Free agency – options and decisions
Welcome to Part Seven!
Yes, I chose to use a Pittsburgh offensive lineman as the cover model for this installment on purpose – because signing a Steelers O-lineman worked out really well for us last year.
Before we dive into today’s information, the related polls, and some probing, decision-making questions, let’s take a look at the results from yesterday’s installment.
- High priority positions: Guard, Center, Cornerback, and Defensive End.
- Medium priority positions: Tackle, Tight End, Running Back, and Defensive Tackle.
- Low priority positions: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Fullback, Linebacker, Safety, and Special Teams.
Narrowing our focus to just the HIGH priority positions . . .
- Center: 16% of you think we should get 2 or more. 83% said, “One”. And you’re willing to pay $5M – $10M per season to address that position.
- Guard: 69% of you think we should get “Two or More” – which is interesting since Damien Lewis seems like he did a pretty good job last year. 34% of you said, “One”. How much you’re willing to pay was actually the tightest poll yesterday – – – 44% said “At least $5M, but not more than $10M” and 41% said, “Here’s my checkbook; try not to spend it all in one place.”
- Defensive End: 37% said we need “One”; 57% said “Two” with 39% voting to spend $5M to $10M and 47% voting to spend “whatever it takes to properly address the position.”
- Cornerback: Nearly 2/3rds of you (63%) said we need “Three or More” and 47% of you are willing to spend $5M to $10M on the position.
Free agency resources – and some polls
There are obviously a ton of articles – and even entire websites – devoted to free agency and the options that various teams have available to them. There are scouting reports and draft profiles and HOURS of “tape” available.
Rather than providing my own take on who the Hawks could / should / might be targeting, I thought we’d have a bit more fun with this.
NOTE: If you want to skip the fun and jump to the decision-polls, scroll to the end.
Since so much content already exists, I will provide a link to a “resource” (aka an article) and give you a brief summary of what you’ll find if you click on the link. After each one, there will be some poll questions related to that resource.
Here’s a list of the resources we will be using:
- Resource #1: Clayton: The Seahawks priorities and potential targets in free agency (710 AM / ESPN Seattle)
- Resource #2: 10 free agents the Seattle Seahawks should target: NFL free agency 2021 (The Oregonian / Oregon Live)
- Resource #3: NFL free agents 2021: Top 10 offensive linemen (NBC Sports Boston)
- Resource #4: 2021 NFL Free Agency: Updated landing spots for PFF’s top 50 free agents (Pro Football Focus)
- Resource #5: Simulating NFL free agency 2021: Who signs where, and why the Patriots are the big winners (ESPN)
- Resource #6: Perfect scheme fits for top NFL free agents 2021: Landing spots for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Aaron Jones, more (ESPN+)
- Resource #7: Ranking NFL’s top 30 free agents and predicting where they’ll sign (New York Post)
Summary: This is a short article. In it, the beloved (?) and very knowledgeable John Clayton says that Seattle’s priorities are DE and IOL (i.e. Defensive End and Interior Offensive Line, aka Guard and Center) but then he mostly focuses on replacing Shaquill Griffin.
Poll #P7.01: Do you agree with John Clayton when he says the Seahawks will be “very active” but won’t spend “big numbers” on free agents?
Poll #P7.02: Clayton throws out three options for replacing Shaquill Griffin if the Seahawks don’t re-sign him. Of the 3, which would you prefer?
Poll #P7.03: John Clayton writes, “If the Seahawks could get (Quinton) Jefferson, (Carlos) Dunlap, and Benson Mayowa all back, they would be pretty good with them along with Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson rushing the quarterback.” Do you agree with that assessment?
Summary: This is an interesting list – in part, because 3 of the 10 names are our own free agents (Carson, Wright, and Dunbar); and, in part, because there are only 2 defensive players on the list (yep, you guessed it – Wright and Dunbar).
Poll #P7.04: This article lists 10 players the Seahawks could / would / should be interested in signing in free agency. Which of the 10 would be at the top of your wishlist if you were John and Pete?
Resource #3: NFL free agents 2021: Top 10 offensive linemen
Summary: Headlined by the names you would guess: #1: Guard Joe Thuney; #2: Center Corey Linsley; and #3: Tackle Trent Williams. There are some interesting names at the bottom of their Top 10 list though – including #10: Ethan Pocic.
Poll #P7.05: Do we, the fans and/or the team, not “value” Mr. Pocic as much as we should?
NOTE: This one might be behind a paywall; I have an “elite” subscription and am constantly logged into the site. The summary is all you really “need” though.
