The Seahawks will not tender starting cornerback DeShawn Shead or backup linebacker Brock Coyle as restricted free agents, according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com.
That’s not necessarily a sign that Seattle is moving on from either player. The Seahawks can still bring them back at a cheaper price than what it would have cost to tender them at the lowest of the three RFA levels, which is $1.797 million for one season. And in Shead’s case, they almost certainly will want to now that he’s established himself as a viable starter since assuming that role late in 2015. But he’s coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL that will likely sideline him through the start of next season, which, in Seattle’s eyes, makes the near-$1.8 million price tag too steep.
Based on his service time, Shead’s minimum salary for 2017 would be $775,000. He made $760,000 last season.
The risk in non-tendering Shead as an RFA and then trying to re-sign him at a lower cost is that he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, which means he’ll be free to negotiate with any other team once free agency begins on Thursday. That’s a risk the Seahawks are apparently willing to take, presumably figuring the uncertainty over his availability for the start of next season will soften his market.
A recent example of the Seahawks non-tendering an RFA and then re-signing him as a UFA is running back Christine Michael last season. Seattle ended up getting him for $725,000, less than half of the low RFA tender from last year, which was $1.617 million.
The Seahawks will presumably try to do the same thing with Shead, who has started 21 games over the last two seasons and who, when healthy, represents Seattle’s best in-house option to start on the right side opposite Richard Sherman. This post takes a look at how the Seahawks could fill that spot in Shead’s absence, including the other cornerbacks on their roster and why it’s more likely that they find additional options in the draft – perhaps even in one of the early rounds – than in free agency.
That Seattle doesn’t plan to tender Coyle as an RFA isn’t at all surprising. Again, it’s not a matter of the Seahawks not wanting him back. He’s been a solid backup at middle and strong-side linebacker, a significant contributor on special teams and also a part of Seattle’s goal-line defense. It’s a matter of Seattle not wanting him back at $1.8 million.