Seahawks 2023 free agents: Preliminary thoughts on Geno Smith, everyone else
The need for elite DL help and Geno Smith's contract situation: Seaside Joe 1416
The Seattle Seahawks free agency plans have been rather easy to predict because they’ve had the same regime since 2010 and Pete Carroll, John Schneider rarely step out of habit.
1 - Pete Carroll likes to re-sign his own players
2 - Pete Carroll does not attack the first wave of free agency
3 - Pete Carroll rarely even attacks the second wave of free agency
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Last year, I predicted new contracts for Quandre Diggs, Sidney Jones, and Rashaad Penny. I called a three-year contract for one of the tight ends, but expected it to be Gerald Everett, not Will Dissly. I also expected the team to lose D.J. Reed, which they did, and for Duane Brown to leave in free agency.
I missed on the re-signing of Al Woods. I also expected the team to re-sign Rasheem Green, which they did not do, but did feel that Brandon Shell and Ethan Pocic were goners. And count me among those who were surprised to not only see Geno Smith back, but as the starter.
Is it possible something will change about Seattle’s free agency plans in 2023? Carroll has had it up to here with his front-seven and uncharacteristically bad defenses. The Seahawks ranked 25th in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed. In fact, the team ranks 11th, 16th, 26, 22nd, 28th, and 26th in yards allowed from 2017-2022; 13th, 11th, 22nd, 15th, 11th, and 25th in points allowed over the same period of time.
This is no longer an issue of “Well, we’ve had a couple of bad seasons” anymore. As head coach of the Seahawks, Carroll has now had six seasons as a top-10 defense (four as number one) and seven seasons outside of the top-10. This has spanned Kris Richard, Ken Norton, and now Clint Hurtt as defensive coordinators, so it can’t merely be a coaching talent problem. Getting a new defensive coordinator won’t change anything and Carroll says Seattle is committed to running a 3-4 base alignment.
In Carroll’s early days as the Seahawks head coach, he managed to strike gold with under-valued pass rushers in Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Michael Bennett. Going for value recently has not worked out. Going for big names, such as Jadeveon Clowney, has not worked either. After seeing the impact that Roquan Smith had after being traded to the Ravens, while also noting that Bradley Chubb was traded to the Dolphins for a late first round pick, Seattle must too wonder if they’re in position to make a veteran acquisition.
That will cost them money and necessitate further cap space. The timing couldn’t be worse.
When we talk about 2023 cap space, the Seahawks are tied with the Bengals for the fourth-lowest amount of money committed to the roster next season. That’s good. But they only have 47 players signed for 2023 and not one of them is a quarterback.
The luxury of the number five pick comes attached with a guaranteed $34.3 million contract, while the number 20 pick gets $15.1 million over four years. These are only “value contracts” if the players turn out to be good. And the odds of any rookie defensive lineman or quarterback creating value as starters are typically low, even in the top-five. Therefore, the Seahawks must act with extreme caution as they approach all of their pending 2023 unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents. The “$34 million” in 2023 cap space will evaporate quickly, especially if they re-sign or franchise tag Geno Smith.
These are my preliminary thoughts, not my ultimate suggestions or predictions.
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Restricted free agents
S Ryan Neal
LB Tanner Muse
WR Penny Hart
RB Tony Jones
I’m not going to talk exlusive rights free agents (such as Mike Jackson) just yet, those are relatively cheap and straightforward. The only question on Neal is if the team uses a first round tender ($6m), a second round tender ($4.3m) or if they extend him outright. I don’t see them taking the risk of an original round tender ($2.6m). If Seattle gives him the first round tender and another team signs Neal, the Seahawks would get a first round pick. This would be great.
PFF rated Neal as the NFL’s number one safety, which hey, if you believe that, please do give the Seahawks your first round draft pick.
That’s not a slight on Neal, I just don’t think the NFL thinks he’s a top-five safety. At $6.4 million, Neal would be paid right on the cusp of the top-20 safeties, which is very hard for the Seahawks to justify because Jamal Adams is fourth and Quandre Diggs is fifth next season. Cutting or trading Adams will do nothing to change the fact that they’re paying him $18 million. The risk of going too low though—and Adams isn’t guaranteed to be ready for the start of next season—is that Seattle will lose Ryan Neal.
The Seahawks could let that happen and then draft a safety and maybe that’s fine. It’s a delicate situation, but $6.4 million would be a lot for a third safety. Even the second round tender would be a lot. Perhaps the best situation for all would be a long-term contract that guarantees Neal’s 2024 season but carries a lower cap hit in 2023.
Muse should get the original round tender based on how he played at the end of the season and his 325 special teams snaps. The injury to Jordyn Brooks gives Muse even more leverage.
Early recommendation: New contract for Ryan Neal, original tender for Muse, let the other two go
Unrestricted free agents
QB Geno Smith
People are already over-talking the situation to death and nobody knows what is going to happen, not even Pete, John, or Geno. We can’t really address this until we have more information and I will have much to say in the future anyway, so I’m going to skip this one today.
Early rec: Not going to address today
But I will open the question to Seasiders and trust me, the poll options have already upset some of you. I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible this time though, so even if you wanted more specific/different poll answers, maybe just answer “I don’t know” for now.
QB Drew Lock
I don’t think Lock should cost more than Trevor Siemian, so I’m using him as my baseline and that’s $2.5 million. I would like to keep Drew Lock.
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