Summary: Three of Seattle’s players made the Top 50: Shaquill Griffin (#26), Quinton Dunbar (#44), and Chris Carson (#50). Somewhat surprisingly, PFF predicts that Seattle will SIGN one player that is in their top 50 . . . who could it be?
#26: SHAQUILL GRIFFIN
Poll #P7.06a: PFF predicts that CB Shaquill Griffin will sign a 3-year, $28.5M contract with $15.5M guaranteed. Does that seem like an accurate estimate?
Poll #P7.06b: PFF predicts that SEATTLE will be the team that signs Griffin to the aforementioned contract. Do you agree?
#44: QUINTON DUNBAR
Poll #P7.07a: PFF predicts that CB Quinton Dunbar will get a 2-year, $12M contract with $9.5M guaranteed). Do you agree with that estimate?
Poll #P7.07b: PFF predicts that JACKSONVILLE will be the team that signs Quinton Dunbar. Do you agree?
#50: CHRIS CARSON
Poll #P7.08a: PFF predicts that RB Chris Carson will sign a 3-years $30M contract with $15M guaranteed. Does that seem like an accurate prediction?
Poll #P7.08b: PFF expects Chris Carson to sign with the JETS. Do you agree?
BONUS Polls for Resource #4
Poll #P7.09a: PFF lists former Seahawk Richard Sherman at #10 among all free agents; is this an accurate ranking?
Poll #P7.09b: PFF predicts that Richard Sherman will land in Vegas with the Raiders; do you agree?
Poll #P7.09c: PFF predicts 2-years, $28M ($18M guaranteed). The 2 years is an easy prediction since Sherman has said he wants to play 2 more years and then retire. Do you think the money estimate is accurate?
Summary: Not a “Top X-Number” list; more of a random selection of guesses but done in an interesting way: NFL Nation writers for each team made offers for free agents and the “best” offer won.
Shaquill Griffin is on the list.
Brady Henderson, representing Seattle, put in an offer . . . that got utterly DESTROYED by an offer from Jacksonville.
- Seattle’s offer: 3 years, $39M, $25M guaranteed, $2M in additional incentives for Pro Bowls + INTs
- Jacksonville’s offer: 3 years, $48M, $28M guaranteed
NOTE: There were no other Seahawks players on that particular list and no other offers from Seattle.
Poll #P7.10: What, if anything, would you read into the difference between the (hypothetical) offers from Seattle and Jacksonville?
Poll #P7.11: If you were Griffin, which of those 2 hypothetical offers would you sign?
Resource #6: Perfect scheme fits for top NFL free agents 2021: Landing spots for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Aaron Jones, more (ESPN+ = paywall)
Summary: Only one Seahawks player makes their list (Shaquill Griffin); and Seattle is considered the best scheme-fit for two players. And, like many, ESPN predicts that Griffin will ultimately stay in Seattle – in this case, because of the scheme-fit.
In their words:
Griffin has enough top-end speed to match or recover vertically, and he’s a tremendous match for the zone-heavy Seattle defense in both single-high and split-safety coverages. That’s where we see Griffin use his physical tools in coverage or when tackling in the run game. Griffin, who had three interceptions last season, has the ball skills to create turnovers.
ESPN also considers Seattle the best scheme-fit for EDGE Bud Dupree – which sounds good until you consider the money that’s involved (PFF’s estimate is 1-year, $15M, $12M guaranteed) and the fact that he’s likely to start the season on the PUP list after tearing his ACL near the end of last season.
Poll #P7.12a: Would you sign Bud Dupree to a 1-year contract given his injury and expected (lack of) availability to start the year?
Poll #P7.12b: Would you sign Bud Dupree to a multi-year contract with an APY of $15M? (ex. 2/$30M or 3/$45M)
Summary: Predicts that Seattle will make bids on C Corey Linsley, DE Matthew Judon, and RT Mitchell Schwartz. Thinks that Seattle will land 2 of the 3 (Judon and Schwartz). Yet, somehow, doesn’t think Seattle will even make an offer to CB Shaquill Griffin.
Poll #P7.13a: Limiting it to JUST those 3 players, how many of the 3 do you think will end up signing with Seattle?
Poll #P7.13c: Of those 3 players, which one do you think is the LEAST likely to sign with Seattle?
“Hot or Not”, NFL free agency style
Here, in the form of some very quick polls, are a handful of free agents and the contract terms that PFF estimates for them.
- Hot = You think the player is worth signing at the estimated price and you would want him on your team (assuming you could afford him).
- Not = You’re going to pass – PFF is clearly insane and/or you would have no interest in having the player on your team at that price.
