Gallant: Why the Seahawks are the most desirable free agent destination
For the Seahawks to take that next step in 2020, they’ve got to be aggressive in free agency. We’re all in agreement on that, right?
“Thanks for the as plain as a pikestaff point PAWL. I’ve already read multiple OBVIOUS columns this week. How many dated references is it going to take for you to get to the point in this rambling writing wreck?”
Easy, Seahawks Steve. My point is one we should all be in agreement about: the 2020 Seahawks are the NFL’s most attractive free agency destination.
Put yourselves in the shoes of a player for hire, and try to tell me why I’m wrong.
• Inarguable: In Russell Wilson, the Seahawks have one of the league’s best two quarterbacks.
• Pete Carroll – who’s been at the helm of the Seahawks for 10 years – is one of the nine active head coaches to have won a Super Bowl.
• The Seahawks currently have roughly $51 million in cap space per Over The Cap, and with a few moves could free up $16 million more. They can pay dudes.
• Washington has no state income tax.
Some of that cap space SHOULD go to Jadeveon Clowney. But I’d be surprised by any free agent that doesn’t have the Seahawks as one of the top three teams on their wish list.
“Wow Pawl, you’re such a homer. Pander more, you can’t.”
Then how do the Hawks stack up against other potential destinations?
Things can change between now and the start of free agency about a month from now. But for now, let’s focus on all the teams that have $40 million or so worth of cap space to play: THE CAP STRUNG CONTENDER.
1. Las Vegas Raiders
Cap Space: $54,918,096 (9)
Perks: Who wouldn’t want to play in Las Vegas for the silver and black? On top of that, head coach Jon Gruden has done a surprisingly good job of creating a culture for … Vegas. That feels weird to say. They’re in Las Vegas now, you guys.
Probs: They have a non-answer at quarterback in Derek Carr, a guy who is seeming more and more paranoid about the criticism he’s receiving. Gruden certainly hasn’t helped him out on that front.
THAT BOSS, THO
2. Houston Texans
Cap Space: $55,192,117 (8)
Perks: Deshaun Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, and is only going to get better. He’s also got one one of the best wide receivers in the game – DeAndre Hopkins – as his No. 1 target. Plus, Texas has no state income tax.
Probs: The defense needs a whole lot of work. On top of that, Bill O’Brien inspired close to zero confidence as the team’s head coach.
As head coach AND general manager, he’s inspiring even less.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Cap Space: $77,234,623 (5)
Perks: They seem to have upgraded at head coach going from Jason Garrett to Super Bowl winner Mike McCarthy, and have a whole lot of money to spend …
Probs: … but they’re probably going to spend a lot of it giving quarterback Dak Prescott another contract. On top of that, they’ll likely have to pay receiver Amari Cooper big time money to keep him around. Is owner/general manager Jerry Jones going to bend the knee for two new contracts the way he did last year for running back Ezekiel Elliott? Especially after the down season that Zeke just had?
WORTH THE DISCOUNT
4. Tennessee Titans
Cap Space: $50,708,536 (12)
Perks: Their playoff run was really impressive. Nashville is a cool city. And Mike Vrabel has done a really good job of establishing a culture there.
Probs: I’m not sold on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but there’s no denying the impact he had on Tennessee down the stretch. He’s a free agent, and his play merits a raise for 2020. On top of that, running back Derrick Henry – last year’s leading rusher – is ALSO a free agent. Between those two contracts, it’s hard to imagine the Titans being too aggressive in free agency. Any free agent that goes is unlikely to be signing for the money.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Cap Space: $40,930,800 (18)
Perks: Considering all the injuries that they had last season, they still found a way to win the NFC East. Yes, it was an extremely down year for the division. But Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz form a formidable core for a team that also has a solid pass rush.
Probs: Wentz needs more weapons, and some luck on the injury side of things.
6. New England Patriots
Cap Space: $45,565,319 (16)
Perks: Bill Belichick is the best coach in NFL history, and they had the best defense in the league last season.
Probs: Tom Brady isn’t currently on the team. And while it seems more and more likely that he’ll be back in New England for 2020, he’d likely require a good amount of that cap space. On top of that, the Patriots were one of the league’s oldest teams last year. They’ll likely be contenders, but are they the same Super Bowl favorite that would draw a veteran to play at a discount?
THEY’VE GOT A PLAN
7. Buffalo Bills
Cap Space: $80,186,963 (3)
Perks: Sean McDermott is one of the more underrated head coaches in the NFL, and has one of the league’s best defenses at his disposal. And of all the teams that made the playoffs last season, they’ve got the most money to spend.
