As league year nears, UFA picture clears

UFA projectionsAs the start of the league year fast approaches, we are starting to get an idea of how it is going to play out for Seattle’s top free agents.

Reports over the past two days indicate that Bruce Irvin and Jermaine Kearse aren’t going to be back. Irvin is expected to get around $10 million a year, with Jacksonville and Atlanta among the expected top suitors.

On Wednesday, Irvin told 710 ESPN, “If the money was close, I would definitely consider” signing with the Seahawks. But it won’t be close — Seattle can’t afford more than perhaps $6 million a year.

Meanwhile, Kearse reportedly is planning to sign elsewhere — a sign that the Seahawks have told him their limit (likely $3 million a year) and he knows he can get more elsewhere (maybe $6 million). Speculation has him replacing Roddy White in Atlanta, where former Seattle DC Dan Quinn is entering his second year as coach.

It’s no surprise Irvin and Kearse are headed out. Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy are likely to join them — drawing offers worth more than the Seahawks prefer to pay. To replace them, the Seahawks surely will be watching the waiver wire — guys like Jahri Evans, Will Beatty, Jermon Bushrod, Zane Beadles — before addressing the line in the draft.

There’s an off chance the Seahawks will go for a big gun in free agency — e.g., Keleche Osemele, Alex Mack, Alex Boone. They also might go for a mid-priced lineman — e.g., Stefen Wisniewski, Jeff Allen, Joe Barksdale. But, if John Schneider holds true to form, he will be more conservative — re-signing Patrick Lewis, adding one of the aforementioned cap casualties and drafting a couple.

Things look better on the other side of the line, where the Seahawks seem likely to bring back defensive tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Brandon Mebane. With a lot of veteran options and a deep DT draft, it will be a buyer’s market — Rubin and Mebane surely understand that. Both played great last season and have plenty of gas in the tank. Mebane, 31, said he would love to finish his career in Seattle.

The Seahawks definitely will have two veteran D-tackles signed before the draft, and they won’t cost more than $5 million against the 2016 salary cap. Their options beyond Rubin and Mebane include guys such as Tony McDaniel (who played on their two Super Bowl teams and was cut last summer), Randy Starks, Nick Fairley, Haloti Ngata and Henry Melton.

While the markets for Irvin, Kearse, Okung, Sweezy, Rubin and Mebane are pretty easy to guesstimate, Jeremy Lane remains a big mystery.

The Pete Carroll-trained cornerback is talented, but he has missed 19 games over the past two years and faces a lot of market competition: Janoris Jenkins, Sean Smith, Antonio Cromartie, Casey Hayward, Leon Hall, et al.

Unless some team offers Lane a multi-year deal worth at least $4 million a year, he seems likely to end up back in Seattle on a one-year deal. Some think the Hawks would pay him as much as $6 million — the amount they reportedly offered Byron Maxwell last year — but that seems a bit steep for a team that knows it has a good, young stable of cornerbacks.

One thing is for sure: Lane will test the market.

If the Hawks keep Rubin, Mebane and Jon Ryan at about $7 million, they will have about $15 million to spend (more if they trade Kam Chancellor). That’s enough for about four mid-priced signings or one big addition and two others.

The deadline for ERFA and RFA tenders is Wednesday. The Seahawks are very unlikely to tender any of their RFAs. Patrick Lewis, Alvin Bailey, Christine Michael and the rest are not worth more than the minimum.

The Seahawks are expected to get comp picks in the third, fifth and sixth rounds this year. Next year could be even better if Irvin and Okung both get deals worth $10 million a year. If the Hawks don’t sign any big UFAs, they could end up with two third-round comps and a couple of other picks.

4 thoughts on “As league year nears, UFA picture clears”

  1. The league has turned into college football right before our eyes and i’m surprised I haven’t seen more thoughts on this. The perennial winners with the cornerstone pieces in place(QB and HC) turn over their rosters like a college program with the other players. You get 4 years with them and then they leave with exceptions for lack of depth at certain positions or exceptional play and that’s when players get the second contract. Pete Carroll is a master at “recruiting” the undrafted players and convinces the good ones that got overlooked in the draft process that they should sign with the Hawks where competition rules and they get a fair chance to play. Just like Carroll did with young high school kids at USC. Everybody keeps clamoring about bringing guys back. Paying market value for players is something the Hawks don’t do, they look for value and player development is paramount in the process not signing market value URFA’s. Everybody thinks the Hawks need to tear apart the line and start from scratch when everybody fails to realize players get better at their jobs every year and the young oline showed glimpses of being dominant last season. I think there is a young group who are going to be regarded as a top unit soon. They are going to draft a RT/LG type player this year in the early rounds and I expect the line to look like this:
    LT: Garry Gilliam
    LG: Justin Britt
    C: Patrick Lewis
    RG: JR Sweezy
    RT: Germain Ifedy or Jason Spriggs

    Gilliam gets the chance to make a name for himself next year and we will see if he sinks or swims with new more difficult job of manning the blind side. I believe Ifedy or Spriggs will be available at pick 26 and they love athletic linemen and those 2 are Seahawk’s for sure. There is a rotation to the oline just like college, not many players in college come in and start at LT, they start at RT and depending how they develope, they get the promotion to LT or get moved inside if their skill set isn’t strong enough for the blind side to make room for the new RT. This is what the Hawks have been doing quietly just like college programs and no one seems to notice. Also, don’t underestimate the young flock of CB’s the Hawks have been quietly stashing. Cant wait to see a healthy season form Simon and I want to see the improvement from seisay and Baptist. As well as the WR converts Carroll and Richard have been working on. The roster is turning over faster then the talent is getting developed and thats why they didn’t see a championship run last year. Reloaded this year with more expirience from the younger fellas I believe they are going to have the talent and younger players up to snuff to continue to remain a top team in the league and back in the championship race.


    1. If they play 2016 with the same interior OL as last year, it is going to be a long season for Russell Wilson. Especially with new tackles.

      When drafting, PC/JS will prioritize the pass rush above all.


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