If you have not read Part I yet, check it out here first. Or don't, what do I care, maybe you're just that kind of monster. I'm thirsty for dem clicks doe.
We last left off with Doug Baldwin's potential holdout/extension, and we pick it up with a Seahawks receiver who finds himself in a much different situation.
5. Jermaine Kearse (FA)
Over the last eight games of the year (including playoffs), Kearse had over 450 yards and six touchdowns. If he could keep that pace for a full season he would finish with 900 yards and 12 touchdowns, almost the same as Doug.
The problem is that it's hard to not equate Kearse's success with the fact that Russell Wilson was the best QB in football over that period of time. How much of it had to do with Kearse? A little bit, but when you subtract him from the offense, is it that hard to imagine Kasen Williams or Kevin Smith or any other UWDFA receiver like Kearse eventually doing the same?
Why the double-standard then? Why does that go against Kearse and not Baldwin?
Because Doug has already been the best receiver on the team in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. He didn't do anything that different in the second half of the year, he just got more opportunities to do what he does best. When that happened, he put up huge numbers because he's capable of that given his skillset. Kearse has been in the league long enough for us to assume that he doesn't have the same tools and won't develop them.
There is only one name that has stuck with me from the beginning when it comes to a comparison for Kearse and once I ran the numbers, it turns out I was amazingly spot-on. (I like it when that happens.)
Over the last three years, Kearse has averaged 36 catches, 523 yards, and 8.96 Y/T with 10 touchdowns.
From 2012-2014, Lance Moore averaged 39 catches, 565 yards, and 8.98 Y/T with 10 touchdowns.
Moore signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Steelers in 2014 and a one-year, $1 million deal with the Lions last year after Pittsburgh cut him. Though Kearse is younger, I don't think that teams necessarily think he has room to grow. All you might get is a few more years of him being the number three or four receiver, not a guy who has simply been held back from being a number two.
The Seahawks already made him a "number two," remember? We already know that as a starter, with an elite QB, he can only do so much.
I think his best bet would be a two-year, $5 million contract on the high end or a one year "prove it" deal on the low. So why won't Seattle pay that?
Because why should they pay him $2.5 million a year instead of spending just $500,000 to Smith or Williams? It just doesn't make any sense. Moore didn't produce anything without Drew Brees, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Kearse produce very little with a non-Wilson QB (props if he ends up with Tyler Wilson) and perhaps even come back in 2017 on a smaller deal than what he might command on the open market right now.
See, I'm so far ahead of the game that I'm already predicting what Jermaine Kearse will do in 2017.
Prediction: One or two-year deal with the Falcons.
4. Marshawn Lynch (save $6.5 million by release)
It's sad to see any relationship end like this, but Lynch's local legend status won't be changed just because of his 2015 season. (If only Shaun Alexander could say the same about 2006.) Lynch is the franchise's best running back of all-time and it had to end at some point.
The fact that his end coincides with Thomas Rawls' beginning just makes this all the less upsetting. I can't fucking wait for more Thomas Rawls ... even if it means he might have a poor 2021 campaign.
Even if it's the right thing to do, of course it is still quite upsetting.
Prediction: It's so hard to say goodbye to Beasterday, but the end is nigh.
3. Russell Okung (FA)
A fellow SB Nation writer asked me to give him a breakdown on Okung ahead of free agency, and that's when I realized how upset this whole thing makes me. It's not like the part that upsets me is within Okung's control (his injuries may just be an unfortunate trait he carries, his absent-minded false starts are frustrating but hardly worth getting rid of him for) though. What upsets me is that this is the market for good left tackles now:
An above-average left tackle getting paid $10 million a year because there is so little talent at the position now and so much more talent on the defensive side of the ball. Again, not an elite left tackle getting paid that necessarily, just a serviceable one.
Right now, seven left tackles make over $10 million per year: Trent Williams, Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady, Nate Solder, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Where would you rank Okung among those players?
Well, I sorted every offensive tackle in the NFL by Pro-Football-Reference's Adjusted-value number for 2015 and Okung placed in a tie for seventh. (An 18-way tie...) Unfortunately, AV pretty much sucks for judging offensive lineman. Everything does. We know so little. But at least this gave me an opportunity to look at pretty much every tackle in the league and start to feel out where Okung really belongs.
And he is ...
/rubs the tip of my shoe in the dirt.
... okay, I guess.
If AV were to be believed, then Andrew Whitworth of the Bengals just had the best season of any tackle by far. With or without AV, it's not an argument that would be guffawed at by many. Cincinnati had an elite offense in both the passing game and the running game, with Whitworth having a lot to do with that. He signed a one-year, $9 million extension last September and while it seems like a ridiculous bargain, he just turned 34. For that reason, they would probably like to re-sign right tackle Andre Smith, who is set to be a free agent. However, if Smith hits the market, it might depress Okung's value slightly. (More supply = Less demand.) Only slightly.
