Okung, Schneider have talked, but expect LT to hit free agency

Russell Okung talks with GM John Schneider during minicamp in June (AP)Russell Okung and John Schneider already have had contract talks, and it is no surprise that the talented but injury-prone left tackle is going to hit free agency March 9.

“We’ve had some conversations. We’ve been going back and forth,” Okung told ESPN.com. “It’s going to come down to when free agency starts. So we may figure something out; we may not. It’s up in the air for now for us to come to terms.”

The Seahawks probably are not willing to pay Okung much more than they did on his rookie deal: $8 million a year. And he surely wants to hit the $10 million mark. The only way to find out whether some team will pay him is to become a free agent.

Actually, he should have a good idea even a couple of days before the league year begins, as prospective free agents officially can talk to teams ahead of the day.

We already addressed the idea of Okung possibly returning on a one-year deal if his market is not what he expects due to his shoulder injury (he won’t be ready for workouts until June).

“It’s very possible that I could stay here,” he said. “But I know my value, and I’m not going to settle for anything less than that. If it works out, great. And if it doesn’t, that’s great as well.”

A big deal has been made of the fact that he is representing himself, which means he has to be OK with hearing Schneider say (hypothetically), “Russ, you’re a good player when healthy. But let’s face it: It has been a struggle for you to stay on the field and be at your best. In light of that and our cap situation, we really can’t pay you more than we have been.”

“It’s a little odd,” Schneider said at the Combine. “It can be a little awkward, but we’ve talked through it. We’ll have a plan in place to talk through things. But, yeah, obviously it’s very unique for a player to represent himself.’’

Carroll said Okung representing himself is a “challenge,” but the coach would like Okung to return.

“He’s very close to us. We care a tremendous amount about him,” Carroll said. “We’re hoping it works out right. Of course we’d love to have him back.”

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