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Key dates for Seahawks offseason right around the corner

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Friday is officially the second half of February, meaning that the NFL Scouting Combine is coming up very soon, but there are multiple dates and deadlines of notes coming up for the Seattle Seahawks that seem more important than in seasons past. In recent offseasons, the Hawks have had business to take care of, including extending pending free agents and tendering restricted free agents, but the next few weeks should be extremely busy by Seahawks offseason standards.

The first order of business is obviously Frank Clark, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent and set to become a very wealthy young man if he is allowed to hit the market. However, the question of whether he will be allowed to hit the free agent market could be resolved well before free agency begins on March 13. Specifically, beginning Tuesday, February 19, Seattle has a two week window in which it can choose to apply either the franchise tag or transition tag on Clark.

The team has not really used the franchise tag during the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era, but with a young, impact players such as Clark would certainly be an opportunity where it would not be a surprise. Franchise tagging Clark would put his 2019 cap hit at somewhere in the neighborhood of $18.653M per the 2019 projections as currently estimated by OverTheCap.com, which would obviously be a large raise for the young defensive end. That number is obviously subject to change until the league calculates and releases the official numbers, which are likely to be announced by the league in early March.

In past seasons the league has announced the franchise tag numbers near the end of the two week window for using the tag. Thus, the team should have a little more visibility on numbers before the final deadline for application of the tag on March 5. Beyond Clark, the team also has to figure out what to do with safety Earl Thomas and nickel corner Justin Coleman, both of whom could put a dent of some size in the Seattle cap space should the team extend their contracts before free agency begins.

The legal tampering period of free agency, when unrestricted free agents are able to negotiate with other teams runs from March 11 through 4 pm on March 13, and it is during this time that in seasons past the team has extended players like Jeremy Lane and Jermaine Kearse. In addition to the official start of free agency at 4 pm on March 13, that is also the deadline by which the team must tender its restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents. In the middle of the franchise tag period and prior to the start of free agency, fans will also be treated to the NFL combine in Indianapolis from February 26 - March 4.

So, to summarize, here’s the key dates over the next few weeks that fans can watch out for:

  • Franchise tag window opens: February 19
  • Combine begins: February 26
  • Combine closes: March 4
  • NFL announces 2019 salary cap and franchise tag numbers: Approximately March 5
  • Franchise tag window closes: March 5 at 4 p.m. New York time
  • Legal Tampering Period: March 11 - March 13 at 4 p.m. New York time
  • Deadline to tender RFAs and ERFAs: March 13 at 4 p.m. New York time
  • Free agency begins: March 13 at 4 p.m. New York time

That’s what we can all be watching for in the coming weeks, so even though we are still more than five months from training camp, there will be a lot to keep us occupied and interested in the coming weeks.