Poll #P7.14: HUNTER HENRY (Tight End). Age: 26.2. Estimated contract: 4 years, $48M, with $23.5M guaranteed ($12M APY). NOTE: Per PFF Henry ranked 14th and 18th among tight ends the last 2 years.
Poll #P7.15: NDAMUKONG SUH (Defensive Lineman). Age 34.1. Estimated contract: 1 year, $6.75M, fully guaranteed at signing. NOTE: Suh played the 11th-most snaps of any D-lineman in the league last year (788) while recording 50 pressures and 25 stops.
Poll #P7.16: KENNY GOLLADAY (Wide Receiver). Age: 27.3. Estimated contract: 4 years, $85M, with $57.5M guaranteed ($21.25M APY). NOTE: Injury short-circuited his 2020 season but he was #7 in receiving yards and #3 in yards per catch in 2019
Poll #P7.17 RYAN FITZPATRICK (Quarterback). Age 38.3. Estimated contract: 1 year, $10M, fully guaranteed at signing. NOTE: Say what you want about his Fitz-Magic slash Fitz-Tragic Jekyll & Hyde career, PFF has given him 3 of his 4 best season grades the last 3 years.
Poll #P7.18: TAKKARIST McKINLEY (EDGE). Age 25.3. Estimated contract: 3 years, $28.5M, with $18M guaranteed ($9.5M APY). NOTE: Many 12s had him on their wishlist last season near the trade deadline.
Poll #P7.19: TRENT WILLIAMS (Tackle). Age: 32.5. Estimated contract: 4 years, $80M, with $62.4M guaranteed ($20M APY). NOTE: Per PFF, Williams has led all tackles in PFF grading 3 times, including last season.
Poll #P7.20: YANNICK NGAKOUE (EDGE). Age 25.9. Estimated contract: 4 years, $70M, with $40M guaranteed ($17.5M APY). NOTE: Expected to be joining his 4th team in 2 years.
AKA: Polls for specific players and positions that will actually help shape our roster.
As a reminder, here in this series, the Seahawks have $33,748,844 in available cap space.
In theory, about $6M to $8M of that should be set aside (probably more) for things like injury settlements, in-season replacements, and, of course, the incoming rookies.
But none of those things are needed TODAY so if you, as John and Pete, want to spend every last one of those thirty-three million, seven hundred forty-eight thousand, eight hundred forty-four dollars . . . go right ahead!
A few questions about the current roster
Poll #P7.21: How comfortable are you with the defensive end rotation if the Seahawks don’t sign (or draft) a “difference-maker”?
As a reminder, you’ve decided to re-sign Benson Mayowa so the team has him, plus L.J. Collier, Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, Rasheem Green, and Myles Adams.
Poll #P7.22a: Do you think that Duane Brown legitimately has at least 3 more years of “quality” football in him?
NOTE: This question is being asked because (a) you’ve signed him to an extension that keeps him with the team through 2023, and (b) if the answer is “no” then it is time to start looking for his replacement.
Poll #P7.22b: Regardless of your previous answer regarding Duane Brown, should Seattle be looking for their “next” Left Tackle this offseason?
Poll #P7.22c: Should Seattle look for their next Left Tackle in free agency or in the draft?
Poll #P7.22d: If you feel that Seattle should look for their next Left Tackle via free agency, which of these tackles would you sign?
NOTE: Contract estimates are from OverTheCap.com.
Priority #1: Signing a Guard (or 2)
FACT: This is the position that you identified as your #1 priority.
FACT: 213 of you voted to spend $5M to $10M on the position and that was only 17 more votes than “Whatever it takes to properly address the position.”
Thus, I am going to assume that you aren’t interested in pinching pennies or going with a “quantity over quality” approach to this position this year.
Poll #P7.23: (Assuming they agree to terms), Who will your starting Left Guard be when the 2021 season kicks off?
NOTE: Don’t shoot the messenger; Brandon Scherff is no longer available which means Germain Ifedi is considered the 3rd best option at the Guard position (per PFF).
Poll #P7.24: If none of the 3 Guards in the previous poll sign with you, what’s the backup plan?
Priority #2: Signing a Center
We have a bit a quandary with the Center position. 45% of you voted to spend “At least $5M but not more than $10M” on the position.
Of the two dozen free agent centers, only 2 are expected to sign a contract that falls in that range: Alex Mack and David Andrews.
Alex Mack is 36 – which is fine, but do you really want to go year-to-year at the Center position? If not, then you are down to ONE option: David Andrews. At least within that price range.
There are 2 pieces of good news though.
