By Danny O’Neil
The Seahawks can’t afford to keep everyone.
That became obvious as Seattle has already had seven of its unrestricted free agents sign elsewhere this month.
You never know what you’re going to be able to buy, either, and for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks just may have waited out the market and come away with a premier pass rusher that most people expected would be too expensive.
In 2013, it was Cliff Avril and then Michael Bennett. In 2014? It could be Jared Allen, who is reportedly mulling a contract offer from the Seahawks after visiting with the team for a second time Thursday.
How big of a deal is this?
Well, depends on what you mean by that. The actual size of the contract offer has yet to be seen, and any calibration of just how good of an acquisition this would be depends on how much Seattle is potentially committed to paying Allen.
But strategically, the acquisition of Allen would be huge because it means the Seahawks aren’t looking to withstand the departure of four-year starter Chris Clemons, they’re looking to upgrade.
Allen is certainly that. Clemons exceeded 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons in Seattle; Allen has accomplished that in each of the past seven seasons. Clemons is older, too.
But after deciding Clemons’ contract was prohibitively high to retain him, the Seahawks didn’t plunge into the free-agent pool to come out with a pass rusher so much as they waded in. Deliberately. Patiently.
Signing Jared Allen would follow a pattern for the Seahawks, who took a patient approach last offseason before adding Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. (AP)
This wasn’t a free-agent power play in which the Seahawks grabbed a couple fists full of dollars and set out to get their man. Not like Tampa Bay pursued defensive end Michael Johnson from Cincinnati. Or even the way Denver acquired DeMarcus Ware soon after he was released by Dallas.
Seattle wasn’t quite that aggressive as the big money was getting spent first by the Bucs, then the Broncos and finally the Packers bringing in Julius Peppers on a three-year, $27 million deal.
Allen’s contract likely wouldn’t average that much. But Seattle’s offer included something else: An opportunity to play for a team that has allowed the fewest points in the league in two successive seasons and is coming off a Super Bowl victory.
That buys more than just credibility in the eyes of a player. It’s part of the entire package that a team can offer, and while free-agent negotiations are often distilled down into dollars and years, there can be more to it than just that even for a veteran like Allen.
No, especially for a veteran like Allen. He’s already collected the biggest check he’ll receive in his career, just having completed a six-year, $72 million contract he signed with the Vikings in 2008.
That’s not to say money no longer matters. Certainly it does, but after the top-shelf deals came and went for Johnson and then Ware and then Peppers, Allen was left to look at what was left.
The fact that he may pick Seattle speaks to just how attractive the Seahawks can be. They may not be able to offer the most money. Not with a payroll that must be tailored with an eye toward the future big-bucks contract offers for guys like Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks can offer both their status as the reigning champs and a home-field advantage tailor-made for a pass-rusher like Allen.
No, Seattle won’t be able to afford to keep everyone, but for the second straight year, the Seahawks might pull off a surprise in terms of what they can buy on the free-agent market.