Free agency, a period where teams that are rebuilding can dip into the talent pool of the NFL and speed up the process. Though many argue that free agency is not the best was to begin a dynasty I would have to disagree. Drafting well and developing talent is extremely important, however, to help that talent develop is it not better to have some already in place via free agency?
Already having covered defensive free agents I feel it is only fair to spend the same time of offensive free agents. I apologize for this having taken longer than expected, things got busy.
Although defense is by far my favorite thing to build and where I feel I have more experience, there are some very good offensive targets that I think the Hawks could consider as upgrades to current talent. This, of course, begins by keeping Leon Washington (pictured) as our special teams ACE and a change of pace back that creates the three headed monster Seattle needs and opposing defenses would be foolish not to respect.
Well, let's begin breaking down some free agent possibilities from the other side of the ball shall we?
He will probably not be retained by the Vikings. I see many positive things with this signing. Although I do not realistically think he will be a starter for us, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the playing time he's been given and he also is already familiar with Bevell's system.
I would like to see if Jackson actually has the ability to play at an NFL level because the tools he possesses are many. He's athletic, has a strong arm and decent accuracy. The negatives are that he struggles to read defenses consistently. I think this is something that can develop over time and he has the potential to push Whitehurst/Hasselbeck for playing time if given the chance.
Other possibilities: Alex or Troy Smith from the 49ers. They both have some talent that can be used in a backup role (though Troy seems a bit more limited). Carrol has shown an ability to rehabilitate players that want to give everything they have for the cause, players that buy in are rewarded ie: Mike williams. could he continue the success with former first round pick Alex smith or the QB that is developing into a career journeyman?
I know many will not agree with these three but they are only vague possibilities and the only viable free agent QBs that the Hawks should be interested in (other than re-signing Hass but that is a whole different article)
Ok, I shall pause here for your inevitable laughter/questioning disapproval. Thomas is a very good running back, the problem is that he can not stay healthy when asked to carry the load, that is why Seattle is such a great fit. RB is not a huge need and we have the backfield crowded enough to utilize Thomas only where is is best, inside the 15 yard line.
Marshawn Lynch is the current "power" back on the roster but I do not like the idea of taking our top RB and slamming him into a brick wall repeatedly only to come away with limited yardage. Lynch has the power but it is in combination with an elusiveness not conducive to pounding the ball at the goal line. Thomas is a load to bring down and if he is asked to participate in a limited role he could be very effective for us.
I would like to stress that I do not think RB is a need for our team, however, if the opportunity presents itself to acquire an upgrade to the backfield why pass it up? The combination of Lynch/Thomas/Forsett would also be great if Leon Washington asks for too much $.
Other possibilities: Jason snelling RB Falcons and Tim Hightower RB Cardinals
two solid power backs that also can offer the ability to catch coming out of the backfield. They are great goal line backs that offer a different type of talent than what is in our backfield now and would be much cheaper than Thomas. Hioghtower is also a favorite of mine because he has a lot of talent. The main reason he lost his job in Arizona was the drafting of Beanie in the first well before Hightower had a chance to really prove himself. Snelling is just a brutal force that I;'m not sure can be forced to fall any direction but forwards when his number is called.
as a side note, Hightower averaged 4.3 YPC in 2010 and looks like Lynch but with more power (and no Beast Mode nickname)
He wants out of Baltimore, he wants to be used more often, and he wants more playoff experience. Seattle would seem a great fit! Far away from Baltimore, check. We want to run the ball so he'll be used early and often so: check. A division where 7-9 can make it to the playoffs seems to increase ones chances of making it so: check.
McClain is an extremely talented FB in terms of blocking and catching out of the backfield but he cal also run the ball like a RB. He is very fast and reminds me of an improved version of Leonard Weaver who we mysteriously let walk. McClain is an instant upgrade and fills a huge need for the Hawks. How much longer must we subject our RBs to the protection of a QB turned Fb in Michael Robinson?
This signing makes pretty good sense and would be a great pickup for the Hawks.
No other options that are really upgrades
There are a lot of options at receiver in this free agent class. The question that needs to be answered is who will be re-signed before other teams have a shot at them. Sidney Rice is one that I hope will not be retained by his former (hopefully) team. If he hits the market many teams will attempt to sway the 24 year old talent to their cause.
I believe Seattle has the edge here though. Rice has had one dominant season while playing under a good Brett Favre and not the old version that was seen this year (Rice was also injured this year). This dominant season was had under Bevell and I'm sure the new OC would love to have a familiar weapon and Rice would love to stay in the system he knows works with him.
Rice has good speed and outstanding leaping ability as he will fight for everything thrown his way. He could provide the deep threat the Hawks need to compliment the possession threat under the middle that is Mike Williams.
Other possibilities: Where do I start? how about
Mike Simms-Walker from the Jags? He has height and speed to go with great leaping ability. He is not as polished as Rice appears to be but that is not really a bad thing. More time to develop here? Mike simms-Walker has shown great ability when healthy but an inability to remain healthy throughout a season. He would be a good pick up opposite Williams as well.
