For the Seattle Seahawks, the free-agent market this year may be a relative non-event as the team looks to build on their success in 2012. Seattle has not been the type of team that has spent a great deal of time, money or energy on the marquee free-agent names over the last couple of seasons.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll have meticulously taken this team apart and put it back together with young talent. The plan is paying immense dividends as the 'Hawks are poised to be a force in the NFC West for the foreseeable future.
Stick with the plan, right?
There is always intrigue attached to free agents, as certain athletes may make the difference between a deep playoff run and a Super Bowl victory. Therefore, here are three key strategies that Seattle should keep in mind when approaching veteran free agents.
Be wary of big names
Teams sign big names for different reasons. Sometimes there is a definite lack of talent at a particular position. Other times, the franchise needs a recognizable face that can serve as a building block for future success.
Seattle is not desperate for either of those scenarios.
Sure, there are deficiencies at offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and wide receiver. However, these are areas that Seattle can theoretically address with their bevy of draft picks.
With a big-name player, you are potentially talking about big money, larger attitude and a more limited strategy. This doesn't mean that the Seahawks should avoid the free-agent market altogether, but they should not necessarily go for a top player (via CBS Sports).
Granted, if a free agent is sufficiently motivated to play for Seattle and chase a title, the team should certainly have conversations. Good deals are good deals.
However, the reality is that players like Mike Wallace or Dwayne Bowe are likely to go to a team with plenty of financial flexibility.
Seattle has plenty of players that can be the face of this franchise, and they do not need a front-loaded free-agent deal that will prevent them from re-signing some of their young defensive talent in the next couple of seasons.
Do not sign long-term deals
The NFL is a tough league, and it is usually best to avoid long-term deals. If Russell Wilson continues to perform, a long-term deal may be appropriate for 2015 and beyond. When you are a team like the Seahawks, it is really a buyer's market, because the team is not in a position where they need to player more than the player needs a job.
Granted, this does not mean that a quality free agent like Andy Levitre or Henry Melton can necessarily be had with an affordable one- or two-year deal.
However, the Seahawks should avoid the five-, six- or seven-year deal, even if many of those deals do not end up going the full term. Lofa Tatupu?
There seems little danger that Seattle will sign a bad deal at this point, particularly since the bigger contracts in the last couple of seasons have gone to in-house free agents.
Still, what if an impact player does not get a lot of other offers?
Would a three-year deal be acceptable? Yes.
Four might be pushing it.
Should Seattle be aggressive in the free agent market?
Be patient and stick to the plan
Have Schneider and Carroll simply gotten lucky in the draft, or are they truly making selections based on superior insight? Who knows. Regardless, the plan is working.
It may be tempting to chase some big names, simply because this team is arguably close to winning a Super Bowl. The mentality might be to go "all in" and get those key veterans who could put the team over the top.
Danger, Will Robinson!
Building with youth is working. The same philosophy may not be working for the Seattle Mariners (at least not yet), but the NFL draft over the last three seasons has yielded players like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Russell Okung, K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
Not a bad slate of players.
Sure, Zach Miller and Sidney Rice have been solid free-agent signings in recent years. However, the bulk of Seattle’s strength has still been developed through the draft.
Should the Seattle Seahawks go “shopping” in the 2013 free agent marketplace? Yes.
Shopping does not necessarily include actual purchases.