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Clayton: A look at the Seahawks’ upcoming contract decisions

Seahawks DE Frank Clark could be Seattle's top priority when it comes to contract extensions. (AP)

The downside for the Seahawks this offseason was seeing so many core group players depart.

Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Jimmy Graham are gone. Kam Chancellor may not be able to play because of a bad neck. Earl Thomas is in a holdout, putting his status in question.

Clayton: Final observations from Seahawks minicamp

This year is considered a reset for the Seahawks. But a byproduct of the reset is that the Seahawks open up plenty of cap room for the future.

This year, for example, the Seahawks began the offseason with only $3.5 million of cap room when the cap was set at $177.2 million. Something had to give and sacrifices were necessary.

After signing third-round pick Rasheem Green, the Seahawks have all of their draft choices under contract and they have about $10.5 million of room. Looking ahead, the Seahawks have around $60 million of cap room in 2019, but they have a lot of decisions to make.

Let’s look at a few.

It’s pretty clear the Seahawks can’t do anything on an Earl Thomas extension until he reports and shows that he want to be a Seahawks. His plan is to hold out, which is a distraction Pete Carroll must deal with this summer.

Cap-wise, the Seahawks have the luxury of extending a bunch of players. They have more than 20 free agents next year, but the decisions won’t be easy.

Frank Clark is probably the biggest priority. He has 10-sack potential and now is the main defensive end on the team after being the No. 3 the past couple of years. The Seahawks can easily pay him $11 plus million a year and it would benefit them to sign him sooner rather than later. His situation is much like DeMarcus Lawrence of the Dallas Cowboys. Lawrence was a rising star, had nine sacks in his first three years, and then exploded last year with 14-and-a-half sacks. The Cowboys had to franchise him at $17.1 million.

Like Lawrence, Clark is a second-round pick. He’s had 22 sacks in his first three years. Extending second-round choices isn’t easy for team. Agents like to gamble on the future because the team’s only recourses are to get the player to take a deal or they have to use the franchise tag.

Chances of getting second-round picks to re-sign over the past three years has been at 20 to 30 percent for the team. Nevertheless, the Seahawks will have the room to pay more than $10 million a year to re-sign him.

There is an interesting debate involving K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas. Both are in the final year of their contracts. Extensions would involve their third contracts and a third contract can be tricky – look at some of the issues with Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor.

I would project there is a better chance Wright gets a third contract than Thomas and it might be hard to give both extensions. Wright would cost around $10 million a year. Thomas would have to get in excess of $13 million. Putting that much money in two players could be difficult.

Left tackle Duane Brown should get a short extension around $10 million or $11 million a year, but they might be slow in getting something done. The Seahawks would need to see how much other players cost in this year’s cap before doing something with Brown. On the other hand, a deal with Brown would open up more cap room this year.

They have the luxury of getting something done with Tyler Lockett and cornerback Justin Coleman. Coleman is an excellent slot cornerback, while Lockett is the team’s No. 2 wide receiver and a Pro Bowl-caliber returner.

Let the negotiating begin.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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