The Seattle Seahawks were more active in free agency this year than they had been recently. With one-year deals for Luke Joeckel at $8 million and Eddie Lacy at $4 million+ with incentives, the Seahawks at least attempted to improve their run game issues, which Pete Carroll has always believed is the key to a great offense. Seattle also signed some other key one-year deals that could blossom into a pot of gold for those players (Bradley McDougald, Luke Willson, DeShawn Shead) but will also open up some cap space if they don’t.
After they address their three biggest in-house expiring contracts (Kam Chancellor, Jimmy Graham, Justin Britt), the Hawks could have some money to spend next year. Or not. But Seattle hasn’t shied away from making big splashes in the past if the players are usually young, more affordable than they should be, and talented. These are 14 players who have expiring contracts next March who could interest Carroll and John Schneider, though it is entirely possible that the team once again only addresses keeping their own and not bringing in anyone of note.
Nate Solder, T, Patriots, current APY: $10.03m
Solder doesn’t get mentioned with the “elite” left tackles. He has never been named to a Pro Bowl. He missed most of 2015 with a torn right bicep. But Solder could become the premier free agent of 2018 if New England doesn’t extend him before then. Given their vast amount of resources, there’s a good chance that the Patriots won’t struggle to retain Solder. A converted tight end, Solder is a supreme athlete for the position and could get $13 million/season on the open market.
The Seahawks are paying Luke Joeckel $8 million this year, so if he isn’t brought back that potentially opens up some salary at the position, but I don’t think Seattle will have room in the budget for a $10m+ offensive lineman.
Kyle Williams, DT, Bills, current APY: $10m
He turns 35 next summer, so it’s possible that Williams will be looking for one or two final seasons with a team that has a chance to win the Super Bowl. He’s played his entire 11-year career in Buffalo, with five Pro Bowl berths that have been overlooked by many because he plays in Buffalo, so I could see Williams accepting a job with a good team over a job with a good salary. That still means he could be more likely to play with New England than Seattle. At 35, maybe it won’t be that big of a deal, but he was still fairly dominant last season.
Dontari Poe, DT, Falcons, current APY: $8m
I was a big fan of Nick Fairley a year ago and he parlayed his one season with the Saints into a four-year, $30 million deal to remain in New Orleans. I’m not as high on Poe, but I could see it being a similar situation. Poe somewhat struggled for the last two seasons in Kansas City, but Atlanta seems like a really good spot for him. If the Seahawks weren’t interested in him this year, would they then be interested in him next year if he was even more expensive?
Desmond Bryant, DT, Browns, current APY: $6.8m
A potential buy-low opportunity, Bryant could be available eight months sooner than next March. He missed all of last season and is fighting for a job on Cleveland’s offensive line after they’ve gone hard on the position in the last three drafts. Bryant’s had 11 sacks in his last 29 games and is considered to be a good teammate, hard worker.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions, current APY: $6.26m
If you talked about Ansah as a free agent a year ago when he had 14.5 sacks, he could have hit Olivier Vernon-type money. If he had hit free agency this year, he’d still be paid well but maybe not quite as well after having recorded just two sacks. Ansah is playing for a lot of money this season — Seattle could take interest under the right circumstances but they aren’t the type to get in the Vernon/Malik Jackson/Calais Campbell-esque bidding wars. If Ansah has an average season though and is looking for a one-year prove it deal?
Donald Penn, T, Raiders, current APY: $5.95m
In 10 years, Penn has never missed a game and caught four touchdowns. He’ll be 35 next April, but that didn’t stop Andrew Whitworth from getting a three-year, $33 million deal with the Rams.
Greg Robinson, T, Rams, current APY: $5.32m
Speaking of which, Robinson could also hit the free agent market this fall. He’s been a huge disappointment for St. Louis/LA, they declined his fifth-year option, and teams often don’t like to keep around reminders of bad choices. When Robinson does become available, he could be looking at a one-year deal a la Luke Joeckel, but he may be even cheaper.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills, current APY: $4.98m
A surprising addition to the 2018 free agent class, Watkins also had his fifth-year option declined because Buffalo is a bad organization. Sure, he’s missed 11 games over the last two seasons and wasn’t super effective last season, but even his lack of production is also an indication of how terrible this franchise is — they can’t hire good people or make good decisions. They gave up two first round picks to select Watkins (and not Mike Evans or Odell Beckham) and he’s easily their best receiver, as well as a potential future All-Pro, but he’ll likely be a free agent next March. In 2015, he had 1,047 yards, nine touchdowns, and averaged 17.5 yards per catch. Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor signed one-year deals this time around and will be hitting the market again in 2018 — Watkins getting a one-year deal or a long-term deal depends on what happens next season. He’s talented as heck though, and if the Seahawks had the chance to sign him on an affordable contract, they will at least have that discussion.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots, current APY: $4.25m
Edelman’s free agency will be interesting. New England certainly has no loyalty to him, but how much will other teams value a receiver who averages 10.7 YPC and has only been successful with the game’s best-ever QB?
Shawn Lauvao, G, Redskins, current APY: $4.25m
A veteran guard, Seattle could at least have the visit.
Sheldon Richardson, DL, Jets, current APY: $3.62m
Richardson was a dominant force in 2014 (66 tackles, eight sacks, one safety, one FF from the interior of the DL) but quiet since Leonard Williams joined the fray in New York. They weren’t able to trade him (yet) and Richardson could get huge money in 2018 ... likely more than the Seahawks are willing to spend.
Justin Pugh, OL, Giants, $3.43m
The 19th overall pick in 2013, Pugh has experience at guard and tackle; he’s been pretty good at times too. Offensive linemen are often overpaid though because it’s so hard to find good help at those positions — the Seahawks seemed willing to go there with T.J. Lang, will they still be looking for a high-end guard in a year? Or will their recent additions actually end up working out?
Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers, $3.27m
The guy who came before Kawann Short, Lotulelei has had a solid but unspectacular career. A defensive tackle of his caliber should still be looking at $10-$12 million per season and if he has an exceptional contract year, Lotulelei could be looking for $15m+.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings, $3.16m
Either Rhodes or Malcolm Butler are looking to be the top cornerback on the market next year. Rhodes had a breakout campaign with five interceptions and generally locking down every receiver he faced — following that up will be difficult, but if he does it again he’ll top A.J. Bouye’s five-year, $67.5m deal. The Seahawks needed a corner in the worst way and never appeared to approach any of the top available defensive backs this year, so talking to Rhodes in person seems unlikely. However, if they part ways with Richard Sherman, then an opening in the cap and the secondary will appear and who knows what their plan would be.
Which of these high-profile 2018 free agent should Seattle target?
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