Jacoby Jones of the Texans is another option. He has the kind of speed that turns heads, literally you can not watch him without turning your head and thinking "Damn!" He is a crazy deep threat that would be a great option for grooming a QB because of his ability to keep defenses honest. More of a slot receiver in my opinion than a second, but is that a bad thing? Not really.
The two receivers that I like but I am 1) not willing to break the bank on and 2) am not sure they will end up in Seattle are Santonio Holmes of the Jets and Vincent Jackson of the Chargers. Jackson will as for too much but would be great if the price is right. Holmes will probably stay in NY because I can not imagine them allowing him to go in favor of Braylon Edwards (an interesting free agent himself but not one I would be interested in because of character concerns)
I think we all witnessed what happened when John Carlson went down in the Divisional round. There is little to no depth behind him and Chris Baker can not be relied on because of his injury history and age. Zach Miller is a virtual Clone of Carlson and would probably end up starting over him. They can both block fairly well but not great. They are both outstanding receivers though and that would open up the pass game a lot more for whoever is under center.
Keep in mind, Bevell turned Visante Shiancoe into the elite tight end he is today while he was in MIN so we know he likes to get the position involved in the passing game (a welcome relief from watching Carlson block play after play instead of working to his strength of catching balls all over the field)
Don't really consider any other F/A tight ends better than our current roster.
Do I think Doug Free will hit the free agent market? Not unless Jerry Jones makes a HUGE mistake by allowing him to walk. Free has become a very good LT and will be an elite RT for us if we sign him while also providing great depth should Okung's ankles continue to plague him. Free has developed great run blocking and good pass blocking abilities and he will be in high demand. Let's hope Paul Allen can open the check book and get this young (only 27) talent to anchor our offensive tackle positions for the next 6+ years.
Other possibilities: Marshal Yanda- Ravens
Yanda is a great RT but has the versatility to play Guard. with the injuries that the Hawks have suffered in the past few years we need this kind of versatility on our line. Yanda would be an upgrade to either position for us though I'd prefer him at LG than RG simply because I think he offers more upside when paired with Okung than with a yet-to-be-named RT.
another interesting option is Barry Richardson of the Chiefs. He is an awful pass blocker but is a dominant run blocker. I think a move to guard could fix this. He is better when he does not have to completely seal the edge and a move to guard helps him stay "in the phone booth" where I have not seen him lose many fights. He would be a very good RG or could provide depth at RT in hopes that Cable can coach some pass blocking into him.
Logan Mankins is the man pictured, not Richie Incognito. Yes, I realize that. Mankins would be the obvious choice as far as pursuit of free agents goes. I view Mankins as the top priority for the Seahawks if he hits free agency, more so than any other area, we need to fix the offensive line. Picking one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL would be a great start.
I see that as obvious though so I would like to address three other possibilities in: Richie Incognito, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock. Incognito has a history of attitude and character issues that overshadow his play, but he left that behind this season. A sign of wanting a big pay day? Probably, but I don’t see that as an obstacle for Pete Carroll and co.
Dahl and Blalock are teammates. Both are solid starting guards, though Dahl is the more attractive prospect. He is a fierce blocker that plays angry, something I think Cable will want to get our line to do. The problems with Dahl are that he is older (30 compared to 27) and has an injury riddled history. Many of which he has played through, but the injuries are there and will only increase in number and severity as he ages.
Blalock will not "wow" anyone with amazing blocking ability. He is not a spectacular guard in any rights. He is, however, a consistently good guard that does a good job blocking on all levels. This fact alone, his consistency and reliability is enough that it would upgrade our line (not to mention he has more talent than our current guards along with that consistency).
Ryan Kalil is one of the best young centers in the NFL. He can pass block and run block better than most in the NFL. He also wants out of Carolina and the black hole of talent it seems to have become. Seattle needs a center that can make plays and create gaps and Kalil is the best option to fill that.
If two guards are acquired through free agency the need at center becomes greatly reduced as Max Unger proved to be a good starting Center two years ago, but lack of quality guards forced a position change. Nevertheless, Kalil is a far superior talent and would be a great addition.
Other options to consider: Lyle Sendlein- Cardinals and Samson Satele- Raiders.
Both are young (27 and 26 respectively) and good talent. I would have to say that Sendlein is probably better and has the added benefit of being in the starting lineup for three straight years in Arizona so lingering injuries and past performance are not really a concern. They would both be upgrades over Chris Spencer, but I'm of the opinion a large sack of potatoes could block better than Spencer, at least defenders would have to go around it!
Satele played poorly until this year in Oakland so the "one year wonder" question comes into play. Tom Cable knows him and I'm sure Satele would like to attempt to continue his success, what better way than a reunion with his old coach?
The Seahawks have many needs going into this offseason. Some of which can and will be filled by free agents. This was simply a breakdown of some key players entering free agency that I think the Hawks would be wise to consider. Though I am not suggesting or even hypothesising that we sign all of them to contracts, these are some of the targets I would like to see signed by Seattle.
Wave your 12th man flags proudly Seahawks fans, here's hoping for a bright(er) future in store!
Also, I apologize for the delay in getting this finished. I had a lot to keep me busy last week and this is about 5 days later than I wanted to write this.