‘So many decisions’: Diggs and other offseason priorities

“We have so many decisions to make and so many things we have to handle.” – Pete Carroll.

As the franchise tag window opened this week, a report emerged that the Seahawks have begun negotiating a long-term deal with Quandre Diggs. Consider that the first step as Seattle’s offseason gets under way.

As the 2021 season ended, Pete Carroll said he wanted most of the roster from the 7-10 season back. Diggs is obviously the No. 1 free agent.

As the offseason revs up and the league year approaches, let’s look at Diggs and Seattle’s other priorities (we’ll avoid Russell Wilson trade talk here).

Cap & strategy

“We have a lot of players that are going to be free agents that need to be on this team next year, so that money goes very quickly there,” Carroll said, cautioning fans who think “we have all this cap space, (so) we can make all these moves and all that.”

“Well, that’s not necessarily how people should look at it,” he said. “They should be clear that we’ve got some wonderful players on this team that need to come back, so that money will go faster than you think and won’t be quite as free as it looks like right now.”

The Seahawks have the eighth-most cap room in the NFL, sitting at around $35 million. That includes almost $11 million in dead money thanks to $9 million in contract voids for Diggs, Duane Brown, Gerald Everett and Ethan Pocic.

Of course, if Wilson and/or Bobby Wagner were to be traded, the Hawks would add to their cap space. Moving Wilson before March 20 would add $11 million, and Wagner would bring back $16.6 million. At the least, the Seahawks are expected to get Wagner to lower his cap hit.

Diggs and Brown are the two most expensive free agents they have – and Carroll probably was referring to them among the players he wants back. Others he probably wants but who could get competitive offers from around the league include Everett, D.J. Reed and Rasheem Green.

The Seahawks’ top needs based on signed players right now are left tackle, center, right tackle, both cornerback spots and running back.

Diggs in?

As we said weeks ago, the Hawks should pay Diggs. They could tag him for $12.9 million, if no deal is reached by the tag deadline of March 8. That would give them until July to get a long-term deal done.

Some think it is foolish to pay a 29-year-old safety who is rehabbing a broken leg, but Diggs is one of the few playmakers the Hawks have had on defense the past two seasons. Even if he plays just two more good years, it is worth keeping him. The alternative is needing to find another free safety.

It sounds like the Seahawks prefer to keep the one they have, but we’ll see what they are willing to pay.

Starting line

The Hawks have three openings on their offensive line. They can go relatively cheap at right tackle (with Jake Curhan a fair fallback), but they need to pay for a left tackle and center.

Keeping Brown seems like the obvious move at left tackle, especially if the Hawks don’t plan to go after the Saints’ Terron Armstead. There aren’t many other options. Brown is worth $10 million for another year.

Center is the position they whiffed on more than anything in 2021 – many fans are properly upset they did not draft Creed Humphrey over Dee Eskridge in the second round.

They need to address the position with a good free agent this time. The Rams’ Brian Allen would seem the perfect fit; he knows what Shane Waldron and Andy Dickerson want to do.

Reed option

Along with the O-line, corner is Seattle’s biggest need. There is no guarantee Tre Brown will return strong off a torn patellar tendon, and Reed is a free agent who may command more than the Hawks are willing to pay.

Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 13th top corner in the NFL. The 13th-highest-paid corner gets $13 million per year. Over The Cap values him at $15 million.

It seems unlikely that the 5-foot-9 Reed will get that kind of offer off just one good season. But it’s possible. More likely is an offer of around $8 million from some team. The Hawks will need to decide what he is worth to them.

After the season finale, Reed said he wants to return, but he surely will test the market. “I definitely want to stay here,” he said, “but, obviously, the price has to be right.”

Whether Reed returns or not, Seattle needs to draft a corner fairly high – a guy who can compete to start right away. Sidney Jones also would be a cheaper re-sign (maybe $2 million to $3 million).

If both Reed and Jones leave, the Hawks will need to find another veteran.

Penny thoughts

Rashaad Penny finished strong – 671 yards in the final five games — and some goofballs have even mentioned using the franchise tag on him. Maybe they don’t know that would cost a ridiculous $9.6 million.

Teams simply do not pay free-agent running backs, especially ones who cannot stay healthy.

Penny need only look at Chris Carson’s disappointing 2021 free agency to see his ceiling. Carson, a more accomplished runner who also has had trouble staying healthy, returned to Seattle for $10.4 million over two years. He did not prove worth the investment.

It is doubtful the Seahawks would go even that high for a guy who took four seasons to finally show a small stretch of sustained success. We would not pay him more than $2.5 million, with incentives that perhaps could kick it to $6 million. Only a foolish team would pay him more than that.

Make him prove he can play a full season.

Other moves

Everett showed glimpses of how good he is in Waldron’s offense, and Seattle should re-sign him at $6 million a year again, on a multi-year deal.

Seattle’s other cheap UFAs are Pocic, Brandon Shell, Al Woods, Will Dissly, Alex Collins, Jamarco Jones, Robert Nkemdiche and Geno Smith. Woods, Dissly and Jones all should be useful returnees at $2 million or $3 million. The rest are minimum-salary guys who can be replaced easily.

None of their RFAs (Bless Austin, Phil Haynes, Kyle Fuller) merit tenders, but Austin and Haynes should be back on minimum deals.

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