Naturally, much of the discussion about this off-season will surround new players Seattle might bring in to improve a rapidly improving young team. However, even though re-signing current free agents is less likely to generate water cooler talk than the prospect of brand new free agents an important key to continuous improvement is continuity. In order to get better guys have to play together.
We should expect less roster churn than we saw in the first two off-seasons of the Carroll/Schneider regime. Still, some turnover is inevitable. Carroll/Schneider have not been bashful in expressing their willingness to upgrade where it makes sense to do so.
After the jump, let's take a look at Seattle's pending free agents. I'll offer a one line thought on who stays and who goes.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
1. Kennard Cox, CB -- I doubt Cox will be a high priority
2. Clinton McDonald, DT -- I expect Seattle to tender McDonald
Restricted Free Agents
1. Roy Lewis, CB -- a quality nickelback but not an irreplaceable one, and there is a lot of competition at the position
2. Stephen Hauschka, PK -- should be an easy re-sign
Unrestricted Free Agents
1. Charlie Whitehurst, QB -- unlikely to return under almost any circumstance
2. Marshawn Lynch, RB -- Seattle is in good position to re-sign Beast Mode and draft positional depth
3. Justin Forsett, RB -- seems to have lost a quarter-step he could not afford; is very unlikely to return
4. Michael Robinson, RB -- a very important contributor whose versatility the team values highly
5. John Carlson, TE -- has probably seen his last snaps in Seattle
6. Breno Giacomini, T -- may have "nastied" his way onto the 2012 roster, but lots of competition from King
7. Mike Gibson, G -- probably gone
8. Paul McQuistan, G/T -- quality veteran depth familiar with the offense, and will likely return
9. Raheem Brock, DE -- Seattle will look to upgrade through the draft and/or the market
10. Red Bryant, DE -- I think a team will have to sweep him off his feet to get him away from Seattle
11. Jimmy Wilkerson, DE -- spent most of the season injured, likely moving on
12. Anthony Hargrove, DE/DT -- played well at times as quality veteran depth
13. David Hawthorne, LB -- "Heater" is part of the core and more valuable in Seattle than anywhere else
14. Leroy Hill, LB -- same as Hawthorne, every reason to return on a reasonable deal
15. Heath Farwell, LB -- became the special teams ace after McCoy was injured
16. David Vobora, LB -- likely will not return
17. Matt McCoy, LB -- injury, Farwell's play, and the emergence of some young guys will make returning tough
18. Atari Bigby, S -- valuable special teams contributor and safety depth, but may have trouble keeping a spot
So, what are your thoughts? I suspect that most would consider re-signing Lynch and Hawthorne to reasonable deals to be fairly high priority. What about these other guys?