Could it happen?
I’m fascinated by the idea of Seattle adding Jared Allen in free agency.
Pete Carroll says this team doesn’t have a big need outside of the current group. It’s more about inner improvement and keeping this Championship roster together.
But we know Carroll well enough by now to still expect a few fireworks along the way.
I remember going into the 2013 off-season expecting a quiet free agency. They needed to save cap money to roll over for future re-signings.
Surely they wouldn’t make a big splash. Could they afford it?
Then they go and trade for Percy Harvin and find a way to bring in the top two pass rushers on the market — Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
We’re unlikely to see that level of headline making again, but when has this team ever drifted quietly through free agency?
Whether it’s the public courting of Brandon Marshall, the big-money additions of Sidney Rice and Zach Miller, the Matt Flynn signing or the business twelve months ago — they’ve always been active.
Maybe the big story this year will be about just keeping the likes of Bennett, Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini, while penning Earl Thomas and maybe Richard Sherman to extensions?
Or perhaps there will be another gem or two along the way as the Seahawks look to get even better in 2014.
Out of all the free agents hitting the market this year, Allen is the most intriguing to me (possibly alongside Oakland’s Lamar Houston).
He turns 32 in April but still managed 11.5 sacks on a bad Vikings team this season. He’s only two years removed from a 22-sack campaign, he has 128.5 career sacks and whether he wins a title or not — there’s every chance he’s destined for the Hall of Fame.
Allen signed a 6-year, $73m deal in Minnesota (now expired). While he may still be motivated by financial gain, you wonder how much of a priority that is as he approaches the twighlight of a ring-less career.
And what better way to try and win a Championship than joining the team that just dominated the Super Bowl?
He still has plenty of tread on the tires, at least for another year or two. He seems to have the kind of personality that fits well with the Seahawks locker room and he’s played here the last two years — so he knows about the homefield advantage.
Previous interest in Allen was reported by Adam Schefter on the day of the trade deadline.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have a few extra hungry players on the roster amid a team of reigning Champions.
And yeah, he bumped into Darrell Bevell at a Taylor Swift concert. And divulged that information. So they must be tight…
Doesn’t it just seem like the perfect storm?
So how viable is it for the Seahawks to go after a guy like Allen?
Looking at the current cap situation, not viable at all. They’re right up against the budget with some big deals to be done over the next couple of years (Thomas, Sherman, Wilson…).
In order to keep their own key free agents, they’re going to need to create some room. Let alone to go after any other big names.
Yet I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to sign Allen, either.
Essentially it comes down to two things.
1. A series of cuts to the existing roster (contradicting Carroll’s penchant to keep the band together) in order to free up significant funds
2. Relying on a player being willing to accept a smaller contract in order to join the trendy Seahawks
Let’s start with #1.
Cutting Sidney Rice, Zach Miller and Chris Clemons will save approximately $20m.
Rice didn’t contribute much in 2013, so it won’t be too painful to depart with his near $10m salary. Miller and Clemons on the other hand are key veterans.
The issue with Miller’s deal is he’s being grossly overpaid. He earned $11m in 2013 and gets another $7m in 2014.
That’s considerably more than a healthy and productive Rob Gronkowski would earn, even with his big new contract.
Jimmy Graham will struggle to top $11m for a single season when he signs a new deal in New Orleans.
Nobody wants to lose Miller, but it’s about priorities. Can you replace him for considerably less money, and can you re-invest his salary in keeping a player like Michael Bennett?
Nobody wants to lose Clemons either, but he’s seen better days. It’d be a painful cut, but perhaps a necessary one. Especially if we’re trying to come up with a way to go after Jared Allen.
These three cuts save you $19.6m. That should be enough to re-sign Bennett, Tate and Giacomini at least — while also tendering Doug Baldwin as a RFA.
It probably wouldn’t be enough, however, to also sign Allen plus other players such as Steven Hauschka, Clinton McDonald and Tony McDaniel.
Where can you make other savings?
Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane could be asked to restructure their deals. They’re both arguably earning too much ($8.5m & $5m) in 2014 and because the dead money involved is so small, you can maybe force their hand a little.
Russell Okung’s cap hit is $11m in 2014 and only $7.28m the following year — so there’s maybe a way to even that out.
Breno Giacomini — who earned over $4m this season — could be re-signed for less.
Any new contract for Earl Thomas could be structured so that the cap hit in 2014 is similar to (or even lower than) the $5.5m he’s already due on his current deal.
You might be able to conjure up another $7m or so. That’d give you a shot at Allen, but not the other free agents you’d ideally keep. That brings us onto point #2…
Relying on a player being willing to accept a smaller contract in order to join the Seahawks.
Seattle has never been more fashionable within the NFL. Suddenly, they have some serious chops in the open market.
Players enjoy playing here and the outsiders know it.
When you couple all the success with the enjoyment factor — that’s a winning combo.
I wonder how many prospective free agents watched that parade on the NFL Network yesterday and pined to be part of this franchise.
Then you throw in the other factors — the 12th man, the VMAC facilities and Pete Carroll’s user-friendly coaching style.
Players might be willing to take a financial discount to be part of this thing.
Some will, some won’t.
Those approaching the back end of their careers like Allen, might be willing to consider it more than others.
