Heaps: The free agents who will be easiest and hardest for Seahawks to re-sign

Jan 21, 2022, 1:06 PM

Seahawks CB D.J. Reed, FS Quandre Diggs...

D.J. Reed of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates his interception with Quandre Diggs during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks have 15 players set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, and former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps thinks that there are six who are “no-brainers” for the team to re-sign.

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During the Wednesday, Jan. 12 edition of Jake and Stacy on 710 ESPN Seattle, Heaps said the six players who the Seahawks absolutely need to re-sign are safety Quandre Diggs, left tackle Duane Brown, tight end Gerald Everett, cornerback D.J. Reed, running back Rashaad Penny and defensive end Rasheem Green.

Heaps: The 6 ‘no-brainers’ the Seahawks must re-sign this offseason

During this Thursday’s Jake and Stacy, Heaps said that one of those six has a very high likelihood of returning while two of those pending free agents will be more difficult to sign.

Starting with the easier signing, Heaps pointed to the Seahawks’ oldest player.

“If I was to put a percentage on it, I’m going to say that there is a 95% chance that Duane Brown returns for the Seattle Seahawks in 2022,” Heaps said.

Brown, 36, came to Seattle in a midseason trade in 2017 and has been the team’s starting left tackle ever since. Brown made three Pro Bowls with the Houston Texans and made one with the Seahawks, and was a second-team All-Pro in Seattle in 2018, his first full year with the franchise. He’s also been a Pro Bowl alternate each of the last two seasons.

Not only is Brown a solid starter at left tackle, but the 15-year veteran — who started all 17 games for the Seahawks and played 100 of snaps 16 times in 2021 — is clearly well-respected by his coaches and teammates.

“You heard the way (head coach) Pete Carroll talked about Duane Brown at the end of the season, just marveling over the way that he takes care of his body, his approach, his mindset, his mentality and the leader that he is,” Heaps noted.

Brown also clearly likes being with the Seahawks.

“Duane Brown in his exit interview with the media said, ‘I want to come back, I would love to come back if (they’d have me),'” Heaps said. “So I believe that you’re going to witness that signing probably later in the conversation, probably more towards April or May possibly for Duane Brown to return here to Seattle. But I don’t see how you don’t sign back Duane Brown.”

Part of the reason why Heaps thinks Brown will be back is because he doesn’t see the Seahawks making a run at other top left tackles on the market like Terron Armstead of the New Orleans Saints or Orlando Brown of the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I think Duane Brown is the one true good option that you have on the left tackle market (if you’re the Seahawks),” Heaps said. “The relationship is strong there, I think Duane brown still has good years left to be played, I think it’s the easiest thing to get done this offseason, and I fully expect it to get done.”

Getting a deal done with Brown, Heaps said, will allow the Seahawks to focus on signing a center and right tackle in free agency.

While Heaps is confident the Seahawks will get a deal done with their veteran left tackle, he’s less certain about Seattle re-signing two young defenders.

“The two that I’m really worried about in terms of the organization wanting to bring back but the market maybe being too competitive is cornerback D.J. Reed and defensive end Rasheem Green,” Heaps said.

Reed, 25, just wrapped up his second season with the Seahawks and, like he was late in 2020, Reed was Seattle’s best cornerback.

Reed came to the Seahawks via waivers ahead of the 2020 season after the San Francisco 49ers cut the 2018 fifth-round pick because of a pectoral injury. The Seahawks happily scooped Reed up and played him as soon as he was healthy. He played 10 games (eight starts) for the Seahawks in 2020 and picked off two passes while allowing just a 75.8 opponent passer rating when targeted. Reed started his Seahawks tenure as a nickel corner but moved to the outside, where he flourished and has stayed ever since.

In 2021, Reed started 14 games and recorded two interceptions. He also got even better in coverage as opponents completed just 47.7% of passes against him with a 67.8 passer rating.

“D.J. Reed, as we know, had a phenomenal year this year, and he’s not a big name on the market,” Heaps said. “He wasn’t someone that was drafted high. (Former Seahawks cornerback and third-round pick) Shaquill Griffin had a lot more hype going into this last offseason. But make no mistake, when people put on the film of D.J. Reed, they like what they see.”

Griffin was the Seahawks’ third-round pick in 2017 and was a four-year starter for Seattle before signing a three-year, $40 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason. He’s the NFL’s 12th-highest paid cornerback.

“If D.J. Reed gets into a competitive market, he’s going to cost a lot of money,” Heaps said. “The cornerback market is worth a whole lot of money and it may be too rich (for the Seahawks) to be able to bring back D.J. Reed. I hope that’s not the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised either with how much this league covets good cornerback play.”

As for Green, he turns 25 in May despite having just finished his fourth NFL season.

Green was selected by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft and played sparingly as a rookie. In 2019, Green led the Seahawks in sacks with four, but he couldn’t build off that in 2020 as he missed six games due to injury and had just two sacks.

Green had his best year in 2021, though, finishing tied for second on the Seahawks with 6.5 sacks. He also set career highs in QB hits (15), total tackles (48), tackles for loss (six) and pass deflections (four).

Green also made one of the better plays of the year for the Seahawks when he blocked an extra point attempt and returned it for 2 points for Seattle.

What made the play even more impressive is the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Green reached a top speed of 18.41 mph, which was the fastest max speed of any NFL defensive lineman as a ball carrier since Jadeveon Clowney returned an interception for a touchdown in 2019.

Green may not have a ton of production in his four-year NFL career, but Heaps thinks he may have a pretty large market.

“Rasheem Green (hasn’t ever had) a stellar year (in his career) where he’s produced over 10 sacks and the numbers are just off the charts, but this is a young player going to be 25 years old when he hits the market,” Heaps said. “He has strung together a couple good, solid seasons., and I think that people like the upside of what Rasheem Green can potentially bring. And if you just put the comps on Quinton Jefferson and Rasheem Green, I think Rasheem Green has way more to offer and can command way more on the market than what Quinton Jefferson was able to get and the Seahawks let Quinton Jefferson walk at one point in time.”

Jefferson, like Green, was a defensive lineman for the Seahawks who was bigger and could play both on the edge and lined up inside. After a 3.5-sack season for Seattle in 2019, Jefferson left via free agency, signing a two-year, $13.5 million deal with the Buffalo Bills.

Listen to the second hour of Thursday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: The free agents who will be easiest and hardest for Seahawks to re-sign