NFL Free Agency: With Marshawn Lynch Signed, Seattle Seahawks Can Tag Another

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIMarch 4, 2012

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 24:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 24, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The 49ers defeated the Seahawks 19-17. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Less than a day before the deadline for applying the franchise tag, the Seattle Seahawks have signed running back Marshawn Lynch. And now they are free to tag another player.

Lynch's deal is worth $31 million over four years, with $18 million guaranteed, according to the ever-reliable Adam Schefter. That's $3 million more than we projected and averages $7.75 million, which is about the amount he would have gotten with the franchise tag. It's a more than fair deal that obviously reflects the Seahawks' keen desire to keep him.

By getting Lynch under contract before the March 5 deadline for the franchise/transition tag, the Hawks will still be able to use it on someone else, if they choose.

We have previously said they should not use the tag on defensive end Red Bryant because he is not worth the $10.6 million franchise tender or the $8.9 million transition marker. The Hawks should keep negotiating until March 13, and let him become a free agent if a deal has not been struck.

No other team is going to pay a 3-4 style end more than $5 million a year, so the Hawks seemingly would still have the edge in signing him.

The better play would be to use the transition tag on John Carlson. He figures to draw interest in free agency—Chicago reportedly is one potential suitor—and if the Hawks don't think they can re-sign him in the next eight days, they should tag him Monday.

We have already talked about what a great pairing Zach Miller and Carlson could be, and Pete Carroll has said the same thing and mentioned he would like to bring Carlson back.  The Seahawks have a hodgepodge wide receiver outfit, and their best weapons are really their tight ends.

The TE transition tag is expected to be around $4.7 million and wouldn't be the worst way to keep him. No, he doesn't seem worth that now—because of his recent injury issues and the presence of Miller. But after he set team records for receptions by a tight end in his first two seasons, most people would have said he was worth every penny of $4.7 million. So why can't he be again?

At this point, he's really worth about $2-3 million, and his agent knows it. The transition tag would be a mutual favor, keeping Carlson in Seattle for at least a year and guaranteeing Carlson that $4.7 million. Then the Hawks could use that $4.7 million as the guaranteed money in a long-term offer, say a four-year deal worth $12 million.

The Seahawks have used the franchise tag on kickers (Josh Brown and Olindo Mare), so why not use the transition marker on a tight end?

To find out why Leroy Hill might have done the Seahawks a favor, go Outside The Press Box.