Seahawks Insider

Hawks 2012 free agency primer

Post by Eric Williams on March 13, 2012 at 6:50 am with 40 Comments »
March 13, 2012 6:50 am
Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams. (AP Photo/Dave Einsel)

Last year the Seattle Seahawks made waves during a lockout-shortened, free agency period right before training camp started, signing players like Sidney Rice, Tarvaris Jackson, Zach Miller and Robert Gallery.

The Seahawks could make even more of a splash once this year’s NFL free agency kicks off at 1 p.m. Pacific time.

Seattle already jumped head first into the deep end of the free agency pool with the vigorous pursuit of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, although it appears they will be left on the outside looking in.

But armed with at least $30 million in cap space after the league announced the salary cap for the new league year will be $120.6 million, the Seahawks have other, big-name targets in mind, including Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams, Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn and Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

Green Bay Packer quarterback Matt Flynn smiles as he exits the field after defeating the Detroit Lions 45-41 in an NFL football game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. Aaron Rodgers got to rest up for the playoffs and backup Matt Flynn threw for a franchise-record six touchdowns, the final one to Jermichael Finley with 1:10 left, giving the Packers a 45-41 victory over the Lions. (AP Photo/West Bend Dally News, John Ehlke)

Seattle got a head start by signing two of the team’s own free agents in running back Marshawn Lynch and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini to multi-year deals. But the Seahawks will have to see how the market develops for their soon-to-be free agents like defensive end Red Bryant, tight end John Carlson, fullback Michael Robinson and linebackers David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill.

The Seahawks have 16 unrestricted free agents, three restricted free agents and two exclusive rights free agents heading into the opening of free agency this afternoon.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider said he will use a similar system in dealing with free agency that his personnel staff implemented for the faster pace of last offseason.

“We actually had our meetings earlier, and it ended up being a pretty good plan,” Schneider said. “We did it earlier than we had previously. So we decided to do that again.”

Like his overall philosophy, head coach Pete Carroll said free agency will be about competition.

“Every opportunity that is presented to us we try to compete, take it as far as we can and as deep as we can at all opportunities,” Carroll said. “And that’s what we try and exercise in every opportunity that comes along. So whether it’s free agency or whether it’s the draft or trade possibilities – any aspect of it – we’re just digging in and going for it.”

Here’s a look at some free agent prospects the Seahawks could target:

Na’il Diggs, LB, San Diego Chargers: Seahawks general manager John Schneider is familiar with Diggs, who spent his first six seasons in the league in Green Bay. With the potential of losing both Hawthorne and Hill in free agency, Diggs, 33, would give the Seahawks some veteran leadership in a backup role for a green linebackers’ unit.

Matt Flynn, QB, Green Bay Packers: Schneider was with Green Bay when the Packers drafted the LSU product in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, although his boss Ted Thompson did most of the leg work in Flynn’s draft evaluation. Flynn, 26, was spectacular in two starts for Green Bay, but teams could be leery of playing a premium price for a quarterback with limited experience. Other suitors could include Cleveland and Miami.

San Francisco linebacker Larry Grant. (AP file photo)

Larry Grant, LB, San Francisco 49ers: Grant, 27, started three games for San Francisco while Patrick Willis was nursing a hamstring injury and played well, including a 12-tackle performance at CenturyLink Field against Seattle, including a forced fumble on a Tarvaris Jackson scramble to end the game. The Niners placed a seventh round tender on the restricted free agent, so he could be worth the low-round draft pick.

Matt Leinart, QB, Houston Texans: Released by Houston because of North Carolina product T.J. Yates’ performance during his rookie season, Leinart could be a fallback option for Seattle if they lose out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn. Leinart, 28, took over for Matt Schaub after he was lost for the season with a Lisfranc foot injury, but promptly broke his collarbone a week later. Leinart almost wound up in Seattle as the backup last season before accepting a more lucrative deal in Houston, and now could be brought in to challenge Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job.

