While the NFL has been a tidal wave of news already this week, free agency does not officially start until 4:00 PM New York Time Wednesday, which is when transactions can officially be processed. That means that, technically, Russell Wilson will not officially become a member of the Denver Broncos until some time late Wednesday or Thursday when the league office officially processes the transaction, but the deadline is also important for one other key reason.
During the legal tampering period, which began Monday at noon New York Time, teams are permitted to discuss contracts and terms with soon-to-be free agents, however, they are not allowed to meet with them in person. That may not seem like a huge obstacle at initial glance, however, given the physical nature of playing in the NFL, the ability to meet in person means the ability to perform a physical. And that, without question, is a very important consideration when it comes to several key free agents of the Seattle Seahawks.
Specifically, when looking at some of the top free agents remaining, many of them are either coming off injury during the 2021 season or have lingering health concerns that teams would likely want to evaluate in person prior to making a formal contract offer. So, for example, while the Seahawks have retained several of their own key free agents, there are still multiple members of their roster set to hit the market Wednesday afternoon. Some of those players include:
- Duane Brown
- Gerald Everett
- Brandon Shell
- Ethan Pocic
- Rasheem Green
- Rashaad Penny
- Geno Smith
- Robert Nkemdiche
- Alex Collins
Of those free agents, several of them have medical concerns that other teams would likely prefer to evaluate in person. Brown is two years removed from knee surgery and has not regularly practiced the past couple of seasons. Shell has battled a litany of smaller injuries during his career. Green saw his 2020 season shortened by a neck injury teams are likely to want to evaluate prior to signing. Meanwhile Pocic missed three quarters of the 2019 season with a back injury, and while he has been largely healthy over the past two seasons, back injuries don’t have a great history of getting better over time.
Further, even for a player like Penny who finished the 2021 season on an absolute tear, the simple fact of the matter is that many teams would want to do their own MRI on his surgically repaired knee. He obviously showed no signs of being slowed by the knee down the stretch in 2021, but teams are well aware of the long-term impact for running backs of a serious knee injury for running backs.
For example, Todd Gurley suffered a torn ACL in November 2014 while playing at the University of Georgia, and then just over four years later his production fell off a cliff in December 2018. After starting the 2018 season off with six 100 yard rushing performances in the first twelve games of the season, after a 23 carry, 132 yard performance against the Detroit Lions on December 2, 2018, Gurley broke the 100 yard mark just twice over the final 33 games of his career. That includes just a single 100-yard rushing performance after his 25th birthday. So, while there is likely no immediate worry that the same kind of debilitating arthritis is set to derail the career of Penny anytime soon, teams can use an MRI to at a minimum evaluate Penny’s knee for any early signs of degeneration.
This is obviously not to say that Penny, Brown, Green or Pocic will see the remainder of their career derailed by injury, as all of them played and played well at times during the 2021 season regardless of their past injuries. However, those past injuries are the type that have the potential to pop up and cause issues again in the future, meaning it’s not unreasonable for a team to conduct an in house evaluation of those past injuries before making a commitment. Thus, while there has yet to be any news on several members of the 2021 members of the team who are free agents, the ability of those players to meet with teams in the coming days could help bring the news fans are so eagerly awaiting.