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Seahawks 2023 Offseason Roster Primer

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The 2022 season is officially in the books for the Seattle Seahawks, following the 41-23 drubbing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers Saturday afternoon in the first Wild Card game of the 2023 NFL Playoffs. As such, it’s now time for fans and the team to look forward to the offseason, in particular to free agency and the draft.

Obviously, the draft will garner most of the attention from fans this offseason, with the Hawks holding two picks in each of the first and second rounds. However, free agency is up first, and so here is a look at the status of the players on the roster who are not currently under contract for 2023.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

An exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) is a player with two or fewer accrued seasons in the NFL. When it comes to these players the team can prevent them from departing by simply offering a qualifying tender offer, which is effectively a one-year contract at league minimum salary for their experience. From the player’s perspective, their options are to sign the tender offered by the team or sit at home on the couch. They don’t have a lot of leverage, so there is very rarely much negotiation when it comes to the tender offers.

The Seahawks have several ERFAs, including (along with minimum salary requirement for 2023):

  • Godwin Igwebuike ($1.01M)
  • Jon Rhattigan ($940k)
  • Cody Thompson ($870k)
  • Myles Adams ($870k)

Restricted Free Agents

A restricted free agent (RFA) is a player who had exactly three accrued seasons in the NFL. The tender process for these players is more complicated than for ERFAs, and involved choosing one of four options. The four different options available to a team, along with the projected salary for each of the tenders per are:

  • Not extending a tender offer (this makes the player an unrestricted free agent)
  • Extending a Right of First Refusal tender ($2.629M)
  • Extending a Second Round tender ($4.308M)
  • Extending a First Round tender ($6.011M)

Those projected tender amounts are likely to change some once the final salary cap is set, but they are close enough to what the final numbers that the difference is unlikely to be material. The way the tenders work is that when a tender offer is extended to a player, that player can sign the tender, giving them a one-year, non-guaranteed salary for the amount of the tender, or the player can shop themselves to other teams in free agency. If they sign an offer sheet with another team as a free agent, then the original team has the option to match the contract as outlined in the offer sheet in order to retain the services of the RFA.

If the original team of the RFA opts to allow the player to leave, the signing team must provide compensation in line with the tender offer extended by the original team. That means that if a player is given a second round tender and then signs an offer sheet with another team, the signing team sends their 2023 second round pick to the player’s prior team. With the Right of First Refusal tender the compensation is equal to the draft compensation from when the player originally entered the league, however, if the player entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent there is no draft pick compensation required from the signing team.

That’s a whole lot of explanatory mumbo jumbo that is best understood through real world examples. So, for the Seahawks this is relevant because both Mike Jackson and Ryan Neal are set to be RFAs. Neal entered the NFL by signing as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, while Jackson was a fifth round pick of the Dallas Cowboys. What that means is that if both are extended a Right of First Refusal tender, a signing team would have to send the Seahawks a fifth round pick if it signed Jackson and the Hawks opted not to match, while no compensation would be required if a team were to sign Neal and Seattle opted to not match the contract offer. (Author’s Note: And since someone will ask, RFAs allowed to depart to other teams do not count towards comp pick calculations.)

The RFAs for the Seahawks this offseason are:

  • Mike Jackson
  • Ryan Neal
  • Tanner Muse
  • Penny Hart
  • Tony Jones

Unrestricted Free Agents

An unrestricted free agent (UFA) is a player with four or more accrued seasons in the NFL, and these are the free agents most fans talk about when discussing free agency. These are the players whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the league year, and are therefore able to sign a contract with any team in the league. However, between now and the start of the new league year in March the player is able to sign a contract with the team with which they finished the 2022 season, should they so desire.

The UFAs for the Seahawks this offseason are:

  • Geno Smith
  • Drew Lock
  • Travis Homer
  • Rashaad Penny
  • Cullen Gillaspia
  • Marquise Goodwin
  • Laquon Treadwell
  • Austin Blythe
  • Kyle Fuller
  • Phil Haynes
  • Poona Ford
  • L.J. Collier
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Darryl Johnson Jr.
  • Nick Bellore
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Artie Burns
  • Justin Coleman
  • Xavier Crawford
  • Teez Tabor
  • Josh Jones
  • Johnathan Abram
  • Jason Myers
  • Tyler Ott
  • Carson Tinker

And so now the debate begins regarding the choices the Seahawks will make regarding these players, and speculation regarding the free agents and draftees who will fill the holes created can begin in earnest.