Seattle is willing to pay Earl Thomas top of the market, Bradley McDougald is 70 percent to re-sign and Michael Bennett is 70 percent to be let go, according to “nuggets” from Davis Hsu, a reliable champion of Seahawks scuttlebutt on Twitter.
Also from Hsu’s source: Cliff Avril has a better chance to play again than Kam Chancellor, it looks like Byron Maxwell will return and Malik McDowell apparently has made some progress as he recovers from his ATV accident.
Thomas, who recently has expressed doubts about whether Seattle wants him, simply wants to be paid more than Kansas City safety Eric Berry, who makes $13 million a year. According to Hsu, Seattle “is inclined to pay it — they want him.”
Trading Thomas also is an option (we mentioned the case where it could happen), but the team would like to keep the All-Pro safety for at least two more years, Hsu tweeted.
With Chancellor appearing done, McDougald would be a key re-sign (if they could get him at around $4 million a year). There also has been speculation that the Hawks could pursue 49ers free agent Eric Reid, whose market might be limited to teams not put off by his anthem protests. Of course, Bennett also has protested the anthem, which might quietly be part of the reason the Hawks are leaning toward moving on from the controversial and aging (32) defensive end.
The tidbit on the other defensive end is interesting, coming on the heels of a video with Richard Sherman in which Avril said, “The last five years have been great and hopefully we have some more together.” Avril had neck surgery recently and seems destined to retire, but the decision obviously has not been made yet.
So how would all of these moves fit into the salary cap?
A new deal for Thomas probably would buy back cap space in 2018, with the bigger hits coming in the future years. Example: The Hawks could tear up the final year (at $8.5 million) and give Thomas a new four-year deal worth $56 million, with a $14 million signing bonus and 2018 salary of $3 million. That kind of deal would shave about $2 million off Seattle’s 2018 cap.
Avril is set to make $7.5 million — and he’s worth it if healthy. But his return, coupled with re-signing McDougald, might make it tougher to try to keep Sheldon Richardson. Of course, if the Hawks cut Bennett, Jeremy Lane, Jon Ryan and Neiko Thorpe, they could create enough space to sign Richardson to basically the same deal we outlined above for Thomas. That assumes they would be interested in paying the disruptive 3-technique tackle $14 million a year (which is still probably less than he is seeking).
If McDowell is indeed making progress and looks like he might be able to play, it could lessen the urgency to re-sign Richardson. After all, the only reason John Schneider made the deal to get Richardson from the Jets last September was because the Hawks lost McDowell to stupidity. The Hawks have a pair of good D-tackles in Jarran Reed and Nazair Jones; they just need to secure an interior pass rusher.
Maxwell, who made $30 million from Philly and Miami, wouldn’t cost Seattle much. The Seahawks have Richard Sherman (once healthy) and Shaq Griffin as starters, with former starter DeShawn Shead probably back, too. Maxwell would be a nice luxury, giving them four starting-caliber corners — insurance for Sherman’s recovery and options for 2019.
As for offense, the only nuggets we have so far come from Pete Carroll: He said the team wants Jimmy Graham back (although that seems very unlikely), and he mentioned Mike Davis (an RFA) as part of the running back crew.
It seems likely the team will let Graham, Luke Joeckel and Paul Richardson (and Eddie Lacy, obviously) become free agents. The team is not going to pay any of them a lot of money. The team could tender Davis but probably will simply re-sign him for the minimum — or replace him if he chooses to go elsewhere. Thomas Rawls (also an RFA) will be lucky if he gets a minimum offer.