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John Clayton says Seattle would've paid T.J. Lang $8 million a year. He got $9.5 million from Detroit. (AP)
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Clayton: Thoughts on Joeckel, Lang, Shead and the Seahawks as the first wave of free agency winds down

John Clayton says Seattle would've paid T.J. Lang $8 million a year. He got $9.5 million from Detroit. (AP)

The Seahawks came out of the first phase of free agency with one signing, former Jaguars offensive lineman Luke Joeckel. Though the $8 million max value on his one-year deal was a little surprising for a team not expected to invest heavily in free agency, it made senses. A few moves before the start of free agency gave the Seahawks the luxury of dabbling in the free-agent market.

Many fans were wondering why the Seahawks wouldn’t give a restricted-free-agent tender to cornerback DeShawn Shead. He’s recovering from ACL surgery and is expected to miss more than half the season. It’s expected at some point the Seahawks will make him a minimum-salary offer to give him a chance to work his way back. That contract most likely would be for $775,000 and would count $615,000 against the cap, but there isn’t any urgency to get a deal done. It’s not going to speed up Shead’s recovery.

O’Neil: Seahawks are better off for not overpaying T.J. Lang

Shead wasn’t the only potential RFA who wasn’t offered. The Seahawks didn’t offer linebacker Brock Coyle or safety Steven Terrell. The low RFA tender is for $1.797 million. By not tendering any of those three, the savings of $5.391 million gave Seattle the luxury of signing Joeckel. The Seahawks guaranteed $7 million of his $8 million deal and the contract counts $7.25 million against the cap. As a result, the Seahawks have $17.5 million of cap room remaining.

Offensive line prices were out of sight and too much for the Seahawks. Eleven free-agent offensive linemen got contracts worth between $8 million and $13.25 million. Russell Okung was too expensive. The Chargers gave him a four-year, $53 million deal. Riley Reiff got $11.75 million a year from Minnesota. Andrew Whitworth got $11.25 million a year from the Rams. Matt Kalil got $11 million a year from Carolina. The Jets gave Kelvin Beachum $8 million a year.

The one-year deal for Joeckel gave the Seahawks flexibility. He can compete at left tackle or left guard. If he does well, the Seahawks could pay him next year. If it doesn’t work out, the team can move on and let him go in free agency.

T.J. Lang’s three-year, $28.5 million deal with Detroit closed out the main group of the offensive-line market. That $9.5 million average was $1.5 million more per year than what Seattle would have paid him.

Seahawks 2017 free-agency tracker: Keep track of Seattle’s moves

Guards were the true winners in the first phase of free agency. Kevin Zeitler got $12 million a year from Cleveland. The Broncos paid Ron Leary $9 million a year. Larry Warford got $8.5 million from New Orleans.

By not signing Lang, the Seahawks have plenty of room to give center Justin Britt an extension. They have spent a good period of time studying running backs Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy. It’s pretty evident that after the Seahawks decide whether or not they want to sign a veteran running back, they will turn their focus to helping their defense.

As for right now, the first phase of free agency is just about over.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.