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Why the Seahawks were never going to spend big in free agency

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In the build up to free agency, many fans wanted the Seattle Seahawks to go big in free agency, dipping into the large talent pool that was out there in order to quickly improve the team. Whether they wanted the team to aggressively pursue free agent offensive linemen like Kevin Zeitler or Corey Linsley, or bring in an offensive weapon along the lines of Jonnu Smith or Kenny Golladay, the calls were plentiful. So far, however, what the team has done is added tight end Gerald Everett and Akhello Witherspoon on one year contracts, while trading for guard Gabe Jackson and the two years remaining on his contract.

So, what gives?

Well, a brief review of the free agents the team has added in recent seasons gives a glimpse into the strategy Pete Carroll and John Schneider have utilized to build the roster, and sheds light on to the fact that the Seahawks were never going to sign many of the players fans wanted. Not because of cost or cap hit, but rather because of an even more simple fact.

Without beating around the bush too much, here is a quick review of the contracts the Seahawks have given to outside free agents since their last appearance in the Super Bowl:

2020:
Brandon Shell: 2 years, $9M
B.J. Finney: 2 years, $8M
Greg Olsen: 1 year, $7M
Bruce Irvin: 1 year, $5.5M
Benson Mayowa: 1 year, $3.05M
Carlos Hyde: 1 year, $2.75M
Cedric Ogbuehi: 1 year, $2.3M
Phillip Dorsett: 1 year, $1.05M

2019:
Jason Myers: 4 years, $15.45M
Ziggy Ansah: 1 year, $9M
Mike Iupati: 1 year, $2.75M
Nick Bellore: 2 years, $2.23M
Al Woods: 1 year, $2.25M
Cassius Marsh: 1 year, $1.85M
Earl Mitchell: 1 year, $1.02M
Jamar Taylor: 1 year, $895k

2018:
Ed Dickson: 3 years, $10.7M
Barkevious Mingo: 2 years, $6.8M
Jaron Brown: 2 years, $5.5M
Shamar Stephen: 1 year, $2.1M
Tom Johnson: 1 year, $2.1M
Sebastian Janikowski: 1 year, $2.02M
J.R. Sweezy: 1 year, $1.5M
D.J. Fluker: 1 year, $1.5M
Dontae Johnson: 1 year, $1.3M
Brandon Marshall: 1 year, $1.1M
Eric Walden: 1 year, $1.02M
Mychal Kendricks: 1 year, $790k

2017:
Bradley McDougald: 1 year, $1.8M
Eddie Lacy: 1 year, $5.5M
Luke Joeckel: 1 year, $8M
Oday Aboushi: 1 year, $795k
Perrish Cox: 1 year, $855k
Arthur Brown: 1 year, $775k
Michael Wilhoite: 1 year, $1.55M
Terrance Garvin: 1 year, $885k
Dion Jordan: 1 year, $640k
Blair Walsh: 1 year, $950k

2016:
J’Marcus Webb: 2 years, $6M
Bradley Sowell: 1 year, $1M
Sealver Siliga: 1 year, $1.05M
Brandon Browner: 1 year, $760k
Chris Clemons: 1 year, $1.5M

2015:

Cary Williams: 3 years, $18M
Will Blackmon: 1 year, $745k
Ahtyba Rubin: 1 year, $2.6M

There were likely others that have been missed, but for the most part, that’s it. That’s 46 contracts, of which the overwhelming majority (37 of 46) were one year deals. The players they gave two year contracts to were:

Brandon Shell
B.J. Finney
Jason Myers
Nick Bellore
Ed Dickson
Barkevious Mingo
Jaron Brown
J’Marcus Webb
Cary Williams

Of those nine players who received multi-year contracts, four were released before their contract expired (Dickson, Brown, Webb and Williams) and two more were traded before completing their contract (Finney and Mingo). Two of the remaining three in Shell and Myers are still playing for the Seahawks and only one, Nick Bellore, played out his contract for the Seahawks.

So, from all this and from years of history, the only outside free agents to whom the Seahawks have given contracts of three or more years are Cary Williams, Jason Myers and Ed Dickson. Now, one could certainly argue that Myers was not a pure outside free agent. This is because Myers spent the 2018 offseason with Seattle, only to be cut during training camp and claimed off waivers by the New York Jets immediately prior to his Pro Bowl 2018 season. Williams and Dickson, on the other hand, each played just ten games for the Hawks after signing three year contracts, and it’s not likely that the team is in a hurry to repeat those mistakes.

Putting that all together, the Seahawks don’t really appear to give out multi-year contracts in free agency, and have a very strong tendency to steer outside signings to one year deals. What that means is that while they were likely in discussions for players like Zeitler or Thuney, the reality is that they may have been hoping to add those players on shorter contracts than the deals those players eventually signed.

On top of that, as noted in early March on Field Gulls, the Seahawks are careful regarding how they go about extending players. They didn’t extend Jamal Adams immediately upon trading for him, just like they didn’t extend Duane Brown immediately upon acquiring him in trade. In short, they don’t pay outsiders prior to taking care of their own, which when looked at from a roster and personnel management perspective makes sense.

So, if they don’t pay outsiders before they pay their own, it’s not a significant leap to the idea that they were never going to dive deep into the first wave of free agency this offseason. That said, with the first wave of free agency having wrapped up and many of the big name players off the board, now comes the time when fans can expect the team to be active in sifting through the remaining names in order to find the bargain players on one year contracts. There are a lot of quality names set to return from injury or who did not land the big contract they had hoped for in the initial wave of free agency, and this is when John Schneider will put on his selling shoes, while Pete Carroll will dust off his recruiting skills in order to add as much talent while using as little cap space as possible in the coming weeks.