The Seattle Seahawks enter 2021 NFL free agency coming off a 12-4 season in 2020 and have 22 unrestricted free agents.
That includes cornerback Shaquill Griffin, running back Chris Carson and linebacker K.J. Wright. In a perfect world, the Seahawks could keep all three and still have money to upgrade their offensive line with a couple splash signings that would appease their frustrated quarterback, Russell Wilson.
But with less than $10 million in cap space per Over The Cap and Roster Management System, they'll have to free up money via cuts (Carlos Dunlap?), restructures (Bobby Wagner?) and maybe even a salary-shedding trade just to re-sign some of their own free agents, let alone add any.
Even then, they'll probably save some of their spending for the summer, knowing the NFL's lowered salary cap will force other teams to cut productive players in June.
Here's what to expect from the Seahawks when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:
Under contract: Russell Wilson, Danny Etling, Alex McGough
UFA: Geno Smith
Game plan: Trading Wilson this year doesn't seem entirely out of the question, but seems unlikely for several reasons: the $39 million in dead money it would create, Seattle's belief that new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will help the pass-protection issues that have frustrated Wilson, and that he hasn't asked to be dealt. Smith is experienced and inexpensive and works well with Wilson, whom he's backed up the past two seasons.
Under contract: Rashaad Penny, Alex Collins, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer
UFA: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Nick Bellore (FB)
Game plan: The Seahawks want to re-sign Carson, a complete back who runs with the toughness that coach Pete Carroll covets. But they're not in a position to make a massive bet that he'll stay healthy after missing 19 regular-season games over four years. A return to Seattle might make sense only if his market isn't what he hopes it is. If not Carson, Hyde could be a low-cost alternative to pair with Penny, their 2018 first-round pick.
Under contract: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain, Penny Hart, Aaron Fuller, Cody Thompson, John Ursua, Darvin Kidsy
UFA: David Moore, Phillip Dorsett II, Josh Gordon
Game plan: As good as Moore has been as the Seahawks' third receiver, it's hard to imagine them going to great lengths to keep him one year after asking him to take a pay cut. They could bring back Dorsett on another minimum-salary flier to compete for that role, provided he's recovered from the foot injury that sidelined him in 2020. Josh Reynolds makes sense as an outside target given his ties to Waldron but could be too pricey after a 52-catch season with the Los Angeles Rams. Gordon is indefinitely suspended and might not be reinstated any time soon, if ever.
Under contract: Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, Tyler Mabry
UFA: Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson
Game plan: Parkinson, a fourth-round pick last year, could be a nice pass-catching complement to Dissly after playing sparingly as a rookie. Mabry, an undrafted free agent last year, is an intriguing prospect who could factor into the tight-end rotation with Greg Olsen retired. If the Seahawks make an outside addition, Gerald Everett is another Rams free agent who could help aid Seattle's offensive transition under Waldron.
Under contract: LT Duane Brown, RG Damien Lewis, RT Brandon Shell, T/G Jamarco Jones, G Phil Haynes, T Tommy Champion, C Brad Lundblade
UFA: C Ethan Pocic, OT Cedric Ogbuehi
Game plan: As frustrated as Wilson has been with his pass-protection, it's not as though the Seahawks need an O-line overhaul. They need to find Brown's eventual successor at left tackle, but he and Shell are strong bookends while Lewis looks like a mainstay at right guard. The Seahawks view Pocic as a solid starter at center but could upgrade there and at left guard. Mike Iupati retired and Jordan Simmons is a restricted free agent. Kyle Fuller, who played well in his lone start last year at center, is an exclusive-rights free agent. Rams center Austin Blythe is a UFA.
Under contract: DE Carlos Dunlap, DT Jarran Reed, DE L.J. Collier, DE Rasheem Green, DE Alton Robinson, DE Darrell Taylor, DT Cedrick Lattimore, DT Myles Adams
UFA: DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, DE Benson Mayowa, DE Damontre' Moore, DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Branden Jackson
Game plan: Cutting Dunlap seems likely. That would clear $14.1 million in cap space but would leave the Seahawks without their most accomplished pass-rusher, unless they re-sign him for less. If not, they'll need to add a primary edge threat. They'll also need at least another complementary rusher like Mayowa or Irvin. They can't count too much on Taylor, a second-round pick last year who didn't play as a rookie because of a leg injury. Jackson (neck) is not expected to continue playing. Defensive tackle Poona Ford is Seattle's only restricted free agent who's likely to be tendered.
Under contract: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven
UFA: K.J. Wright
Game plan: Wright, the longest-tenured Seahawk, wants to return for an 11th season with Seattle but doesn't want to take a hometown discount after back-to-back stellar seasons. If he's not back, Irvin would make sense as a cheaper alternative at strong-side linebacker, but he's 33 and coming off a torn ACL. The Seahawks don't like treating contracts like ATMs by moving money around and pushing cap charges into the future, but they might have to this year. Restructuring Wagner's contract could offer some immediate cap relief.
Under contract: SS Jamal Adams, FS Quandre Diggs, CB Tre Flowers, CB D.J. Reed, S/NB Marquise Blair, NB Ugo Amadi, DB Jordan Miller, CB Gavin Heslop
UFA: CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Quinton Dunbar, CB Neiko Thorpe, S Lano Hill,, S Damarious Randall
Game plan: Griffin is 25, has a Pro Bowl on his resume and plays a premier position, so he could command big money on the open market. The Seahawks could keep him from getting there with the franchise tag, though the projected $15.266 million cap charge (per OTC) would be tough to carry. Dunbar makes sense as a low-cost, high-upside flier assuming he doesn't have a strong market after his eventful and injury-filled 2020. The Seahawks are optimistic about getting a deal done this offseason with Adams.
Under contract: K Jason Myers, P Michael Dickson, LS Tyler Ott
Game plan: All three are expected back after a strong season for Seattle's special teams.