The Seattle Seahawks experienced an inconsistent 2017 season that included a 9-7 record and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011 leading to disappointment and thoughts if the Seahawks’ dominant during the Pete Carroll era is over. Seattle lost multiple starters to injuries throughout 2017, experienced poor play from their offensive line and run game, and relied too much on quarterback Russell Wilson to do everything. The franchise now have some tough decisions to make on some players with pending free agency status this off-season. Seattle’s cap room has been limited and they have quite a few big name players up for contract extensions. Here are some early predictions on what the Seahawks may decide with their 17 unrestricted and four restricted free agents:
Unrestricted free agents:
Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson:
Richardson came to Seattle during a trade late last off-season from the New York Jets for wide recevier Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. While his statistics did not jump off the sheet at you while in Seattle last season, Richardson was a big part of the Seahawks’ defense. He switched from more of a defensive end pass rusher with the Jets to moving inside to play more of a hole clogging run stuffer in the middle of the Seahawks’ defensive line. He only had one sack, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and an interception during 2017 but he did everything Seattle could have wanted with a big body to plug interior holes to help linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Seattle should really consider bringing Richardson back if he’s interested.
Decision: Seahawks use franchise tag to keep Richardson
Tight End Jimmy Graham:
Graham has had an up and down career since joining the Seahawks after a trade during the 2015 off-season from the New Orleans Saints for Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round pick. Graham has really struggled to become the electric downfield threat Seattle imaging having, being an uneven fit to the offensive scheme and not helping at all with blocking for the run game. He suffered a scary knee injury during 2015 and has never really been the same since. He gained 923 yards and caught five touchdowns in 2016 then saw his yardage dip to 520 yards during 2017, the lowest since his rookie season despite a team-high 10 touchdown catches. The Seahawks finally found a way to utilize Graham in the red-zone this past season, but he is just not the downfield threat he once used to be. It’s time for both sides to move on.
Decision: Graham tests market, signs with New York Jets
Offensive guard Luke Joeckel:
Joeckel started the 2017 season off strong in the first four games, finally looking like he may have figured out how to find success at this level. He then missed five games after an arthroscopic knee surgery and never returned to be the same as the Seahawks’ protection of Wilson continued to dwindle as the season wore on. Seattle could negotiate to bring him back but certainly shouldn’t pay $8 million for him again. Likely Seattle lets Joeckel walk and test the market with maybe a more affordable and serviceable option in mind.
Decision: Joeckel tests market, signs with Houston Texans
Running Back Eddie Lacy:
Absolute disastrous situation with maybe the biggest free agent signing bust in franchise history. Lacy was clearly still out of shape the entire time he was in a Seahawks uniform and only gained 179 yards on 62 carries with no touchdowns. Not to mention he was a healthy scratch in a lot of games after realizing he was no help. No chance Lacy will be back in the Pacific Northwest and he may be done with the NFL entirely.
Decision: Lacy tests market, signs with Washington Redskins
Safety Bradley McDougald:
McDougald was a crucial piece to the Seahawks’ depth in the secondary, playing pretty well in place of Kam Chancellor late in the season. McDougald made plays all over the field with 45 tackles and four pass deflections at strong safety, matching up well with running backs leaking out of the backfield and shorter routes for tight ends. He was a nice compliment to Earl Thomas and with the uncertainty around Chancellor’s health to be back, McDougald is a priority to be back.
Decision: McDougald re-signs multi-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Wide Receiver Paul Richardson:
This may be Seattle’s toughest decision, as Richardson had a breakout 2017 campaign with 703 yards and six touchdowns. He was easily the Seahawks best big play threat downfield, averaging 16 yards per catch. He faded as the season came to a close, only finishing with 44 catches. However, Richardson is in for a raise from whichever team lands him. He should be back if Seattle can convince him to take a discount to stay with the Seahawks, as he and Wilson have a great relationship. Unfortunately with Seattle’s tight cap space and more pressing needs at other positions, it may be best to let Richardson test the market and walk.
Decision: Richardson tests market, signs with Chicago Bears
Tight End Luke Willson:
Willson has been reliable for the Seahawks ever since they drafted him in 2013. He is as valuable a reserve tight end as anyone else in the league and provides upside being able to block as well as make plays with the ball in his hands. He may have only caught 15 passes for 153 yards this season, but is a good red-zone target with four touchdowns. With it very unlikely Graham returns, the Seahawks will probably look to keep Willson’s experience on their roster and help Nick Vannett continue to develop.
Decision: Willson re-signs multi-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Linebacker Michael Wilhoite:
Wilhoite took over the strongside starting linebacker position this season. He didn’t play many snaps, but proved to be a decent tackler. He also was a big help on special teams. However, at 31 years old and only playing about 35 percent of the snaps on a team who is trying to get younger at many positions does not play in Wilhoite’s favor. Wilhoite is likely gone.
Decision: Wilhoite tests market, signs with Green Bay Packers
Kicker Blair Walsh:
Another miserable player project signing as Walsh really struggled in the final nine games of the 2017. He made 12 of his 13 field goal attempts over the first seven games, then went 9 of 16 in the last nine games. He was especially bad with crucial field goal attempts with the game on the line, missing three potential game tying/winning kicks that caused Seattle to miss the playoffs. If they let him go, Seattle will likely have to sign multiple kickers to compete to take his spot. That is a chance the franchise must be willing to take. Walsh’s NFL career is over if you ask many Vikings’ and Seahawks’ fans, including myself.
