STACY ROST

Key questions the Seahawks face once the NFL offseason begins

Jan 23, 2020, 1:51 AM
Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney...
The Seahawks' offseason could revolve around whether or not Jadeveon Clowney re-signs. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks finished the 2019 season with their best record since 2014 (11-5), but they also failed to make it past the divisional round and were struck with a series of injuries to starters. Now, Seattle is faced with another offseason full of important decisions – and that starts with free agency.

Will the Seahawks again be in NFL’s toughest division in 2020?

Here’s a look at what lies immediately ahead for the Seahawks:

What’s next for the Seahawks?

As far as what happens next next, that would be Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, where the Seahawks’ staff will coach the NFC team. It’s an honor that goes to the AFC and NFC teams that lost in the divisional round of the playoffs but finished with the best regular season record – which is why the Baltimore Ravens will coach the AFC team. In addition to its coaching staff, Seattle will be represented by quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Shaquill Griffin, as linebacker Bobby Wagner will rest an injury discovered at the end of the season.

What you’re probably wondering, though, is what happens in terms of offseason moves – and the Seahawks have quite a few to consider.

Which players are in consideration?

The Seahawks have 22 pending unrestricted free agents (this, of course, excludes other free agents the Seahawks could be eyeing). You can track all of the Seahawks’ free agents here, but the bigger names include defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, tackles Germain Ifedi and George Fant, starting guard Mike Iupati, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson.

Clowney is a favorite to get a deal done first, and the Seahawks have expressed interest in re-signing him. A new deal for Clowney would also carry the heftiest price tag, however.

How much could it cost to re-sign Clowney?

The estimated market value for a deal for Clowney would be six years, $120 million, or a four-year deal worth around $77 million. Either way, it’ll cost the Seahawks about $20 million per year to keep Clowney on their roster.

Clowney doesn’t have the sacks numbers of fellow star defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, and Trey Flowers – who make up the three DEs with the largest average salaries for edge rushers in the NFL – but he climbs near the top of the pack in run defense and finished with one of the best Pro Football Grades (87.3) of his career.

Can Seattle afford it with the cap space it has to work with?

Yes. Like any big deal, it would limit flexibility at other positions. However, Seattle is in a pretty good spot cap-wise with about $60 million to spend, so the Seahawks could re-sign Clowney and still afford to make moves in free agency.

The bigger question is whether Clowney will test free agency instead of re-signing before then, and if so, whether Seattle can sway him to come back after he does. Even with a steep price tag, there’s sure to be interest from other teams – NFL.com has Clowney at No. 4 in their list of 2020 free agents.

Who else could the Seahawks re-sign?

The Seahawks have some tough decisions to make, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines.

Pete Carroll said on Jan. 13 in his season-ending press conference that it was important to him to keep continuity along the offensive line.

“I hope we can keep our guys connected,” Carroll said. “I don’t want to see a big change there.”

Seattle will have some work to do in that case, as three linemen – starting right tackle Germain Ifedi, starting left guard Mike Iupati, and tackle/tight end George Fant – have expiring contracts.

Meanwhile, a number of defensive linemen are set to hit free agency, including starting defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Also departing – unless re-signed – will be defensive linemen Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Ezekiel Ansah, and Branden Jackson.

When do decisions have to be made?

The exact start of the NFL “New Year” – when all of those contracts officially expire – is March 18 at 1 p.m. Beginning Feb. 25, clubs may franchise tag players, but as a reminder, the Seahawks agreed not to franchise Clowney as part of their deal to acquire him from the Texans. Clubs can begin contract negotiations with pending free agents on March 16.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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