The Seahawks had until Wednesday afternoon to tender contracts to their restricted free agents. They only did so with center Patrick Lewis, which means five others are now free to sign with any other team.
Running back Christine Michael, offensive lineman Alvin Bailey, fullback Derrick Coleman, linebacker Nick Moody and injured wide receiver Ricardo Lockette all became unrestricted free agents as Seattle did not submit a qualifying offer to any of them by the 1 p.m. deadline.
That doesn’t preclude any of those players from re-signing with Seattle, and in the case of Michael, it’s entirely possible that he returns given the Seahawks’ need for running-back depth after Marshawn Lynch’s retirement and the improvement he showed after returning to the team late last season. But it exposes those players to every other team, which indicates that it wasn’t a priority for the Seahawks to bring any of them back.
Bailey had an inside track to replace James Carpenter as Seattle’s starting left guard, which seemed even more likely after he dropped a significant amount of weight over the offseason. But he couldn’t secure that job and remained a backup, starting three games at left tackle as an injury replacement.
Coleman’s unresolved legal case is likely a factor in his situation. Bellevue Police in January recommended felony charges of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. The King County Prosecutor’s Office has yet to make a decision.
The Seahawks were not expected to tender Lockette as he’s recovering from a serious neck injury that ended his season and required surgery.
Moody joined Seattle last season and appeared in three games on special teams before he was placed on injured reserve.
With Michael, it may be a matter of Seattle wanting to re-sign him for cheaper than what it would have cost to give him the lowest of the three tenders, which is worth $1.617 million. Then again, Seattle could have given him that tender then re-negotiated a lower price, which the team has done with restricted free agents in the past.
Lewis has started 13 games over the past two years for the Seahawks. He replaced Drew Nowak midway through last season, which coincided with – and was cited by coach Pete Carroll as a for – the improvement along Seattle’s offensive line.
He reportedly received the $1.617 million tender. He can negotiate with other teams, and if he were to sign an offer sheet worth more money, the Seahawks would have the opportunity to match it. They wouldn’t receive any draft-pick compensation if they declined to do so, however. Any team that signs away a restricted free agent who was given the low tender has to give up its pick in the round in which that player was drafted. But Lewis was not drafted, which means Seattle wouldn’t get anything if another team made a bigger offer and the Seahawks didn’t match it.
The Seahawks also confirmed on Wednesday that they tendered contracts to their seven exclusive-rights free agents, which secures their rights for next season. Those players are defensive back DeShawn Shead, cornerbacks Marcus Burley and Mohammed Seisay, free safety Steven Terrell, tight end Cooper Helfet, defensive tackle A.J. Francis and linebacker Eric Pinkins.
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Shead’s tender is worth $760,000.
Defensive tackle Jesse Williams was Seattle’s other exclusive-rights free agent, but the team waived him on Tuesday.