With one week complete, NFL free agency is well underway. Teams have made a flurry of moves since March 11 in an attempt to better themselves and knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
As expected, the Seahawks have not been too active on the free agent market, and have already lost seven players. Here’s a look at some of the critical moves Seattle has made so far with a grade for each one.
Michael Bennett re-signs (4 years, $28.5 million)
Bennett was the number-one priority for the Seahawks heading into the offseason. A dynamic inside-out pass rusher, Bennett dominated in the playoffs and became possibly the most coveted free agent in the entire NFL.
Not only were the Seahawks able to re-sign Bennett, but they got him at a reasonable price. Everson Griffen, one of the more highly sought-after defensive ends after Bennett, got 5 years and $42.5 million from the Minnesota Vikings. This is an absolute win for the Seahawks
Golden Tate signs with Detroit Lions (5 years, $31.5 million)
The Seahawks’ fanbase was fairly split over the issue of whether to re-sign Tate or let him walk. If Seattle could get Tate somewhere in the $5.5 – $6.5 million per year range, many felt he would be worth a shot.
Tate’s contract fell in that range with Detroit, where he should put up huge numbers and be a nice complement to Calvin Johnson. Wide receiver now becomes a priority, and the Seahawks’ front office has shown exceptional ability to find talent in the draft, but this one hurts a little
Breno Giacomini signs with New York Jets (4 years, $18 million)
The Seahawks offensive line struggled for most of 2013. Giacomini was by no means the weakest link at the right tackle position, but he has been frustrating the Seahawks for years with his propensity to get penalized. It was time for the Seahawks to move on and look at some internal options or build through the draft
Chris Clemons signs with Jacksonville Jaguars (4 years, $17.5 million)
Clemons had an excellent four-year run with the Seahawks, including a series of three straight years with at least 11 sacks. Unfortunately at age 32 and coming off of a major knee injury, Clemens lost a step in 2013. His contract with Jacksonville isn’t that unreasonable, but the Seahawks had to let him go to save cap room for the future.
Clinton McDonald signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4 years, $12 million)
It appeared entering the offseason that McDonald had played himself out of the Seahawks’ price range. McDonald was one of the standouts in a deep rotation of defensive linemen, totaling 5.5 sacks last year.
He seemed likely to sign a contract in the $4- $5 million per range, but the Buccaneers snagged McDonald for just $3 million per season. It’s hard to fault the Seahawks for not re-signing McDonald, but he was worth a look at that price.
Tony McDaniel re-signs (2 years, $3.6 million)
Returning McDaniel for a relatively cheap, cost-effective price is a good move for the Seahawks. He played a lot of snaps at defensive tackle last season and showed an ability to control the line of scrimmage, particularly as a run-stopper
Steven Hauschka re-signs (3 years, $9.1 million)
There’s always a question of how much a kicker is worth, and if a team might be better suited just signing someone for the league minimum. Hauschka has been brilliant for the Seahawks over the past two seasons and made the difference in the NFC Divisional Round against the New Orleans Saints. His base salary with the new contract puts him as the 11th-highest paid kicker, which is a good deal for Seattle.
Walter Thurmond signs with New York Giants (1 year, $3.5 million)
As expected, the Seahawks had no room on the depth chart for Thurmond and let him walk. He has some value as a slot corner and a backup for Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, but there was really nothing Seattle could do to bring Thurmond back.
Other departures include Brandon Browner, who got a healthy payday from the New England Patriots, and Red Bryant, who will join Clemons in Jacksonville. Neither player was expected to return to Seattle.
The Seahawks have lost a bit, but that was to be expected heading into the offseason. Bringing Bennett back was the big move and the Seahawks got it done at a great price. Losing Tate and potentially McDonald hurts, but the front office has shown that it has the ability to make up for those losses in the draft.
Photo Credit : Elizabeth Conley / Associated Press
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