Probs: Quarterback Josh Allen is great at running the football. But when it comes to throwing, he’s frustratingly inaccurate. With the way he played against the Texans in the playoffs, do you want that guy leading your team? Also, Buffalo is COLD.
8. Indianapolis Colts
Cap Space: $86,162,964 (2)
Perks: One of the league’s best offensive lines, a good head coach in Frank Reich and one of the league’s more respected GMs in Chris Ballard. Plus, they can outspend essentially everyone.
Probs: They need a quarterback. Jacoby Brissett isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be much more than a game manager.
9. Arizona Cardinals
Cap Space: $53,657,294 (10)
Perks: Quarterback Kyler Murray looks like the real deal, and they showed some spunk the last four games of the season. On top of that, they’ve got one of the league’s best defensive players in edge rusher Chandler Jones.
Probs: Does Kliff Kingsbury seem like someone who will be one of the league’s best head coaches? That remains to be seen.
10. Denver Broncos
Cap Space: $61,946,764 (6)
Perks: They were 4-1 down the stretch after turning to Drew Lock as their full time starter at quarterback. They’ve also got a lot of talent on defense.
Probs: Do you want to play in the same division as the Kansas City Chiefs? Good luck getting a home playoff game.
THEY’VE GOT A COACH
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap Space: $79,894,844 (4)
Perks: I like Bruce Arians as a head coach, and they had one of the youngest rosters in the NFL heading into this past season. They’ve got a ton of offensive weapons, and one of the best run defenses in the league.
Probs: But they’ve got a major question at quarterback, with Jameis Winston potentially a free agent. They also were a sieve against the pass.
12. Miami Dolphins
Cap Space: $89,390,424 (1)
Perks: Considering that their roster was largely void of talent, Miami showed some impressive resolve down the stretch. Credit Brian Flores for getting that team to play, especially in a year.
Probs: They don’t have a quarterback, and it’s no certainty that they’ll have one after this year’s draft. On top of that, they seem like they’re at least another year away from spending big in free agency, let alone contending.
I’M GONNA NEED A LITTLE EXTRA
13. Cleveland Browns
Cap Space: $49,574,690 (13)
Perks: Odell Beckham Jr. Nick Chubb. Jarvis Landry. Myles Garrett. They’re loaded with talent.
Probs: And yet, last year was a complete disaster. Is another first year head coach – Kevin Stefanski – going to be able to turn things around? And how much better can quarterback Baker Mayfield get when he’s spending another offseason learning an entirely new offense?
14. New York Giants
Cap Space: $61,887,217 (7)
Perks: Saquon Barkley is already one of the best running backs in the league.
Probs: Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones flashed, but was pretty shaky down the stretch. You’d also have to play for rookie head coach Joe Judge.
15. Los Angeles Chargers
Cap Space: $48,707,802 (14)
Perks: Los Angeles! New stadium! Glitz! Glamor!
Probs: They don’t currently have a quarterback, their ownership has historically whiffed when it comes to treating icons like Ladainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers, and they took a massive step back in 2019 after a surprising 2018.
16. New York Jets
Cap Space: $49,693,190 (13)
Perks: Sam Darnold MIGHT be an above average quarterback, and theoretically he can only get better.
Probs: As long as Adam Gase is their head coach, they will go nowhere.
17. Detroit Lions
Cap Space: $45,839,794 (15)
Perks: Arguably the best uniforms in the NFL.
Probs: Their quarterback – Matt Stafford – broke his back last season, and it seems like few players enjoy playing for Matt Patricia. Add in an entire Super Bowl era of incompetence, and this is a tough sell.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Cap Space: $44,701,400 (17)
Perks: This fight song is neat, and college quarterback Joe Burrow – who they’ll likely select first overall in the draft – is an intriguing piece to build around.
Probs: The Bengals NEVER pay anyone.
REST OF THE BEST
“But PAWL, what about last year’s best teams? You’re telling me they’re broke flat broke?”
Kansas City Chiefs: $13,749,494 (25)
San Francisco 49ers: $13,123,285 (26)
Baltimore Ravens: $27,750,854 (23)
Green Bay Packers: $23,700,042 (24)
New Orleans Saints: $9,398,192 (27)
Incredibly, they are. And seeing as the Seahawks have the best pitch possible and some serious cash, it’ll be a tremendous disappointment if they don’t get the cream of the crop when free agency begins next month.
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