It’s looking more and more like the Richardsons will indeed join Jimmy Graham in departing Seattle next month and Legion of Boomers Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas will not be going anywhere.
Here’s the latest on those guys and more free agency scuttlebutt:
A report from NFL Network confirmed what we have said all offseason: It doesn’t look like either Sherman or Thomas will be traded. Sherman has no value while rehabbing his torn Achilles and the Seahawks would prefer a long-term deal with Thomas, unless they get a great offer.
The Seahawks also would like to keep Sheldon Richardson, but only via a long-term deal. It sounds like John Schneider is not interested in a tag-and-trade option. He probably doesn’t want to risk getting caught with a $14.5 million tag for one player. Expect the GM to talk with Richardson’s agent at the Combine next week — and for those talks to yield nothing. The Jets and Raiders sound like his primary suitors, and Buffalo and Jacksonville are considered strong options, too.
The odd opinion by some that Seattle MUST tag Richardson to validate the trade (a second-rounder and Jermaine Kearse) is ridiculous. If he leaves, Seattle will get a comp pick next year. Kearse was going to be let go by Seattle this year anyway, so no loss there. Richardson was always expected (by us, anyway) to be a one-year rental. Barring a big surprise re-signing before March 14, it looks like that is probably what it will end up being.
It also would be a surprise if Paul Richardson returned. His market gets better with every receiver who gets tagged. Miami franchised Jarvis Landry this week, and a couple of other guys could be tagged by March 6 as well. P-Rich’s market is expected to be at least $7 million APY — too rich for Seattle, despite Richardson’s solid 2017 season.
The Chiefs are considered possibilities for both of Seattle’s Richardsons, given 4-1 odds to sign the receiver and 8-1 odds to sign the defensive lineman.
There also has been some chatter about the Chiefs trading former UW corner Marcus Peters, and of course SeaDawgs are all over it. That won’t happen. The Chiefs will want more than Seattle would (or could) pay, and the Seahawks already have a troublesome star corner (and they aren’t going to swap corners). (UPDATE: Peters will be traded to the Rams on March 14.)
Another SeaDawg favorite is Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But he has already apparently declined $4 million per year from the Jets, and the Seahawks certainly wouldn’t offer him more than that.
Trey Burton, one of the stars of the Philly Special, is considered a strong candidate to end up in Seattle, too. But we expect the Seahawks to go cheap at tight end, likely taking advantage of a potentially big castoff list that wouldn’t impact their comp count. Miami reportedly is going to cut Julius Thomas, whom the Hawks liked just three years ago in free agency. Other potential cuts include Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, Eric Ebron and Dion Sims.
One of those guys could replace Jimmy Graham. He reportedly is itching to hit free agency, and Baltimore, Houston, Chicago, Green Bay and Atlanta are all thought to be strong options. Joel Corry pointed out the franchise tag for Graham would be $15.5 million — crazy since his market is expected to be around $7 million APY. It could end up a couple million higher if some of those teams get into a bidding war. The bigger, the better for Seattle’s comp equation.
Meanwhile, Luke Willson said he would like to be back in Seattle; but, if he were to leave, Detroit would be his choice because he grew up not far from there in Ontario. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he told “The Week Ahead Podcast.” “I definitely would like to be back, but a lot of factors play into it.”
On the offensive line, Carolina star guard Andrew Norwell is not going to be an affordable option for Seattle. But perhaps Schneider will check into Josh Sitton, Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker.
Chicago declined an $8 million option for Sitton, who is back on the market at 31 just two years after signing for $7 million a year. He played for new Seattle line coach Mike Solari in 2015 in Green Bay, before he left for Chicago. Still considered a top guard, Sitton should have a robust market, so Schneider would need to be willing to pay at least what he paid Luke Joeckel last year, on a short-term deal.
“I am planning on playing and hitting free agency and continuing to play at a high level,” Sitton told the Chicago Tribune. “I believe I have prime years left.”
Pugh likely will be overpaid, relative to his injury history — although it is possible he settles for a one-year deal. Of course, the Hawks went through that with Joeckel last year, and it didn’t work very well.
Fluker is a dominant road grader who struggles in pass protection. He could be looking at another one-year deal as well, which could make him a plug-and-play option at guard for Seattle.