Seahawks fans got a moderately disappointing surprise on an evening most were not expecting much to happen here on the free agency front. Within hours of the market opening on Friday The Detroit Lions locked up former starting wide receiver Nate Burleson with a five year, $25 million contract, and an $11 million bonus.
Burleson got the same move pulled on him as fellow free agent import DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Much like how Head Coach Jim Schwartz showed up outside his community at 12 Eastern time the minute free agency began; offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was at the doorstep of Nate Burleson at 9 PM Pacific time to hammer out a deal.
I was somewhat shocked by the move, yes Burleson was a top unrestricted Free Agent, but I had assumed that the feeling was mutual in regards to Burleson staying in Seattle. I had assumed any receiver getting tossed out would be the ineffective Deion Branch.
Burleson said he would give the Seahawks a chance to match any offer, being a hometown kid, I am pretty sure he was sincere about it.
The reason behind not matching the Lions offer has become clear, and like I announced BEFORE EVERYONE well over a month ago, the Seattle Seahawks are very interested in obtaining the dynamic Denver Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall and a deal is likely to occur.
Burleson also tweeted this was going to happen some time ago. The reason he did not mention it might be him specifically that would be departing because the call was ultimately going to come between letting Burleson walk in free agency or the team cutting Deion Branch.
Paul Allen’s pocketbook is far too deep for this to go down without the motive of acquiring one of the NFL's best Wide Receivers.
The Broncos only gave him a first round tender, not the maximum first and third they could have applied. Only because Adam Schefter says it better then I can: “this is just begging a team to sign him to an offer sheet.” Remember that just because he has a first round tender does not mean the Seahawks necessarily have to give a first rounder up to get him. The Broncos hold the discretion to accept something lower in a trade.
No destination is as plausible as Seattle for Marshall’s’ services, the Seahawks have desirable draft picks to barter with, players to jettison, and the deepest pockets in the sports world to give one of the NFL’s best receivers a long term deal. Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was also his offensive coordinator in Denver last season.
Seahawks assistant Jedd Fisch has also previously worked with Marshall. Bates is said to have a giant man-crush on Marshall; who wouldn't want someone who has enjoyed tremendous success in your offense?
Marshall is Seattle bound on Saturday to see if both sides can hammer out an offer sheet. I want to clarify that signing Brandon Marshall to an offer sheet right away is probably not going to happen. Under the new CBA language the Seahawks will have to give up the No. 6 pick, not the lesser No. 14 pick they acquired from the very same Broncos last offseason.
A seperate deal will likely be reached for lesser compensation with the Broncos. THEN the Seahawks will hammer out a deal more befitting for a guy mentioned in the same stratosphere as Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. Tomorrow is probably going to be more of both sides getting a better grasp of things as far as money, roles, interest, etc.
Other free agents you can cross off any wish-list you may have conjured up include:
Bears DE Julius Peppers,
Bears RB Chester Taylor,
Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch,
Falcons CB Dunta Robinson,
Giants S Antrel Rolle,
Patriots G Stephen Neal,
Texans WR Kevin Walter,
Packers T Chad Clfton,
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin,
Jaguars DE Aaron Kampman.
It's not as if when the clock struck 12:01 on Friday morning the Seahawks were going to be serious players for any of these names once events started to unfold. Regardless there were plenty of rumors they might be interested in Rolle, Neal, Robinson, Vanden Bosch, Taylor, Peppers, on the open market.
Fans should be reasonably pleased with what else unfolded today on the free agent front for the Seahawks.
Former Broncos G and longtime starter in the zone-blocking-scheme Ben Hamilton is scheduled for a visit. A guy entrenched as an established starter in what is recognized as one of the leagues best best blocking units is an obvious upgrade over Chris Spencer, or Rob Sims (who by the way was signed to an offer sheet by guess who? Mike Holmgren).
Hamilton fell out of favor with new head coach Josh McDaniels because he wanted to shift towards a power running scheme; Hamilton is much better apt for the Seahawks new zone-blocking-scheme being run by zone blocking master Alex Gibbs.
Ravens starting DE Dwan Edwards was in Seattle on Friday. He is not much a pass rusher but would fit the bill as a great rotational player that would no doubt be an upgrade over bust Cory Redding. After he took over the starting role in 2009 he averaged five tackles per game. In the same nine game span:
Patrick Kerney averaged 2.5 tackles,
Darryl Tapp averaged 3.5 tackles,
Lawrence Jackson averaged 1.5 tackles,
Cory Redding averaged 1.2, (if that's possible), tackles.
He would no doubt be a welcome addition to a below average Seahawks defensive line.
