Free Agency Review: Seattle Seahawks

Key Additions: G/T Luke Joeckel ($8M), RB Eddie Lacy ($4.3M), S Bradley McDougald ($1.8M), LB Michael Wilhoite ($1.6M), K Blair Walsh ($1.1M), T Oday Aboushi ($975K), CB Perrish Cox ($855K)

Key Re-signings: TE Luke Willson ($1.8M), CB Neiko Thorpe ($1.8M), CB Deshawn Shead ($1.2M)

Key Losses: T Bradley Sowell (FA), DT Tony McDaniel (FA), S Steven Terrell (FA), S Kelcie McCray (FA), LB Brock Coyle (49ers), K Steven Hauschka (Bills)

Estimated Cap Space: $9.6 million

Dead Money: $850 thousand

Estimated Salary Per Year: $181.6 million for 74 players

Snaps Gained/Lost in Free Agency:

Role2016 Snaps2017 SnapsChange
Offense11,10110,878-223
Defense11,76312,280517
Special4,9203,715-1,205

Player Signings

Luke Joeckel- 1 year, $8M, $7M guaranteed

I get that everyone gets on the Seahawks case for not spending money on their offensive line, but to just spend money for the sake of spending money isn’t the fix that people were looking for. Joeckel has been awful since coming into the NFL at both guard and tackle. The Jaguars, who spend money on anyone, wanted no part of keeping him. The going rate for busts on the line is in the ballpark of $3M.  I have no idea how they arrived at this figure. One of the biggest reaches in all of free agency. Grade: F

Eddie Lacy- 1 year, $4.25M, $2.87M guaranteed

I like this move by Seattle. Lacy has high level talent and the potential to play at a $6M+ level if he is healthy and in shape. The team tied about one third of the contract to being active on Sunday and making weight so they have protection in the contract. This makes more sense than going after an old Adrian Peterson or getting tied long term to a Latavius Murray type. This is also safer than $3M plus on Rex Burkhead. Grade: B+

Bradley McDougald- 1 year, $1.8M, $750K guaranteed

This is a terrific pick for Seattle at an absolute rock bottom price. Capable players generally don’t slip this badly and usually wind up at least in the $4-5M range as a lower range starter. I don’t know if some of the failure free agent signings around the NFL scared teams off or it was something else but this was the way to get incredible value for the team by waiting for a situation to unfold and then pouncing on it. I’d think he may have had a better deal on the table somewhere else, but it you are going to take a one year deal it may as well be in Seattle. Grade: A

Luke Willson- 3 years, $1.8M, $1.8M guaranteed

Seattle gets Willson back at effectively the same price as last season which I think is pretty solid. Someone like Trey Burton in Philadelphia, who is a better receiver, but less proven, got a 2nd round tender worth over $2.7M and there are more than a few comparable types that are in the $2.5-$3M range. Willson may have been better off going elsewhere on a prove it contract where he might see an increased role.  Grade: B+

Neiko Thorpe- 2 years, $3.5M, $600K guaranteed

Thorpe is a solid special teams player with some upside, but he’s bounced around the NFL a bit with stints in Kansas City, Oakland, and Indy before landing in Seattle. I’d lean towards most players in that group ending up on a minimum salaried contract or at the very least having about half this amount guaranteed. I’d guess Seattle sees the potential for an increased role for him. Grade: C-

Michael Wilhoite- 1 year, $1.55M, $500k guaranteed

I guess this was effectively a Wilhoite for Brock Coyle swap, and I think the extra $100K spent on Wilhoite gives the Seahawks more ability. Still it’s hard to get excited for any linebacker deals much over the minimum this year as the market was just a dud. Grade: C

Overall Thoughts

The prevailing theme in Seattle this year was clearly one year contracts and there are a few ways we could look at that. One is that the team is not going to get into more long term contracts because they think their window could be closing. I don’t think I buy that as Seattle generally either swings for the fences in free agency or tried to find a reasonable middle ground for good talent that they can extend a year later. If this was the case I doubt they would have signed Michael Bennett to a very lucrative contract at the end of the season. The second thought might be that the Seahawks are just looking to band aid a few spots while they hope picks develop and they can continue to band aid them year by year until they get the right young guys to fill a void. I can buy that logic since Seattle is a win now team and those teams often can’t blindly rely on picks and need some veteran options they can plug in.

My feeling is that it has more to do with their future salary cap situation. The Seahawks have a monstrous payroll and a large number of those players are going to want extensions either this year or the next. Jimmy Graham, Justin Britt, and Kam Chancellor are all in the final year of their contract. The year after is Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, KJ Wright, and Cliff Avril.  Seattle really isn’t a position where they can give an outsider a big contract and keep their current guys happy or in uniform long term.

Seattle is actively shopping Sherman which I think points towards the team understanding the potential difficulties they will have in the future. Seattle has not fired on the draft in a few years and is going to be faced with a decision of buying into an old team or taking some risks to remain fluid with their cap and roster. If you benchmark against a team like the Patriots this is the exact kind of move that the Patriots would make. It’s a tough decision that may be unpopular but also has the potential to work out for the better of the team.

Seattle pretty much has replaced whatever snaps they needed to replace and didn’t lose anyone important to the team’s success. Still they didn’t really upgrade their line and it’s hard to really be bullish on the offseason when they signed Joeckel to one of the worst contracts signed this year. I’d have to give it some added thought but other than a few Redskins contracts and the Miami extension with Reshad Jones there may not be any worse. They made up for it with some of the lower level signings, but they definitely should have had a few more million to work with.

Overall Grade: B-
  • hkim2016

    Re: Joeckel, I was under the impression that he graded out okay as a guard. If they play him as a guard, then they are paying top dollar for a guard with upside for tackle help? Still, I agree that the price point was a bit high.

    Regarding the window, how many drafts can a team like Seattle go without really hitting on lots of picks and still stitch together an intermediate path to success? Seattle had great 2011 and 2012 drafts, but 2013 and 2014 were consensus poor draft years (overall, and for Seattle). 2015 and 2016 have a couple of interesting young prospects that may work out okay, but so far no “superstars” have emerged. How many years can you go dry in the draft before it’s too late?