Reviewing what the Seahawks have done in free agency in the Pete Carroll-John Schneider era with the free agent signing period beginning Thursday.
The Seahawks can officially begin signing unrestricted free agents Thursday at 1 p.m.
The thought is that the team will be a little more aggressive than in past years, in part because they don’t have any of their own marquee free agents to immediately worry about re-signing. But with many teams having more than Seattle’s $25 million or so in cap room, the Seahawks still appear unlikely to make a gargantuan splash.
As we wait, here’s a brief review of what the Seahawks have done in past seasons in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime in terms of signing outside free agents (meaning, not their own players they re-signed, though that is mentioned, too).
And a reminder that the point here isn’t to list every single free agent signed, but to a give an overview of what the team did each season.
Big signings: TE Chris Baker, two years, $4.7 million; OL Ben Hamilton, one year, $2 million.
Comment: The Seahawks made about a zillion transactions in the first year of Carroll/Schneider, give or take, but most were trades (Charlie Whitehurst, Leon Washington, etc.). Baker was a blocking tight end who caught nine passes and then suffered a fractured hip and was released the following spring. Hamilton started six games for the Seahawks before being injured and never playing again. The true building of the Seahawks in this season occurred through the draft where Seattle got the likes of Earl Thomas, Russell Okung, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond and Kam Chancellor.
Big signings: Sidney Rice, five years, $41 million; TE Zach Miller, five years, $34 million; DT Alan Branch, two years, $8 million; OL Robert Gallery, three years, $15 million; QB Tarvaris Jackson, two years, $8 million.
Comment: In Carroll and Schneider’s second year, and more cognizant of what they needed, the Seahawks were as aggressive in free agency as they have ever been, spending big to try to add offensive skill players and an immediate starting QB, as well as the most money they have ever given to a free agent OL in Gallery. Gallery, though, dealt with a couple of injuries in starting just 12 games that season and was released the following spring. That the signings of Hamilton and Gallery didn’t work undoubtedly has contributed to Seattle’s desire to build a line through moreso through the draft.
Big signings: QB Matt Flynn, three years, $20.5 million; DT Jason Jones, one year, $4.5 million.
Comment: By this point, the new Seattle braintrust had a better idea of what it had — an emerging defense, a good offensive skill core to build around (Marshawn Lynch, Rice, Miller, Doug Baldwin) — and set their sights on a QB, quickly targeting Flynn. But in what may be the best exemplification of the team’s “Always Compete’’ motto, giving big money to Flynn didn’t stop the Seahawks from using a third-round pick a few weeks later on Russell Wilson. Jones was serviceable but Seattle didn’t bother matching a three-year, $9.5 million deal he got from Detroit the following season.
Big signings: DE Cliff Avril, two years, $12 million; DE Michael Bennett, one year, $5 million; CB Antoine Winfield, one year, $3 million; DT Tony McDaniel, two years, $2.7 million.
Comment: With an obvious foundation in place following the rise in the second half of 2012, Seattle was able to selectively target needs in 2013 to beef up the defensive line, and especially a pass rush that had been wanting at times late in the year — while also making a blockbuster trade for WR Percy Harvin that also took up a fair share of cap space. Seattle benefitted from a loaded DL class to get Bennett and Avril to deals that rank among the best signings in team history — especially Bennett’s, maybe the best free agent signing Seattle has ever made.
Big signings: OL Stephen Schilling, one year, $645,000.
Comment: Yep, Schilling was about it for Seattle free agent signings in the year after the Super Bowl win when the Seahawks instead spent the off-season largely giving big extensions to some of their own players, notably Bennett, Thomas, Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin, and also preparing for what they knew was the big money they’d need to give to Wilson a year later.
Big signings: DL Athyba Rubin, one year, $2.6 million; CB Cary Williams, three years, $18 million.
Comment: After another Super Bowl run, Seattle again spent the off-season largely re-signing its own players — Wilson, Bobby Wagner as well as Avril and K.J. Wright the previous winter— while also using some cap space to make a trade for TE Jimmy Graham. Williams filled a specific need of replacing the departed Byron Maxwell at about a third of what Maxwell received. Neither deal really worked out for either team and the Williams signing goes down as one of the worst in recent Seattle history as he was released by the end of November.
Big signings: OL J’Marcus Webb, two years, $5.45 million; OL Bradley Sowell, one year, $1 million.
Comment: Last year was another off-season when the Seahawks again largely concentrated on keeping their own, giving a big extension to Baldwin and re-upping the likes of Rubin, Jeremy Lane and Jermaine Kearse. Seattle hoped Webb and Sowell would be low-cost but reliable veterans. Webb, though, proved a disappointment, released before December.