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Baldwin's extension is done; who's next for the Seahawks?

Cliff Avril celebrates a defensive stop against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

John Schneider and Pete Carroll both made it clear recently that the Seahawks were not finished doing business this offseason.

"There are still some things to be done," Carroll told 710 ESPN a couple of weeks ago.

After getting extensions for Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, the top to-do item was a new deal for wide receiver Doug Baldwin. And now we can check that one off, as Baldwin signed a two-year extension Thursday that will keep him in Seattle through 2016.

Now that Baldwin joins Thomas and Sherman under contract for at least three more years, the question is: Who's next?

During the press conference for Baldwin on Thursday, Schneider said they were not done re-signing guys.

Other key players with deals that expire after 2014 are Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright, Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. Avril and Wright are the guys who seem most likely to get new deals.

Avril, entering the second year of his two-year deal, told 710 ESPN earlier this month: "I would love to be with the Seahawks. I would love to hopefully sign some kind of extension. … We'll see how it plays out."

The questions are: Do the Hawks value Avril as one of their core defenders? Would they pay him what they paid Michael Bennett to re-sign ($28.5 million for four years)? And would he take it?

The pass-rush market is pretty depressed these days. Bennett took a little less to stay in Seattle rather than go to Chicago -- the Bears ended up signing Jared Allen for $8 million a year and Lamarr Houston for $7 million. DeMarcus Ware got the most -- $10 million a year for three years with Denver -- but no one else got even $9 million. Michael Johnson (Buccaneers) and Julius Peppers (Packers) each got about $8.7 million.

With those numbers in mind, Avril probably would be happy to return to Seattle for a deal like Bennett's.

Avril was a great strongside rusher for the Hawks last season, coming up with eight sacks in a heavy D-line rotation, and he is just 28. He and Bennett played very well off each other, causing some big turnovers toward the end of the season.

The question is: Do the Hawks think they have a cheaper player with the same ability? Or is it worth it to pay Avril?

Wright would seem to be the other main possibility for an extension, but the Hawks have never valued linebackers very highly, so even if they are interested in keeping Wright they are unlikely to offer much.

Very few 4-3 outside linebackers make more than $4 million a year, and that’s probably the most the Hawks would be (should be) willing to pay Wright for his versatility and ability to cover the tight end.

Maxwell and Smith seem less likely to get extensions -- unless they are very team-friendly.

Maxwell has not played a full season as a starter yet, and the Hawks have so much money tied into the three other Legion of Boom starters -- Richard Sherman ($14 million per year), Earl Thomas ($10 million) and Kam Chancellor ($7 million) -- they probably will prefer to stay cheap at the other corner spot. Considering their success at raising corners, they would be wise to do so.

Smith seems unlikely to be extended, too, considering he was the team's No. 4 linebacker in 2013 (46.2 percent of the snaps). The Hawks drafted a likely replacement for 2015 in Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Meanwhile, tight end Jermichael Finley has been cleared by doctors, raising the question of whether the Seahawks will once again be interested in the former Packer who had spinal surgery in November. The Hawks brought him in for a visit in March.


Before Baldwin's extension, the Seahawks had around $10 million in salary cap space this year. The receiver reportedly will get a $4.8 million signing bonus and $1.4 million salary in 2014, meaning a cap hit of $3 million. So the Hawks took just $813,000 more off their cap and still have more than $9 million in space.

The Hawks could bump their cap room by $4.5 million with an extension for Avril, whose cap hit could drop from $9.25 million to around $4.75 million due to bonus proration. Wright might cost another $1 million off that total.

Thus, if Avril and Wright get extensions, it would leave Seattle with about $12 million under the cap this year. The Hawks likely would still have at least $7 million of that left after the season to carry over for 2015, which could then give them maybe $22 million in space next year under a projected $144 million cap.

The No. 1 priority next offseason will be an extension for quarterback Russell Wilson. They probably will need between $8 million and $10 million under the 2015 cap -- it all depends on how they structure the deal, which figures to be worth up to $20 million a year and guarantee at least $40 million.

That would leave Seattle with perhaps $12 million next offseason to consider using for Maxwell, Smith, Jermaine Kearse (he's restricted), James Carpenter and other backups and role players.

It won't be much different than what happened this year. The Seahawks entered this offseason with about $17 million in space and let 11 players go while re-signing 10 (including Baldwin) and extending Thomas and Sherman.

Carroll said they were "not shocked" by anything that happened.

"We were going to put our focus on keeping our guys," he told 710 ESPN. "Earl and Richard were big deals to us, and we wanted to make sure and secure them for the long haul. That meant that we were going to have to make some big, tough decisions. We'll have to make them again next year; that's just the way it goes."

It's possible the Hawks will lop some salary/cap numbers as they did this year.

Percy Harvin, who is being paid a whopping $11 million this year, is due $10.5 million in 2015. He reportedly looks great in minicamp, and he and the team are expecting huge things in 2014. If he delivers, the Hawks probably won't touch his 2015 salary; if he doesn't, the Hawks could come calling to reduce it.

Running back Marshawn Lynch, the heartbeat of the offense the past three seasons, is due $7.5 million and has the third-highest cap number ($9 million) on the team in 2015. His performance in 2014 will determine what happens with his 2015 salary.

Left tackle Russell Okung is due $5 million in 2015 -- the final year of his rookie deal. If he is healthy and plays well in 2014, he probably will play out his contract (unless the Hawks decide to trade him). If he misses significant time again in 2014, his salary could be chopped.

But those decisions are for next offseason.

In the meantime, the Seahawks are trying to get a jump on next year with extensions. Baldwin is done. Who's next?

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