Frank Omiyale, OL, Chicago Bears: Released by the Bears in cost-cutting move earlier this month, Omiyale, 29, already visited Seattle’s headquarters, and would serve as a veteran backup should Paul McQuistan not return in free agency. Omiyale is familiar Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme, having played for the offensive line coach while with the Falcons in 2006.

Miami defensive tackle Paul Soliai. (AP Photo/Han Deryk)

Paul Soliai, DT, Miami Dolphins: If the Seahawks lose Red Bryant in free agency, they could target someone like Soliai, 28 – a stout, run stuffer who could play defensive tackle and on the edge of the defense for Seattle. The Dolphins placed the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl defensive tackle last year, but they did not have room to keep him under the team’s salary cap this season.

Mike Tolbert, RB, San Diego Chargers: The free agent running back could be the complement to Marshawn Lynch Seattle has been looking for. At 5-9, 245 pounds, Tolbert, 26, is a punishing rusher who would give the Seahawks a similar presence in the run game to Lynch. And Tolbert’s also versatile, with the ability to play fullback and special teams.

San Diego running back Mike Tolbert. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

DE Mario Williams, DT, Houston Texans: Houston did not have enough salary cap space to franchise Williams and had to let him go. Besides Peyton Manning, Williams will be the most sought after player in free agency and could command a salary north of Julius Peppers’ six-year, $91 million deal he signed with Chicago two years ago. Seattle could use an elite pass rusher to pair with Chris Clemons, but so could several other teams. Williams made a smooth transition from a defensive end in a 4-3 defensive front to an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but likely fits better as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, which is what he’d do in Seattle. Williams, 27, is also coming off a torn pectoral muscle injury that forced him to miss 11 games last year

NFL free agency
Leave a comment Comments → 40
  1. Dukeshire says:

    Leinart? (sigh…) Again I ask, how many times must they pass on him before “we” let that one go?

    And I hope you’re wrong abou Diggs. Seattle doesn’t need and aging situational player at LB. They need talent talent, youth, and plenty of it at the thinnest position on the roster. Grant would be okay, but he’s a downgrade from Heater, IMO.

  2. JazBadAzz says:

    I like Paul from the dolphins but I think him and Red would cost about the same.

    Hawthorn is good but I don’t think people understand our scheme and why he produced like he did. The Bears are targetting him but I doubt that will happen. I think our next MLB will come through the draft, the heater knows it too and that’s why he doesn’t want to sign that contract!

    I highly doubt we sign Tolbert either, there is an abundance of good running backs in the draft that we can groom at a cheaper price. We will probably resign Robinson (hoping) but you never know…

    If this day turns into more of that redundant QB talk that the same people say the same things day after day, I will be highly disappointed!!!

  3. Dukeshire says:

    Just one talent will do. Although talent talent would be nice. Lol

  4. HawkfaninMT says:

    What about Shaun Rogers to work at 5 Tech if Red were to leave? He is a little older, but would not be the oldest on the above list. His drive is his main hang up… But he could dominate like Red if he has the desire to. He would also cost a fraction of Red’s salary.

    Of course, Please sign Mario Williams! I will sleep so good tonight if Mario is in Seahawks Blue!

    Would love to see us sign Mario, Winston, Rogers, Grant and Hill before today is over. Then I think some offensive (as in offensive side of the ball) drafting would be in order.

  5. Dukeshire says:

    Jaz – I like Hawthorne and think I understand their scheme, but maybe you could enlighten me. And you realize of course, the Bears would move him to Sam.

  6. JazBadAzz says:

    I would hate to break the bank to sign Mario Willaims. He has had some weird injuries and his stats are not the best at his position! We can spread that around to 3 or 4 qaulity starters. Run stuffer and a couple of situational passers plus one in the draft (DT/DE).

    Today will be fun my good chaps!

