Free Agents, Draft Picks That Could Fill Seattle's Biggest Needs

Keith MyersContributor IDecember 10, 2013

Free Agents, Draft Picks That Could Fill Seattle's Biggest Needs

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    While the players and coaches of the Seattle Seahawks are focused on this season's final three games and the playoffs, general manager John Schneider and his staff are already preparing for the coming offseason.

    The Seahawks will be facing some tough decisions. While the core of the team will all be returning, the Seahawks have 18 players who are set to be free agents and not much salary-cap room to work with. The team's cap situation was already examined in detail a few weeks ago. 

    Schneider will have to be creative to fill all the team's needs with its limited resources. Luckily, Schneider's previous four offseasons at the helm in Seattle have shown that he is up to the task.  

    Here is a look at five of Seattle's biggest needs for the coming offseason, as well as some options for players who would fill those needs. 

     

    All NFL contract information is from Spotrac.com.

Offensive Guard

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    The most pressing need for the Seahawks this offseason will be to find an upgrade at offensive guard. Right guard J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive tackle, hasn't taken the major step forward in his development that was expected.

    On the left side, the Seahawks have been reluctant to give James Carpenter the full-time job, forcing him to split time with Paul McQuistan. McQuistan is also set to become a free agent.

    The Seahawks would be wise to find a player who is capable of being a starter on day No. 1 of training camp and let Carpenter and Sweezy compete for playing time at the other spot. This would provide a nice upgrade on the offensive line for the Seahawks, while simultaneously ensuring the team's depth at the position remains strong. 

     

    Potential Free Agents

    Jon Asamoah (Kansas City)—If the Chiefs let Asamoah hit the free-agent market, the Seahawks would be a great fit for the 25-year-old. He'll be the best guard available and would be a major upgrade over the players currently on the roster. He'll also likely be expensive for a guard, so Seattle may not be able to afford him. 

     

    Matt Slauson (Chicago)—If the Seahawks cannot reel in Asamoah, Slauson would be another great option. Slauson is two years older but still would be the major upgrade at the position the Seahawks need. 

     

    Potential Draft Selections

    To get the player the Seahawks need at the position through the draft, Seattle will be forced to use one of their early-round picks. The problem with doing so is that rookie offensive linemen tend to be prone to mistakes. So while the Seahawks might get more talent at the position, they might not see an upgrade in the performance until the 2015 season. 

    Alabama's Anthony Steen appears to an ideal candidate if the Seahawks trade back into the second round. He is a powerful run blocker and has the athleticism to excel in Seattle's zone-blocking scheme. The only knock again him is his height. Because of that, he might be a better fit at center in the long run. 

    Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson has no such size concerns. At 340 pounds, Jackson is a powerful blocker with surprisingly quick feet. Jackson plays well in space and gets to the second level to block linebackers better than most players his size. 

Offensive Tackle

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    Right tackle Breno Giacomini is due to become a free agent this offseason, as is backup Paul McQuistan. The Seahawks do have young options to replace them in Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey. Seattle doesn't necessarily need to add a starter, but a mid-level free agent who could push Bowie would be an important addition. 

    Of course, all of this changes if the Seahawks can somehow find a way to re-sign Giacomini and get him in under the salary cap. Giacomini's presence would mean the Seahawks would only need a bottom-of-the-depth-chart developmental player.

     

    Potential Free Agents

    Jonathan Martin (Miami)—Following the saga with guard Richie Incognito, it seems unlikely that Martin will ever return to the Dolphins. The Seahawks might be the ideal setting for Martin to get back into the league. He wouldn't have the pressure of starting at the beginning, and he'd also have a support network in place with college teammates Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman already on the roster.

    Martin would be a nice option to have on the bench in case of an injury, as well as insurance in case Bowie's development doesn't continue as expected. 

     

    Ryan Harris (Houston)—Harris has been a key contributor for the Texans this season, playing in roughly half of the team's offensive snaps. Harris has played well but perhaps not well enough to earn an automatic starting job heading into training camp next season.

    Harris has additional value for Seattle, since he is already familiar with the zone-blocking concepts run by the Seahawks. The Seahawks might be able to lure the 28-year-old Harris to Seattle with an opportunity to compete with Bowie to start at right tackle in 2014.  

     

    Potential Draft Selections

    If the Seahawks wait until the draft to address this position, then they will be unlikely to use an early pick. They'll be looking for someone to complete with, push and possibly unseat Bowie at right tackle and not just find someone who can be plugged in as an instant starter.

    Tennessee senior Ja'Wuan James would seem like an ideal candidate if he is available when the Seahawks pick at the end of the fourth round. James is a good fit for a zone-blocking scheme with quick feet and good lateral movement. 

    Another option, if the Seahawks decided to wait until later in the draft, would be Michigan's Michael Schofield. Schofield is a solid run-blocker who should be able to adapt to Seattle's zone-blocking scheme fairly quickly. 

