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Bradley McDougald or Jimmy Graham: Who should be the Seahawks’ top priority in free agency?

Jan 5, 2018, 12:53 PM | Updated: 3:47 pm
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Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham finished the season with 10 touchdowns. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Who should be the Seahawks’ top priority in free agency?

The Seahawks have 17 unrestricted free agents heading into the 2017 offseason. Chief among them are tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Paul Richardson.

But there are plenty of other names who deserve a second look. In fact, Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore agrees with listeners, who picked safety Bradley McDougald as the free agent Seattle most needs to re-sign.

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“Bradley McDougald is number one, Byron Maxwell comes in at number two, which I think is actually a pretty important listing and an imminently achievable one,” Danny O’Neil said, who himself had McDougald atop his list of must-get free agents.

Seattle originally signed McDougald, 27, in March on a one-year, $1.8 million deal to provide depth at safety behind Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. What the Seahawks probably weren’t expecting at the time is that they would lose both safeties in 2017 – Thomas for two games in November, and Chancellor for the final six games of the season.

McDougald stepped up in their absence, first at free safety and then at strong safety. Head coach Pete Carroll called him an “unsung hero” for his efforts in relief of the Seahawks’ starters. He made nine starts over 16 games at both safety spots and at right cornerback, and finished the season with four passes defensed and 45 tackles.

Dave Wyman agrees re-signing McDougald – a young, versatile, and reliable defensive back – is a no-brainer for Seattle. He had him at number two, though, because he believes Graham is the most talented player entering the market from Seattle.

“I’m going to go all-in on Jimmy Graham, because I do think that if you ask around the league of coaches, executives and opposing players, that they would say Jimmy Graham would be the number one guy,” Wyman said. “And look, they need to – and this will be on Darrell Bevell – stop using him as a blocking tight end. I thought Jimmy Graham (should be a top priority) because he’s so special.”

Graham, 31, enters free agency after scoring the most touchdowns (10) ever in his career with Seattle. His price tag, though, makes the decision more complicated for the Seahawks; the five-time Pro Bowler had a $10 million cap hit in 2017, the final year of his four-year, $40 million contract. Can the Seahawks afford to offer him another deal – and would he be willing to take a pay cut?

Hear Wyman and O’Neil break down the full list of unrestricted free agents in the clip embedded above.

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Bradley McDougald or Jimmy Graham: Who should be the Seahawks’ top priority in free agency?