Before the new league year begins today at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, the Seattle Seahawks already starting things off with a bang by trading for dynamic receiver Percy Harvin with Minnesota.
Harvin gives Seattle’s offense more juice, and with 20 of 22 starters already signed for 2013, the Seahawks do not have a lot of holes to fill.
Still, with nearly $17 million in projected cap room available before the team inks Harvin to a new deal, expected to be $12 million annually, the Seahawks have some wiggle room to make some deals in free agency.
“This is just a funky year I think for free agency,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said back at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “I think everybody kind has to hold their water a little bit and just be somewhat careful when you jump into this thing.”
Seattle has seven players set to the open market, including defensive linemen Alan Branch and Jason Jones, kicker Steven Hauschka, linebacker Leroy Hill, cornerback Marcus Trufant, offensive lineman Frank Omiyale and tight end Cameron Morrah.
Projected restricted free agents for Seattle in 2013 include defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, long snapper Clint Gresham and safety Chris Maragos.
With Harvin expected to sign a lucrative, multi-year deal, the Seahawks also could consider restructure players who are due to make significant money in 2013.
Among them, receiver Sidney Rice is due to make $8.5 million in non-guaranteed, base salary in 2013 – and counts over $9 million toward this year’s salary cap.
Tight end Zach Miller is set to make $10 million in total compensation in 2013, giving him an $11 cap number. Miller is scheduled to make $6.8 million in base salary, $4 million of which is fully guaranteed. Miller is due a $3 million roster bonus due on March 21.
Possible salary cap casualties include receiver Ben Obomanu, who’s due to make $2.3 million in non-guaranteed, base salary on the final year of his three-year extension. Returner Leon Washington also is a possibility with the addition of Harvin. Washington is set to make $2.5 million in non-guaranteed, total compensation in 2013. The Seahawks are shopping Washington for a possible trade.
Reserve quarterback Matt Flynn is due $5.25 million in salary, $2 million of which is fully guaranteed. If the Seahawks traded Flynn, they would save $5.25 million in cash and $3.25 million in cap space.
Here are a few names to keep an eye on today, and the coming weeks.
John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons – The 34-year-old Abraham visited Seattle and San Francisco last week in anticipation of the beginning of free agency. Abraham should come at a more inexpensive price than top-shelf alternatives like Paul Kruger or Cliff Avril. He’s a good fit for Seattle’s scheme, having played in a 4-3 for the Falcons. And he provides some insurance in case Chris Clemons isn’t ready to begin the regular season after ACL knee surgery. Abraham turns 35 in May.
Desmond Bryant, DT, Oakland Raiders – The 27-year-old Harvard graduate did not help himself with the DUI charge he received last month, but Bryant showed the ability to rush the passer from inside for Oakland last season, with 36 tackles and four sacks. At 6-6 and 311 pounds, Bryant fits the size and skill set the Seahawks are looking for in an inside pass rusher.
Chris Canty, DE, New York Giants – Released by the New York Giants in a salary cap purge, Canty visited Green Bay last week. Canty also visited Tennessee and Kansas City. At 6-7 and 317 pounds, the 30-year-old Canty could be that inside pass rusher Seattle is looking for. Canty has seven sacks in the past two seasons, but missed seven games in 2012 with a knee issue, spending the first six games on the PUP list for the Giants.
Jared Cook, TE, Tennessee Titans – The 24-year-old is probably the most-sought after tight end on the market. The Titans were considered a lock to franchise him, but when Cook’s representation threatened to contest a tight end franchise tag of $6 million because Cook played most of his 2012 snaps at receiver ($10.5 million franchise tag), the Titans let him hit the market. Tennessee would like to re-sign Cook, but he likely will receive interest in free agency from teams like Seattle, Chicago, Miami and Cleveland. Cook is a pass-catching tight end that can threaten the middle of the defense, and would pair nicely with Seattle’s Zach Miller, with the frequency of Seattle’s use of two tight end sets.
Josh Johnson, QB, Cleveland Browns – The 26-year-old University of San Diego product was cut by San Francisco at the end of training camp in 2012, and finished the year with Cleveland. Johnson had a workout with Seattle at the end of last year, and is the cousin of Marshawn Lynch. He would give the Seahawks a backup quarterback with a similar skill set of Russell Wilson if Seattle decides to trade Matt Flynn. But the Seahawks likely will have some competition with San Francisco and Cincinnati for his services.
Richard Seymour, DT, Oakland Raiders – The 33-year-old only played in eight games last season for Oakland, finishing the season on the injured reserve with a hamstring injury. But Seymour could be an inexpensive alternative in free agency as an inside pass rusher who can still get after the quarterback. And new defensive line coach Travis Jones coached him at Georgia.
Charles Woodson, DB, Green Bay Packers – The Seahawks are one of four teams that reportedly contacted the 36-year-old veteran, inquiring about his services after he was recently released by the Packers. Woodson would be a good fit for Seattle as a nickel cornerback, bringing veteran leadership to the back end of a young and talented secondary. “Charles has been a good football player,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said about Woodson at the combine. “I don’t know if this is the time and place or not. I know he’s looking for a spot right now. A guy of that kind of caliber, it would be a great opportunity to have him play with our young guys. I don’t know if it will ever work out, but we’ll see.”