Wide Receiver

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    The Seahawks are walking into a bit of a jam at wide receiver this offseason, with questions facing most of their top players. Percy Harvin is still hurt. Golden Tate is set to be a free agent and will likely command a large pay raise. Sidney Rice is a likely salary-cap casualty. Clearly, the Seahawks will need to find some additional help at the position. 

    While it isn't a major need because of the presence of Harvin and Doug Baldwin on the roster, the Seahawks need to acquire at least one young receiver in the 2014 draft to help develop some depth at the position.

     

    Potential Free Agents

    Golden Tate (Seattle)—If the Seahawks are going to spend money on a veteran free agent, then re-signing Tate would make the most sense. It is also possible the Seahawks can get Tate to sign for a small hometown discount if they re-sign him before free agency begins. 

     

    Mario Manningham (San Francisco)—After two seasons shortened by one serious knee injury, Manningham will be a perfect target for a one-year "prove it" contract like those that general manager John Schneider likes. Manningham is a versatile receiver who can help provide needed depth at the position while the Seahawks develop some new weapons.

     

    Potential Draft Selections

    After using their first-round pick to acquire Harvin this year, the Seahawks are unlikely to use a top pick on the position for next season. Instead, a mid-round pick would appear to be the most likely path for the Seahawks at the position.

    L'Damian Washington of Missouri is an obvious choice. At 6'4", he has the size head coach Pete Carroll covets at the position, and Washington has the straight-line speed to get behind defenses. He's an unpolished route-runner, and that should cause him to drop to a point where the Seahawks can consider drafting him.

    Another option is Cody Hoffman of BYU. The 6'3" senior lacks the speed to get deep, but his combination of size and short-area quickness will allow him to be a productive receiver in the intermediate routes. 

Inside Pass-Rusher

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    When the Seahawks need to collapse the pocket and create pressure up the middle, they turn to defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Unfortunately, both of them are set to become free agents after this season, and both are likely to receive large raises before next season. 

    One replacement might already be on the roster. The Seahawks selected Jordan Hill in last April's draft, and although he's been inactive for all but a few games, he does have the potential to be a good insider pass-rusher.

    It is also possible that the team could get some production out of defensive end Greg Scruggs. He was an inconsistent contributor as a rookie in 2012 but has missed this entire season with a knee injury. 

     

    Potential Free Agents

    Antonio Johnson (Tennessee)—If McDonald proves to be too expensive to re-sign, an alternative might be Antonio Johnson. He is used in the same role with the Titans and has only been slightly less efficient at getting pressure on the quarterback. Johnson is also older, so it is possible that there will be a smaller market for his services. 

     

    Israel Idonije (Detroit)—Idonije is a defensive end of similar build as Bennett. He's been less productive, but he's also been used mostly on the outside where he lacks the ideal speed to get around the corner. On the inside, he should be more efficient at getting to the passer. 

     

    Potential Draft Selections

    If the Seahawks look to the draft to fill this need, an ideal replacement would be Southern California's George Uko. His size and great first step make him surprisingly similar to Bennett. 

    Another option would be Jay Bromley from Syracuse. Bromley is undersized for a defensive tackle and doesn't stand up well to the run, but he's quick and disruptive against the pass. In that way, he's very similar to McDonald. 

Tight End

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    The Seahawks have to be pleased with the development of rookie tight end Luke Willson. His solid play may give the Seahawks the justification they need to cut starter Zach Miller for salary-cap reasons. Miller's contract becomes more team-friendly next season, but if the Seahawks think they can get the same production out of Willson, Miller might lose his roster spot. 

    Even if Miller survives this offseason, the Seahawks will need to add depth at the position. This will preferably come in the form of a developmental player who can grow into a larger role as the 2014 season progresses.

     

    Potential Free Agents

    Jermichael Finley (Green Bay)—If the Seahawks do move on from Miller, Finley would be a great replacement. He played in just six games this year due to injury and will likely find a depressed market for his services because of it. The move from Miller to Finley could save the Seahawks considerable salary-cap room. 

     

    Jeron Mastrud (Oakland)—A much more under-the-radar signing would be Mastrud out of Oakland. He is similar to Miller, in that he's better as a blocker than as a receiver, so Seattle wouldn't have to change the offense much to accommodate his skill set.  

     

    Potential Draft Selections

    If Seattle drafts a tight end this offseason, it'll likely be a mid- to late-round pick. With a potential starter already on the roster, there will be no need to spend an early pick on the position. 

    Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla would be a prototypical boom-or-bust pick for Schneider. Lyerla is a physical specimen, but his legal problems will likely see him drop into the later portions of the draft.

    A less controversial option would be Xavier Grimble from Southern California. Grimble has a good combination of size and speed but lacks overall polish as a prospect.