  7. Remember Carroll said he wanted to get faster on defence. If we don’t tender Heater and Hill; our draft could be 1ST RD ILB Kuechly and 2ND RD OLB Sean McClellin.

  8. JazBadAzz says:

    Sure Duke- with having practically 3 DT’s along the line it frees him up big time. Red, Brandon and Branch suck up a lot of the OL, the OLB funnel the runs back to the middle to Heater. That’s why the stats reflect that. Red and Mebane may not have a bunch of tackles but if it wasn’t for them undersized Heater would get eaten up by the guards and center moving to the next level.

    Its like the year the Ravens went to the 3-4 and Ray Lewis had to start taking on OL and he was getting dinged up and washed out the whole yr. Then they draft Haloti and went back to 4-3 and Lewis is a monster again. We have guys that eat up double teams, most other teams don’t care to keep their MLB as clean. That’s why you can see his stats reflect that!

  9. FleaFlicker says:

    I think Stan Gelbaugh is still available. Maybe we can start projecting all our QB anxiety on him and talking about how Stan was overlooked and was never given a real chance to prove himself in a West Coast system.

  10. Dukeshire says:

    Jaz – Couple of points:1, That scenario is not unique to Seattle’s defensive scheme. Moreover, what you described resembles more of what 3-4, or at least 2 gap DTs do: stand up the OL. Seattle’s DT are 1 gap players, whose responsibilities are primarily to penetrate. Red at LDE, who does play a 2 gap, is really the one to seal that edge, and turn the run back to the middle. But there is no question that their size alone up front, helps them absorbe double teams, are does free up the LBs.

    2, Hawthorne had terrific production at Will, while playing behind the “under” front. So, he’s far more than simply a produce of any one particular scheme.

  11. Dukeshire says:

    Good lord, my grammer is awful this morning.

  12. Mario Williams is a force, one you will have to know where is on every single down, of every single game, we don’t have any pass rusher we can say that about right now, while Clemons is a good player, he isn’t getting enough pressure when we need him to do so, plus he is not getting any younger.

  13. The Patriots are expected to go after Red Bryant Today.

  14. JazBadAzz says:

    Duke- I see that also, however when I re-watch a lot of the games (DVR’d the season) I notice many changes from game to game. We have an extremely discipline group that sacrifice their own stats in the great good of the team. I totally understand what you’re saying, however heater is not a gifted athlete and having that talent is Pete’s M.O. I think he is gone barring a home team discount! Im actually more high on Hill than Hawthorn, Leroy played outstanding second half of the yr.

    Grammar, lol you and me both, its really hard to type from a phone!

  15. I have to think the Seahawks are going to hard after Mario Williams and let Red Bryant walk.

    The Hawks know Bryant is a rare player and letting him hit the market speaks volumes. I love the big man, but if we can get Williams then Red would have limited value to our team. I think we could see this coming last year when they signed Alan Branch as a DT. Truth is, Branch is a natural 5-tech DE just like Bryant.

    Two reasons they signed Branch. First they were doubtful Bryant could play 16 games without injury (he did, for the first time in his career). Second, they thought Branch could do most of what Red does at DE on 1st and 2nd down, while also playing decently at DT, something Red wasn’t much good at.

    Schneider has the money to make Mario Williams our next DE. If so, I think we’ll see Alan Branch filling in at both DE and DT on 1st and 2nd downs as our main utility D linemen. Williams can then take a few rushing downs off to save his strength for improving our pass rush.

    Let’s go sign the big man.

  16. JazBadAzz says:

    I saw a link that Mario could command about 50mil in guaranteed money! O_o WTF!!!

    What did Peppers and Ware or Jared Allen get? I’m sure they didn’t get that much, and they produce more than Mario.

  17. Peppers was older than Williams is now. Ware could have been franchised so the Cowboys had some leverage. Same with the Vikings/Chiefs in the Allen negotiations. Williams is a “free” agent so that means the price for his services will be astronomical.

