Free agency set to get under way… kind of

Will the Seahawks be talking to this man's representatives at midnight tonight?

Technically, free agency begins on March 12th. However, the NFL has decided that as of midnight tonight, teams can legally ‘tap up’ players until Tuesday. No visits, no officially concluded deals. Just a lot of talking with agents and deals ‘in principle’.

Mike Florio explains…

Now that the NFL is launching a three-day legal tampering window, the key term will be “agreement in principle.” Even though contracts can’t be signed until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, non-binding deals can be struck — like the non-binding arrangement between the 49ers and Chiefs to trade Alex Smith once the new league year begins.

With the league trying to create an NCAA-style “signing day,” it’s safe to say teams will be discouraged from announcing agreements in principle with players who can’t be signed until Tuesday. Still, it’s inevitable that word of agreements in principle will leak; even if teams don’t issue a press release, they’ll be wise to get the word out, so that other teams will back off.

It’s a bit of a bizarre situation. We’ll get all the speculation, all the talking. By Tuesday we’ll have a good idea of what’s going to go down. And yet nothing will be finalised over the weekend. It sounds a bit like a kid finding his Christmas presents before the big day.

Of course, there’s always a chance for some of this…

So what about the Seahawks? They’ve already visited with Cullen Jenkins and John Abraham. They’ve contacted the representatives of Charles Woodson. All three can be signed at any point as they were released from their current contracts.

I suspect the Seahawks will seriously consider adding a veteran pass rusher. With Abraham, Osi Umenyiora and Dwight Freeney on the market, there are options out there. Cliff Avril and Paul Kruger will end up signing big bucks elsewhere. If nobody offers obscene money to the other three, they become realistic options for the Seahawks.

Then I think it’ll be about value. Who made it through the first stage of free agency when the big money was spent? Who is willing to consider a cheaper deal? Who suddenly sees the opportunity to join a contender as a big positive?

Improving the pass rush remains the key. Getting someone to act as a stop-gap during Chris Clemons’ recovery would be useful. Abraham — with ten sacks in 2012 — looks like the best (and perhaps cheapest) option of the three experienced free agents. He’s also minus a ring (Umenyiora has two, Freeney has one). It always helps to have a bit of fire still burning away.

One stumbling block to any potential courtship of Abraham is the 49ers. Having entertained Cullen Jenkins after his visit to Seattle, the former Falcons pass rusher is due to stop off in the Bay Area next.

I’m not expecting any fireworks this year. It could be as modest as the re-signing of Alan Branch and a couple of other low-profile deals. The fun thing about this front office is they keep you guessing. The games begin at midnight tonight.

Other names it might be worth watching: Fred Davis (TE), Robert Geathers (DE/DT), Desmond Bryant (DT), Phillip Wheeler (LB), Delanie Walker (TE), Ricky Jean-Francois (DT), Isaac Sopoaga (DT)

Updateaccording to Jason La Canfora the NFL is trying to ice their own ‘negotiating window’. They put out a memo essentially telling teams they can’t agree deals in principle.

This memo seems intent on putting a chill on any of that — the full memo is attached — and makes explicit that even agreeing in principle to a contract that would be contingent on a physical next week would be prohibited. It came as a surprise to many execs and agents and has created quite a stir as to how to proceed with contact tonight.
It’s also struck many as odd, given that the creation of this negotiating window seemed designed to curtail tampering and create a climate where deals could be effectively struck but not fully consummated.

So what is the point of all this then? Maybe this weekend will be pretty quiet after all?


  1. Michael

    This entire “legal tampering” period is just weird.

    • Rob Staton


      • Coug1990

        NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is wicked smart. Roll eyes.

  2. Cameron

    So… basically…

    John Schneider: “So, we like Abe, we want Abe, does Abe like Seattle?”
    John Abraham’s Agent: “Yeah, I guess so…”
    JS: “Great, so, uhh, I’ll call you at 1pm Tuesday and we can talk money?”
    Agent: “That sounds great, I’d like that…”

    I guess I don’t really understand this.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s a complete waste of time. Basically legalised what happens anyway.