He earned $17m in 2013. His first year in Minnesota cost $3.3m, but after that he never took less than $11m.
Presuming you’re only signing him to a one or two year deal, he’d have to take a massive pay cut.
He also has to consider what’s realistic at this stage of his career.
32-year-old Osi Umenyiora signed a 2-year deal with Atlanta that paid him $3.75m in 2013 and brings in $4.75m in 2014.
However, he struggled to generate any early free agency interest and ended up settling on this deal.
Not only is Allen a better player, there’s every chance he won’t go through the slow dance Umenyiora faced.
The Seahawks would need to hope his market starts relatively cold (as we saw with Bennett and Avril) and then they’d need to hope he really wanted to play in Seattle.
If that’s the case, maybe he works for $4-5m over a year or two? To get that elusive ring?
That would still give you the necessary room to sign up your rookie class and make a few choice signings — perhaps keeping Hauschka and one of the defensive tackles.
It’s probably a long shot, but it’s interesting to consider nonetheless.
Of course you’d have to replace the departing players. Allen is your like-for-like switch for Clemons. With it being a strong draft for receivers you could replace Sidney Rice in round one (Brandon Coleman? Kelvin Benjamin?) and possibly target a tight end in round two to replace Miller (Austin Seferian-Jenkins? Troy Niklas?).
It’s food for thought at a time when everyone’s wondering ‘what’s next?’.
This also helps…
If you're talking salary cap, important thing to remember — the $126.3M figure given to NFL owners in December is a lowball number. …
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 6, 2014
… Figure is still open to negotiations and machinations thru the PA, and could get closer to $130M. Low number is to help teams budget.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 6, 2014
An extra $4m in cap room would be well received.
And while we dwell on what could happen over the next few weeks, here’s a new mock draft…
|#1 Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
The best playmaker in the draft. If they’re going quarterback here, take Manziel.
|#2 Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Robinson is already a dominating run blocker. He has the limitless upside to develop into a great pass protector too.
|#3 Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
This is a no brainer if he lasts to #3.
|#4 Blake Bortles (QB, UCF)
I’m becoming less and less convinced by all the ‘Cleveland loves Johnny’ talk. It could be a smokescreen.
|#5 Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)
You can build around this guy. Do they emulate Cincinnati in 2011 by going WR-round one, QB-round two?
|#6 Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Some teams will rate Lewan much higher than others. Atlanta needs to get tougher in the trenches.
|#7 Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
He might end up at right tackle for the long term.
|#8 Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
He’s not a prototype passer for Norv Turner’s offense, but they need a quarterback badly.
|#9 Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
The more I watch Evans, the more convinced I am he’s a top ten pick and a true #1 receiver.
|#10 Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Just a really good, competitive football player. Would look great alongside Megatron.
|#11 Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA)
I’m still not overly convinced by Barr. Ray Horton’s arrival as defensive coordinator means they need a 3-4 OLB.
|#12 Khalil Mack (DE, Buffalo)
Might be set for a Bruce Irvin-style switch to linebacker. Make the defense this teams identity.
|#13 Zack Martin (T, Notre Dame)
He’d be a guard in St. Louis. Doubling up on the O-line isn’t a terrible idea. A Robinson-Martin left side would be a huge asset for this offense.
|#14 Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Every team in the league is looking for a rangy safety. The Bears need one badly.
|#15 Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Terrific athlete with the potential to be the next big time tight end.
|#16 Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
I really like Kouandjio’s potential. He’s too good to fall deep into round one.
|#17 Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
I’m now a believer. Donald’s worthy of a grade in this range for me, despite a lack of pure size.
|#18 Allen Robinson (WR, Penn State)
Intelligent, grounded receiver with YAC value. Surprisingly not an elite speed guy though, so won’t WOW at the combine.
|#19 Antonio Richardson (T, Tennessee)
Massive tackle prospect who could easily go higher than this. Miami desperately needs a left tackle.
|#20 Derek Carr (QB, Fresno State)
With 10-wins and an elite defense, they might feel comfortable investing in the future. Carson Palmer in 2015 will be due $12m aged 36.
|#21 C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Green Bay needs to keep adding toughness to that defense. It’s way too soft at the moment and holding them back.
|#22 Brent Urban (DE, Virginia)
Chip Kelly likes defenders with length and speed. Underrated prospect who will look great at the combine.
|#23 Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech)
Big, third down converting tight end. Would have an instant impact in this offense.
|#24 Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
It’s not a great class for cornerbacks, but Dennard looks like the best available.
|#25 Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
Had a productive season and turned a few heads in 2013.
|#26 Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
Could provide a dynamic double threat with Josh Gordon. Definite first round talent for me. Playmaker and a safety net.
|#27 Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
Charles Brown is a free agent, and they had too much insecurity at left tackle in 2013.
|#28 Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State)
Imagine this offense with a difference-making big target to aim at. Put him alongside Steve Smith and enjoy.
|#29 Xavier Su’a-Filo (G, UCLA)
Major upside interior lineman. Big-time athlete whose best football lies ahead.
|#30 Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
Don’t be too surprised if he suffers a fall. 2013 was a big let down for Nix.
|#31 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
The Broncos really need to add a safety to that secondary.
|#32 Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
I think you take a shot on a guy with this frame (6-6, 220lbs) and potentially 4-4/4-5 speed. Major upside.