For the Seattle Seahawks brain trust of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, this year's free-agency period thus far has seemed to come in stages.
First and foremost they made sure to retain the key talent already on the roster like running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant, along with supporting cast members needed to fill important roles throughout the depth chart.
From there they made two moves to address the team's more pressing needs in finding a potential up-and-coming pass-rusher in Jason Jones from Tennessee and the man who could become the starting quarterback, Matt Flynn...provided he beats out last year's starter Tarvaris Jackson.
After that, it would appear the team either ran out of momentum or simply shifted their attention to adding depth with less-heralded players looking to see if they can contribute to the 'Hawks 2012 roster.
Overall the results have generally been positive; nevertheless not every move has been a slam dunk.
While in some ways it's still too early to tell how these moves will work out, for fun I figured it might be interesting to hand out some grades...
This may not have been the first move the 'Hawks made this offseason, but it's arguably the most important.
Without Marshawn Lynch back in uniform the 'Hawks' chances of doing anything positive in 2012 would have been slim to none.
Fortunately after some of the usual posturing/squabbling, both sides got this deal done and perhaps most importantly just before the free-agent market opened. The reason why it was important for this deal to get done on time is simple. Without "Beast" what other significant free agent, especially at quarterback, would be willing to make a move to Seattle?
Meanwhile what also helps this signing grade so well is that the price and length of the contract are reasonable ($31 million, four years) as the 'Hawks are essentially getting Lynch during what should be his prime years.
My only concern with this deal is whether "Beast Mode" is more than a fad?
Will Lynch having signed a long-term deal with $18 million guaranteed have the same drive that pushed him in the second half of last season?
Let's hope so...
The heart and soul of the defensive front is back for five more years at $35 million. Apparently the big gap at the bargaining table wasn't that big after all as this deal was finalized just around the time the market was set to open.
Similar to the Marshawn Lynch deal this was something both sides needed to get done after realizing everybody wins. Is he the most talented player on the roster, perhaps not, but the 'Hawks would certainly miss his presence.
Getting Bryant back is significant both on the field in terms of his play and off in terms of his leadership, but also shows that anyone who fits within the team construct can be rewarded instead of being asked to clear out his locker.
Up until now, Pete Carroll and John Schneider had done quite a bit of house cleaning in getting rid of players they didn't draft or sign.
This move signals the organization's commitment to a home-grown talent who came along prior to the current front office taking over and should help boost morale in the locker room.
After all of the injuries on the offensive line last year, re-signing both Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini was necessary.
With the passage of time both have shown they are more than capable of either starting or coming off the bench as needed, so keeping them on the roster while determining which players are going to be long-term fixtures makes sense given the constant state of flux most rosters experience in a given season.
That said, the 'Hawks will probably still need to make a few more moves along the line and could look for help in the draft, but having experienced and versatile players like McQuistan and Giacomini is simply smart.
Can't hurt to bring back a Pro Bowl fullback.
Is he the best out there?
Wouldn't go that far, but he's a solid cast member the team should keep for another two years.
Hauschka as a restricted free agent is a good kicker and the Seahawks offered him a one-year tender.
If any team tries to sign him, the 'Hawks have the right to match.
For now that works well enough.
After making sure to take care of things at home with the signings of Beast, Big Red and a few other key cogs, the 'Hawks turned their attention to the open market in search of a quarterback and pass-rusher.
While some would have loved to see the team pursue Mario Williams to bolster the pass rush, it seemed that he couldn't get out of Buffalo given he was snowed in by a pile of cash.
Instead, the 'Hawks picked up Tennessee Titan lineman Jason Jones.
At 6'5'' and 25 years old, Jones could be a valuable contributor next season in helping replace someone like Raheem Brock who lost a step or two last season.
Time will tell whether this move is a good one, but for one year for $4.5 million it's worth a shot.
To be blunt, this move will either make or break Pete Carroll and John Schneider in Seattle.
Today the deal for both sides was smart and relatively fair at three years for $26 million, with only $10 million guaranteed, but it's not without risks.
Flynn with only two NFL starts remains a huge mystery, but has received quite a bit of attention this offseason following his regular-season finale performance against the Detroit Lions in which he threw a Green Bay Packer-record six touchdowns.
Whether Flynn can duplicate that kind of success over the course of a full season in Seattle remains to be seen.
Before we get ahead of ourselves though, it seems there will be a competition according to Pete Carroll as mentioned in the Seattle Times by Danny O'Neil:
"We're very clear how we delivered the message that we now have the opportunity to make it an open competition," Carroll said.
"I expect T-Jack to be better, and I expect Matt to come in here guns blazing, trying to see if he can take that job."
It will be interesting to see how this plays out on the field, but it would seem the job is Flynn's to lose.
Meanwhile in a way it's funny how Flynn comes into the fold with high expectations and positive press given his limited track record waiting in the wings behind Aaron Rodgers, while T-Jack only a year earlier was much-maligned in signing with the 'Hawks following his stint as starter and then backup in Minnesota along-side Brett Favre.
Strange to think we live in a world where the smaller sample size of one's work can earn more credibility and with it a larger contract in terms of both length and pay.
Just something to think about...
Honest show of hands, who here knew of Kregg Lumpkin prior to last week?
Even with Marshawn Lynch under contract, the 'Hawks needed a backup plan with only Leon Washington on the roster next year.
Perhaps he has fresh legs?
Curious to see how this move looks come training camp, but for today, I'm not a huge fan and still feel the team needs to draft somebody to provide depth in complementing Beast.
While I believe that the signings of Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini were smart, I'm skeptical of the addition of Frank Omiyale.
If he's simply being tasked with serving as a spare part capable of playing both the tackle and guard positions, so be it, but beyond that I doubt he will contribute much given his track record in having bounced around the league since being drafted in 2005 by Atlanta.
At some point later this month, the team will probably need to use a draft pick to get someone either at guard or tackle to develop long-term.
Right now this is arguably the biggest question mark for the Seahawks as the list of available free agents starts to dwindle.
David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill are two veterans with a long history in Seattle, but both come with major flaws/questions.
Should the 'Hawks re-sign one, both or neither?
Should the team pursue a free agent or focus on finding a linebacker in the Draft?
At this point it would almost seem to be a certainty for the team to use at least one draft pick on this position.
For now signing reserve player Heath Farwell is merely an insurance policy and will help provide some depth, but not enough given that second-year player K.J. Wright is the only returning starter.
Until all the pieces are in place, I'm withholding a grade here...INCOMPLETE.