Priority #1 — Re-sign your players
This was an easy one to list at the top. The Seahawks have only 47 players contracted for 2019. They have numerous out of contract starters and several restricted and exclusive rights free agents. Some players are destined to move on. Earl Thomas’ time in Seattle is over. K.J. Wright will likely get a big offer in free agency. Frank Clark, J.R. Sweezy, D.J. Fluker, Justin Coleman and a few others are more likely to remain. Seattle has a developing roster ready to play competitive football. Major changes won’t be healthy — especially with limited cap space and only four draft picks. They also need to look ahead. If Clark receives the franchise tag that’ll mean four stars — Clark, Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed — will all be out of contract after the 2019 season. With only one franchise tag, that could spell trouble. Seattle’s clear #1 priority this off-season is to keep the core together and make sure they don’t go into the 2020 off-season with a major dilemma on their hands.
Priority #2 — Get the kicker sorted
This has been a question mark for three straight years in Seattle. For a team that wants to play things tight and highlight the importance of a closed circle between offense, defense and special teams — they need a reliable kicker. It’s time to make this a secure position. No more messing about. Get the money out and go and land Robbie Gould from the 49ers (if they don’t franchise him). He’s been a highly consistent and reliable kicker for years. It’s time to pay a bit more than they’ve previously been willing to get this problem solved. If Gould isn’t available, Stephen Gostkowski and Matt Bryant are alternative options.
Priority #3 — Add a pass rusher at value
Despite suggestions to the contrary, the Seahawks won’t have the money to go on a big splurge this off-season. Frank Clark is going to eat up $18m in cap space alone. They need to re-sign multiple free agents and fill out the roster. They won’t be in the running for a prime free agent pass rusher. They need to look for value and provide a partner for Clark. Anthony Barr could be the man to target. His career stalled as a linebacker at Minnesota. Thus, he might be facing a slightly cooler market. Does he need to go somewhere for a year and rebuild his stock? Maybe. It’s equally possible he gets big money somewhere. He’s a great age and has a fantastic physical profile. If he does end up needing a one or two year prove-it deal, the Seahawks should be ready to get him. Failing that, go and get a veteran rusher like Terrell Suggs, Brandon Graham or Clay Matthews (again, if the price is right).
Priority #4 — Find the next Tony McDaniel
McDaniel was often labelled the unsung hero of Seattle’s defense. His combination of stout run defense, toughness and consistency was unheralded but highly valuable. He cost $2.75m in 2014 and $985,000 in 2016. It’s difficult to suggest a name to be the 2019 version. There are always cheap run defenders on the market but very few are as effective as McDaniel. Darius Philon has a reputation for quality run defense but he’s nowhere near the size of McDaniel and the Chargers might pay to keep him after parting with Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane. Reuniting with Mebane could be an option for a year if he wants to keep playing at 34. We talked a lot about Brent Urban on the blog when he was at Virginia and in 2018 he was finally healthy and had a good year. Adding him could be an option but can you trust him to play 12-16 games?
Priority #5 — What are you doing at linebacker?
This isn’t a higher priority because I think they’ll already have a plan. Mychal Kendricks’ court date has been pushed back but if he avoids jail he’s an obvious re-sign (and Pete Carroll has already talked about bringing him back). K.J. Wright will likely get a big offer in free agency — one the Seahawks won’t be able to match. They might need to add one more. I suspect they’ll have their house in order to plan and prepare for this. Thomas Davis could be an option if they need another veteran to cover the expected loss of Wright.
Priority #6 — What are the O-line alternatives?
For years the Seahawks tried to plug in young starters to the offensive line and it didn’t work. In 2018 they lined up a much more experienced line with Duane Brown, J.R. Sweezy, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi all boasting multiple seasons in the NFL. Sweezy and Fluker are now free agents. If either moves on, they’re probably best served replacing them with another veteran. Former Seahawk James Carpenter is a free agent and has enjoyed a healthy spell in New York with the Jets. Ty Sambrailo has been a disappointment so far but prior to the 2015 draft Tony Pauline noted the Seahawks had some interest in him. Ja’Wuan James is another player they seemingly liked prior to the 2014 draft. They’ll need alternatives even if it seems likely they’ll keep Sweezy and Fluker.
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