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Keep or Walk: Seahawks free agents and potential outcomes

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Keep or Walk: Seahawks free agents and potential outcomes
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks have 33 players who hit free agency this year. It’s an average year; for example the Los Angeles Rams have 28.

Among them, several stand out as players that Seattle should either prioritize re-signing, or, result in a bigger risk by letting them walk. Some have worn their welcome, like Josh Jones or Austin Blythe, and I don’t particularly care to see them back. Others are guaranteed starters in this league, and several in the middle should be tough decisions.

I’ve decided to give a shot at placing them in tiers – not necessarily by talent, but by risk/reward of losing them (basically by talent).

Tier One: Geno Smith

There is nobody else who will demand the attention of the Resurrected One this offseason. Speculation on dollars, end results, and fallout are the source of many individual articles, and rightly so.

Contrary to the opinion of Brock Huard and others, it’s just not that easy to get anything of value out of a quarterback who’s proven otherwise around the NFL. Saving money for Drew Lock is a weird and dumb idea, and an extended Seattle tour makes sense for both Smith and the Hawks.

Tier Two: The D.J. Reed Effect

These are the fellas who are clearly able to play in the NFL right now, and could be the result of being “outbid” by a New York team with a perfectly reasonable and absolutely matchable offer, sigh. Not bitter.

Rashaad Penny

His injury history and Kenneth Walker’s talents make this so difficult. One significant factor is whether Penny himself will want to take on another potential one-year deal as part of a two-back tandem. Seattle’s got to decide if Penny is a back they can even rely on for an entire season – he hasn’t made it through one yet.

But….how painful would it be to watch him prove that he really did figure it out for someone else. If the Seahawks go too cheap and he doesn’t get hurt somewhere else, it will only amplify what people already herald as one of Schneider’s worst draft dealings.

Ryan Neal*

Similarly, Neal finds himself behind two safeties on the depth chart – yet for two seasons he’s been an absolutely vital piece of the secondary in the wake of Jamal Adams injuries. His Pro Bowl and All-Pro votes indicate the league has noticed. I think Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams are iffy enough that Neal is worth keeping, but if we wants a big three or four year deal with starter money, the Seahawks would have to swallow giving out the most money on safeties in the NFL…for three players.

*Fortunately, Neal is a restricted free agent, and may even be worth the big tender, but this helps the Seahawks quite a bit in the decision making here.

Michael Jackson*

Seattle’s got Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, and presumably wants another run at Tre Brown. Jackson will start next year, but is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, meaning the Seahawks have all the leverage. If they offer him an ERFA tender, he either plays here or not at all. It will be competition central at cornerback again, presumably, as it’s highly unlikely Jackson decides not to play after the season he just had.

If they don’t offer him an ERFA tender, he’ll play for someone like the Minnesota Vikings or another NFC North team.

Tier Three: Please Don’t Make Us Sad

Poona Ford

Ford highlights the characteristics of this tier perfectly. These are the guys that have either been good, we hoped would be good, or inconsistent combinations of the two. Ford impressed wildly for a couple years, but last year was awful. Pete Carroll seems set on being frustrated at some mysterious something up front with the defense, and if they draft three out of four top picks on the D-line (yay!), Ford might be gone. If he regains earlier form in a less-confusing scheme, we will be sad.

Justin Coleman

Coleman probably doesn’t still have it, but is the type of player that could go sign with the Kansas City Chiefs and and make a play in the postseason and cause an ulcer.

Phil Haynes

See above, except it would be for the Arizona Cardinals and therefore not the postseason, but a league-high PFF run blocking grade in Weeks 1-3.

Marquise Goodwin

I actually hope they bring Goodwin back, I think he knows how to use his speed well enough that it doesn’t matter if he’s over 30. He seemed to have a knack for big plays in big moments, and fun backflips.

Tier Four: Cody Barton

Cody Barton

I am 99% sure Barton is a fine, smart football player who is physically outmatched in the NFL. He might come back simply because the Seahawks don’t currently have another option here. Brooks going down throws a big wrinkle in a position group that could easily be the worst on the team next year.

But he’s played his way into what would have ordinarily been an easy decision. If Schneider opts not to sign Barton, he’ll play for someone else. It would be an absolute shock to see him pop off for another team, but that’s not something I would take well, personally.

L.J. Collier

Only L.J. Collier rivals Rashaad Penny for the amount of draft-pick trashing he caused, and the amount of hair-pulling that would ensue if he actually played well somewhere else. It won’t be here, because, well, four seasons of evidence.

Tier Five: Could Get Picked Up

Both Penny Hart and Travis Homer have had some nice moments for the team, and are probably enough of a known quantity to get another job if Seattle moves on. I still kinda hope they keep Homer, because every fourth time he touches the ball is a 13-yard reception on 3rd-and-12. He can’t ever start or even be RB2 but has a role here that both he and the team understand.

Bonus Tier: Special Teams

Godwin Igwebuike

Get. Him Back.

Looking forward to what Schneider does in the wake of his big Jason Myers the kicker signing. Go Hawks.

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