Clayton: Taking stock after a monumental day for the Seahawks
Wow, could Thursday have been a bigger news day for the Seattle Seahawks?
General manager John Schneider signed four players who were on the unrestricted free-agent market before it turned into the street free agent market earlier this week, and they don’t cost the Seahawks a single 2020 compensatory draft pick.
Ziggy Ansah became Schneider’s most talented pass-rushing defensive end. Nick Bellore could be the fullback and a special teams player. Jamar Taylor will compete for the slot cornerback job. And then they added more depth on the offensive line by signing guard Marcus Martin.
Schneider is still waiting to sign a run-stopping defensive tackle. And no, it doesn’t appear the Seahawks will sign Jermaine Kearse at wide receiver.
But the biggest news came out later in the day when the Seahawks announced they have terminated the contracts of wide receiver Doug Baldwin and safety Kam Chancellor due to failed physicals. The timing was a little bit of a surprise, but it was telling.
The Seahawks wanted to treat Baldwin and Chancellor the right way for the services they did for the franchise, as odd as that sounds when we are talking about releasing players. Instead of waiting until June and splitting the difference on dead cap money, the Seahawks took the cap hits this year, where they have room after the Frank Clark trade that freed up $17.1 million.
The way the Seahawks released Baldwin and Chancellor with the failed physical designations, they will qualify for $1.2 million. That was a union-negotiated benefit. Both players appear to be ready to retire. Chancellor will also be paid $5.8 million for an injury guarantee.
It had to be a little emotional at Seahawks headquarters on Thursday.
Baldwin grew from an undrafted free agent from Stanford (whom the Seahawks had put a fifth-round grade on) into one of the top 100 players in the NFL and one of league’s best route runners.
Chancellor was the enforcer of the Legion of Boom. He put the fear factor into receivers who wanted to go into the middle of the field. When the Seahawks drafted Utah safety Marquise Blair in the second round of the NFL Draft, they were thinking of the hits Chancellor used to deliver. Kam came to Seattle as a quiet but big safety who eventually become one of the best leaders in the locke rroom.
You sensed the Seahawks were thinking of replacing Baldwin when they drafted wide receivers D.K. Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua, and it all clicked when the story came out on the second day of the draft that Baldwin was thinking about retiring.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said a decision on Baldwin would be a couple weeks after the draft. He was right.
As far as the signings go, the Ansah addition is huge. He gets $9 million in base pay and could get $2.5 million more as an incentive if he gets 10 sacks.
If Ansah gets to that 10-sack milestone, he might leave in free agency and get more than $16 million a year. And the Seahawks would then get a third-round compensatory pick in 2021.
Above all, though, the Seahawks needed a No. 1 defensive end to replace Frank Clark. Ansah could be that guy, but due to a shoulder injury he won’t be able to practice until mid-August and might miss a couple of regular season games.
Ansah is a smart player, a hard worker and a great pass-rusher. When he gets on the field he will be under a play count until he gets in full football shape. The key is to have him pick up speed during the middle of the season and for the final stretch.
So with the money freed up by the Clark trade, the Seahawks were able to add a pass rusher to replace him, a veteran slot cornerback, an offensive lineman and a fullback who can play special teams.
More is on the way, but what a day.