    Red would be a perfect fit for the Pats, sadly.

  18. JazBadAzz says:

    Bobbyk- they all are better pass rusher than him. League leaders yr in and yr out!

  19. chrisj122 says:

    Good lord 1:oo can not come fast enough!

  20. HawkfaninMT says:

    Having Branch (or Rogers in my above scenario) rotate with Clemmons would be dynamic and perfect in my opinion. It would definitely make taking a DT in the 1st more agreeable to me as well.

    @Jazz: that does seem like a lot, but inflation causes prices to go up year to year… DE is one of those psoitions I would be willing to invest some extreme bucks in. Especially if the other end doesn’t cost quite as much as in the case of our Line (unless Red re-signs for big amount)

  21. JazBadAzz says:

    HawkfanunMT- 120.6 million dollar cap and we invest 50mil into a DE?!?!

    I like that Stevos but 50mil??? That’s franchise QB numbers, and we don’t have one of those yet!

  22. HawkfaninMT says:

    It’s not 50M in one year… simmer down Jazz!

    Mario has numbers on par with Allen’s and Peppers of the world. Like Bobby said Peppers was signed when he was 30, Williams is only 27. You have been talking about scheme and fit a bit this morning. Imagine how much better Mario will make everyone else on that OL. Clemmons play count will go down, but I would argue his sack totals will go up. He will be in on mostly passing downs only, going against an OT that has been getting leaned on and beat up all day by a BIG 5 Tech DE. MeBane commands double teams and that will mean the other team is keeping a TE in to help block… he helps in every facet of that Defense. That 50M is going to improve the entire D, not just one position

  23. So I presume some players have already agreed to deals with teams, but these deals won’t be announced until 4 p.m. EST. For all we know, Paul Allen’s plane may already be on the way to pick up Matt Flynn for the press conference this evening!

  24. Dukeshire says:

    I would love to have Williams. Stats be damned, he is a disruptive force against the pass and run. He is a rare athlete and gifted player at the position.

    Jaz – I do agree that Carroll is looking for more players at LB, in the vein of Wright.

  25. Soggybuc says:

    Dont get to excited guys odds are we wont see any signings today. about the only real info we will get is who is going hard after the big names.
    That said I’m pumped that it’s finally here.
    Also remember teams will have to wait at least a day to sign a guy so they can maintain the illusion that no tampering occured.

  26. grizindabox says:

    One thing to remember is the cap will go up significantly next year with the new TV deal. That combined with the 90%$ floor, means the cap is not as tight this year as teams can put more into players contracts for year 2 and beyond.

  27. RDPoulsbo says:

    I agree that Red’s talents are best suited as a 3-4 end, even more than Seattle’s hybrid scheme. The Pats, Broncos and maybe Green Bay are the best fits. As good as he is at stopping the run, he’s a liability as a pass rusher for any 4-3 scheme. Even as the rest of the division is putting more emphasis on the run, there’s a limit to what Seattle should offer.

    Soliai is an interesting idea, but he’s more of a 1-tech, and doesn’t help with Seattle’s pass rushing needs. Mebane is playing well now that he’s back to 1-tech DT, so I see no need to spend big bucks on a guy that doesn’t fill a hole. Kendall Langford, would be a better target.

  28. It would be nice to have Red back to stuff the run vs. SF and what the Rams are going to become. No doubt. You just simply can’t break the bank for someone as one dimentional as him with what he’s specializing in (especially at that position). Go ahead and break the bank for Randy Moss in his prime (minus the attitude) because the one thing he specialized in was truly game changing, but the trick Red can do isn’t as important. I’m not saying that stopping the run isn’t important, not at all. I’m just saying that guys can be found to do okay at that job who won’t make nearly as much so there’s more money available for the players, like Williams, who can get to the QB. Another thing about Williams, he’s a good/great all-around player and not a one-trick pony. Williams would be exciting, but until we get a QB, I don’t think anything is really going to matter with respect to actually WINning a Super Bowl.

