ATLANTA GA - JANUARY 15: James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers scores a 20-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against Atari Bigby #20 of the Atlanta Falcons during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15 2011 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Yesterday, rumors spread that Roger Goodell was in Chicago to pitch a new CBA proposal to the NFL ownership group. One of the stipulations of this new CBA would be that restricted free agents with 4+ years of service would become unrestricted free agents. This is pretty big news because this list of RFAs is a long one (over 100 players likely).
Brian McIntyre of Mac's Football Blog and Football Outsiders provided a very in-depth list of these possibly soon-to-be unrestricted free-agents so I thought I'd compile what I think should be the Seahawks' short list in free-agency. It's up in the air as to how much of a splash the Hawks will make in free agency this offseason once the lockout lifts, but here are a few higher-profile players that could be targeted. Note that these players have been mentioned in reference to free agency before, but there had been the constant caveat that these are guys that could still end up as restricted free agents and thus most likely be ignored. If these rumors are proven true, these are all fourth+ year players that will be unrestricted and therefore much more likely to be pursued and realistic to sign.
Matt Moore and Drew Stanton have been mentioned a time or two with regard to the Seahawks but by and large have gone under the radar. If they're both unrestricted the pool of free-agent QBs just got a little bit more talented. Both players are young and inexperienced but have shown flashes when given the chance. Same goes, really, for Tyler Thigpen, though his inability to supplant Chad Henne in Miami doesn't instill a lot of confidence in me. We all know about Leinart by now so I don't need to re-hash the story again here.
If John Kuhn and Michael Bush both become unrestricted, you really have to take a look at both of them. Kuhn has a history with John Schneider and is a lunch-pail, versatile guy that you could plug in as a running back on short yardage situations and as a fullback in any situation. Michael Bush is a talented, big running back that could serve as a fullback when needed as well. He's got a history with Tom Cable that could come into play. Because rumors suggest that Darrell Bevell was enamored with Mark Ingram pre-draft, it stands to reason that perhaps the Seahawks will want to upgrade even more at the running back position. Kuhn and Bush would be the 'new URFA' players that jump off the page at me, but we'll see what happens there.
James Jones has been linked to the Seahawks by several sources and on paper it does make sense. He's got a history with Seahawks' GM John Schneider via Green Bay and is a physical, explosive wide receiver. I certainly wouldn't be surprised or necessarily disappointed to see him signed for 2011. Sidney Rice would undoubtedly be the top target if he becomes unrestricted but I'm not sure the Hawks would take a chance on the injury prone wide receiver. They did, however, pursue Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall in the last year so it again stands to reason that they're still searching for that #1 receiver to bolster their offense. Malcolm Floyd is a long, speedy outside threat that could be on the Hawks radar but to me is a similar player to Kris Durham so might be overlooked.
Zach Miller (Oakland)
Daniel Fells (St. Louis)
If Zach Miller becomes unrestricted, the Tom Cable connection will be immediately brought up. Because Cable coached Miller last year and because he's young, tough and talented, the Hawks might take a look. This would only happen if you assume that the Hawks don't like what they get from John Carlson, who has struggled in the pass game the previous two years and is on his contract year. Carlson becomes a trade candidate this season simply because of those reasons, so a Zach Miller signing could precede that option.
Daniel Fells is a big tight end that I could see featured prominently at the H-back position. He's more suited to that spot, it would seem, than either John Carlson or Cameron Morrah. I brought that up recently in another post, and Fells is a player that I will keep an eye on once the lockout is lifted.
Samson Satele is a former 2nd round pick by Miami in 2007 that has had a measure of success in the NFL. He's capable enough to start on a good amount of NFL teams and because of his history with Tom Cable and the Seahawks' lack of any depth at the center position, I could see Satele coming into the fray. If this were the case, he could compete with Max Unger to start. The other thing to note is that if Robert Gallery were signed (as a lot of people expect), you'd pick up two guys that are used to playing next to each other, and statistically played very well last season. This could come in handy considering the lack of experience elsewhere along the line.
