Seahawks general manager John Schneider took the podium earlier this afternoon in Indianapolis to address the media at the NFL Scouting Combine. It has been a relatively quiet offseason for Seattle—no major cap casualties, just a couple coaching changes and front office reshuffles.
So today's 15-minute presser consisted of questions about cornerback Richard Sherman and his war of words with Darrelle Revis, Matt Flynn and his future in Seattle and the 'Hawks' free-agency plans. It was noted that Flynn is still a part of the Seahawks' plans, but they are listening to teams who have interest.
Which makes sense considering practically every player has a price. If Schneider and Pete Carroll weren't listening, they wouldn't be doing their jobs correctly. Yet outside of those three main talking points, there was only one other comment that caught my attention. And that was Schneider's comment about the Seahawks' use of the franchise tag (via Eric D. Williams of The News Tribune):
“We’re still evaluating that, I don’t necessarily see us using it.”
An interesting development based on the sentiment folks had been hearing just two days prior from ESPN 710 in Seattle. Brady Henderson of MyNorthwest.com gave us his thoughts on Steven Hauschka and the possibility of the Seahawks using the franchise tag on him before he hit the open market on March 12.
I also echoed some of those same thoughts yesterday when I talked about Alan Branch and Jason Jones not being worth the tag. Like Henderson, I felt Hauschka was the best fit for it, as his cap number would only jump by $1.666 million in 2013.
However, I can also see why Seattle might be hesitant to use it. Even though Hauschka has been near-automatic from 50 yards and in, he has been less than impressive from long range. Over the course of his five-year career, he has only hit on 4-of-10 field goals from 50 yards or further.
His long-range struggles could be turning Schneider and the coaching staff off from a fully guaranteed contract. The Seahawks may want to let him test the free-agent market, so he can get a sense of his market value. Which in turn could help them during the negotiating process.
If the market is weak, it would give Seattle the power to make Hauschka compete for the starting job on a non-guaranteed deal. Let's not forget, Carson Wiggs is currently under contract through 2015 and may provide ample competition during training camp. Wiggs currently owns the four longest field goals (59, 55, 53 and 52) in Purdue history.
In terms of Jones and Branch, figuring out their situations may not be so cut and dry. Branch has made it no secret that he wants to be back in the Pacific Northwest. Ideally, Seattle wants him back as well—they are good for each other. His career was widely unsuccessful before coming to the Seahawks, so they may be able to sign him back after the first wave of free-agency hits.
Like most other free agents, he will want to hit the open market so he can get a good feel for his value. If some team overvalues him and overpays, good for him. Can't blame him for taking the money—players have to get it while they can.
Yet if the market dictates the same price as the 'Hawks, it would be wise of him to re-sign. In 2011, Pro Football Focus had him graded out at a plus-19.5. He was the third-best run stuffing defensive tackle in all of football. Unfortunately, nagging injuries hurt his stock during his contract year in 2012.
Although, that could turn out to be a real blessing for Seattle. They could ultimately bring him back at a more cap-friendly price.
The same can be said about No. 90. Despite missing three regular season games and two playoff games due to injury, Jones still finished as the Seahawks' third most productive pass rusher. He did make three starts, but he was primarily used as a situational rusher for a majority of the season.
On 243 pass-rush attempts, he garnered four quarterback sacks, four quarterback hits and 10 quarterback hurries. Not to mention he batted down six passes at the line of scrimmage. Teams will see his pass-rushing value, but it's doubtful they overspend because of his low snap count and situational use.
It's also safe to assume that no team views him as an every down player. When asked to play a higher number of snaps during Branch's injury, his production levels bottomed out. Both players are vital to what Seattle does on defense, but they are replaceable if their market value gets out of hand.
With the start of free agency only 19 days away, expect the Seahawks to re-sign their own players before going after guys like Osi Umenyiora and Dwight Freeney.