We've talked a lot about free agency here at Field Gulls over the past few weeks and the Seahawks have been pretty quiet thus far. As you probably already know, the Hawks re-signed Marshawn Lynch before things kicked off, let Red Bryant test the market a bit before re-signing him, and locked up Michael Robinson to a reasonable deal. They re-signed Heath Farwell for his steady special teams contributions, and inked Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan as solid depth on the offensive line (though, both may start this season with the injuries to John Moffitt and James Carpenter).
They've yet to re-sign some of their current free agents, and several Seahawks have gone to new teams. Charlie Whitehurst, Atari Bigby, Mike Gibson and John Carlson are gone and David Hawthorne, Leroy Hill, Justin Forsett, Raheem Brock, David Vobora, Matt McCoy, Jimmy Wilkerson and Roy Lewis all still stand without contracts for 2012.
The Seahawks' only forays into free agency are apparent surgical strikes to grab a few key players. Matt Flynn and Jason Jones are the two big-name additions and both come in on relatively inexpensive contracts. RB Kregg Lumpkin was signed, ostensibly, to back up Marshawn Lynch, though it seems obvious he'll need to fight for his job once training camp comes around, facing competition from Tyrell Sutton, Vai Taua and possibly a draft pick or rookie free agent. Finally, OT/OG Frank Omiyale was signed as apparent depth on the line with the release of T Jarriel King. My guess would be that he'll need to fight for his roster spot come training camp as well.
So, moving forward, what might the Seahawks do in free agency? My guess is that they'll remain relatively quiet in the next few weeks in the run up to the Draft. They might bring in a free agent or two, they might re-sign one of their own free agents or two, but I doubt there will be a ton of action.
After the draft, my guess is that Seattle will hit rookie free agency with a gusto to get some solid young underrated players here and hope the competition atmosphere pays off. Last year, John Schneider mentioned that the Seahawks had '20-22 draftable players still on their board' after the third day of the Draft, and I'm with Davis Hsu when he said that he's more excited about rookie free agency than he is about normal free agency. My feeling is that the Seahawks are slow-playing the market right now because they'd frankly rather bring in a bunch of young players in the draft and rookie free agency, pay them peanuts, hope to find a diamond or two in the rough, and develop and mold these youngsters to the Seahawks' identity and culture. Realistically, we could see the depth at pretty much every position shuffled in the coming months prior to the season.
Regardless, there are some free agents out there still unsigned, and I've tried to identify a few players that I could see the Seahawks bringing in to augment the draftee and UDFA signing camp competitions. The following guys, in my eyes, are more like 'camp bodies' or depth players but likely would come cheap and could offer some upside. First, the offense.
Hey, seems pretty familiar to last year huh? Once again, Vince and Matt are free agents and once again, will probably come up in a conversation or two with regards to the Seahawks and 'competition'. Personally, I'd much rather see the Hawks invest their roster spot on a drafted quarterback and/or a UDFA QB than go down the Leinart/Young road again, but these two are out there nonetheless. I would guess the odds of bringing in either of these guys is pretty low, but who knows.
Dennis Dixon, QB, Steelers. Age: 27
Dixon is the former Oregon Ducks quarterback and has been playing a mostly-backup role in Pittsburgh the last few seasons. He didn't see a snap in 2011, but had a few relief appearances over the years and he started two games in 2010 when Big Ben was suspended. He's 6'3, 205, and has been pretty unremarkable in his career thus far. That said, he's got some physical ability and his style would fit the Seahawks' offense pretty well as a mobile game-manager type. I would file Dixon in the same category as Young and Leinart though, and put the odds of seeing him in Seattle fairly low at this point.
Ryan Grant is a 29-year old free agent but will likely return to the Packers. He wants to, they want him to, but apparently they haven't landed on an agreeable number quite yet. I'm a little surprised he hasn't been brought out here with John Schneider's connection to him, but it would seem he's not on their wish list. If he were, he's a decent pass-catching running back that could conceivably back up Marshawn Lynch and play on third downs.
Kevin Smith and Tim Hightower are big injury risk players. Smith is talented but injury prone, and in 2011 started four games for the Lions after Jahvid Best got hurt; he averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 72 carries in his seven total appearances. Hightower is pretty talented as well but is coming off a torn ACL.
We all know about Justin Forsett, so I probably don't need to break it down here.
Jacob Hester, FB, Chargers. Age: 27
Jacob Hester is Matt Flynn's former teammate at Louisiana State and rushed for 86 yards and touchdown in LSU's National Championship game against Ohio State in 2008 (Flynn was the offensive MVP of that game). Hester has been with the Chargers since 2008, when he was taken in the third round, and as far as I can tell, has played well in his career after making the move from tailback to fullback. He's 5'11, 235, and is a strong special teamer and can play either running back or fullback so versatility is his big draw. It doesn't seem likely that the Seahawks would be interested, considering they just re-signed a very similar player to him in Michael Robinson, but I thought I'd talk about him nonetheless. The Hawks value special teams play and Hester is very versatile, so someone to keep an eye on.
These guys are kind of stretches, because as I mentioned yesterday, this appears to be a very deep class of receivers this year in the Draft and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Seahawks completely ignore normal free agency when looking at this spot. Nonetheless, here are a few guys.
Jerome Simpson is known for doing a front-flip into the endzone last season for a touchdown. Other than that, he's been pretty inconsistent for the Bengals and they appear to be letting him test the market. He caught 50 passes in 2011, his career high, for 725 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Devin Thomas is a 6'2, 215 pound former 2nd round pick (34th overall) by the Washington Redskins in 2008 out of Michigan State. He's bounced around from the Redskins to the Panthers to the Giants and is now an unrestricted free agent. He's got the physical measurables and was at one point apparently talented enough to warrant nearly a first-round pick, so perhaps in the right system and role he'd thrive. Might be worth a flyer anyway.
The most likely free agent wide receiver I could see the Seahawks bringing in would be Patrick Turner. Turner is a 6'5, 220 pound former 3rd round pick (87th overall) in the 2009 draft by the Miami Dolphins, out of USC. The obvious Pete Carroll connection is there and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a tryout, at the least. He was cut by the Dolphins after 2010's preseason and landed with the Jets, where he's since been. He has 10 career receptions but again, has the physical characteristics that teams like and made him a 3rd rounder, and maybe Carroll likes him from his days at SC. He fits the mold as the Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett type of possession receiver.
Zach Potter, TE, Jaguars. Age: 26
As you probably could have guessed, after Jacob Tamme and Visanthe Shiancoe, the tight end market is pretty bleak. Zach Potter is a defensive end from Nebraska that the Jags converted to a tight end and at 6'7, 280, is much more of an in-line 6OL type of TE than a pass catcher. He had five receptions for 50 yards in 2011 in seven starts and again, simply might be worth a look. I honestly don't know enough about him to speculate, though perhaps Beekers knows more. (Beeks likes the Jaguars, see?)
Those are your skill positions. As for linemen, here are some sub-30 players still out there. Considering the Seahawks ignored these guys whilst signing Frank Omiyale to a deal, I'm guessing they will continue to be ignored. Nonetheless, here's a list.
Chris Kemoeatu, G, Steelers. Age: 29
Deuce Lutui, G, Cardinals. Age: 29
Kasey Studdard, G, Texans. Age: 28
Chilo Rachal, G, 49ers. Age: 26
Jason Brown, C/G, Rams. Age: 29