Piece #1 is that there is another Center who MIGHT fall into that range – he’s the subject of the next poll question.
Piece #2 is that after Alex Mack, David Andrews, and the mystery Center, the rest of the free agents at the position are expected to earn salaries that would let you do a 2-for-1. For example, you could get a pair of Austins – Blythe and Reiter – for about $7.5M combined.
Seriously though, just like the Guard position, there is a HUGE drop off between the top of the class and everyone else.
Poll #P7.25: Center Corey Linsley, age 30, is a player who has been linked to Seattle and, frankly, for some pretty obvious reasons. In 2020, he allowed 4 pressures on 437 pass-blocking snaps and was in the 84th percentile as a run-blocker. PFF estimates that he will receive a 3-year, $33M contract with $16.5M guaranteed ($11M APY). Would you sign him at that price?
Poll #P7.26a: If you would NOT sign Corey Linsley to a 3-year, $33M contract, which of these Centers would be at the top of your list?
Poll #P7.26b: You previously decided to resign Ethan Pocic. Who is your projected starter in 2021; the player you selected in the previous poll or Mr. Pocic?
Priority #3: Signing a Cornerback (or 2)
Golly, are there ever a lot of free agent cornerbacks.
If you go to OTC and sort their free agent list by position, you will find that there are 9 free agent cornerbacks whose first name starts with an A; 8 whose first name starts with a B; and a dozen for C.
That’s 29 free agent cornerbacks already; and we’ve still got 88.5% of the alphabet to go.
So, yeah, A LOT.
For this position, I am going to rely on PFF’s Top 200 Free Agents list, sorted by position. I am going to exclude our own free agents (since we’ve already had polls about them), anyone that is expected to earn more than $10M per season and anyone that is expected to earn less than $5M per year.
I am also going to exclude anyone that PFF identifies as a “slot corner” since that’s not what Griffin and Dunbar are or were.
Hopefully that gets us down to a reasonable number of options.
Poll #P7.27: TROY HILL (Rams) – Age 29.5. Est. 2 years, $10.5M, with $7.25M guaranteed ($5.25M APY) – technically a slot corner, but also grades well as a CB2.
Poll #P7.28: CHIDOBE AWUZIE (Cowboys) – Age 25.8. Est. 3 years, $27M, with $15.5M guaranteed ($9M APY)
Poll #P7.29: XAVIER RHODES (Colts) – Age 30.7. Est. 3 years, $24M, with $14.5M guaranteed ($8M APY)
Poll #P7.30: RONALD DARBY (WFT) – Age 27.1. Est. 3 years, $30M, with $16.5M guaranteed ($10M APY)
Poll #P7.31: JASON VERRETT (49ers) – Age 29.7. Est. 2 years, $10M, with $5M guaranteed ($5M APY)
Poll #P7.32: BASHAUD BREELAND (Chiefs) – Age 29.1. Est. 2 years, $10M, with $5.5M guaranteed ($5M APY)
Poll #P7.33: A.J. BOUYE – Age 29.5. Est. 1 year, $5M, with $3M guaranteed
Poll #P7.34: MICHAEL DAVIS (Chargers) – Age 26.1. Est. 3 years, $21M, with $13.25M guaranteed ($7M APY)
Alright . . . that wasn’t too bad. How about a couple of “bonus” options?
Poll #P7.35: GAREON CONLEY (Texans) – Age 25.7. Est. 1 year, $2.5M, with $1M guaranteed (former R1 pick; missed all of last season)
Poll #P7.36: KEVIN KING (Packers) – Age 25.8. Est. 1 year, $3.5M, with $1.5M guaranteed
And the last 2 Cornerback questions . . .
Poll #P7.37: Of these 10 cornerbacks, which would be your #1 choice?
Poll #P7.38: Which one would be your #2 choice?
Priority #4: Signing a Defensive End (or 2)
Y’all already know this one is going to be expensive as 47% of you voted to spend “whatever it takes” and another 39% voted to spend $5M to $10M.
Poll #P7.39: Which of these defensive ends would be your “big” free agent signing if you were John and Pete?
Poll #P7.40: If your top choice didn’t sign with you (or if you could afford to sign two defensive ends), who would your second choice be?
Priority #5: Signing a Running Back
Although Running back was voted as a Medium priority by 50% of you, 38% thought it was a HIGH priority so let’s take a quick look at this position too.
NOTE: The target price range is less than $5M and this is not going to be a complete list; just half a dozen or so options for you to consider.
Poll #P7.41: Which of these running backs would be your #1 choice in free agency?
Poll #P7.42: Which running back would be your second choice?