Deuce Lutui is an effective guard for the Cardinals and if Robert Gallery is not what you want to go for at left guard, he could be an option. Brock Huard recently linked Lutui to the Seahawks and though it's probable he was just throwing out names, he will be sought after.
Davin Joseph is maybe the most attractive offensive line target and would finalize what's shaping up to be a very solid line for the Seahawks. He'd play left guard effectively, he's still youngish at 28, talented, and would probably be well-suited to a power zone blocking scheme that the Hawks plan to run.
I want each and every one of these players to be signed. I'm joking, but seriously. Alan Branch is a mountain of a man that could conceivably play the 1-tech or the 5-tech as a backup or even challenge for the starting role. Charles Johnson is an elite pass rusher and though he doesn't fit the mold of the LEO I think Carroll is looking for (he's a little bigger than what we have seen the Hawks using there), in this case you'd hope his talent trumps those stipulations. Ray Edwards is a similar player and I'd use a similar argument. Mathias Kiwanuka is actually more the size for LEO that Carroll is looking for so he could come into play if the Hawks want to challenge or replace Chris Clemons.
You all know about Mebane.
Posluszny, Anderson and Tulloch are all guys that I've mentioned in my free agency posts and if they are indeed unrestricted under the new CBA they could become attractive targets. Will Herring has been a valuable role-player for the Seahawks for the last few seasons and came up big several times in 2010. He has stated that he wants to start somewhere so it remains to be seen if he'll want to re-sign with the Hawks - a team that is doubtful to start him at weakside linebacker.
Boom. The two cornerbacks that I would really like to see the Hawks sign. There's not much to say about these two guys other than they're both very good and now likely to become unrestricted free agents. Johnathan Joseph is probably the more attractive target; he's as close to a shut-down cornerback you're going to find on the market outside of Nnamdi Asomugha. If I were the Hawks I'd make a play for him but because he'll command a big payday, I just don't see it as likely.
Weddle is a very good, and very underrated safety. He could be that centerfield deep safety player that the Seahawks are looking for. Kam Chancellor and Mark LeGree are virtual unknowns and it's up in the air as to whether Lawyer Milloy will re-sign or not. If the Hawks are looking for a very good veteran player for that role, Weddle would probably be the number one option.
Goldson is another young, talented safety that could play the role I just described. He called the plays for the 49ers defense last season, is still young at only 26, has range and doesn't let anything get behind him. He's a former Husky with ties to Roy Lewis and Isaiah Stanback. He could be an attractive target and if he has a good relationship with former 49er and now current Seahawks' president Scott McLoughlin, Seattle could be a natural fit for him.
I touched on it a little yesterday, but with this proposed CBA, there will likely be a salary cap floor at around 90% or so. Perhaps even higher, depending on how you look at it. If this is the case, the Seahawks may be forced to spend money in free agency, as their cap hit right now sits at around $81.1 million. If the cap floor is $110 million to $120 million, they will have some options in free agency to the tune of $30-$40 million. I won't try to completely explain the intricacies of this CBA and even how the salary cap is figured, but Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post had a great piece today explaining this proposed "near 100% salary cap" stipulation. Brandt said:
I have always felt that - for the Players - this is the most important issue of all. Having managed an NFL Salary Cap for nine years, I am well aware that a Cap can be molded and massaged to show whatever a team wants to show. Cap minimums can be reached using various mechanisms that eat up a team's Cap while providing an excuse to agents and players not to spend.
Cash is king to Players. In March, the Owners offered a 90% cash minimum, which I thought was the most meaningful part of their offer. They have reportedly raised that offer to 95% or even higher. Were I advising Players, I would try to push that Cash minimum as close to 100% as possible.
I would think this potential concession may be receiving the most resistance among ownership.
This would reward teams with solid front offices and savvy "pay as you go" Cap management. With the Packers, I always tried to match our cash spending with our Cap, paying as we went rather than racking up potentially large future "dead money". That style of management will be rewarded with the proposed new system.
Take what you will from that, but it seems that under this new CBA the Seahawks would have some money to spend.
Any guys on this list, or Brian McIntyre's list that you want to see in a Seahawks' uniform? Let me know below.