in the offing in a year or two depending on how long Duane Brown plays, it’ll work out for him to stay.
TE Luke Willson: Willson battled injuries throughout his return season to the Seahawks a year ago and the signing of Greg Olsen and expected return of Will Dissly means he’d be expected to serve in a depth role, at best. But Willson likely won’t have a big market and Pete Carroll said the Seahawks hope to keep him around, so a one-year, inexpensive deal makes sense.
DE Jadeveon Clowney: Lower than you’d hoped for Seattle’s marquee free agent? Well, this one is really hard to read as free agency nears, with the current uncertainty over the CBA not helping things. Clowney unquestionably wants to strike it rich and, to repeat the oft-stated phrase this time of year, it only takes one team. Anything above $21 million a year or so may take Seattle out of it. Seattle, though, is going to be aggressive about trying to improve its defensive line after last season, and this could be one time the Seahawks won’t shy away from a bidding war.
DB Akeem King: King was a valuable reserve cornerback, sometimes at nickel, last season and a solid special-teamer. On the surface, King seems like a player Seattle would want back.
OL Mike Iupati: OK, here’s where the odds of players re-signing start to drop considerably. Iupati battled a neck injury that held him out of the playoffs and will be 33 in May so the Seahawks may well decide to move on with younger players at that spot (specifically, Jamarco Jones and Phil Haynes). But depending on what happens at tackle and if Jones might be needed there, the Seahawks might want Iupati back.
DL Al Woods: Woods will be 33 later this month and missed the last four games of last year due to a PED suspension. But he played OK last season when he was available — PFF ranked him ahead of the likes of Suh, Poona Ford, Quinnen Williams and Jeffery Simmons last season — and he might not cost much.
LB Mychal Kendricks: Kendricks is due to be sentenced March 30 (though given how many delays there have been, you’re excused for waiting to believe it when you see it) and is also rehabbing from an ACL injury that makes it unlikely he’d be ready for the start of the 2020 season. But Carroll said when Kendricks was injured that the Seahawks hoped to keep him around and if they think he can help out at any point during the season, a one-year deal for not a whole lot makes some sense.
RT Germain Ifedi: A favorite target of criticism of Seahawks fans, Ifedi is probably held in higher esteem by coaches than most fans might realize, especially for his durability, missing only four games in four years. But he could also have a healthy market and Seattle’s needs on defense may mean they won’t want to spend all that big on the offensive line.
QB Geno Smith: Seattle doesn’t have a backup QB on the roster yet and Smith would at least provide some stability to what has been a merry-go-round at that spot after holding the job last season. But as their scouting of XFL star P.J. Walker last weekend shows, the Seahawks are considering other options as well.
RB C.J. Prosise: It’s easy to assume his Seattle days are done after four years riddled with injuries. But the Seahawks need running-back depth and you never know if the Seahawks might think he’s worth a minimum-salary gamble to give it a shot one more time.
WR Jaron Brown: After two years when he had ample chances to win the third receiver job but never really did, the Seahawks are likely moving on.
DB Neiko Thorpe: He’s been a valued special-teams player and locker-room presence for four years. But injuries have limited him to 19 games the past two seasons and Seattle will likely want some younger players for that role going forward.
DE Ziggy Ansah: The one-year experiment didn’t work out and it may be worth wondering if Ansah will be playing anywhere next year after continuing to battle injuries last season.
RB Marshawn Lynch: If Lynch returns — which would seem unlikely now that he will be 34 next month but which no one is ruling out — it almost certainly would again be as an in-season or late-season pickup.
DE/LB Dekoda Watson: Watson was a late-season pickup to help out as an edge rusher and special-teamer. Seattle will likely reserve his roster spot for a younger player.
RB Robert Turbin: Seattle needs running-back depth but will likely turn to younger options.
(WR Josh Gordon is also set to be an unrestricted free agent but he remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL.)