Overall, Okung may fall slightly above the middle for left tackles in the NFL but because there are only a few left tackles available, his presence on the market would only be slightly more rare than that of a good QB.
What could he make?
Currently T Smith has the most money ($97.6 million), while T Williams has the highest AAV ($13.2 million) and guarantee ($30 million.) The other tackles that are set to be free agents include A Smith, Bobby Massie, Mike Adams, Joe Barksdale, Mitchell Schwartz, Donald Penn, Jake Long, Cordy Glenn, Ryan Harris, and J'Marcus Webb.
Because of his age and experience at left tackle, Okung would have to be the first or second best option on that list. Last year, Byron Maxwell used a weak cornerback market to receive a $63 million contract from the Eagles.
On one hand, Okung could argue that he's better than Castonzo, who received a four-year, $43 million extension last year from the Colts. On the other hand, Okung has ZERO argument that he's better than T Williams, or T Smith, or J Thomas, or Jason Peters, or Ferguson. Instead, I think the answer is pretty obvious:
He's Branden Albert.
Albert was turning 30 when he signed a five-year, $47 million deal with the Dolphins in 2014, $20 million guaranteed. He was a one-time Pro Bowl left tackle, just like Okung. He had an injury almost every season, just like Okung. (Actually, Okung hasn't missed a season without injuries yet.) He carries cap hits of roughly: 4, 10, 10, 10, 11. This is basically what Okung is worth. Maybe tacking on a few million for being one year younger.
In this case, Okung gets five years, $48.5 million, $21 million guaranteed. Does he get it from Seattle? I think it's probably the right deal for the team, but he might still feel like he could test the market and get more since he would be the best tackle available. I mean, another squad could definitely overpay -- I just think that he wouldn't be worth it.
If Seattle convinced him to stay at that price they could actually lower his cap hit from last season ($7.2 million) and safely release him by 2018 (save half the cap hit) or 2019 (save 70%.) So what's upsetting about that? Well, it's not all that bad when you're just talking about a reasonable contract for a left tackle, but this also means that in 2017, your third or fourth-highest paid player is a left tackle that has not once had a completely healthy season and who is wildly inconsistent not just year-to-year, but week-to-week.
Are we overrating Okung because of how bad the rest of the offensive line is? Or is it because of how important the position is? Or because we are terrified of finding out what the alternative is? But can anyone say with 100% certainty that Garry Gilliam is actually worse? If Gilliam could play left tackle, then it would save the Seahawks a minimum of $4-$8+ million next year, and then maybe $10 million+ in 2017.
You could lock down Okung for the next few years or you could spend a tenth of that over the same period of time and maybe get just as good of a performance by Gilliam. And even if his performance was a little worse they'd at least have all that extra money to get better at other positions or retain different key players.
However, what if the dropoff is so fucking bad that Wilson gets destroyed even more than he already has been and you've put your greatest asset at risk over a little bit of money. Money that Paul Allen would normally use as a literal sail on the world's biggest sailboat.
"I'LL CALL IT THE SPRUCE BRUCE!"
That's what so frustrating about this contract situation. Not just how much it would cost, but having absolutely no idea if it's even worth it. I'm leaning towards it being worth it, if only to protect the much costlier investment.
Prediction: Five-year, $48.5 million deal, with $21 million guaranteed
2. Bruce Irvin (FA)
This is really upsetting because nobody wants to lose Irvin the person, but I can't say that I'm overly concerned about losing Irvin the player. And it's not even that he's a bad player, it's just that .... well, it's just that after four years I still have no idea what kind of a player he is.
Bruce Irvin is basically the equivalent of graduating with a degree in "General Studies."
Since totaling eight sacks as a rookie in 2012, Irvin has had just 14 sacks over the last three seasons, along with 86 tackles and 40 assists. In that same period of time, Rams defensive end William Hayes has 14.5 sacks, 90 tackles, and 33 assists. Yes, they play different positions in different systems, but at the end of the day, their production is remarkably similar. And if he stays in Seattle, why should we expect his production to go up?
Maybe he goes to the Falcons and they use him differently and he gets 15 sacks, but there's no reason to think at this point that he's going to do that for the Seahawks. Ever.
So don't tell me what you think Irvin -- a person you love -- is worth, tell me what you think Hayes is worth.
I'll tell you what he's been worth: A four-year, $10.25 million deal that just expired. Two things that John Schneider might do better than any GM in football: Draft linebackers and sign pass-rushers. For those reasons, they didn't pick up Bruce's fifth-year option. For those reasons, they aren't going to pay him an extension before he hits free agency. They will let him test it out and if he finds out that he's not worth what he thought he was worth, he might come back on an appropriate deal. However, I could see a team pay him more for what they think he could do rather than what he has done.
Never forget this key fact that makes NFL free agency unique: Teams are required to spend a certain amount of money. The Jaguars and Raiders have been overpaying the last couple of years because they have to. The Jags still have $76 million in cap space right now. The Raiders have $67 million. Both have coaches that are intimately familiar with Bruce. The 49ers have $53 million in space, a coach who likes athletic linebackers, and a GM who maybe wants to "steal" something from the Seahawks.
