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What The Hawks' FA Moves Mean, And Don't Mean

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How about in this free agency roundup, seven takeaways from the first week of hot GM-on-player action? Yes, let's do that.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Four-year deals for Jeremy Lane and Jon Ryan? Eight figures for Jermaine Kearse? Is there no salary cap anymore? Spoiler: no guys, we're still good, no worries.

A) The structure of the Rubin, Lane, Kearse and Ryan deals means Seattle left itself some salary cap space to wield.

The Hawks entered the free agency period with 18 million or so in cap room, after accounting for upcoming 2016 draftees and IR and practice squadders and dead money. Then, if you'll allow me to simplify for the sake of storytelling, the Lynch retirement bumped the cap room up to roughly 25 million. Rolling with that nice round number, now is the time to lop a few millions off for each new contract.

Player 2016 Cap Hit
Ahtyba "A-ta-bah" Rubin 3.0M
Jeremy "Bionic" Lane 3.25M
Jermaine "2NFCCGTD" Kearse 2.63M
Jon "G*nja Ninja" Ryan ~2M (est.)
Total ~$11M

(More details available here at overthecap, and as of Sunday, we're waiting on the Ryan details.)

That leaves 14 million to play with, right now. Again, as you well know, because you read every word produced by @DavisHsuSeattle, the earlier $25 million figure, and now the $14 million that remain, are not static numbers. Further cuts, restructures, extensions -- all those events make the $14 million more of a guideline than anything. A rough draft, subject to continuous revisions.

Regardless, that's enough to "hire" one star and a few scrubs. Or two middle-class vets.

B) Kearse's deal does NOT mean we're paying him $4.5 million annually.

It's a three-year deal but the third year's cap hit is 6.8 million. So really he's on a 2/6.7 deal, with possibility to cut after two years for cheap, or renegotiate after two years. We're paying him 3.33 million annually for the next two years. He was making 2.36 million last season. It's a nice bump, but here, compare the money to other FA receiver contracts just handed out.

Mohamed Sanu: 5/32.5, 14 guaranteed. He just completed a season with 33 catches for 394 yards and zero scores.

Travis Benjamin: 4/24, 13 guaranteed. He's a hot commodity after 68-966-5, but... his career catch rate is under 50 percent and his second-best season saw him "amass" 314 yards.

Rishard Matthews: 3/15, 6 guaranteed. He just posted a 43-662-5.

For reference, Chop Chop: 49-685-5 as the third and sometimes fourth option on a run-first team.

Kearse and Matthews are the best comp, for sure. (Links to their PFR pages here and here.) They have roughly the same amount of lifetime catches and lifetime teeders after careers of similar length. But considering QB chemistry, isn't Kearse the one you want? And isn't he the one you'd want out of the whole list?

C) More divisive stuff later. Moving on: Brandon Mebane's departure does not mean he is done rolling bellies.

He's not old. He just wasn't worth as much to the Hawks as he was to another team. That's all. Once Rubin re-upped, it meant the only way Bane would remain in Seattle was if his market cratered. It didn't. Since Seattle wasn't inclined to spend any more money on defensive tackles, San Diego jumped at the chance to add a ring-wearing, respected 31-year-old to their defensive rotation. Which they should. 31 is not old.

Trusty old pro-football reference furnishes us this graph:

31 is more like the age where decline continues smoothly, until reality sets in around age 34: careers are over by then. It's a mirror of age 23 and 24 seasons. So signing a 31-old DT is like getting a rookie, without the long-term upside. But with the track record.

Sack some Broncos for us, Brandon. For old times' sake. Bonus rolls if they turn out to be our old friend Colin Kaepernick.

D) The offensive line's dispersal means the FO wasn't terribly pleased with last year's performance.

PCJS didn't believe in Bailey. Proof? He was non-tendered, and Cleveland signed him for peanuts over two years. A swing tackle is ordinarily thought of as valuable depth, especially to a contending team -- not so much this time.

PCJS believed in Cheap Sweezy. But rather than sign him to an extension while they could, they let J.R. chase dollars. He got them: 5/32.5 with a whopping 14.5 million guaranteed. They didn't believe in Market Value Sweezy.

("Who shot J.R. all that money? Cuz his bank account sure is Sue Ellen." Yes, that's a freakin' Dallas joke. No, you don't have to get it. Or like it.)

PCJS believe in Russell Okung -- to an extent. They made him an offer, according to everyone. He's visited at least the Giants, Lions and Steelers, according to facts. He's not found a suitor. If the LT market prices the Hawks out, Okung will wear an uglier uniform next year. If he remains affordable, then there's a good chance he's back.

Until he's not. Russell really needs to tell Schneider in advance if he's planning on playing 16 games this year. That would help the decision-making process a great deal, no?

Lame jokes aside, there's a pattern here so far: it's the Hawks' offensive linemen who are getting away, and it's the other positions who are staying. That means something.

E) Detour's over, back to Kearse. His payday means the FO is hedging their bets on the entire receiver room.

As well they should.

Doug Baldwin? Not extended yet, contract runs out after this coming season.

Tyler Lockett? Scared the crap out of everyone with this instagram revelation last month. "You might die playing football. Don't do it. Signed, The Doctors"

Paul Richardson? Went on season-ending IR. Twice. On consecutive plays. A year apart. But on consecutive plays. Surely that's a sad record?

Jimmy Graham? Might never recover fully from the patellar injury.

Kevin Smith? Kasen Williams? Practice squad guys with negligible pro snaps.

Now is not the time to panic, however. Baldwin's going to get his extension. And Lockett's going to be fine. And Graham's recovery is on schedule, maybe even ahead of schedule. And Richardson just pulled a hammy at the wrong time. But what if the fuck hits the fan, and things go terribly wrong for half those guys? That's why Kearse is in the mix.

F) Did somebody mention Baldwin and an extension? All this does NOT mean he will play out his contract and become a free agent of his own.

The Hawks have done midseason extensions before, most notably for K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril weeks apart during the 2014 season. Wright got his on Dec. 18 of 2014. Avril's took a little bit longer; it came on Dec. 19 of that same year.

Guys they have to have -- those guys get extended ahead of schedule.

RW, Wagz, Sherman, Thomas, Chancellor, Bennett, Avril, Wright. Not one of them got to free agency, and I'm going to go out on the strongest limb of the block here to say Baldwin is in that same category. I find it exceedingly unlikely that a core guy like him will be a UFA anytime this decade.

G) Jeremy Lane's signing does NOT mean the team is done looking for corner help.

They always draft cornerbacks. Pete's always picking them off -- I see that you see what I did there -- from other teams and other countries.

Cornerback Person(s) How Acquired
2011 R. Sherman, B. Maxwell, J. Johnson, B. Browner, R. Parker draft, draft, undrafted, CFL, undrafted
2012 J. Lane, D. Shead, W. Guy draft, undrafted, draft
2013 T. Simon, P. Cox draft, scumbag
2014 M. Burley, T. Parks, J. Thomas trade, undrafted, trade
2015 C. Williams, T. Smith, M. Seisay FA, draft, trade

There are more, probably, that was just what a quick comb through the yearly rosters yielded. You can add another name or two but at this point you'd simply be strengthening the article's point, and what fun is that? Polls are more fun. Try a poll. Look, there is one right here.