Thanks to going minus-five in free agency last year, the Seahawks are going to get three compensatory draft picks this year — including a rare third-rounder.
You can bet John Schneider would be fine with getting another third next year — and he has two free agents who might be able to net him that.
The Seahawks have eight key unrestricted free agents — four defensive starters, three offensive starters and punter Jon Ryan — and are not going to be able to keep all of them. In fact, Seattle could end up losing six UFA starters.
But Schneider would be fine with that — because it would mean another nice haul of comp picks (up to the maximum four) in 2017.
As usual, the Seahawks are sitting in a pretty good spot to get either the value they want for the player or a comp pick in return. Seattle surely would like to keep at least one of the free-agent defensive tackles, but otherwise those top eight free agents all could be pretty easily replaced.
And don’t expect Schneider to replace them with other UFAs. He will take his usual approach, poaching some cap cuts or making a trade, so he can rake in comp picks for Seattle’s departures and perpetuate the replenishment cycle via the draft.
Here’s a look at the expected market value of Seattle’s top eight free agents:
Russell Okung is unlikely to be offered more than $8 million by Seattle, which probably would keep it short (three years). If he leaves, the Hawks could look at possible castoffs from other teams (John Clayton mentioned Denver’s Ryan Clady and Baltimore’s Eugene Monroe).
Bruce Irvin could command $8 million or more, which is way over what he is worth to Seattle, who could easily replace him via in-house options and/or the draft.
Ahtyba Rubin came to Seattle on a cheap deal after injuries limited him during his final year in Cleveland. Before that, he was making about $7 million per year. He is 29 and looking for probably his last big deal. He was healthy and good in 2015, so some team might offer him $5 million a year for 3-4 years. If so, the Hawks could end up netting a fifth-rounder for the $2.5 million year Rubin gave them.
J.R. Sweezy might receive $4 million or more from some cap-rich team, and the Hawks would happily take a fifth- or sixth-round comp pick for a guy they used a seventh-rounder on.
Jermaine Kearse says he won’t offer a hometown discount. Like the Seahawks care. Not sure what he thinks he’s worth, but it can’t be much more than $4 million. Even that would be too much for Seattle, which has plenty of receivers and needs to make playing time for Paul Richardson anyway.
Brandon Mebane might be the one player who has the same market outside of Seattle as in Seattle. The 31-year-old is looking for one more deal, and he’s probably going to end up with a three-year contract at around $3 million per year. It’s hard to see him leaving Seattle, since the pairing remains beneficial to both sides.
Jeremy Lane could have a hot market, based on early rumblings. Despite an injury-shortened 2015, he could get some team to pay him more than Seattle will — it helps that he has former defensive coaches scattered around the NFL (Jacksonville, Atlanta, Oakland). The Hawks seem likely to offer a one-year deal at somewhere between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, letting Lane compete for a starting spot and prove his value as a full-time starter. But, if some team signs him to a better deal, Seattle would be fine taking a comp pick for Lane, who can be replaced with DeShawn Shead, Mohammed Seisay, Tye Smith, et al.
The going rate for punters has climbed to around $3 million a year, and the Hawks probably will re-sign Jon Ryan at something close to that.