Clayton: The Seahawks’ priorities and potential targets in free agency

Mar 11, 2021, 2:17 PM
Seahawks Quinton Jefferson...
After one year with Buffalo, could Quinton Jefferson rejoin the Seahawks' D-line? (Getty)

The NFL salary cap for 2021 has been set at $182.5 million, and the Seahawks are in interesting position.

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After they released Carlos Dunlap, the Seahawks have a little more than $20 million of cap room. Their priority needs are at defensive end and interior offensive line.

It didn’t surprise anyone that the Seahawks didn’t put the franchise tag on cornerback Shaquill Griffin or running back Chris Carson. It hasn’t been their style to do that since head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider came to Seattle in 2010. They have only franchised two players – Olindo Mare in 2010, who as a kicker had the lowest franchise number, and defensive end Frank Clark, who they traded to Kansas City before they had to pay his tag number in 2019.

Unless the Seahawks go for free-agent center Corey Linsley, who is going to cost at least $10 million a year, they aren’t expected to spend big numbers in free agency. But they will be active – very active.

We’re starting to see how the bargains are coming in with players who have been cut, which made them free agents before free agency officially begins next week. Running back Mark Ingram signed a one-year deal with the Houston Texans for $3 million. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams, who was making $11 million a year for the Las Vegas Raiders, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Detroit Lions. Defensive end Stephen Weatherly took a 50 percent paycut, signing for $2.5 million with the Minnesota Vikings after the Carolina Panthers released him.

Some interesting names are getting cut who could be candidates for the Seahawks to consider. The Detroit Lions released Justin Coleman, who signed a $9 million a year contract in 2018 after two years with Seattle as one of the best slot corners in the league. The Seahawks like Ugo Amadi in the slot but Coleman could be a consideration if Griffin leaves. They could also re-sign cornerback Quinton Dunbar if Griffin leaves. Still, the best option is getting something done with Shaquill.

Another option could be cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was cut by the New Orleans Saints. He was making $8.35 million a year but might have to take $6 million or less on a one-year deal much like Josh Norman did last year with the Buffalo Bills. His man-to-man ability matches with what the Seahawks do at the cornerback position.

The rebuilding at defensive end could start with a re-signing of Dunlap, but you would have to think Quinton Jefferson would be a consideration. He left Seattle for Buffalo last year to get a $6.5 million salary, but the Bills released him Wednesday. Jefferson liked it here. He added pass-rushing and run-stopping ability. If the Seahawks could get Jefferson, Dunlap and Benson Mayowa all back, they would be pretty good with them along with Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson rushing the quarterback.

So far there have been more than 50 cuts, trades or retirements in the NFL because of the cap, and the number keeps growing every day. This should keep Schneider busy.

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