On Tuesday at 1:00pm the 2013 NFL league year officially begins. At this time all 32 teams can sign free agents to contracts. The Seahawks have roughly $17 million of salary cap space to fill and it is possible the Seahawks will look to sign some notable names over the next few months. As nice as it will be to use free agency to improve the roster for 2013, the first thing teams need to look at is their own players that are set to become free agents. This year the Seahawks have 13 players who are set to become free agents. I have tiered our own free agents from a scale of 1 to 4 based on how big of a priority they are through my eyes. Tier 1 is players who I think should be the top priority for the Seahawks to re-sign. Tier 4 is players who I feel we don’t necessarily need and who I think we could afford to lose if they decide to sign with another team. All our free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise noted.
DT Alan Branch
DT Jason Jones
K Steven Hauschka
DT Clinton McDonald (Restricted)
The Seahawks would be losing a ton of defensive line depth if these three players all leave. Alan Branch is the only starter among this group and he is the biggest named free agent for the Seahawks this offseason. If the Seahawks re-sign Branch we maintain our continuity among the defensive starters and assures that our incredible run defense stays intact. Jason Jones played sparingly last season because he was injured. He recorded only 7 tackles and added 3 sacks. Jones would be a great interior pass rush force and it is unfortunate we were not able to see his potential last season. He would surely help out Bruce Irvin in getting to the quarterback since Chris Clemons will miss a significant portion of the 2013 season. Steven Hauschka was impressive last year but his range is not what I expect out of a kicker. If he can improve his leg strength and prove he can kick from 50+ yards out consistently I would definitely sign him to a multi-year contract. Clinton McDonald is a restricted free agent this season and I expect him to be back with the Seahawks in 2013. I would not give any of these players big money but I think Branch and Hauschka are most likely to get multi-year contracts. Jones and McDonald may get smaller deals.
CB Marcus Trufant
LS Clint Gresham (Restricted)
CB Chris Maragos (Restricted)
Marcus Trufant was cut last offseason but restructured his contract to stay with Seattle. With the emergence of Jeremy Lane, Trufant may have lost his spot on the roster. Trufant is getting older but played decently in the nickel package last season. I believe Trufant will test the open market to see which team will give him the best deal. If the market is not what he was expecting and if the Seahawks would like to have him back for his 11th season with the team, Trufant may find himself in the same role as last season; playing on a limited basis on a one-year contract. I think both Clint Gresham and Chris Maragos are more important pieces to our team than people probably believe. If you remember last year’s Monday Night Football game between San Diego and Oakland you understand why I want Gresham back with the Seahawks next year. In that MNF game, Oakland’s long snapper was hurt in the second quarter. The replacement long snapper could not get the ball to the punter and holder and cost the Raiders opportunities to score points. It also gave the Chargers great field position. I did not realize how important the long snapper is to a team before that game and I now have a greater appreciation for Gresham’s job. He did not botch a single snap last season. Chris Maragos is a key contributor on special teams and made a lot of great plays on kickoffs last season. He seems to be around every single play and works really hard to be in a position to make plays.
LB Leroy Hill
TE Cameron Morrah
We are now getting into the area of players who I don’t think the Seahawks need moving forward. Leroy Hill was recently arrested for the fourth time during his Seahawks tenure. Last offseason he was arrested for marijuana possession in Atlanta and I commented how I think he screwed up a great chance to show the coaching staff and front office that he has cleaned himself up off the field. With this recent arrest I think he just punched his ticket out of Seattle and on to a different team. Add the emergence of linebackers Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan and you have a recipe where the Seahawks can afford to let Hill walk. Since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010, I have thought that Cameron Morrah’s job could be in danger since he was not brought in by this regime. I think the Seahawks are looking to move toward a two tight end set similar to the New England Patriots. Morrah was hurt for a good part of last year so I’ll cut him some slack since he was not able to show what he could do on the field but things are not looking good for him. The Seahawks signed tight end Darren Fells to a 3-year contract last week and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks draft a tight end during the draft. If Morrah is not signed by a team by draft weekend and the Seahawks do indeed draft a tight end, Morrah will not be back in 2013.
WR Deon Butler (Restricted)
DE Patrick Chukwurah
K Ryan Longwell
OG Frank Omiyale
Two of the players in tier four were injury replacements during the playoffs. These two players, Patrick Chukwurah and Ryan Longwell, do not have a future with this team in my opinion. They were simply emergency roster fillers who we hoped could make an impact during the playoffs. Deon Butler appeared in one game last season but did not record a catch. With Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and a need for another vertical weapon on the outside, I do not see a spot for Butler next season. Frank Omiyale was seen as a challenger for a starting guard spot during training camp last season. He could not beat out Paul McQuistan at LG and John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy at RG so he was used as a substitute in 2013. With James Carpenter back healthy, Omiyale may not be back with the Seahawks next season and I personally do not think we need him.
Now that the league year is about to begin, I hope to be back on the blog more often. If the Seahawks make any notable moves in free agency or any significant news comes out of Seahawks headquarters, I will hop on to give my opinion about what is going on. Let’s go 2013! Go Hawks!