The Seattle Seahawks' main goal entering the offseason was to keep as much of its young, core intact as it could.
And despite suffering some significant personnel losses, the Seahawks felt they did that, creating enough salary-cap room that they should be able to re-sign some of its most critical pieces over the next year --- namely, cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and quarterback Russell Wilson.
Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider each hinted loudly entering free agency to not expect the Seahawks to be major players.
It turned out they weren't, as Seattle signed only three players, all of whom came cheaply and none of whom are sure bets to make the 2014 roster.
Seattle also declined to get into bidding wars for some of its own players, notably receiver Golden Tate, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, and also cut veterans Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Sidney Rice to open up even more cap space (though the team eventually re-signed Rice at a much lower salary).
All of it was done to keep what Seattle has identified as its most critical players around for the long haul while also maintaining a roster it thinks can continue to compete for Super Bowl titles for the next few years.
The maneuvering leaves Seattle with a few questions on the defensive and offensive lines and at receiver, the most logical positions to expect the team to address in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Seattle hopes a healthy Percy Harvin will help take up the slack created by the loss of Tate, and also thinks that if Rice is healthy then the receiving corps won't take a step back.
Seattle also is banking on improvement from young players such as Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey to fill in for departed veterans Giacomini and Paul McQuistan, each lost in free agency.
Still, no one would be surprised to see Seattle address those spots in the draft.
The Seahawks also might look to beef up the depth on the defensive line, which took a particular hit with the loss of Bryant, Clemons and McDaniel, each regular members of what was a seven-man rotation for four spots up front in 2013. Seattle did re-sign Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel, each likely to play more in 2013 when no player got more than 57 percent of the snaps on the defensive line.
As for the team's significant players it wants to extend, Sherman could be first on the list. There were several reports this week that the team and Sherman were closing in on an extension -- he will be a free agent following the 2014 season --- one that could pay him $13 million or so and make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. The hope is that the Seahawks may be able to get something done by the draft.
--The Seahawks acquired quarterback Terrelle Pryor from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a seventh-round selection in next month's NFL Draft.
A third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft, Pryor spent three seasons with the Raiders. He has one year left on his rookie contract.
"Terrelle is an incredibly explosive athlete and we're excited for him to come in and compete," said Seahawks general manager John Schneider.
--The Seahawks brought back one of their veterans released in an earlier salary-cap saving move - receiver Sidney Rice. Rice was released in February, which saved the team $7.3 million against the cap in 2014. After showing he was recovering well from an ACL injury suffered Oct. 28 at St. Louis -- he recently was cleared to cut -- Rice began getting interest from other teams, notably the Jets. But Seattle made a quick move to bring him back on a one-year deal that could pay him as much as $1.4 million. That's a huge savings from what Rice was due to make, and could be a bargain if he gets healthy and comes anywhere near the level he showed even just two years ago when he led the Seahawks with 50 receptions.
He also is rehabbing an ACL injury. Seattle, though, thinks Rice may be healthy after he recently got clearance to begin cutting on the knee. At 6-foot-4, he is the tallest receiver on the roster with NFL experience.
--One unresolved contract issue for Seattle is wide receiver Doug Baldwin, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign the second-round tender the team placed on him in March. Baldwin has not received offers from other teams so he will be back in 2014. The question is whether it's on the tender or if he works out a long-term deal with the Seahawks.
--The three free agents signed by Seattle were wide receiver Taylor Price, who missed the last two years with injuries while with Jacksonville; offensive lineman Stephen Schilling, primarily a backup with San Diego the last few years; and cornerback Phillip Adams, most recently with the Raiders.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
WIDE RECEIVER: Seattle hopes that a full and healthy year from Percy Harvin will make up for the loss of Golden Tate, who signed with Detroit as a free agent. Still, Seattle could use some bodies at this spot, particularly bigger receivers --- the only receiver on the roster with NFL experience taller than 6-foot-2 is Sidney Rice, who is coming off an ACL injury and caught just 15 passes in eight games last season.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Seattle took two significant hits at this spot in free agency with the loss of starting right tackle Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan, who started at both left tackle and left guard last year. The Seahawks also simply need to add competition at a spot that was often regarded as something of a question last season despite the team's run to the Super Bowl title. Russell Wilson was sacked 44 times, as many as the vaunted Seattle defense recorded on its own.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The Seahawks also have taken some significant hits on the defensive line in the offseason, releasing veteran ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and losing tackle Clinton McDonald in free agency --- three of the team's usual seven-man rotation on the defensive line. The Seahawks are hopeful that some young players such as Greg Scruggs, Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill will be able to fill in the gaps. But Seattle also figures to add a lineman or two in the draft.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--FB Michael Robinson returned to the team at mid-season after being released in August. He's 31 and has lofty post-football aspirations, already having done some work for the NFL Network. But he has also indicated he'd like to return. Might be a Seattle-or-bust situation for Robinson.
--LB O'Brien Schofield had agreed to a two-year contract with the Giants, but failed the physical and the deal was put on hold.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR Doug Baldwin (tendered at $2.187M with second-round pick as compensation) emerged as the team's second-leading receiver in 2013 with Percy Harvin injured. The second-round tender almost assures he will be back in 2014. Baldwin did not sign the tender and has said he hopes the tender leads to talks for a longer-term deal now, though the team may be willing to wait.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Mike Morgan (tendered at $570,000) was a valuable special teams player in 2013 but played little at linebacker. He'll likely be back.
--DE Michael Bennett: Potential UFA; $28.5M/4 yrs, $16M guaranteed.
--K Steven Hauschka: UFA; $9.15M/3 yrs, $3.35M guaranteed.
--QB Tarvaris Jackson: UFA; terms unknown.
--C Lemuel Jeanpierre: Potential RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Jeron Johnson: Potential RFA; $2.187M/1 yr.
--TE Anthony McCoy: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Tony McDaniel: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Sidney Rice: FA (had been released by Seahawks); 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Phillip Adams: UFA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Travis Beckum: FA; $730,000/1 yr.
--WR Taylor Price: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--G/C Steve Schilling: Not tendered as ERFA by Chargers; terms unknown.
--DT D'Anthony Smith: FA; $570,000/1 yr.
--CB Brandon Browner: UFA Patriots; $15.15M/3 yrs, $1M guaranteed.
--DE Red Bryant (released).
--TE Kellen Davis: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
--T Breno Giacomini: UFA Jets; $18M/4 yrs, $2.5M SB/$7M guaranteed.
--S Chris Maragos: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
--DT Clinton McDonald: UFA Buccaneers; $12M/4 yrs.
--T/G Paul McQuistan: UFA Browns; $3M/2 yrs, $750,000 guaranteed.
--WR Golden Tate: UFA Lions; $31.25M/5 yrs, $13.25M guaranteed.
--CB Walter Thurmond: UFA Giants; $3M/1 yr, $1M SB/$2M guaranteed.
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