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Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: Here is where the Seahawks sit as they head into NFL free agency

Seattle defensive end Leonard Williams, left, and linebackers Jordan Brooks, bottom right, and Bobby Wagner stop Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts on Dec. 18 in Seattle.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – The Seahawks have done some tearing down over the past week, with the releases of safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, tight end Will Dissly and nose tackle Bryan Mone.

Now it’s time to do some building.

The Seahawks and the rest of the NFL will soon enter what the league likes to call “Free Agency Frenzy” when the true roster construction for the upcoming season begins.

Things officially kick off at 9 a.m. Monday with what the league calls a “two-day negotiating period” when teams can begin talking to agents of players who can become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday.

This is more commonly referred to as “the legal tampering period” and deals tend to be agreed to quickly – often by 9:01 a.m., indicating that either everyone was working quickly, or maybe there was some illegal tampering going on (we’re siding with answer B on that one).

Players can begin signing contracts at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Teams can sign and announce re-signings of their own free agents at any time.

Wednesday is also the deadline when teams must tender their own restricted or exclusive-rights free agents or else those players become unrestricted free agents on that day.

Let’s recap where things stand with the Seahawks before the action gets started.

How much cap space?

After the releases this week, the Seahawks were listed with $42.057 million in available cap space by, which ranked 11th of the 32 NFL teams. It appears that number is what they will go into free agency with as president of football operations John Schneider said on an appearance on Seattle Sports 710 Thursday that his “hope” is that the Seahawks are done making salary-cap-related moves.

That doesn’t mean they have all of that money to immediately hand out to free agents. estimates the Seahawks will need about $3.7 million in cap space to fit in its draft picks.

When accounting for cap space, money is needed to get through the regular season for things such as the practice squad and players who may go on injured reserve. OTC lists the Seahawks with $33.818 million in cap space. They usually play it conservative with that number and keep a little more space on hand.

Something around $31 million may be a more realistic number.

That’s where waiting to hear the structure of contracts is important. NFL contracts are heavily backloaded in cap space, especially with teams knowing the cap is expected to continue to increase markedly each season – recall it went up to $255.4 million for 2024 from the $224.8 million of 2023.

The short answer is the Seahawks should have all the space they need to make some significant signings.

Who are pending free agents?

The Seahawks have 14 players who can become unrestricted free agents – or UFAs for short – Wednesday. These are players whose contracts simply run out at that time, unlike players such as Adams or Diggs, who became free agents last week because their contracts were terminated.

Those 14 are: linebacker Jordyn Brooks, center Evan Brown, cornerback Artie Burns, linebacker Devin Bush, running back DeeJay Dallas, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., tight end Noah Fant, guard Phil Haynes, guard Damien Lewis, quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Colby Parkinson, tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Bobby Wagner, defensive end Leonard Williams.

The Seahawks have four restricted free agents. These are players they can retain by extending them a tender, or a one-year contract at a set price based on the level of the tender. Tendered players can then still negotiate with other teams but they have the right to match that offer, or depending on the level of the tender, possibly receive draft-pick compensation.

Players not tendered become free agents Wednesday.

The four RFAs are: tackle Jake Curhan, cornerback Michael Jackson, and linebackers Jon Rhattigan and Darrell Taylor.

The Seahawks have five exclusive-rights free agents, or ERFAs. Teams can retain ERFAs with a tender, which prohibits a player from negotiating with another team. Their five ERFAs are: defensive end Myles Adams, tackles McClendon Curtis and Raiqwon O’Neal, linebacker Joshua Onujiogu and tight end Brady Russell.

Add that up, and that’s 23 players on the Seahawks’ roster last season whose fates will be decided over the next week or so.

Ranking the free agents

OK, let’s get to it – who are the Seahawks’ most important players to retain? Here’s one ranking of the top six.

DE Leonard Williams: The Seahawks gave up a 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 fifth-rounder to the Giants for him at the trade deadline last October. They Seahawks surely didn’t do that to play just 10 games, even if the Giants picked up most of his salary for the remainder of the season. The Seahawks haven’t always re-signed players it acquired in significant trades, such as Jadeveon Clowney, (though they did try). The guess here is the Seahawks will do just about all it reasonably can to get Williams back, especially considering Schneider called re-signing Williams a priority during an appearance on Seattle Sports 710 Thursday. Williams made $21 million a year on his expired deal and may want that or more to return.

LB Jordyn Books: The Seahawks have none of their top three inside linebackers under contract. Of those three, the one who makes the most sense to get back given his age (26) and what he could mean going forward is Brooks, though it won’t be easy. Pro Football Focus estimates a three-year deal averaging $12 million per season. They could try to sign Baltimore’s Patrick Queen, who played for new Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald with the Ravens and is generally regarded as the best free-agent inside linebacker available. PFF estimates Queen could command a four-year deal worth more than $18 million a season, or basically what the Seahawks gave Wagner in 2019.

G Damien Lewis: All three of the starting interior OL players to begin last season can be free agents – LG Lewis, RG Haynes and center Brown. Of those three, Lewis seems the most vital to retain. PFF estimates it’d take a four-year deal averaging $9.5 million. That this is regarded as a strong draft class for offensive linemen might suppress the market some and make it easier to retain Lewis – or easier to let him go elsewhere if the price goes above what they want to pay, knowing the draft awaits.

TEs Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson: After the release of Dissly, the Seahawks have only two tight ends who have played in games, but only sparingly – Tyler Mabry, and Russell, assuming he is tendered as an ERFA. Teams began making aggressive moves this week to retain their tight ends and free-agent options appear to be thinning quickly. That could mean the Seahawks anticipate being able to re-sign one or both of Fant or Parkinson – and Parkinson will be a lot cheaper – or possibly bring back Dissly on a cheaper deal. It may not be a surprise if they move quickly on one of their tight ends.

QB Drew Lock: The Seahawks have only Geno Smith under contract at quarterback and has made it clear it wants to retain Lock. Lock alternately made it clear after the season he might like a better chance to play than he had last year. One question may be if Lock wants to see how the QB market develops – what happens with big names such as Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins is going to led to a domino effect – or re-sign quickly. The Seahawks are examining QBs in the draft, and that could also impact how avidly they go after Lock, and conversely how comfortable he might feel about re-signing.

LB Bobby Wagner: What will happen with Wagner? That he turns 34 in June likely means he will again be sorting through one-year offers from teams looking to fill an immediate need with a veteran. Will the Seahawks be one of those teams? A new coaching staff means Wagner’s history doesn’t resonate anywhere near as much as it did with Carroll, and Schneider and Macdonald may be looking to move on. With Brooks also a free agent, they have a big hole right now at LB. PFF estimates it won’t take too much to get him, assessing his value as a one-year deal for $4 million. Wagner said he wants to keep playing, be it in Seattle or elsewhere. As was the case last year, when Wagner didn’t sign until March 25, he might have to wait a little while.