The Seahawks jump-started their offseason Tuesday by signing free-agent tight end Greg Olsen.
But lots of questions remain as offseason activity heats up. So let’s get to some of what readers have been wondering about.
A: There has been nothing new of late. But that is not a surprise. I think everyone figured Jadeveon Clowney was going to hit the free-agent market. He made that clear when he asked the team to agree not to slap a franchise tag on him this year as part of the conditions of the trade with Houston.
If Clowney really wants market-setting money — as has been speculated from the start but was further rumored this week by Bleacher Report — he has to see what the market is first.
Sure, the Seahawks could just blow the market out of the water and keep him. But that’s never been their way and isn’t a strategy conducive for long-term success.
A player who is seeking the kind of deal Clowney seeks also may want to see how the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) develops, which could impact what he might want in 2021 and beyond (the current CBA goes through the 2020 season).
In other words, I think it’d be a surprise if we hear much about Clowney until the free-agent period kicks into gear. Players can begin negotiating with teams March 16 and can officially sign beginning March 18.
A: This is a reference to the story that broke earlier this week that Detroit will explore trade options for cornerback Darius Slay, who is entering the final year of his contract and appears to not be part of the team’s future, especially with his apparent desire to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Slay’s contract calls for a cap hit this season of $13.68 million, which would be a hefty number to take on — only Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner have bigger cap numbers among Seahawks in 2020 (though Clowney obviously would if he re-signs).
But Slay reportedly would want an immediate extension, with one report stating it’d have to be in the $15 million range. Such a deal might reduce the immediate cap hit but would obviously tie the Seahawks to Slay for years, with the extension years starting after he turns 30 on Jan. 1, 2021.
The Seahawks would likely have to give up at least a second-round pick, Detroit’s reported asking price. The Seahawks have two second-rounders this year.
Slay has proved to be both good (Pro Bowl nods each of the last three years) and durable (at least 75% of Detroit’s snaps every season since his rookie year in 2013). Seattle is widely perceived to need an upgrade at the left corner spot after Tre Flowers’ late-season struggles (and I say it that way because the coaching staff may not share what has become a dim assessment of Flowers).
Would that much money and that high of a pick be worth it? As we know, the Seahawks always want to be involved in everything, so I’m sure they’ll do their due diligence. But that seems like a pretty stiff price, even if the Seahawks have more cap room this time of year than a lot of others (about $45 million or so after signing Olsen).
My hunch: The Seahawks might keep tabs on this. If the price drops — for Detroit and Slay — maybe they’d get involved.
A: That’s an interesting question, but I don’t think so.
With the way Russell Wilson has played, what he makes (a cap hit this year of $31 million) and how durable he is, I don’t think it makes sense for the Seahawks to pay what it would take to get quarterbacks like that. Each would want a chance to start — or in Winston’s case, to be assured of being the starter going in.
So I think this will be another year they will go with a Geno Smith-type of veteran who is making basically the minimum salary, if not Smith himself, while finding a younger QB late in the draft, or via the undrafted free agent route, as competition.
A: There will have to be if Germain Ifedi leaves via free agency, which a lot of observers think is likely.
Ifedi is a free agent whose market might be higher than fans may anticipate. Ifedi may be helped by Arizona signing D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal that averages $15 million a year with $29 million guaranteed. True, Humphries plays left tackle and Ifedi the right side. But any big new deal for a tackle figures to help them all.
If Ifedi were to leave, the Seahawks could re-sign George Fant to play the right side. Fant made it clear he wants a chance to be a starter, and while he indicated he wants to play on the left side, he might be amenable to a clear path to a starting spot on the right side (he won’t start the left side as long as Duane Brown is around).
If neither stays, Seahawks fans would be in favor of signing Tennessee’s Jack Conklin, who is just 26. But the Titans will try to keep Conklin, and he’s going to be valued by a lot of teams, meaning it won’t be an easy — or cheap — battle to win.
The in-house options have thinned out a bit, with Jamarco Jones seeming to have a better future at guard than tackle (he may slide in as the starting left guard if Mike Iupati doesn’t re-sign, which seems to be the conventional wisdom).
So yes, just as the Seahawks were able to scratch tight end off the to-do list, right tackle could well become an emphasis depending on what happens with Ifedi and Fant.
A: I think, like all NFL teams, the Seahawks will scout the XFL and see if there are players worth giving a look. XFL players can sign with NFL teams following the end of their season in late April, or following the NFL draft.
It’s worth remembering that almost every player in the XFL has been on an NFL roster (or two, three or four), including former Seahawks Kasen Williams, Keenan Reynolds, B.J. Daniels and Marcell Frazier, and even quarterback Cardale Jones, who has been one of the early stars of the league. Jones was on Seattle’s practice squad for two weeks last fall before being waived.
One issue with players as they get older is that their minimum salary is more than rookies, so if teams are looking to fill the bottom of their rosters, they’ll usually look to the younger, cheaper player whose upside may still be far less certain.
I’m sure a few XFL players will sign with NFL teams. But the biggest impact to any NFL team this offseason is going to come through the draft and NFL free agency.