D-line market grows; will Hawks check out Starks and Johnson?

Randy StarksThe Seahawks have always loved veteran defensive linemen. Just look at their starting four last season: Three free agents and Brandon Mebane, who was drafted by the previous regime.

It has been suggested that the 30-year-old Mebane, coming off a torn hamstring and due $5.5 million this year, could be a cap casualty.

The Hawks’ defensive line accounts for the biggest percentage of the salary cap of any part of the team — the $33 million slated to be paid to that unit this year is 23 percent of the cap. Only the Rams’, Bills’ and Dolphins’ defensive lines account for more among NFL D-lines (per OverTheCap.com).

That, along with the uncertainty around free agent Kevin Williams, explains why the Hawks have been snooping around veteran defensive tackles.

The Hawks reportedly talked to defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois before he signed with Washington and were said to be interested in former Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett before he signed with the 49ers.

Now you can add a few more names to that list after Miami cut Randy Starks, Tampa Bay cut Michael Johnson and word is the Hawks are among the interested parties in Denver UFA Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton. Also out there is longtime Patriot Vince Wilfork.

John Schneider loves scooping up players who have been released because it means it will not affect his possible comp-pick haul from free agents the Hawks lose.

So the Hawks seem very likely to check into Starks and Johnson, at least.

Starks, 31, had 30.5 sacks in seven seasons with Miami. The Hawks were linked to him a couple of years ago, but he re-signed with Miami. Perhaps now?

Johnson, 28, seems likely to go back to Cincinnati, but the Seahawks figure to at least put in a call — as they do with so many released veterans (e.g., Darnell Dockett and Trent Cole).

According to Heath Farwell, the Hawks also are talking to Williams about coming back. He made $2.1 million last year, so a similar figure would seem to make sense — unless he thinks he is due for a raise based on his solid performance.

The market for 30-something D-tackles is about $3 million to $4 million a year, based on the deals Jean-Francois and Dockett reportedly received. Tony McDaniel, also 30, is slated for $3 million.

The Seahawks also have been mentioned as among teams interested in Knighton, Denver’s 330-pound run plugger, but he has ruled out Denver and Oakland and apparently is focusing on Washington, with Baltimore (just traded Haloti Ngata) and New England (parted with Wilfork) also apparently interested. He figures to be seeking more than the Seahawks would be willing to pay.

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