Seahawks Seek Bargains On Free-Agent Market
By Corbin Smith
Armed with an elite defense and a young, talent-laden roster, the Seattle Seahawks have been built for sustained success in coming seasons. Locking up players like Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, and Earl Thomas will be necessary to keep the team in championship contention, but as this past season showed, finding free agent bargains could be the real difference maker for the Seahawks heading into the 2014 season.
En route to the franchise's first ever Super Bowl title this past season, general manager John Schneider made several smart moves to improve depth throughout the roster by signing high-quality players to short-term deals at a cheap price. Defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett both joined Seattle with cap-friendly contracts that allowed the team to keep a vast majority of its players from the 2012 season, and the Seahawks would be wise to take a similar approach this season before Wilson starts negotiating an extension next year. Even with free agents like Golden Tate and Bennett potentially leaving for big money elsewhere, the Seahawks still have one of the deepest rosters in the league and adding a few cheap, productive veterans would allow the franchise to continue being a title contender without breaking the bank and losing draft choices.
This year's free agent pool doesn't have quite as many appealing names thanks to big name players like Jimmy Graham and Brian Orakpo being given the franchise tag by their respective teams, but Seattle should still be able to find a few solid assets available without breaking the bank. Which players would be interesting additions to the defending champs, and which ones should Schneider try to sign this spring?
After looking over the list of available players on the market, these five players stood out as potential candidates to join the Seahawks for a one or two year deal at the right price. None of these players would be viewed as a star, and one in particular would take an incredible reclamation project from the coaching staff, but all five could be solid role players who help this team stay in the hunt for another championship run.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers- Nobody has mentioned this as a potential fit, but Jones would be the perfect replacement for now-departed Sidney Rice if the Seahawks were able to sign him at a reasonable price. He's had problems with drops in the past, but Seattle needs a big receiver to compliment Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin, making Jones a quality candidate who is worth considering. He's also a great red zone threat, as he is only two seasons removed from a 14 touchdown campaign. Wilson would enjoy having a steady veteran presence on the outside who also provides a big target in the end zone. If the Packers don't attempt to re-sign him and his price drops, Seattle should offer him a contract.
Tyson Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs- Seattle released Red Bryant last week, leaving the team without a great run-stuffing defensive end on the roster. Jackson never lived up to the hype of being a top five draft choice for the Chiefs, but he has developed into a steady run stopper in recent years and his status as a draft "bust" could drive the price down enough where Seattle could look at him as Bryant's replacement. He only has nine total sacks in his five year career and wouldn't be an asset as a pass rusher, but his one-dimensional ability should create a limited market for his services and make him a viable option for the Seahawks to consider. The Chiefs may try to retain him, but it looks like a 50/50 chance he will go elsewhere.
Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs- Schwartz has been a journeyman for much of his career, but he finally broke through as a reliable starter for the Chiefs last year. He's not a Pro Bowl caliber talent, but considering the struggles of James Carpenter, Seattle would be smart to look at Schwartz as an option at left guard. He's at his best when he's moving the pile in the run game, which means he could excel in Seattle's run-heavy offensive scheme. He's also an intelligent player, and a heavily-penalized offensive line could certainly use that type of presence up front. Kansas City wants to bring him back, but they have other key players to re-sign. If cap space gets tight, Schwartz could be on the way out and available for the Seahawks to snag.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions- Most experts have linked Jermichael Finley to the Seahawks as a fix at tight end, but Seattle would be wiser to consider another free agent tight end from the same division. Look, Pettigrew has had his share of problems since coming into the league out of Oklahoma State. He's been unreliable as a receiver at times and his lack of consistency drove the coaching staff crazy, but he's a strong blocking tight end who does have the skill set to be a solid receiver if deployed properly. The Lions entire team had problems with consistency under Jim Schwartz, and seeing how Pettigrew would respond to a new coaching staff and a change of scenary might be worth a shot. Even if his play doesn't rise much above his productivity in Detroit, he'd still be an upgrade over Zach Miller in the run blocking department.
Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans- This would be an absolute reach, and if Seattle actually did sign Britt and turned his career around, it would further cement Pete Carroll's status as one of the best coaches in the NFL. Only a few short years ago, Britt looked like a potential All-Pro player, but a barrage of knee injuries coupled with off-field issues have stunted his development in Tennessee. He only caught 11 passes all of last season and hardly played during the second half of the season as the Titans replaced him with younger, hungrier receivers. Still only 25 years old, Britt has time to resurrect his career, but questions about his knees and character remain. Seattle has shown itself to be a beacon of hope for players with a troubled past, and nothing bad could come from giving this big receiver an off-season workout to see what he can still do physically. If he looks healthy and the coaches believe he can turn things around, he could be worth taking a flier on.