    • Phil

      I think you’re right, but are using the wrong name in your example. Abraham was cut by the Falcons, so I think he’s free to do all the negotiating he wants to do right now. And, he can sign whenever he wants to, right?

  3. James

    Abraham and Freeney are basically fill-ins for Bruce Irvine, not Chris Clemons. Bruce would have to be the full time starter, and Abraham/Freeney would be the 3rd down/designated pass rusher. Umenyiora could perhaps start in Clemon’s spot with Bruce staying where he is. Even with a FA signing, I still expect the Seahawks to draft a Leo in the top 4 rounds, maybe even R1 if someone falls to them. We could see exactly the same at DT, with a FA such as Jenkins signing (in place of Jones or Branch?), and a high draft pick added as well…such as Jones or Hankins in R1. The Seahawks must get Red Bryant healthy…his play was sub-par compared to the previous year and he needs to earn that big contract. My Seahawks mock of the day: R1 DT Datone Jones; R2 Leo John Simon; R3 WR Aaron Dobson; R4 LB Jelani Jenkins; R5 CB Tharold Simon.

    • Rob Staton

      Why would Abrahams and Freeney have to adopt specialist roles?

      • Davison Phipps

        Abraham was only a specialist for the Falcons last year, playing only 40% of their snaps. He’s no longer considered useful against the run, or at least not by the Falcons. For that reason I’m not sure he would be a great fit. One name I haven’t heard discussed as a possibility for the Hawks is Connor Barwin. He had a disappointing contract year as measured by sacks, and would be transitioning from the 3-4, but based on his measurables and reputation seems like a guy who could LEO full time.

        • Michael

          Is Abraham worse against the run than Irvin, in your estimation?

        • Cameron

          Actually, per Matt Sando, Abraham played over 70% of the snaps last season. He’s been pretty consistent the last three years in terms of production and snap counts.

          • Davison Phipps

            I just looked up the article where I thought I got the 40% figure, and it was nowhere to be found. Apparently I got it ex recto. I am sorry for polluting the community with false data.

    • Mike Chan

      IMO Alex Okafor is a better LEO at #2.

      • Belgaron

        Too slow for what ‘Hawks like at LEO.

      • Kip Earlywine

        So far Seattle has signed/traded for slower pass rushers, but have consistently drafted faster ones. That means Okafor would go against the pattern so far.

        I like Okafor. I think he’s under-rated and Seattle would be wise to make an exception, especially if he’s there in round 3.

  4. kevin mullen

    All those pass rushers coming in, I don’t think they’ll stick. For some reason it looks like a dog and pony show, it’s like both SF and Seattle are bringing in guys just to see if one or other offers a c

    • kevin mullen

      Contract. Both teams are pretty much set on who/what position they want to draft, this all smoke and mirrors. Only real transaction is whether SF trades for Revis.

      • Brian

        It doesn’t seem at all likely that they would for some of the same reasons we won’t. Why give Revis top dollar when they have to take care of their own young players and they have a gazillion picks they can use to improve their secondary?

        I certainly HOPE they trade away two firsts, give Revis 16 million per year and then lose NaVorro Bowman, Dashon Goldston and Aldon Smith. But it doesn’t seem remotely likely.

        • Brian

          There are a LOT of great corners in the league that were picked in the 2nd round. (2 of the 3 NFC pro bowl corners this year were 2nd round picks: Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.) There should be some great talent at corner available when they have their picks in the 30’s.

  5. Ed

    I would like to see:

    FA: Dorsey (DT) Bryant (DT) Butler (LB/LEO) Munnerlyn (CB)

    trade back in 1st and up for another 2nd/3rd and come away with:

    2nd Jones/Williams (DT)
    2nd Hopkins (WR)
    3rd Gooden (LB)
    3rd Mathieu (CB)

  6. Stuart

    Ed, will you please call PC and JS and tell them this is what we want? Love the double up in R-2.

