On the first day of NFL free agency the Seahawks did what they usually do — nothing.
OK, behind the scenes they were surely doing a lot.
But in terms of what became public, Seattle did not add any players Monday while seeing two unrestricted free agents — running back Carlos Hyde and receiver Phillip Dorsett — agree to sign with Jacksonville.
That the Seahawks didn’t sign anyone on the first day teams could negotiate with players (signings of unrestricted free agents cannot become official until Wednesday) was in keeping with their strategy. They generally stay out of the first wave of free agency and wait until later to, hopefully, pluck some bargains while keeping salary-cap flexibility in the present and future.
The Seahawks also entered the day with just over $17 million in cap room, and though that is enough to make some moves during free agency, it also means they were going to have to be somewhat judicious.
Maybe most disappointing to Seahawks fans — if not quarterback Russell Wilson — was seeing three highly regarded interior offensive linemen agree quickly to sign elsewhere.
Some wondered if Wilson’s recent comments expressing frustration over the
Seahawks’ pass protection, and the subsequent trade rumors, might compel the Seahawks to splurge heavily on offensive linemen in free agency, something they have not done in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era.
But by roughly 1:30 p.m. Seattle time Monday, three of the biggest names available in free agency were off the table — former Green Bay center Corey Linsley to the Chargers, former New England guard Joe Thuney to the Chiefs and former Giants guard Kevin Zeitler (who played with Wilson in college at Wisconsin) to the Ravens.
Combined with Washington last week tagging guard Brandon Scherff, that meant that the top center and the top three guards who could have become free agents — all ranked among the top 28 on Pro Football Focus’ listing of the top 100 free agents — were gone.
If the Seahawks had wanted to go big on the offensive line, the interior line is where people thought it made sense because Seattle returns tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell but has openings at center (where Ethan Pocic is a free agent) and left guard.
After those four, PFF didn’t rate another interior offensive lineman until New England center David Andrews at No. 78.
Zeitler received a three-year deal reportedly worth up to $22.5 million, Thuney received a five-year deal said to be worth up to $80 million with $32.5 million guaranteed, and Linsley received a five-year deal said to be worth up to $62.5 million.
Reports also indicated that Seattle won’t find it easy to keep three big-name free agents — cornerback Shaquill Griffin, defensive end Carlos Dunlap II, and linebacker K.J. Wright.
A report from Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network said the Seahawks and Griffin were “not in the same ballpark,” and that Griffin will test the market.
Later in the night came a report from independent football reporter Josina Anderson that the Cleveland Browns are monitoring Griffin, generally considered among the best of the free-agent cornerbacks.
As for Dunlap, he remained unsigned a week after the Seahawks released him. However, six other pass rushers agreed to terms by Monday evening. But if that could be viewed as beginning to dry up the market for pass rushers, one report said the Baltimore Ravens are interested in Dunlap.
As for Wright, a report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano on Monday night said: “sounds like decent chance K.J. Wright could leave.” Wright has been with Seattle since 2011 but has made it clear he intends to take the best offer.
Among those who signed were Leonard Floyd, who agreed to stay with the Rams, and Yannick Ngakoue, who the Seahawks were linked to via trade a year ago and agreed to terms with the Raiders.
Floyd agreed to a four-year deal said to be worth up to $64 million, and Ngakoue received a two-year deal said to be worth up to $26 million.
PFF projects Dunlap to receive a one-year deal worth up to $9 million.
Hyde and Dorsett, meanwhile, rejoined former Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in Jacksonville, where he is now on the staff of new Jags coach Urban Meyer as passing-game coordinator.
Hyde, who played for Meyer at Ohio State, agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $6 million with Jacksonville, according to the NFL Network. Terms of Dorsett’s deal were not immediately revealed.
Hyde played last year on a one-year contract with Seattle that paid him $2.75 million.
Hyde rushed for 356 yards on 81 carries last season serving as Chris Carson’s backup and at times as the third-down/two-minute back, the latter a role the Jags might envision for him, as well.
Dorsett did not play for the Seahawks last year after coming to them with a foot injury that eventually required surgery.
Seattle expects its running-back position to be bolstered in 2021 by a full season from Rashaad Penny, who was the team’s first selection in the 2018 NFL draft but played just three games last year while rehabbing a knee injury.
Carson also is a free agent, and it’s unclear if Seattle is making much of a run to keep him.
Carroll had said he hoped Dorsett would return for the 2021 season, but Seattle could bring back David Moore as a third-receiver candidate and has 2020 rookie Freddie Swain on hand.