Seahawks 2023 free agents: Ranking the top-12 priorities to bring back next year
Seaside Joe 1277: Who will be Pete Carroll's first signing of 2023?
The Seahawks do not open the season for another nine days, so I am not quite ready to start previewing the Denver Broncos. But I’m also not interested in spending any more time talking at length about what happened in training camp and the preseason. That puts us in a mini version of the dead zone channel, so given that college football is underway, my mind is wandering into the future.
How can we relate that to the current Seahawks? Let’s talk briefly about the players who are in a contract year.
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These are Seattle’s 2023 free agents. We should expect the Seahawks to prioritize these players over outside options, but there may not be as many players retained as in a normal offseason.
1. CB Sidney Jones IV
It seems odd to see Jones up this high, but it will become more obvious why once you see the rest of the list. I just don’t know that the Seahawks’ reloading plan will want to include many of the players who are in a contract year. Why Jones IV over the rest?
Positional scarcity and not needing to coach up another new cornerback.
Jones IV played his first full season in 2021 and he was fine. Perhaps with another mostly-healthy year under his belt, Jones IV can secure a contract longer than one year. The Seahawks haven’t felt rushed to re-sign literally any cornerback in the Pete Carroll era other than Richard Sherman and Jones IV isn’t on that level.
But expectations are so low for Artie Burns and so little is known about the rest of the unit (rookies and journeymen) that Jones IV stands out as the most-likely candidate to return for more after 2022. Obviously the team has high hopes for Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, and Mike Jackson. I’m going off of the odds for this list and for this list, I see Jones IV as having a slight edge of returning over these other cases.
2. RB Rashaad Penny
I’ve been a little shocked to see such low expectations for Rashaad Penny going into the year, given how he finished off his previous year. If Penny plays in 15+ games and performs as he’s capable of in a Pete Carroll offense, I do believe that Carroll would not only be open to re-signing him…he’d be aggressive about it.
The Seahawks are not going to shy away from three or four years of Penny and Ken Walker III working in tandem. I just think that is a little harder to pull off than it sounds because really good running backs usually do not want to be a part of a committee; Melvin Gordon has expressed frustrations in Denver, Kareem Hunt has asked to be traded from the Browns.
3. DT Poona Ford
For now, the Seahawks have decided to leave Poona Ford’s contract alone, neither extending him nor trying to move him. What will they do when Ford is an unrestricted free agent in 2023? Seattle extended Bryan Mone and they seem to really like Myles Adams, so would it be worth it to give Ford a three-year, $27 million contract (or something)?
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4. G Phil Haynes
It would be surprising to me if Gabe Jackson is the Seahawks’ right guard in 2023. But will it be Haynes or somebody else taking that job, as the team gave Jake Curhan a lot of reps there in the preseason.
The Seahawks gave Haynes over $2.5 million to stick around this season. What would they be willing to pay him to stay beyond 2022? That really depends on how many snaps he gets and how he performs, but I find it probable that Haynes will get a career-high amount of opportunities.
5. ILB Cody Barton
Even though Barton has such a clear path towards starting and NOBODY in position to take his job this year, I just don’t see retaining an average inside linebacker as a high priority for the Seahawks. Is Barton above average?
That’s something that can only be revealed once the regular season is underway.
6. C Austin Blythe
Similar to Barton—with an above average season, re-signing Blythe to a market appropriate contract would simplify the Seahawks’ 2023 draft plans, at least.
7. S Josh Jones
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves on Josh Jones, as he’s basically had no career to this point. But he looked so impressive in the preseason that Jones could lock himself into Pete’s long-term plans, that is unless another team wants to swoop in and pay him like a starter.
8. RB Travis Homer
A good third down back, Homer is in a tough position because the Seahawks already have multiple third down running back options ahead of him. Also, I think Homer could draw interest and a free agent and I think he’ll be attracted to opportunities that could allow him to start.
9. QB Drew Lock
It would be weird if I didn’t put Geno Smith and Lock on the list at all. However, it would also be a little weird if we get to next year and one of these two options is a priority re-signing. I could maybe argue for Geno here because he’s going to be a solid backup and mentor for the next franchise quarterback. However, Lock is the one who has the ability to maybe do a little bit more than being a bridge and a mentor.
Do I expect that to happen? No. My comparison here would be someone like Taylor Heinicke, who was adequate for Washington last year and now he’s comfortable as Carson Wentz’s backup.
10. K Jason Myers
I don’t have anything against Myers, but the kicker position on its own is usually a low priority (depending on the kicker of course) and he hasn’t earned the reputation to be a potential franchise special teamer like Michael Dickson has. I know that a lot of people are concerned about the kicker and having a good one, just keep in mind that the Rams cut Greg Zuerlein a year before winning the Super Bowl and the Bengals drafted Evan McPherson in 2021. Both Super Bowl teams moved on from their kickers and were doing fine by the time the playoffs rolled around.
11. QB Geno Smith
I mean no disrespect to the current starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. This is the result of the fact that Geno was available as a free agent for a month earlier this year and no other team knocked on the door. Now he will be in a different position because he’s beginning the season as a starter but this will go one of two ways: He’ll prove to be a backup (as expected) and won’t be a priority, as he wasn’t one of Seattle’s priorities just months ago.
Or he will shock the world, in which case, I’ll be happy to update this list. Which I plan to as the year goes on!
12. LS Tyler Ott
You gotta have one!
In the no priority there is a slim chance Justin Cleman or Artie Burns is here next year. Nick Ballore is a Pete favorite, I am still flummoxed with what we are doing for linebacker depth this year ?
I like the order. The top three are the only guys that have a reasonable expectation to play themselves into a big multi-year contract, whether with the Hawks or someone else. If the first two can stay healthy all year, they are probably good enough to cash in. Poona is already there, but if he gets 5+ sacks this year he takes it to another level maybe. I don't see anyone else being very likely to sign as an obvious starter with us or another team.