Decision: Walsh is not re-signed by Seahawks or signed by any team
Cornerback Byron Maxwell:
Maxwell saved his career with some efficient play over the final couple of weeks with the Seahawks in his second-stint with the team. Maxwell finished 2017 with 31 tackles, seven pass deflections, an interception, and one forced fumble in only seven games with Seattle. He stepped in place of the injured Richard Sherman and was pretty good in coverage of throws 20 yards or less. He still struggles to defend further down the field, but gets help from Seattle’s strong safety play. He is the prototypical Seahawks’ corner with a long frame and physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage to knock them off their routes. He may be a good player to bring back on a short deal in a reserve role with the return of Sherman and help continue the emergence of Shaquill Griffin on the opposite side of the field since he is so experienced in the Seahawks’ system. Another one-year prove yourself deal makes sense here.
Decision: Maxwell re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Defensive End Marcus Smith:
Smith was a good find and fit for Pete Carroll in a reserve pass rushing role. He recorded two and a half sacks and two forced fumbles during 2017 and is young enough to keep improving. Smith may remind Seahawks’ fans of Chris Clemons, who really did not hit his prime until he was four seasons in the league as well. Smith will be a good piece to have with Seattle’s pass rush as insurance behind Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, with the uncertainly of Cliff Avril‘s career moving forward. He is likely not to have a lot of suitors on the market since he was considered a first-round flame-out with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-2016. Another one-year, prove yourself deal would be a good move for Smith.
Decision: Smith re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Offensive guard Oday Aboushi:
Aboushi started 2017 strong, taking Mark Glowinski‘s starting right guard job during week three after signing with the Seahawks last off-season. His play faded as the weeks went on, really struggling with interior pass protection that would make Wilson have to be flushed the pocket quicker than he wants. Aboushi finished 2017 on injured reserve after a shoulder injury. Aboushi is a big body who can be a run game mauler if he asserts himself, but must eliminate the holding and false start penalties he receives every week. He may be worth bringing back in a reserve role to provide depth to the Seahawks’ offensive line, but should definitely be forced to take a discount to do that.
Decision: Aboushi re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Offensive tackle/guard Matt Tobin:
Tobin did not play much after coming over last off-season in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. He filled in a little bit at left and right tackle when Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi dealt with nagging ankle injuries. He is versatile, with the ability to play all five offensive line positions and potential to turn into a starting offensive linemen one day. But with the return of Brown, Ifedi, Rees Odhiambo, and George Fant from his ACL tear, I see the Seahawks moving on from Tobin with enough depth already at tackle.
Decision: Tobin tests market, signs with New York Giants
Linebacker Terence Garvin:
Garvin played here and there at strongside linebacker when Wilhoite was out with an injury. But Garvin is a really solid special teams player and has potential to improve into a rotational linebacker with more opportunities. Seahawks will hold onto Garvin with hopes of some more productive development.
Decision: Garvin re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Cornerback DeShawn Shead:
Shead missed most of the 2017 season after tearing his ACL during the 2016 NFC Divisonal Round Playoff game against the Falcons. Shead was the starting corner opposite of Sherman during 2016 and played well in that role. Shead has a lengthy frame and is physical at the line of scrimmage with receivers, something Seattle loves about their corners. Expect Seattle to bring Shead back to see if he can push Griffin for the starting job again opposite side of Sherman.
Decision: Shead re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Quarterback Austin Davis:
Davis only took two snaps during 2017 after beating out Trevone Boykin for the back-up job. Davis provides more upside with throwing the ball and experience after starting games with the Rams and Browns in the past, so Seattle may bring him back to battle for the back-up job once again.
Decision: Davis re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Linebacker Dewey McDonald:
McDonald is exclusively a special teams player that tore his ACL only four games into 2017. His recovery time likely determines if he is back or not.
Decision: McDonald re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Restricted free agents:
Running Back Thomas Rawls:
Rawls injuries have plagued his development since bursting onto the scene in 2015 as a rookie looking to replace Marshawn Lynch. Rawls only gained 159 yards on the ground all of 2017 with no touchdowns and still struggling to hit holes fast enough to gain efficient yardage. With Mike Davis evolving into the starting running back by the end of the season along with the return of Chris Carson from injury, Rawls is probably not coming back.
Decision: Rawls tests market, signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cornerback Justin Coleman:
Coleman was a great pick-up in an off-season trade with the New England Patriots. Coleman returned two interceptions for touchdowns along with one and a half sacks and nine pass deflections during 2017. Coleman took the nickel back position from Jeremy Lane after he struggled and never looked back. Coleman is a priority to be back after a strong 2017 showing.
Decision: Coleman re-signs multi-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Defensive End Dion Jordan:
The former number three overall pick by the Miami Dolphins finally found a way to return to the field in 2017 after missing two full seasons. Jordan showed good potential that he could develop into a good player one day during 2017 in a reserve role with Seattle, recording four sacks and a forced fumble in five games with the Seahawks. With great upside and tremendous athletic ability off the edge, Jordan should be back in Seattle for another one-year prove yourself deal.
Decision: Jordan re-signs one-year deal to stay with Seahawks
Running Back Mike Davis:
Davis emerged into the starting back by the end of the season for Seattle, providing a little bit of a spark to a lethargic run game. Davis was efficient with 240 yards on the ground on 68 carries along with another 131 yards receiving on 15 catches in only six games with the Seahawks. These were career-best numbers for him and he has been one of Pete Carroll’s favorites since training camp last off-season. Davis is probably not capable of being the featured back, but definitely a good option to bring back in a reserve role.
Decision: Davis re-signs multi-year deal to stay with Seahawks
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