There is a lot being said about the contract situation for Doug Baldwin this offseason, and for good reason. Baldwin just led the NFL in touchdown catches with 14 and his deal is set to expire after the season, so the two sides would like to get something done without having a 2017 decision looming over their heads. But Baldwin isn't the only important player on the Seahawks whose deal is about to expire.
Among the less notable (but noteworthy enough to get mention in this very important article) are Patrick Lewis, Marcus Burley, and Kelcie McCray. All three could play significant snaps in 2016, Lewis could even be a starter again, but you'd expect that if they play well enough this year, they'll be re-signed, and if they are just average, well then re-signing them will be even easier. There are some bigger decisions to be made though and it seems unlikely that any of these players will receive an extension before the season starts. They pretty much all have something to prove first.
Take Garry Gilliam, for example. The presumed starting left tackle could be one of the most important players on offense this year, but as he is set to only be a restricted free agent, there's no reason to take a second look at his contract until we see how he plays his new position. These other guys though could have a huge year and move onto another team in 2017.
Steven Hauschka, K
Hauschka signed a three-year deal to remain with Seattle in 2014 and he's responded by being one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL. In his five years with the team, Hauschka has made 88.8% of his kicks, including 89-of-93 within 40 yards. With the PAT moved back last year, he was 40-of-44 on extra points, but was 6-of-6 at 50 and beyond.
There is an issue with Hauschka though as there is with many kickers: He's getting to be expensive for his position and his position is extremely volatile.
Right now, Hauschka is only the 14th-highest paid kicker in the NFL based on APY. He has a cap hit of $3.525 million in 2016, but these days a premier kicker is making over $4 million per season. Can a team as talented as the Seahawks afford to pay their kicker $4-5 million per season? If they try to go the cheap route though, can they afford to take a gamble and winding up with Brandon Coutu again?
Mike Morgan, OLB
A couple of months ago you would have assumed that Morgan would be listed nonchalantly with his teammates up there as "Eh, if it gets done, it gets done," but suddenly it seems like he could be getting some primo snaps this season. The five-year veteran has three career starts and 26 career solo tackles, but all signs point to him taking over for Bruce Irvin at SAM and being a regular contributor on defense for the first time at 28. He's a team leader, a special teams ace, and probably one of Pete Carroll's best friends (he's played all but one season above high school ball with Carroll), but can he hold up as a linebacker on this defense? If so, his next contract (he's signed for one-year, $1 million) will look much different than the last one.
DeShawn Shead, S/CB (RFA)
Shead has a real opportunity here to stand out and win a job as an outside cornerback, which we've seen pay off in a huge way for guys like Brandon Browner and Byron Maxwell. He'll kind of be competing with Jeremy Lane, who they just signed to a four-year deal, but really it just depends on what formation the defense is in. Right now it looks like Shead could be the starter when they're playing nickel. His situation will be among the most interesting to monitor.
Luke Willson, TE
Seattle may have won the Super Bowl in 2013, but their 2013 draft class did not pay dividends in the way that 2012 did, nor will it come with as many complications. The Seahawks drafted Willson in the fifth round that year, touting him as an athletic freak who could tilt the field in the way Carroll dreams of, but things just haven't worked out that way. He's caught 59-of-94 targets for 847 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons. The 14.4 yards per catch is actually quite phenomenal, but mental miscues have cost him and he is certainly not a complete tight end that could replace a player like Jimmy Graham; When Graham was injured, Willson caught five passes for 61 yards over his next four games.
That being said, his numbers are very similar to Ladarius Green, who just signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coby Fleener signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Dwayne Allen signed a four-year, $29.4 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Willson could absolutely price himself out of Seattle's budget, if he hasn't already.
Christine Michael, RB
The Seahawks first pick in 2013, Michael has already left and came back, then was brought back again earlier this year on a one-year deal. He has the best chance of his career to show he belongs in the NFL, especially with Thomas Rawls sidelined for at least a couple months probably, but let's not get our hopes up. There's little chance that Michael figures it out now, but he did average 4.9 yards per carry with Seattle last year.
Jordan Hill, DT
The best pick the Seahawks made in 2013 perhaps, Hill has also had trouble staying on the field. He played in just four games as a rookie, 13 in 2014, and 10 last year. He had 5.5 sacks in '14 but zero last season. There's a strong belief among fans that if healthy, Hill could be among the better defensive tackles in the NFC, but that's a big "IF" at this point. Playing alongside guys like Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril, Hill could be in line for the biggest season of his career and certainly could breakout to show he's worthy of these mega-deals we saw signed in recent months, but if it's just another injury-plagued season, he'll probably just be back on a minor deal.
Tharold Simon, CB
Rinse and repeat. Simon has played in 11 games in his career. He could be among the better cornerbacks on Seattle's roster right now, but it won't matter if he can't stay on the field.