The first major wave of free agency is finished -- the positional markets have been set, more or less -- and now we settle into the secondary stretch that will see some of the scores of remaining free agents find new teams or re-up with their own.
The first notable player to get scooped up this morning was Seahawks' strong safety and special teams standout Jeron Johnson, who signed with Scot McCloughan in Washington. That makes the sixth Seahawk player to sign elsewhere free agency, and he'll be just the first in a long line of signings league-wide as teams fill depth spots and build to the future. Before that happens over the next week, or more, let's take stock of what happened in what was a frenetic, chaotic last seven days.
First up, a look at Seattle's moves.
Free agency casualties:
CB Byron Maxwell (Eagles)
Maxy got 6 years, $63 million and $25 million guaranteed so there was just no way that the Seahawks could match that. Rumor has it that they got up to $8 million APY but Maxwell ended up getting a vastly superior offer in Philly. Bummer of a loss for the Seahawks, but was expected.
LB Malcolm Smith (Raiders)
The Super Bowl XLVIII MVP heads to Oakland to reunite with Ken Norton, who is now the Raiders' DC. Smith saw his snaps drop precipitously after the Kansas City loss, and by the end of the year was purely a special teams guy. If he can get his level of play back up to where it was in 2013 as a flow-to-the-ball and cover weakside linebacker, the Raiders will have made a great signing, but he struggled for the Hawks this season. Seattle will ostensibly roll with Kevin Pierre-Louis, who looked fantastic in limited action this past year before getting hurt.
DE O'Brien Schofield (Falcons)
Schofield was a rotational pass rusher for the Seahawks and will reunite with Dan Quinn in Atlanta. The Hawks will have to look to replace him with a draft pick, a free agent signing, or hope that Cassius Marsh can come back strong in 2015 and play the edge in certain spots.
SS Jeron Johnson (Washington)
Johnson reunites (sense a trend here?) with former Seahawks' personnel man Scot McCloughan in Washington. It was a forgone conclusion that Johnson would leave after he admitted several times this past year that he was looking forward to finding a team where he'd be in the competition to start. With Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas firmly ensconced as the Seahawks' two starting safeties, Seattle would not be the place to go. DeShawn Shead is the likely replacement for Johnson, and depending on where Eric Pinkins ends up this upcoming season, the second year pro could challenge for a role as well.
OG James Carpenter (New York Jets)
Carpenter ended up being a disappointment as Seattle's 2011 first round pick, a large part because injuries derailed his development, but came in healthy and at a great weight last year. He re-gained some consistency in play and was the full-time starter at left guard, but Seattle ultimately decided to let him test the free agency waters. He found some interest in New York and that was that. The Hawks will look to replace Carp with Alvin Bailey at left guard and they're sure to draft an interior lineman or two in May to help fill the ranks. There are a number of guys on Seattle's practice squad that could make a jump in 2015 as well.
WR Bryan Walters (Jaguars)
Walters was Seattle's designated punt returner last year and proved his worth as reliable in that area -- and while that may seem a small thing, honestly, it says a lot that no one else on the roster could apparently earn the coaching staff's trust there. The drawback was that Walters didn't offer a lot post-catch, and Seattle did not attempt to re-sign him for next year. He ends up with Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, and will have to compete for a roster spot down there.
TE Zach Miller
Miller was one of those bubble cap-casualty guys heading into the offseason, and was eventually cut with a failed physical designation. Miller will test his market elsewhere and assuming his foot gets healthy over the next month or two, could end up in camp for Seattle again in 2015. With the acquisition of Jimmy Graham, though, he'd have to come cheap.
Unger is a very good center and played very well in 2014 when he was on the field, but he's missed 13 games over the past two years, including 10 last year. So, while I'm sure the Seahawks love him as a player, there is a question of reliability there that probably factored into the decision a little bit. Regardless, it's a big loss for Seattle because there is no true starter yet on the team -- Patrick Lewis got a few starts in relief last year as a rookie, and Lemuel Jeanpierre may be an option as well -- but for now, it's a position they must fill. Veteran free agent Stefen Wisniewski was in Seattle for a visit last week so he may be an option at the right price. His signing would offset one of Seattle's losses in terms of the comp pick equation.
CB Cary Williams, CB Will Blackmon
With the loss of two starters -- Maxwell to free agency and Jeremy Lane to an ACL tera -- the Seahawks really needed to beef up depth at cornerback so these two signings make a lot of sense. Both players will likely come in and compete for the starting job on the outside, with Williams the obvious frontrunner. Importantly too, both players were "cuts" from their former teams so they do not factor into the compensatory equation, meaning Seattle's losses in free agency this year will result in comp picks next season. (If Williams had been a true free agent and not a cap casualty, his signing would off-set against one of Seattle's mid-range free agency losses).
Seattle will likely draft a corner or two as well, and look to create a nice competition at cornerback going into next year.
LB Mike Morgan, LB Mister Alexander
Seattle let Malcolm Smith walk in free agency, but retained core special teams guy and backup strongside 'backer Mike Morgan to help make up for it. Since Morgan was an RFA and one of Seattle's own free agents, he does not count against the comp pick formula either. Mister Alexander is more of a "futures" type of signing and as a street free agent, he also does not count against comp picks.
TE Anthony McCoy
McCoy was poised to break out (or at least, become a much more effective and consistent player) in 2013 but then tore his Achilles tendon in training camp. He rehabbed it for a full year, and was again poised to become an important piece of the offense in 2014 on a one-year deal. He then tore his other Achilles tendon early in training camp. He'll try for lucky shot number three this year, and John Schneider made sure to mention McCoy as a true "Y" tight end in Seattle's system when discussing the Jimmy Graham trade. If McCoy can stay healthy, he'll be a really nice depth signing, in my opinion. That's a big "if" though, considering the last two years.
DT Greg Scruggs
Scruggs has also had the injury bug the past two years, but when healthy he's one of the best all around athletes on the team. It's tough to project because he's missed so much time to injury, but he could be a surprising roster player this year as a versatile inside-outside defensive lineman.
TE Jimmy Graham
Graham is one of the elites at the tight end position and has scored 46 touchdowns over the past four years. He's a matchup nightmare that should give Russell Wilson a very dynamic and dangerous target over the middle. It was a lot to give up to trade a first-round pick and Max Unger, but Graham is probably the best pass catching tight end in the NFL and the 2nd-best overall tight end in the league. He's only 28 and has three years on his deal as well, so he's young enough to still be in his prime, and has three years left of club control, two big factors.