From some important contract clauses, to franchise designations, to free agency, here's what's on the Seahawks' calendar and what it could mean for the team's future.
While the Seahawks are done playing games for a while that hardly means nothing will be happening with the team anytime soon.
Here are some dates of key offseason events and how they could impact the Seahawks.
Jan. 1 — As of the New Year NFL teams could begin negotiating or extending rookie contracts of players taken in the 2015 draft. For Seattle, that impacts two players — defensive lineman Frank Clark and receiver Tyler Lockett. Each have four-year contracts that run through the 2018 season and Seattle doesn’t have to do anything with either anytime soon. But the rules say they now can if they want, and of those two, Clark is the one that the Seahawks might have the most interest in locking up before he could potentially hit free agency. Not that the Seahawks don’t value Lockett, but Seattle’s first priority this offseason when it comes to receivers is Paul Richardson — who can be a free agent this year — and/or replacing Richardson if he gets away, likely making Lockett a player the team may let play out his rookie contract. Clark, though, could be a different story as Seattle may want to assure his long-term future, especially if the Seahawks release Michael Bennett. (Players such as Bennett can be released at any time, but it more typically happens in the few weeks or so prior to the beginning of the free agency period, which is detailed below).
Feb. 9 — On this date, the contracts for both receiver Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor have clauses in which parts or all of their salaries become guaranteed (or also known as five days after the Super Bowl, becoming a common time for players to have clauses in contracts requiring teams to make decisions about their futures). For Baldwin, $4.5 million of his $8.25 million salary for 2018 will become fully guaranteed. That’s really not an issue because Baldwin will obviously be part of the team next season. For Chancellor, his entire $6.8 million 2018 base salary becomes guaranteed on this date. That’s of more intrigue since Chancellor has a neck injury that could mean he will never play again. However, injured players cannot be waived and Chancellor’s contract also has guarantees due to injury — the $6.8 million base salary in 2018 and $5.2 million in 2019. So the Seahawks don’t appear to have any real option here. But if nothing else, the passage of this date will least likely make it official that the team is paying Chancellor for 2018, even if his playing future remains murky.
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Feb. 20 — This is the first day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players. Seattle has not used either tag since using the the franchise tag in 2010 on kicker Olindo Mare. And at the moment, it’s unclear if there’s anyone Seattle would want to use a tag on this season. Tight end Jimmy Graham is one of the team’s marquee pending free agents. But according to former agent Joel Corry, who now writes for CBSSports.com, Graham’s franchise tag number would be $15.48 million because a pro-ration of the signing bonus of his 2014 contract would have to be included, bumping up his tag from the $10.1 million that is projected for tight ends. But it’s also unclear if either side would even consider a tag option in any scenario. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will also be a free agent, but the tag number for defensive tackles is projected at $14.1 million. And that would not only make Richardson among the top 6-7 paid defensive tackles in the NFL but the second-highest paid player on the Seahawks behind quarterback Russell Wilson, which seems like something Seattle would be unlikely to do. As Corry noted, use of the franchise tag has lessened considerably in recent years with an average of only seven used the past three years.
Feb. 27- March 5 — NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis. This event is in many ways the kickoff of the next season. And often as interesting as the workouts of prospective draftees are the myriad of rumors that tend to circulate, as well as the press conferences of team coaches and general managers (Pete Carroll and John Schneider each typically meet the media here).
March 6 — Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 12-14 — This is when NFL teams are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, as the NFL states it “the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 player contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m., New York time.’’ Or, as it has come to be more commonly known, this is the “legal tampering period’’ when many agreements are reached between players and teams in the 48 hours or so before contracts can be officially signed. It’s hard to tell yet how active the Seahawks will be in free agency. According to OvertheCap.com the Seahawks have $19.4 million in cap space for the 2018 season and lots of their own players to try to re-sign. But they could also clear out some cap space by releasing some of their own players or deciding not to re-sign some. Conventional wisdom, though, is to not to expect the Seahawks to be major players due to their relative lack of cap room — consider that 13 teams currently have at least double the cap space of Seattle for the 2018 season, led by the 49ers with a whopping $115.4 million.
March 14 — On this date, the new league year begins at 1 p.m. Seattle time, when among other things, unrestricted free agents can begin officially signing contracts with other teams — it’s worth remembering teams can re-sign their own free agents at any time. Seattle is scheduled to have 16 unrestricted free agents including Graham, Sheldon Richardson, Paul Richardson, Luke Willson, Luke Joeckel, Bradley McDougald and DeShawn Shead. On this date teams must also submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation. Seattle has five pending RFAs, notably Dion Jordan, Justin Coleman, Mike Davis and Thomas Rawls. RFAs who are not tendered by this date then become unrestricted free agents. Teams also have to submit minimum offers to Exclusive Rights free agents on this date, offers that essentially bind those players to the team. Notable ERFAs include Quinton Jefferson, Branden Jackson and J.D. McKissic.
March 25-28 — Annual League Meeting in Orlando, Fla. Lots of rule changes and other business gets done here as well as what are mandatory media sessions for all coaches with general managers also often talking here. As such, the league meetings often serve as something of state-of-the-team addresses by coaches and GMs about their clubs after free agency has largely passed but with the draft on the horizon.
April 16 — This is when clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs. So this will be the next time the Seahawks will be back together in any official capacity as a team. The offseason workout program is technically voluntary, but usually most players participate in most of it. But if anyone is planning a holdout, this is usually their first chance to make that officially known.
April 20 — This is the deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets from other teams. Meaning if the Seahawks make, say, Jordan a qualifying offer, he has until this date to sign an offer sheet from another team that the Seahawks can then either match or not match and get compensation (if his qualifying offer mandates that the team will get some).
April 26-28 — NFL Draft, which this year will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. At the moment, Seattle has the 19th pick in the first round and then nothing again until the fourth, meaning it would make just one pick on the first two days. But Bitcoin stock may not be as high as the odds of Seattle not having made a move or two with its picks by the time the draft actually rolls around.
May 4-7 or May 11-14 — Teams can hold rookie minicamps on one of these two weekends.
Late May, early June — Teams can also hold up to 10 OTAs (organized team activities) following rookie mini-camp and then into early June, as well as a mandatory veteran mini-camp in June. Dates for these will be announced later.