The NFL year begins in a month, and the rumors and speculation are heating up across the league as free agency and the trading period approach.
In addition to the usual free agency chatter, there is a lot of speculation about what the Seahawks are going to do with veterans Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett — all signed for 2018.
Barring value trade offers, we expect all three to be back — Thomas with a new deal and Sherman and Bennett likely playing their final seasons in Seattle.
Here’s the latest scuttlebutt on Seattle’s top pending free agents and some players who have been mentioned in connection with the Seahawks:
Sheldon Richardson: Don’t rule out John Schneider putting the franchise tag on him — temporarily. Both John Clayton and Joel Corry agree a tag-and-trade is a viable option. If that doesn’t happen, his market is expected to be around $12 million APY — good for a third-round comp pick. Schneider also could use the transition tag, which is projected at a little under $12 million and would give Seattle the right to match an offer (with no compensation if he were to leave) but would effectively rule out a trade scenario. If he hits free agency, the Jets and Raiders are the most oft-mentioned teams of interest.
Jimmy Graham: Even though Pete Carroll said he would “love for him to be with us,” that seems very unlikely. The Ravens are thought to be the favorite to sign the mercurial tight end, and DeAndre Hopkins is recruiting him to Houston. The Falcons also are rumored to have interest, and Green Bay is considered an option, too. His market is expected to be around $7 million APY, but it could end up a couple million higher if some of those teams get into a bidding war.
Paul Richardson: The Redskins are rumored to be a top suitor, although plenty of other teams figure to be interested. His market is expected to be around $7 million APY — too rich for Seattle.
Bradley McDougald: His market is thought to be $4 million to $6 million, and the Seahawks seem likely to pay it. He spurned a better offer by Cleveland last year, so he should be back as long as Schneider’s offer is in said window.
Luke Joeckel: Arizona, Atlanta and Chicago are among the teams that will be looking for help at guard. Interest from multiple teams could drive Joeckel’s price too high for Seattle’s taste, which should be no more than $4 million (half what he made last year).
Luke Willson: If his market truly is over $3 million APY this time, he won’t be back in Seattle. It seems likely that the team could get him back for under $2 million again.
Mike Davis: The RFA apparently feels pretty confident that he will be back in Seattle. The question is whether the Hawks will tender him or (as we suspect) not tender and just pay him the minimum.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: A lot of people are linking the Seahawks to the former Husky simply due to the Seattle connection. They won’t pay big for him, though. The Jets also might re-sign him before free agency; they already have begun contract talks.
Tavon Austin: The Rams seem likely to cut the fallen former first-rounder, and Brian Schottenheimer could be interested in a reunion. Schottenheimer was the Rams’ OC in 2013-14 and might find use for the jitterbug receiver who rode the pine under Sean McVay last season — a year after Austin signed a $42 million deal.
Carlos Hyde: The 49ers’ running back has been tied to Seattle, but his injury history should be a concern — especially after the Hawks went through 14 backs the past two years. Spotrac projects him to get $6 million per year, which should be way too much for Seattle.
Eric Reid: The 49ers’ safety could be a fallback option if McDougald leaves. The Seahawks probably wouldn’t be put off by his social activism, since they are among the NFL’s leaders in that area. Spotrac projects his value at more than $8 million, which Seattle could consider if McDougald and others leave. That said, this seems unlikely.
Andrew Norwell: A choir of fans has been singing the All-Pro’s name, and Schneider certainly could get in the bidding if he felt like it (with no guarantee of signing Norwell, of course). But it seems very unlikely. The Giants are the front-runners for Norwell, and a cap-rich team such as the Colts or Texans could blow away all bidders — if Carolina doesn’t tag him.