Clayton: Seahawks joining NFC West arms race with addition of Greg Olsen

Feb 18, 2020, 3:24 PM
Seahawks reportedly sign Greg Olsen...
After years of battling the Seahawks with Carolina, Greg Olsen is reportedly joining Seattle. (Getty)

The Seahawks struck gold on Tuesday when free-agent tight end Greg Olsen agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal that has $5.5 million guaranteed.

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Olsen is the perfect addition to an offense that will be waiting for Will Dissly to return from an Achilles tear that ended his 2019 season. Olsen buys time for Dissly to return, and he gives Russell Wilson a solid weapon that improves the offense. Wilson wants the Seahawks to add stars who could get the Seahawks over the top to win the NFC West instead of being a wild card in the playoffs, and Olsen fits the bill.

Injuries have limited Olsen over the past three years, and while he’s 34 he is coming off a 52-catch season with 597 yards. He hasn’t had a 16-game season since 2016, but he gives the Seahawks good depth at tight end along with Jacob Hollister, who is a good pass-catching tight end, and Dissly, who could be back for the regular season.

The next move for Seattle might be releasing Ed Dickson, Olsen’s former backup in Carolina, who has bothered by injuries the past two seasons.

One thing that is noticeable is that the NFC West is about to enter an arms race for talent. The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers have won the past two NFC titles. And while the Arizona Cardinals might be the fourth-place team, they have Kyler Murray and are expected to be aggressive in free agency. That’s pretty clear after the Cardinals showing their willingness to be aggressive in spending, surprising the NFL by signing left tackle D.J. Humphries to a three-year, $45 million contract this week.

Paying Humphries $15 million a year would seem to be excessive but shouldn’t be totally surprising. With the salary cap expected to be near $200 million – $11.8 million more than last season – the price of re-signing players keeps going up at a fast rate. To convince an unrestricted free agent not to hit the free-agent market puts teams in position to be overly generous to prevent them from leaving.

Humphries may not be a big name at left tackle but he’s young and keeps improving. I remember when the Kansas City Chiefs signed left tackle Eric Fisher to a four-year, $48 million contract. That seemed excessive at the time, but Fisher has played well when healthy and helped the Chiefs to become a perennial playoff team and win their first Super Bowl since 1969.

The price of signing players could go up even more if the players accept an offer to have a 17-game season as early as 2021. Revenues could jump by $1.8 billion if the players accept and the networks pay the freight. The players are assembling Thursday with the NFLPA to decide if they would go for the 17-game schedule.

The Seahawks know it is not going to be easy to keep Jadeveon Clowney. A story circulated early this week that he might try to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. That would take his demands into the $24 million a year range. It’s not certain that the Seahawks would go to $20 million a year.

Still, the Seahawks are in a desperate position to improve a pass rush that generated only 28 sacks last season. The Seahawks can’t think Super Bowl with those few sacks on a defense that ranked 26th in yards allowed.

About half of Seattle’s defensive line is set to hit free agency. Seahawks management has confidence that L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green will be more of a factor next year. Still, it would help if they could keep Clowney, Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson.

As Terrell Owens used to say, get the popcorn ready. The NFC West will be quite a show this offseason.

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