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Why the Seahawks have been quiet in free agency

Seahawks general manager John Schneider is focused on getting back to a winning formula. (AP)

Free agency is underway in the NFL, which means that it’s time for everyone in Seattle who’s even casually interested the Seahawks to start asking, “Why aren’t the Seahawks adding anyone in free agency?”

Wait.

That’s not the proper phrasing.

WHY ARE THE SEAHAWKS SITTING ON THEIR HANDS WATCHING EVERYONE ELSE IN THE LEAGUE GET BETTER?

So as a public service, I’m going to tell you what the Seahawks are doing: What they always do. Or at least what they’ve always done since John Schneider became GM.

The Seahawks sit out the first wave of free agency. They let other teams bid against each other, driving prices up. Seattle will play some defense, making the best effort to retain guys they want. Sometimes that works like Red Bryant in 2012 and Michael Bennett in 2014. Sometimes it doesn’t, which was the case with Golden Tate back in 2014 and Paul Richardson just this week.

Impact of Seahawks’ early free agent departures

Part of this is strategic. The Seahawks are positioning themselves to recoup compensatory picks, which are awarded to teams who lose free agents. With Richardson headed to Washington, Jimmy Graham to Green Bay and Sheldon Richardson still available, Seattle could receive as many as three additional draft picks in 2019.

But Seattle’s reluctance to carry fistfuls of money into free agency is about being pragmatic. Seattle isn’t going to let its valuation of a player be driven up by the bidding wars that inevitably occur in the first and second wave of free-agent signings.

If the Seahawks do go shopping, it’s usually later in the first week, and while the shelves may be a little bare, they’re able to find players who didn’t get the salaries they expected.

It’s how Seattle added first Cliff Avril and then Bennett back in 2013 and more recently how the Seahawks acquired Bradley McDougald, a safety they signed to a one-year deal in 2017 and just re-signed for three more years.

This year, the Seahawks entered free agency resigned to the reality that there are going to be players – good players – whose price tag exceeds their budget, which was exactly what happened with Richardson. And Jimmy Graham. And we’re still waiting to see if Sheldon Richardson finds more money elsewhere.