After a season that saw them come up far short of their expectations, the Seattle Seahawks are going back to the drawing board this offseason. With head coach Pete Carroll and now former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer having a difference of opinion (which caused Schottenheimer to not return), this will be a very important time for Seattle.
Still led by quarterback Russell Wilson, the run-heavy scheme that Carroll wants to run is going to be a very interesting melding of sorts, taking the passing game talents of Wilson and combining it with whatever semblance of a rushing attack this team will have. With the incumbent starting back Chris Carson hitting free agency, will the Seahawks choose to bring him back, or has Rashaad Penny done enough in his limited, injury-riddled time to give him the keys to the offense?
But the bigger problems on this team lie within its defense, as safety Jamal Adams is the best player, yet others are being paid much more than him that are holding this team back. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, for instance, could become a cap casualty, as his $14.1 million cap hit holds no dead cap amount, which would free up a ton of spending room to work with.
If the Seahawks do not move on from certain high-salary players (like Dunlap) or restructure others (Tyler Lockett), they will head into the offseason with just over $4.3 million in cap space, quite the minuscule amount and not close to being enough to make those moves that they need if they want to compete in the NFC West division.
Here are three potential free agents the Seahawks would be smart to look at this offseason (as a note, operate under the mindset that these following moves will be made with more than the current $4.3 million of cap space, meaning that Seattle will clear up space).
Jonnu Smith-Tight End
Ever since Jimmy Graham left Seattle a few years back, the tight end position has been lacking in this Seahawks offense. Thankfully, there are a few solid options on the market that they can take a look at, including Jonnu Smith.
The former Tennessee Titans tight end is used to playing in a run-heavy scheme with Derrick Henry, so his familiarity with a run-first playbook would be a welcomed sight for whomever the Seahawks bring in to be their offensive coordinator.
Smith functions quite well as a receiver too and he enjoyed a breakout campaign in his contract year, setting himself up for a nice payday. The Titans could very much bring him back and the Atlanta Falcons could look to bring him over and follow TEN’s former OC Arthur Smith, but Seattle would offer him the best chance at winning.
Helping replace both Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister, Smith could see a three-year deal worth $22 million come his way this offseason, a number the Seahawks could fit into their cap sheet with other cost-saving moves made.
Center Ethan Pocic is a free agent, left tackle Duane Brown could be a cap casualty ($13 million cap hit, only $2 million dead cap), and the rest of the offensive line is not built up to support a run-heavy attack – a perfect reason why bringing in the best center on the market in Corey Linsley would make a ton of sense.
The current Green Bay Packer, Linsley has been a Cheesehad ever since he was drafted, and has put together solid seasons anchoring that stout OL unit. With Green Bay facing a cap crunch this offseason, players like Linsley and running back Aaron Jones may not return, creating a solid market for them outside of Wisconsin.
Linsley would be a great upgrade for the Seahawks' offensive attack moving forward, and Linsley’s familiarity with running a zone scheme under head coach Matt LaFleur is imperative for a lot of OC candidates, which would make Linsley a hot commodity as a FA. While already 30 years of age, the former Ohio State Buckeye would command a pretty penny on the open market, settling in just under $10 million per season, a bit of a big pill for any team to swallow for a center that has had dealt with injuries during his career.
A three-year, $29 million deal would be a good price point for Linsley and the Seahawks. They would be able to add a key pillar to their OL unit moving forward for Wilson and company.
OLB KJ Wright and CB Quinton Dunbar are the most important free agents for the Seahawks this offseason, and both are likely to leave due to their estimated market values. This is why the addition of an old friend would be such an interesting (estimated) ending to an NFL career.
After having released Richard Sherman back in March of 2018 to free up $11 million in cap space, Sherman signed with their divisional rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, and enjoyed a semi-productive stint in the Bay area. But the 32-year-old Stanford alum is looking for one final shot at a potential title, and reuniting with the Seahawks would be a very interesting storyline to follow.
Would Sherman take a hometown discount to return? Perhaps, and that may be the only way that Sherman would be able to fit on the books, so a one-year deal for a base of $5 million would be a safe contract for both sides, all the while reigniting a superb storyline that many of us thought was complete.
Sherman would help replace Dunbar and would only join in the case of Dunbar leaving, and he would pair with fiery Adams to create a decent Seahawks secondary yet again.