In our 2020 iteration of Finding Free Agents, we’ll attempt to answer three questions for each player: Why would the Seahawks be interested? What would their contract look like? What is the likelihood they reach free agency? Throughout the series, we’ll be focused on specific positions of need in Seattle: Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line and EDGE.
Since he was selected by Washington fifth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft—former Seahawks personnel man Scot McCloughan’s first draft pick in charge—Brandon Scherff has been a high-level talent on a middling team, joining his line mate Trent Williams as having that unfortunate distinction. Though injuries have robbed him of 13 games over the last two seasons, Scherff is among the best offensive linemen set to hit unrestricted free agency this spring, and he could look to sign for a winning team (and competent organization), ahead of his age-28 season.
Why would the Seahawks be interested?
Maybe, just maybe, this will be the offseason Seattle throws money and resources correctly at the offensive line. Mike Iupati is set to be a free agent, while both Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker could be cap casualties. Scherff would slide right in at the vacated right guard position and immediately become the Seahawks’ best protector. Phil Haynes, meanwhile, has experience at both guard spots from his time at Wake Forest and could certainly slide into Iupati’s left guard position.
For those who believe in building a team with the division in mind, Scherff would make a lot of sense—the league’s best defensive tackle, Aaron Donald, is in the NFC West and so is (arguably) the second-best in DeForest Buckner.
Scherff would be a sizable investment, no doubt. If Seattle chooses to address their woeful protection with the large amount of cap space they have, Scherff should certainly be of interest.
What would Scherff’s contract look like?
In November, Comeback Player of the Year candidate and one of the game’s best right guards, Brandon Brooks, signed a four-year extension worth $56.35M—an APY of $14.05M that took him atop the position. The guarantees of Brooks’ extension are wonky (year-to-year team options and guarantees only for injury), but his APY is a figure that Scherff and his agent will undoubtedly be looking to top.
To get an idea of the full guarantees Scherff could command on say, a four-year, $58M dollar deal, it’s worth looking at other recently-signed, top tier right guards. Five at the top of their position—the Steelers’ David DeCastro, Trai Turner of the Panthers, Kevin Zeitler of the Giants (then the Browns), Zack Martin of the Cowboys and the Raiders’ Gabe Jackson—have signed new deals since 2016. With each of their deals, the full guarantees made up between 30 (Jackson) and 38 (Martin and Zeitler) percent of the contract’s total value. (All contracts via OverTheCap.com.)
Scherff is on the low-end of the elite right guard spectrum; he shouldn’t be topping the huge guarantees Martin or Zeitler got, unless a bad team with a huge amount of cap space comes in. For the Seahawks, a deal like the one above—four years, $58M—with $17-20M fully guaranteed, would make sense—if they choose to make that investment in Russell Wilson’s protection.
Will Scherff reach free agency?
According to NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay, the NFC East basement dwellers are interested in re-signing Scherff. Ahead of the 2019 season, however, with Scherff set to play the season on a fifth-year option, Washington and Scherff were far apart in negotiations. In Week 3, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported those negotiations continued, with Washington having offered a deal worth more than $13M APY. Rapoport added, “Don’t be surprised if Brandon Scherff goes toward free agency and becomes the highest-paid guard in the NFL going forward next offseason.”
Scherff would play out the season on that option, and is now headed toward free agency. There has yet to be any indication Washington will use the franchise tag on Scherff, however, they still have several weeks to make that decision. If Scherff hits unrestricted free agency, and Seattle chooses to drift away from their cost-cutting along the offensive line, they could find themselves in business with one of the game’s best guards.