The Super Bowl victory of the Los Angeles Rams is barely more than a week old, but less than a week remains in February, meaning it is almost time for free agency to begin. Tuesday marks the opening of the franchise and transition tagging window for teams across the NFL, meaning that many players fans hope their team will add in March will effectively become unavailable over the next couple of weeks.
In any case, with less than three weeks until the start of the legal tampering period it’s time to not only look at the needs of the Seattle Seahawks for 2022, but to also evaluate how those needs stack up against other team, in particular against the rest of the NFC West division. For a visual representation for how the Hawks stack up against the rest of the league, here is a chart put together by Sam Hoppen, the Data Analytics Manager at 4for4 Fantasy Football.
Free agency and cap casualty cuts will change this, but here's a current look at the percent of 2021 offensive and defensive snaps that each team currently has under contract for 2022.— Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen) February 21, 2022
The #Bills are in a great position right now, while the #Bucs need a lot of help on both sides pic.twitter.com/WFJdHLiJD1
For those on mobile who sometimes have issues with embeds, here is the same chart as a standalone image.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, of course, with the first being that this chart is preliminary and there are still more than three weeks until the official start of the league year at 4 PM New York time on Wednesday, March 16. That said, the Seahawks don’t exactly have a strong track record of retaining their own free agents once they have allowed the calendar to flip to March without having already agreed to an extension. The list of free agents they have retained after allowing those players to enter free agency unsigned includes the likes of Jeremy Lane, Jermaine Kearse, Chris Carson, Jarran Reed and others.
Taking a step back and looking at the number of snaps Seattle is set to potentially lose on the defensive side of the ball, it certainly raises questions about whether making Bobby Wagner a cap casualty is even on the table for the Hawks. Specifically, while a whole lot of fans have already written Wagner off as too old and too expensive, the simple fact of the matter is that moving on from Wagner would shift the Seahawks down the chart to the point where they would be in the bottom four in the entire league for defensive snaps set to return in 2022. That doesn’t sound like an ideal situation, and would seem to at least be an argument in favor of retaining his services.
The list of Seattle defenders who logged at least 400 snaps in 2021 and are unsigned heading into free agency are:
- FS Quandre Diggs (1,228 snaps)
- CB D.J. Reed (1,000 snaps)
- DE Rasheem Green (846 snaps)
- CB Sidney Jones (728 snaps)
- Al Woods (619 snaps)
Ryan Neal is also technically unsigned, but as he is an exclusive rights free agent meaning there is no real reason he shouldn’t be back with the team on a minimum salary contract.
On the offensive side of the ball, the biggest questions are at tight end and on the offensive line. At tight end, both of the top two on the depth chart in Gerald Everett and Will Dissly are unsigned going forward, while the questions for the offensive line are plentiful. Specifically, the both starters at tackle in Duane Brown and Brandon Shell, and starting center Ethan Pocic are not under contract for 2022. In any case, the offensive players who logged at least 400 snaps during 2021 and are not under contract for 2022 include:
- LT Duane Brown (970 snaps)
- TE Gerald Everett (650 snaps)
- C Ethan Pocic (601 snaps)
- RT Brandon Shell (551 snaps)
- TE Will Dissly (512 snaps)
In addition to those listed above, Kyle Fuller was on the field for 447 snaps during the 2021 season, and is set to be a restricted free agent. It’s possible that he could return in 2022, but combining the firing of Mike Solari with the fact that Fuller is of the mold Solari prefers from his interior linemen, and a return seems unlikely.
Adding to the questions on the offensive line is the fact that the two starters who are signed for next season were not great at providing protection for Russell Wilson. Left guard Damien Lewis finished tied with Shell for the third most pressures allowed, while right guard Gabe Jackson allowed more pressures than any other Seattle lineman.
In short, though several weeks remain until free agency formally gets underway, the time for the Hawks to retain their own free agents is beginning to dwindle. Add in that the 2022 NFL Combine is set to begin a week from Tuesday, and the amount of time and potential extensions won’t even be the primary focus of the front office for a good portion of the time between now and the start of the new league year.