The only move the Seattle Seahawks have made in free agency this week is the signing of offensive tackle/guard Luke Joeckel to a one-year deal worth up to $8 million. This includes not tendering any of their restricted free agents except for tackle Garry Gilliam who they gave the lowest possible offer to. All of their other players who were set to be restricted free agents are now just free agents. But don’t worry, moves are coming.
The Seahawks might just be prioritizing positions you didn’t know were in such dire need. Like safety.
As it currently stands, the only two safeties on the roster right now with any notable experience are Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They also signed free safety/cornerback Pierre Desire to a futures contract in January. Thomas is coming off of a broken leg that made him question whether or not he wanted to continue playing football (he seems more determined now than ever to play football though) and Chancellor has missed nine games with injury over the last three seasons, including four last year. What happened to the depth?
Well, Kelcie McCray, Jeron Johnson, and Neiko Thorpe all became unrestricted free agents. Steven Terrell, who started seven games last season including playoffs, was not offered a deal even though he was a restricted free agent and could have easily been brought back. Like the case of Christine Michael a year ago, who was also not offered a RFA tender, Terrell could be brought back on a smaller deal and that’s that. But I think the team obviously knows now that he’s not the answer at free safety if Thomas misses any time next season.
Moves will have to be made.
McCray made four starts last year and even had a game in which he had 108 total snaps, but we haven’t heard any news of him in talks to return to Seattle or if he has meetings setup elsewhere. You would think that the Seahawks want him to return but so far the only news is that they are set to have a meeting with free agent J.J. Wilcox.
Wilcox, a third round pick in 2013, has spent the last four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, including as a starter at free safety in 2014/2015. However, he was moved to a reserve role after the team drafted Byron Jones last year. The Cowboys lost starting free safety Barry Church to the Jacksonville Jaguars this week but apparently aren’t in a hurry to retain Wilcox, who is meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Wilcox may want to go be a starter somewhere but given what happened in Dallas with the depth chart, it’s possible he may find that opportunity is unavailable.
As we’ve seen far too often recently, signing with the Seahawks as a backup safety doesn’t mean you won’t be a starting safety soon.
Some other safeties on the market include Kendrick Lewis, Lardarius Webb, Rashad Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, James Ihedigbo, Bradley McDougald, Coty Sensabaugh, Antonio Allen, Rafael Bush, Michael Griffin, Matt Elam, Jairus Byrd, Dashon Goldson, and many more. Seattle will probably prioritize looking at safeties in the draft this year, including in the first three rounds.
Another position of potentially great need is defensive tackle and end. Though the Seahawks have Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Michael Bennett, Cassius Marsh, and Cliff Avril, they don’t have much beyond that. There are other defensive linemen on the roster, but their three most experienced depth players — Tony McDaniel, Damontre Moore, John Jenkins — are free agents. After that, it’s names like Quinton Jefferson (fifth round pick in 2016, missed most of the year) and Will Pericak. I think the team is going to let McDaniel test the market for a long time before bringing him back, not that they wouldn’t be open to it. But they probably want to find their next Rubin, McDaniel, Clinton McDonald, not bring back an old one.
There haven’t been any confirmed visits scheduled for defensive linemen, but Terrell McClain was a rumored target before he signed with the Washington Redskins. The defensive line market is extremely wide open though and there should be good players available for the next few weeks.
Sylvester Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Alualu, Jordan Hill, Tyrunn Walker, Devin Taylor, Devin Still, Vince Wilfork, Jared Odrick — I’m not saying these are all the best options, but these are just some names that are out there.
The Seahawks also have a serious need at linebacker. Outside of Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Kevin Pierre-Louis, they’re lacking experience. Mike Morgan is a free agent, as is Brock Coyle after they declined to offer him a RFA tender. The team will need to target a potential starter at SAM and definitely one or two new depth guys, unless they bring back Coyle. I assume Morgan also returns but for now it’s a pretty significant need.
I’m not saying any of these situations are dire. Definitely not as dire as the ones on the offensive line and cornerback positions. But it’s worth noting and when looking for answers on why the Seahawks may be setting up meetings with Wilcox or a defensive tackle or linebacker, this is why. Depth is extremely important in the NFL and Seattle could use some reinforcements besides just at tackle.