    Check out this mock, you will all enjoy it;

  7. Brian

    Am I crazy for thinking that Branch is the best guy for us to target?

    • Rob Staton

      Not crazy at all.

  8. Morgan

    Still on board for Desmond Bryant, but also hope the front office notices that Jags WLB Daryl Smith could be a bargain. He missed most of last year but the year before that he was rated the #2 OLB by Pro Football Focus, and logged two of the top 5 game performances by a LB that season. He’s 30 but I think he has a lot to offer.

    • Kenny Sloth

      Nice thought. One to monitor, I suppose.

  9. Eric

    Any thoughts on Michael Bennett (Bucs)? He’s only 27 yrs old and had 9 sacks last year.

    • Belgaron

      He’s asking for $11M/year.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Yeah, I’d only see Bennett happening if two things are true:

      #1: Seattle feels that Bennett can replace Red Bryant as a 5-tech.

      #2: Bennett doesn’t get a lot of interest and signs for far less than $11 million per.

  10. oz

    I like Bennett back with the Hawk’s, gives them a lot of options to move players around on the line. I could never see why the Hawk’s released him in the first place.

  11. Beanhawk

    We’ve looked a lot at joker TEs. Though I am not a Buckeye fan, I have always been impressed by Jake Stoneburner (WR/TE). He has played with inconsistent to awful passing QBs at OSU (Pryor and Miller). He just ran a hand-timed (hopefully not his agent this time… ha!) 4.52 at 6-3, 252 pounds at his pro-day. I would much prefer Stoneburner in the 5th or 6th than Jordan Reed in the 2nd and 3rd. What do people think?

  12. Aaron

    I’m a little surprised there hasn’t been more of a spotlight on Michael Bennett, not just among Seahawk fans but nationally. He’s 27 years old, put up 10 sacks last year, and is a solid run-stopper. To me that last one is maybe the most important. I think it’s possible this lack of attention could provide an opportunity to get good value for him at something like $6 or $7 million a year. Of course he’s very familiar with Seattle, so that could be a small positive factor as well.

    To me a signing like this would provide invaluable piece of mind relating to Chris Clemons’ uncertain future, and could give the Seahawks added flexibility in the draft. I understand people see greater value in veterans like Osi because the price is likely lower, but Pete did make the statement recently that he’s not necessarily looking for an old veteran just to put them over the top for one or two years. I think if you have an opportunity to sign a DE like Bennett who’s just entering his prime, and you can get a favorable deal, you do it.

    • Aaron

      Maybe $8 or $9 million is more realistic, but I’d say the same logic still applies. I know JS has said bringing in higher priced free agents can create problems in the locker room, but I think given the player they’ve just lost in Clemons, and the whole he leaves, players would welcome an addition like Bennett.

      • SunPathPaul

        The Bennett brothers mentioned they want to play on the same team if possible…
        Martellus Bennett, his brother the TE for the Giants, and him. I wonder if we would want Martellus?

        Maybe if Michael’s FA interest isn’t major, and if we offered a ‘package’ deal to them both, we could get a good DE and a TE…

        You would think they wold want to play for a SB contender, and Martellus all ready has 1 ring to talk about…

  13. Milwaukee hawk

    What about Richard Seymour? I know he’s getting up there in years and finished the year on IR with a hamstring injury, but he has a history of production as an interior pass rusher as well as would provide depth behind Red at 5 tech. He may come cheaper than the other three older gents in Abraham, Freeny, and Osi.

    On another note, if Denver were to release Dumervil, how much would you be willing to pay towards him?

    • Rob Staton

      Seymour would be fairly low on my list. I think he’d be a pure three technique in Seattle. Dumervill would be costly and I’m just not sure he’d be worth it. I’m most intrigued by John Abraham.

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