Another potential rotational player scheduled to visit on Monday is Panthers DE Tyler Brayton. Brayton is more someone who could help the Hawks out in the pass rushing department, netting five sacks in comparison to Edwards 1.5 in 2009. Brayton's sack figure sadly would have tied for the team lead in 2009. Yet another guy who would be a upgrade over Cory Redding.
I had a laugh out loud moment with my roommate when we recalled Brayton was the guy who kicked former Seahawks TE Jerramy Stevens right in the baby making organ.
Perhaps the most intriguing free agent visit set up is with ex Patriots TE Benjamin Watson. He caught 29 passes for 404 yards and five TD's last season for a 13.9 YPC average.
Adding Watson would give the Seahawks a starting caliber TE at the No. 2 slot, which has been underwhelming at best with Will Heller, and John Owens, filling that role recently.
This one has a chance to be a very under the radar move that can significantly improve this offense. Having John Carlson and Watson in two TE sets gives them a chance to run a much more effective play action pass.
This all, of course, in addition to the well documented possibility of adding arguably one of the NFL's top five Wide Receivers as well.
With Julius Peppers and Kyle Vanden Bosch signed I firmly believe that Aaron Kampman will be a Seattle Seahawk in 2010. My predictions regarding another prominent name have been spot on, I am no Adam Schefter, but I am calling this one a done deal as well.
GM John Schnieder knows him very well from their time in Green Bay. Kampman is no doubt out of Green Bay after he struggled in their new 3-4 defense. On the open market he is looking for a 4-3 defense to thrive in like he has in the past, something Seattle offers. Before 2009's underwhelming campaign in the 3-4 scheme his 37 sacks over a span of three years was the second best in the entire league.
Another news tidbit that should please Seattle fans is that Kampman is in fact not scheduled to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles as previously reported. Teams with the first meeting always have a slight edge and him not going to meet with a playoff team first off plays to the Seahawks favor.
Every target mentioned here has a great chance of ending up in Seattle, and it would not surprise me at all to see them haul in all of Brandon Marshall, Aaron Kampman, Dwan Edwards, Ben Hamilton, and Benjamin Watson.
With OL, DE, DB, WR, RB, and QB, presumably on their offseason wish list, these acquisitions would allow them to virtually cross off half of their needs. Getting Kampman/Edwards alleviates the need to add a top pass rusher like Derrick Morgan in the draft. Nabbing a true playmaker like Marshall quell's the need for this team to push hard for a guy like Clemson RB CJ Spiller.
Signing Ben Hamilton would allow them to exclusively think of addressing the tackle position in the draft.
Even here I don't see the Seahawks being done on the open market; this is a team with a lot of holes and not enough draft picks to adequately fill them all.
The secondary is another area I would expect them to address during free agency and their likely target would be Leigh Bodden of the New England Patriots. With Dunta Robinson signed by Atlanta he is the clear cut best option on the open market. I don't see Paul Allen minding giving him what he wants to fill the need at the No. 2 corner slot.
Another interesting option is potentially going after Rams restricted free agent OJ Atogwe,
The Rams did they really stupid thing that just screams Steve Hutchinson to any Seattle fan. They opted to take a gamble to save a pretty penny and offered him the lowest restricted free agent tender, known as the “right of first refusal”, which allows them to match any contract offered to him.
However if they decline to match the contract offered, they will lose him for nothing because they were trying to be cheap. With no rule against "Poison Pill" deals, this is a perfect chance for the Seahawks to steal the markets best safety while taking away from a division rival as well.
As I have now seen Chris Cluff has written about this possibility as well, he brings up a very valuable point in his article:
"The NFL chastised both teams for the tactics, but so what? What better way for Pete Carroll and Schneider to make a splash than to make a statement to the NFL that the Seahawks plan to win, not play nice with division rivals?"
He is absolutely correct and I completely agree with this, you should be doing whatever it takes to beat your division rivals and what better way then hi-jack their best player for your own? Let's let another fanbase feel the Hutchinson like sting we all had to deal with.
Let's make another front office staff rue the day they decided to be cheap with one of the leagues best players at his position.
The next few days die hard hawks are sure going to be clicking the refresh button on Google to check up on everything; especially the Brandon Marshall rumor.
With the disaster that is becoming the Arizona Cardinals offseason, every addition is just that much sweeter and gets us that much closer to competing in a wide open NFC West again.
The Seahawks have reportedly lost out on DE Aaron Kampman to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who signed one of the markets top players to a three year, $20 million contract.
I have seen nothing on ESPN or any truly credible site, nothing from Mr. Schefter who is generally %100 percent on these things. With misinformation like him the Eagles, which never happened, there is still a smidgeon of hope.