The Seahawks appear in the running to re-sign Sheldon Richardson and sign Ndamukong Suh. But they won't be able to get both.
One of the bigger curiosities of the first few days of NFL free agency is the relative lack of activity when it comes to the defensive tackle market. And among the most notable of that group is Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson, acquired by the Seahawks the week before last season began and who became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, is regarded as one of the top defensive tackles available and figured to have a lot of suitors.
But so far there has been little real buzz about him other than a report that the Vikings are interested and that it’s known that the Seahawks want to keep him.
One possible reason for the delay in movement among defensive tackles could be that teams were waiting to see if Ndamukong Suh was really going to be released by Miami and enter the market (the Dolphins were known trying to trade him).
Suh was released Wednesday and given his pedigree — he’s been the highest-paid non-QB in NFL history — what he does next may well set the market.
Which is where Seattle comes back into the story.
Seattle is the only team so far publicly linked to both players — Richardson for the obvious reasons and the Seahawks reported in several circles to be one of a few teams interested in Suh with Suh likewise interested in them.
Suh was in Seattle earlier this week, as his Twitter and Instagram revealed. But he was also then reported by Jordan Schultz of Yahoo.com to have traveled back to Portland Wednesday afternoon and that while he had talked to numerous Seattle players, the recruitment process was “on.”
Schultz reported Thursday morning that Suh had talked with Seattle coach Pete Carroll on the phone Wednesday night which indicated that while Suh had been in Seattle he had not met with the Seahawks — no face-to-face meeting could have occurred while he was still property of the Dolphins.
But that obviously doesn’t rule out that they could have talked or that there hasn’t been contact between Suh’s agent , Jimmy Sexton, and the Seahawks (Sexton, most known for being the agent for many top college football coaches also handles Jimmy Graham).
Exactly how much interest Seattle has in Suh — and Suh may have in the Seahawks — is hard to know.
What isn’t is that where things go from here is likely dependent largely on what happens with Richardson.
Seattle has been thought hoping to keep Richardson despite the fact Seattle did not place a franchise tag on him — that would have been for $13.9 million and the Seahawks declined it in large part because that would have been become the floor for future negotiations on a long-term deal, which has been the priority all along.
If Seattle can re-sign Richardson to any sort of significant deal then it won’t be going after Suh, who made it clear today he is going to the highest bidder — the Seahawks won’t be paying that much to two defensive tackles each year (Mike Garofolo of the NFL Network reported Thursday morning that Richardson wants more than $10 million a year).
But if Richardson gets away, the Seahawks would then make a more aggressive push for Suh.
One attraction of Suh is that since he was released he would not factor into the compensatory pick formula.
Attempting to load up on comp picks has been regarded as a priority for the Seahawks this year since they don’t have a second- or a third-round pick this year and no second next year thanks to the Richardson and Duane Brown trades.
So with Suh, the only commitment would be money.
Money, though, is already an issue even if it seems like the Seahawks haven’t done much.
The signings of Barkevious Mingo and the various qualifying offers and tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents appear to have the Seahawks already down to about $12 million in actual cap space to spend on free agents.
That basically leaves room for one of Suh or Richardson.
Suh comes with some baggage — stories out of Miami said one reason for releasing Suh was an attempt of head coach Adam Gase to change the team’s culture. That’s probably somewhat of a way to try to evade the real reason — the Dolphins signed Suh to what at the time seemed like a bad contract and doesn’t look any better now, and the team will save $54 million over the next three years by releasing him.
Still, he turned 31 in January and any team signing him to any kind of lengthy deal will have to debate if he will be worth the investment as he gets further into his 30s.
Richardson is at least a known commodity to the Seahawks after playing with the team all season.
He may have had some of his own issues in New York (a notorious traffic arrest) but his year with the Seahawks seemed to go fine as he played in 15 games and was the key to what was two of the team’s biggest wins — the victory at Los Angeles in which he had an interception and a fumble recovery, and the win against the Eagles in which he helped forced a fumble by Carson Wentz at the goal line that prevented a touchdown.
Ultimately, the choice may not be so much Seattle’s but what the market dictates.