With NFL free agency opening in just under two weeks, teams are hurriedly working to re-sign their own players, and we are starting to get an idea of how much some of the Seahawks' free agents might be worth.
The Philadelphia Eagles just signed two players whose deals might impact Seattle players.
Wide receiver Riley Cooper received a contract worth $4.5 million a year, which probably pegs Golden Tate in where we thought: $5 million a year.
Tate caught more passes, but Cooper was more productive with his catches. Tate had 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns, and Cooper caught 47 for 835 yards and eight scores.
Tate, who also had a good year returning punts, told reporters Thursday (via The Seattle Times), “I’m not in any way comparing my situation to his because they are very, very different."
He probably means he would get a lot more passes in a different offense. The Seahawks' 420 passes were the second fewest in the league in 2013. (Of course, the Eagles threw it just 508 times.)
Tate almost surely will go to free agency to see if he can get anywhere between $6 million and $8 million a year. The Hawks, who have a lot invested in Percy Harvin, probably will offer Tate no more than $5 million.
“Hopefully I can call Seattle home for a few more years," Tate said. "But we’ll see. I know that coach (Pete) Carroll has expressed that he would like to have me on the team and I have expressed that I would like to stay on this team because I see this team winning for a long time. But we will see. Only time will tell.’’
Okung's target number was probably solidified when the Eagles re-signed star left tackle Jason Peters, giving the 32-year-old a deal worth $10 million a year. Four other tackles average $10 million a year (per Overthecap.com), and Okung probably will try to join that club.
Even though he missed eight games last season and has played in just 45 of 64 possible games in his first four seasons, Okung – who made the Pro Bowl in 2012 – figures to argue for the $10 million benchmark.
Peters has been to six Pro Bowls and has been named All-Pro twice, but he also is six years older. Like Okung, he has had injury problems. He missed the entire 2012 season and has played in just 43 games over the past four years. Okung could make a case that he is worth what Peters is worth based on his 2012 season.
There is no rush on Okung, though. He is signed for two more seasons. The Hawks could just grin and bear his $11.24 million cap hit – especially with the league cap jumping from $123 million to $133 million – and wait to see if Okung has a healthy 2014.
If he doesn't, they can develop a new left tackle over the next two years and let Okung go.
Meanwhile, the Hawks definitely want to get extensions with their All-Pro defensive backs this year.
The Hawks can thank Tampa Bay for the issues they might have signing the two stars. Last year, the Bucs made cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson the highest-paid players at their positions.
Thomas probably will want more than Goldson, who received $8 million a year and $18 million guaranteed in his deal with the Bucs last year.
The Hawks probably can get Thomas done for $54 million over six years, with around $25 million guaranteed. His 2014 cap number ($5.47 million) would hardly change, but it would skyrocket in 2016.
Sherman might be more complicated, especially if his agent uses Revis' contract as the measuring stick. Revis' deal averages $16 million, but he has no guaranteed money. The other top-paid corners (Brandon Carr, Cortland Finnegan, et al.) average around $10 million but have guarantees worth more than $20 million (via Overthecap.com).
If Sherman's agent insists on getting guaranteed money on a deal worth $16 million a year, the Seahawks will let Sherman play out his deal and see what happens in 2015, when they might avail themselves of the franchise tag (likely worth around $12 million).
A reasonable long-term deal for Sherman would be something like $65 million over six years, with upwards of $30 million in guarantees.
Of course, the Seahawks also have to determine whether they can pay five players at least $10 million per year, including $16 million or more for quarterback Russell Wilson starting next year. The team can juggle the cap hits a bit, especially in the first couple of years of each deal, but by 2017 the club could have five guys – Wilson, Thomas, Sherman, Okung and Harvin -- eating up close to $60 million in cap space.
If the salary cap continues to jump like it apparently is going to this year (7.3 percent), the cap will be around $160 million in 2017 and the Hawks probably can handle those huge salaries.
But other players will get paid, too – the Hawks figure to pay defensive lineman Michael Bennett around $8 million a year – and the team will have to plan around all of those contract landmines.
As other teams ink their players before free agency arrives this offseason, they are starting to get an idea just how explosively expensive some of those deals might be.
MORE HAWK TALK
**DT Clinton McDonald is expected to be too spendy for the Hawks to re-sign. We might have gotten an idea of his market when Washington re-signed reserve defensive lineman Chris Baker for $12 million over three years. Baker, 26, had 27 tackles and a sack in 2013 and is expected to push for a starting job. Based on that, McDonald could be looking at $5 million a year. The 27-year-old had a breakout season with 5.5 sacks, and some team will reward the pass-rushing tackle the Seahawks acquired from Cincinnati for cornerback Kelly Jennings in 2011.
**Carolina reportedly signed K Graham Gano to a deal worth more than $3 million a year, which means Steven Hauschka probably will expect the same. That is franchise tender money, which the Hawks probably are not interested in paying. Gano hit 88.9 percent of his kicks (24 of 27) in 2013, nailing all six tries from beyond 50. Hauschka was second in the league at 94.3 percent (33 of 35), hitting all three attempts from 50. Based on the number of attempts (and his success), Hauschka could argue he was at least as valuable to the Hawks as Gano was to the Panthers.
**CB Walter Thurmond is considered the No. 39 free agent, according to NFL.com. Rotoworld ranks him at No. 29, pointing out that he was Pro Football Focus' No. 31 corner last season. He could get a deal like Greg Toler signed with Indianapolis last year: $14.25 million over three years. Many think Gus Bradley's Jaguars might pursue him. Of course, Bradley would have to be comfortable with the idea that Thurmond is one strike away from a seasonlong drug suspension. Either way, some team figures to pay the corner.
**As expected, it looks like QB Tarvaris Jackson will return as Wilson's backup. The team and Jackson reportedly both want to continue the relationship. The only minor question is whether the Hawks will sign the 30-year-old for one year or two.
**It will be interesting to whether DT Tony McDaniel and LB O'Brien Schofield hit free agency and what kind of interest they garner. McDaniel is 29, Schofield 26.
**It also will be interesting to see what comes of CB Brandon Browner's planned lawsuit against the NFL. He is seeking reinstatement, and it is possible that he and the league reach a deal – perhaps lowering his suspension to just four games. He reportedly turned down an eight-game suspension last December; but, if he took a four-game ban, the 29-year-old still might find a team interested in signing him.
**The Hawks won't cry too much over losing some of their 15 unrestricted free agents. After all, if they end up with a net loss of players in free agency, they will receive compensatory picks in the 2015 draft. They were plus-1 in free agency last year, so they will not get any comp picks this year. But they are almost certain to get a few (the max is four) next year.