Don’t panic: Hawks can easily keep top stars

Logo -- Free agencyThere’s much panic in the streets about whether the Seahawks are going to keep their top four players in 2020, and it has only intensified after pessimistic speculation by NFL reporter Mike Garafolo on 710 ESPN.

If you believe Garafolo (and others), the Seahawks probably won’t re-sign Russell Wilson, Frank Clark or Bobby Wagner before next year. And don’t forget about Jarran Reed, the fourth musketeer in this contract melee.

But here’s the truth of the matter: The Seahawks have the cap space to keep all four on market deals if John Schneider and Pete Carroll want them back, and they can guarantee they keep two of those players in 2020 without any extensions because teams are allowed to use both a franchise tag and a transition tag in the final year of the CBA (which 2020 will be).

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Hawks should try to acquire Quinn

Logo -- Free agencyFew teams know Robert Quinn’s pass-rush ability better than the Seahawks, who used to be terrorized by Quinn when he played end for the Rams.

The 29-year-old has been a bad fit the past two years with the Rams and Dolphins and is now being shopped by Miami. The Seahawks should be interested.

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Seahawks aren’t much better yet, but what about their opponents?

Logo -- Free agencyThe Seahawks have signed eight guys over the last week, but only one would be considered an improvement over what they had last year. In other words, they are still just getting started trying to make this club better.

So far, they have kept the status quo at offensive line (D.J. Fluker and George Fant back, Mike Iupati replacing J.R. Sweezy), defensive line (Frank Clark and Quinton Jefferson both tendered) and linebacker (K.J. Wright and possibly Mychal Kendricks back). The only upgrade has been the makeup signing of kicker Jason Myers, who should have been their kicker in 2018.

At this point, the Hawks are basically the same team that won 10 games last year. To get better — and have a chance at the necessary home field next season — they absolutely have to add a couple of defensive linemen before the draft arrives. Once they do that, we will see whether they actually have improved.

Meanwhile, let’s see how their status quo approach compares to the moves of their 2019 opponents:

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Wright’s back, but Legion of Boom can take a bow

Earl takes a bowThe return of K.J. Wright means there will still be two members of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom defense on the field in 2019. But make no mistake: That unit is now officially gone.

Wright’s re-signing was a pleasant surprise after Earl Thomas’ long, slow goodbye finally ended with him heading to Baltimore for $13.75 million a year.

With Thomas gone, Wright and Bobby Wagner are the only ones who remain from Pete Carroll’s vaunted defense that helped lead the Seahawks to two Super Bowls and put together one of the most spectacular half-decades in league annals.

But the end also is in sight for Wright, who sounds like he’s going to retire after this two-year contract. And there is no guarantee Wagner will be around beyond this year, the final of his deal.

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2019 line set, but what about the future?

Logo -- Free agencyIn one swell foop Thursday, the Seahawks reset their offensive line for 2019 — bringing back D.J. Fluker and swapping in Mike Iupati for J.R. Sweezy (basically a trade with Arizona).

The Hawks now have four former first-round picks and one second-rounder as their line starters. You can hardly get better draft pedigree than that.

They also will return four starters to the line that led the league’s top rushing attack in 2018. They just have to hope Fluker and Iupati can stay healthy for Mike Solari — or at least combine with Jordan Simmons to put together 32 man-games at the guard spots in 2019.

Then John Schneider needs to work up a plan for beyond next season.

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Current options for four priority positions

Logo -- Free agencyAs the league year dawns, the Seahawks already have lost six players and seem set to lose at least one more. None of it is unexpected though.

The Seahawks have long made it obvious they didn’t want to pay Earl Thomas or K.J. Wright, and they were never going to spend much on any of their other UFAs either.

The Seahawks already have roster replacements for Justin Coleman, Mike Davis, Brett Hundley and Thomas. So the club’s top priorities should be to re-sign D.J. Fluker, add a pass rusher and replace Shamar Stephen and Wright (assuming he leaves, too).

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Will Seahawks want to pay Wagner?

Logo -- Free agencyOn the first unofficial day of free agency, the Seahawks suffered three expected losses and prepared to lose longtime stalwarts Earl Thomas and K.J. Wright.

But the biggest — maybe most unexpected — thing they learned: Bobby Wagner is going to cost a lot to keep beyond 2019. After Kwon Alexander and C.J. Mosley get paid this week, Wagner’s price is going to vault beyond $15 million a year.

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Seahawks’ choice: $20M Clark or four players?

Logo -- Free agencyWhich would you rather the Seahawks have for $20 million: Frank Clark OR two other pass rushers and two draft picks?

That really could be the choice the Seahawks face right now, assuming Clark won’t settle for less than $20 million a year.

We previously pointed out the Seahawks have options that do not include Clark, and we also offered up realistic trade considerations. Add those together and the Hawks can basically pay two pass rushers for the price of a $20 million Clark while getting a couple of picks in a trade (a No. 2 in 2019 and a Day 2 pick in 2020).

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Trade Frank Clark? Only if Hawks get …

<a rel=Even though the draft is loaded with pass rushers, teams are still apparently very interested in established veteran rushers — even the guys who received franchise tags.

While Kansas City is getting interest in Dee Ford, the Seahawks reportedly have received calls about Frank Clark — with Buffalo and Indianapolis apparently leading the way.

At the Combine, Pete Carroll said, “Frankie will be with us.” But what if the Seahawks get an offer they can’t refuse?

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Veteran D-linemen are the next priority

Logo -- Free agencyWith Frank Clark safely tagged, the Seahawks are back to even on their defensive front — two stars under contract. Now they need to find a third.

Keeping Clark was No. 1 on our offseason to-do list for Pete Carroll and John Schneider. No. 2: Get Clark and Jarran Reed some help.

The draft is stacked along the defensive line, but rookies cannot be counted on — Seattle’s last few drafts are proof of that. So the Hawks have to find a couple of veterans: a pass rusher to play opposite Clark and a run stopper to play next to Reed (maybe rotating with Poona Ford).

Continue reading Veteran D-linemen are the next priority

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