With Doug Baldwin's contract extension out of the way, here's a look at what is next for the Seahawks.
Now that receiver Doug Baldwin has signed a four-year extension with the Seahawks, what is next for the team?
Here’s a look.
1, Managing other pending unrestricted free agents. With Baldwin out of the way, the 2017 off-season is shaping up as one of the quieter years for the Seahawks in some time in terms of players who will be entering unrestricted free agency. The player with the biggest salary who could become a UFA following the 2016 season is PK Steven Hauschka (cap hit of $3.525 million in 2016).
No one else headed for UFA is making more than $2 million (TE Luke Willson is the next biggest earner at $1.7 in 2016). A few others of note who could be UFAs are DT Jordan Hill and CB Tharold Simon.
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But at the moment, Seattle has just 13 players who could be UFAs after the season and of that group, only Hauschka would be considered a starter at his position as of today.
That’s a stark contrast from the last few years when Seattle lost the likes of Bruce Irvin, Brandon Mebane, Golden Tate, Russell Okung, J.R.Sweezy, Malcolm Smith and a few others as unrestricted free agents.
All of which means the team you see now is basically the same one you can see in 2017 if the Seahawks want.
One reason for the lack of pending big-ticket UFAs is that the 2013 draft class — whose standard four-year contracts are all up following the 2016 season— turned out rather lackluster (including that Percy Harvin trade was a flat-out bust).
But the larger one is that the Seahawks have pretty-well navigated the treacherous waters of free agency to keep the heart and soul of the team largely intact.
After the 2013 Super Bowl win, many observers wondered how the Seahawks would keep the team together, and warned that pending salary cap hurdles might cause a quick demise.
But while Seattle has suffered a few tough losses — and notably have made decisions resulting in what could be a completely new offensive line in 2016 — it’s hard to argue that the Seahawks have not accomplished what they’ve said has been their primary mission throughout of keeping their “core’’ group players (Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Baldwin, etc.) with the team. (Work admittedly remains to keep one key player around for a while — Michael Bennett — more on which in a minute).
All of which means the Seahawks appear set for a pretty calm next two years if they want it.
2, Extending coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. This is probably the next big thing on the Seahawks’ docket, with Carroll and Schneider each entering the final year of their contracts.
That we are now just a month or so away from training camp and nothing has yet to get done at least somewhat opens an eyebrow. And Carroll’s non-expansive comments about his situation — while he has no problem giving 400-word answers to some questions, he’ll answer any about his contract with a quick “I’m doing great’’ or something similar and leave it at that — also elicit some understandable curiosity.
But the general thought remains that the team just had an order of how it wanted to do its business this off-season — keeping as many of its own 2016 UFAs, then prepping for the draft, then re-upping Baldwin — before turning to Carroll and Schneider. The best bet remains that something will likely to get done during training camp, at the latest.
3, Re-upping Michael Bennett. Bennett now becomes the player on the current roster most likely to get the next big deal from the Seahawks.
But recall again that Bennett cannot be an unrestricted free agent until after the 2017 season.
The Seahawks have so far held firm to their stance of not giving extensions until a player has just one year remaining on their contract.
And it’s thought that remains the plan with Bennett, despite how underpaid he may be (relative to NFL salaries, of obviously). By one way of viewing it, Bennett — the defensive MVP in the 2016 Pro Bowl — is the 26th highest-paid defensive lineman.
Bennett has said he won’t hold out and seems resigned that the Seahawks have an order to how they take care of their business from which they aren’t inclined to budge.
The same also all holds true for Kam Chancellor, who likewise cannot be an unrestricted free agent until after the 2017 season. Like Bennett, Chancellor also has said there’s no holdout coming this year. Chancellor, though, remains among the most highly-paid players at his position, and of the two, is likely after Bennett on the priority list.
Could the Seahawks break from precedent and do something, anything, for either player now?
The Seahawks; history — notably, how firm they stayed during Chancellor’s holdout last fall – indicates that Bennett and Chancellor are likely to have to wait another year for new deals. But Bennett also changed agents this off-season — from Drew Rosenhaus to Doug Hendrickson — and is undoubtedly doing what he can to force the Seahawks to rethink their precedent.