SEATTLE – We’re two weeks into the NFL free-agent signing period – players were first allowed to negotiate with teams on March 16 – and the pace of activity is predictably beginning to slow.
The Seahawks have signed, agreed to terms with or traded for seven new players as well as re-signing a few of their own, bringing their roster to an unofficial 67 players – teams can have up to 90 in the offseason.
Seattle also doesn’t have a ton of cap room remaining, with what is likely about $8 million or so in real cap space once every free-agent signing is accounted for.
That means at this point, any free-agent signing is either likely to be relatively low-key, or come with a counter move that opens up some salary cap space.
Seattle also has seven picks in the draft, which remains scheduled for April 23-25, four in the top 101, and can begin focusing on that as a way to fill some of its remaining needs, as well.
But the Seahawks still appear to have some things left to accomplish in free agency.
Here’s a look at four items remaining on their to-do list:
1. Resolving Jadeveon Clowney’s situation, or at least signing another defensive end or two: There doesn’t appear to be anything new on the Clowney front, with some increasing thought he is willing to wait things out, possibly until the coronavirus situation clears up enough that he might be able to take physicals for other teams.
If Clowney does decide to wait a while – and there’s been enough mystery on this that for all anyone knows he could decide to sign with some team tomorrow – then the Seahawks at some point are going to have to make sure they are covered well enough at defensive end, just in case.
Former Minnesota Vikings standout Everson Griffen remains available and there has been a thought he has been waiting for Clowney to sign before making a decision. But at some point, you figure some team is going to make a move on Griffen, and/or that Griffen will want to sign somewhere.
There also remains the long-shot option of trading for Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue, but indications are that the Jaguars are asking for a lot and willing to be patient, with reports surfacing last week that nothing is going on on that front. Baltimore’s Matthew Judon also is a tagged player who might be had in a trade. But that would require a lot of doing both in pulling off the trade and then fitting him in salary-wise.
There remain a number of veterans who would be available for less than Griffen, such as former Seahawks Michael Bennett and Benson Mayowa, as well as Clay Matthews and Markus Golden, just to name a few.
2. Adding another defensive tackle: The Seahawks have five players listed as defensive tackles under contract – Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone, Demarcus Christmas and Nazair Jones. What else the Seahawks think they might need to add at that spot might depend on their confidence in the progress of Mone, who is entering his second season, and the health of Christmas, who sat out all of last year with a back injury, and Jones, who missed last year with a knee injury.
Seattle lost Al Woods, who signed with the Jaguars.
If Seattle thinks Jones and Christmas will be ready and Mone can take a big step up in year two, then maybe the Seahawks are OK there.
But it seems as if adding another veteran such as Woods might be in order, maybe taking a shot on a player such as Tim Jernigan or Xavier Williams, who played last year with the Kansas City Chiefs.
3. Beefing up the running back depth: Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said at the NFL combine the team would need to add some running backs to assure it has the necessary depth as Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny recover from injuries. The team thinks Carson will be ready for the regular season but is less certain about Penny.
Aside from those two, Seattle has just two other tailbacks under contract – Travis Homer and Adam Choice (an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago who sat out the 2019 season due to injury).
There have been rumblings that Marshawn Lynch might still want to play. But he certainly wouldn’t do anything in the preseason, so Seattle is going to need to add a running back or two just to handle a lot of carries then, if nothing else.
A few veterans who remain available include Devonta Freeman, Carlos Hyde, Chris Thompson and Theo Riddick.
4. Adding a backup quarterback: Seattle remains with just one quarterback under contract for 2020 – some guy named Russell Wilson.
It’s known Seattle also pursued XFL star P.J. Walker before Walker decided to sign with Carolina.
The backup last year, Geno Smith, remains unsigned and maybe the plan is to just bring him back.
Whatever the case, Seattle will for sure have at least three quarterbacks on the roster by the time the team takes the field again (whenever that may be).
A logical way to do that is signing a veteran backup – maybe Smith – and adding someone out of the draft class, most logically an undrafted free agent unless the Seahawks wanted to take a late-round flyer on someone as they did two years ago in the seventh round with Alex McGough.
There are plenty of veteran options, or at least quarterbacks who have been on rosters, who are available – a guy like Kyle Sloter might be intriguing because he would be cheap and wouldn’t count against the formula for compensatory draft choices, and others who are available include Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert and, well, Blake Bortles.
But given the unique and challenging nature of this offseason, having someone like Smith, who already knows the offense back in the QB room, also makes a lot of sense.
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