  29. HawkfaninMT says:

    I feel like someone was saying Adam Caraker (Spelling? DE from Rams then Redskins) would be a good 5 tech fit… Can anyone elaborate on that idea?

    Just thinking out “loud”

  30. RDPoulsbo says:

    Just say no to Carikker. He has been a failure in both St. Louis and Washington.

  31. Yes. He would be a very solid player at that position for us. He’s stout vs. the run. Very stout. Not Red-like, but darn good. He has more ability to rush the passer than Red, but that doesn’t take much. I think he could get 6 or potentially 8 sacks though. Just don’t expect him to be a situational pass rusher, b/c that’s not him. He’s very blue collar/good. Stupid the Rams tried him at DT. Utter stupidity. His best position isn’t in a 3-4 at end either. He’s the stereotypical LDE who anchors and can get some upfield rush (again, not a double digit sack potential guy though).

  32. RD – The Rams never should have played him on the inside. Maybe we should move KJ Wright to SS. That’d be just as dumb. And he was good/solid for Wash. How was him being good against the run and getting 6 sacks in a 3-4 in Washington being a failure?

  33. Dukeshire says:

    I’d be surprised if Seattle pursues an end in FA, other than someone like Williams, not so long as Levingston and Wilkerson and even Branch are on the roster.

  34. I wouldn’t mind looking at Tolbert, he has a bad ass TD dance.

  35. Macabrevity says:

    @ osbrey

    If that’s true, that D-line will look pretty stout. Wilfork was a 1-man wrecking crew in the playoffs, I don’t see too many people running inside against Wilfork and Red. That’s really a nice landing spot for Big Red if he does leave.

  36. RDPoulsbo says:

    I guess I’m a bit too harsh on him, but the Rams moved him around a lot because they were trying to find a place for him. For a former 1st round pick, that’s not a good sign. As for the Redskins, they play a 3-4 where 1 end is more of a pass rusher unlike say the Pats or Broncos, so there’s going to be and with more sacks. I guess I’m just a little dubious about the idea given his days in St. Louis.

  37. JazBadAzz says:

    If the Pats do get Red I will be pissed because they are coming to play us at the Clink!

    Bobbby- Calm down, Carriker does suck, he was drafted pretty high and has not produced! He is a 3rd-4th round type player. You think he was played out of position under 3 different coaching staff, interesting?!? Him and Aaron Curry are one in the same, just over drafted and suffered for it!

  38. TNT pull your head out of your ass.

    Red Bryant isn’t as expendable as you think and this regime would be making a very unwise decision not to move on Red.

    Our defense was on the outer banks of elite because not only was our secondary aggressive but more importantly we made teams one dimensional by completely shutting down the run. When you have a commodity like Red, opposing offensive coordinators practically erase the strong side run from the game plan. Our run defense was highly touted and Red was THE central reason. He is the type of player that improves everyone around him by forcing the opposing offense to work AROUND him.

    You can’t just plug a nose tackle body in at his position and expect the same results. See 2009/2010 – We were top 5 run defense at around 90 yds a game with Red. Without Red the number IMMEDIATELY inflated to almost 120 yds a game and near bottom… The acute difference wasn’t a “probably because of RED” it was and it’s obvious.

    Not to mention that Red was the heart and soul of our defense and established leader. Not hawthorne, not Thomas, not Chancellor, not Browner, not Sherman…… It was RED in the huddle preparing our team for battle.

    His talent is one dimensional and specialized… But if you take out Red, our entire defense becomes 1 dimensional and specialized because you just eliminated our second demension.

  39. grizindabox says:

    I think Big Red has priced himself out of Seattle.

  40. ChrisHolmes says:

    “Accuracy, no question”

    I’m now officially on the Matt Flynn bandwagon with that quote.

    Yes, please, may I have some more!

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