If I'm upset about Bruce's contract situation, it's because I'm starting to believe there's a zero-percent chance he returns. In that case, I will miss the person. But I have no doubt that Seattle will replace the player.
The speculation now centers around Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry, who just signed a five-year, $47.25 million, $23 million deal to remain in Philly. Keep in mind that Curry seems to be a massive overpay -- He was drafted a round and a half after Bruce in 2012, produced 16.5 sacks in four years, and is being locked up based on potential in a new system for new coaches. But just because the Eagles did it, doesn't mean the Seahawks should. Philly has been handing out the worst damn contracts in football since last year, and clearly that hasn't stopped with Chip Kelly sittin' on the dock of the Bay now.
Prediction: Team lets him test free agency, visits Raiders, Jaguars, Falcons, Packers. Signs with Raiders on similar deal to Curry
1. Michael Bennett (criminally underpaid)
I'm prepared for people to call this a massive upset or overreaction at the number one spot, but I fear that one of Seattle's best five players is reaching a tipping point. And that has my anxiety on red alert. At the risk of Bennett reading this and getting any ideas, I can't help but point out that his compensation from the team is the equivalent of Suge Knight hanging Vanilla Ice over a balcony.
Bennett was paid $4.8 million in 2013, $2 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015, and had an $8 million signing bonus with his latest contract. That's $20.8 million for three seasons. Next year he will be paid $4 million with a $1 million roster bonus, making it a total of $25.8 million over four years.
Over the last four years, Mario Williams has been paid $66.6 million. That includes a $19 million signing bonus in 2012 and a $10.6 million roster bonus in 2014. Bennett might not be the same type of player as Williams, or as good of a player overall, but is he 38.7% the player that Williams is?
Of course not.
In fact, Williams is about to be released and Bennett seems to only be getting better. Bennett was a Pro Bowler this season at one of the toughest positions to stand out in and was arguably the most dynamic 4-3 DE in the NFL, among the league leaders in sacks, QB hits, and QB hurries. And here's the real kicker:
.Bennett isn't even going to be the highest-paid 4-3 DE on his own team next year.
I think Cliff Avril is also really valuable, and the pair should not be separated, but what must be going through Bennett's mind to know that he's probably the best player at his position but not the highest-paid at his position on his own team? I worry that something has to give and that is really upsetting because the defense will not be the same without these two players. So what kind of a raise should he get?
That's the messed up part, because giving him a new deal gives me anxiety too.
That's because nearly every top-paid 4-3 DE had at least one major issue last season, including Mario, Robert Quinn (missed eight games), Charles Johnson (placed on IR for awhile, performed poorly), Greg Hardy (do I have to say it?), Chris Long (RIP), and Cameron Wake (torn Achilles.) Bennett is 30, which means he might play well for five more years or zero more years. Which much like Kam Chancellor last year, only further complicates the issues for him. How much cash does he want to see right now?
Two guys he's better than with contracts he should think he deserves: Jared Odrick and Everson Griffen. Bennett is better than both of these players, but they each signed deals worth $42.5 million last year, whereas Bennett's was only for $28.5 million with almost half as much guaranteed.
But wait, there's more ...
Obviously that stupid ass Curry deal with $23 million guaranteed is going to have some implications here too. Curry had 12 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season as a part-time player. Bennett might be silly and he might be a little crazy but he certainly isn't stupid. He knows that he's better than Curry, Odrick, and Griffen. Why should he get less simply because he signed too soon? If they don't do some work with his agent in the summer time, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kam-like developments in the fall.
His wife may not be able to stop him this time.
Prediction: Rumblings of a holdout in July lead to a re-worked contract in August. Bennett might be crazy enough to not care if the team didn't budge on Kam a year ago.
- Ahtyba Rubin (FA)
Sure, I'd like him back, but re-signing short-term defensive linemen hasn't been the team's motive opera house (which I assume is that literal translation of modus operandi.) They're going to probably let him go sign a three-year deal with the Bucs and then find the next Ahtyba Rubin.
- Brandon Mebane (FA)
Unless Mebane decides he wants to spend his whole career in Seattle and sign below market-value, it's been really real. *Bane Voice* "Let the games end."
- Jon Ryan (FA)
I'm ready to say goodbye. Or not. I can't really get too worked up about it.
- Mike Morgan (FA)
If re-signed, Morgan could be one of about only seven players remaining from the 2011 team.
- Patrick Lewis (RFA)
In a way, it would be better if Seattle didn't re-sign Lewis. It would mean they're committed to upgrading the center position. Either way, he'll be starting for the Hawks in Week 9 next year.
- Christine Michael (RFA)
Michael set to be the "Tarvaris Jackson 2012-2014" of running backs, making more than the starter.
- DeShawn Shead (ERFA)
Feels like his 18th season in the league but he's still not an unrestricted free agent.