A wild first day of NFL free agency resulted in the Seahawks losing two defensive role players, with as many as four more players poised to sign elsewhere as soon as today.
In response, the Hawks were trying to increase their number of keepers to three while also checking into three players for short-term deals.
The Hawks surely were not surprised to see defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and linebacker O'Brien Schofield leave.
McDonald, who had a career-best 5.5 sacks in 2013, signed a four-year, $12 million deal with Tampa Bay. The 27-year-old reunites with former Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson, who signed for more than $8 million a year with the Bucs. McDonald and Johnson should help beef up a line that missed Michael Bennett last year after he signed with Seattle.
Schofield, 26, got $4 million a year from the Giants, who obviously see his potential. His value in free agency was one of the big mysteries among Seattle's free agents, and it was surprising that he received more annually than the more accomplished McDonald.
The Hawks are poised to lose three more key players, including two offensive starters, as wide receiver Golden Tate began his free agency tour in Detroit, cornerback Walter Thurmond headed to see Gus Bradley in Jacksonville and right tackle Breno Giacomini traveled to New York to visit John Idzik and the Jets. Also, safety Chris Maragos reportedly is on Washington's radar.
Just like that, the Hawks could lose half of their 13 remaining free agents.
One they might not lose is defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who reportedly is talking to the team about coming back. That would make the Hawks 1 for 2 on the McD's as McDaniel joined Bennett and tight end Anthony McCoy on the re-up list.
Meanwhile, the Hawks are looking for more veteran defensive linemen. Jason Hatcher is in Seattle for a visit, and the team reportedly is talking to Jared Allen. Both pass rushers are over 30 (Hatcher 32, Allen 31), so the Hawks obviously would not want to pay them a lot or for long.
Hatcher, 6 feet 6 and 299 pounds, had 11 sacks in 2013 – a perfectly timed career year (he had never had more than 4.5 sacks previously). He is coming off a three-year, $6 million deal Dallas gave him in 2011, before he became a late-blooming starter. Since then, he has 19.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Hatcher is the No. 2 free-agent defensive tackle, per Pro Football Focus grades – ranked just above McDaniel.
The Hawks might offer him up to $4 million a year for maybe two years. He reportedly has four more visits lined up (including Tennessee), and odds are some other team will overpay him.
The same might be true for Allen.
The Hawks reportedly checked into trading for Allen last season and apparently are interested in him again. They probably are gauging whether he would be willing to play for much less than the $14.5 million he was paid in Minnesota last year, when he had 11.5 sacks. The Hawks might be willing to swap Chris Clemons' $7.5 million salary for Allen, who is six months younger and seemingly more productive.
The Hawks also are checking out tight end Jermichael Finley, who is coming off spinal fusion surgery and needs to be medically cleared.
The Hawks are perhaps the most qualified team to determine Finley's playing status; team Dr. Stan Herring is the chairman of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee.
Even though he is just 26, Finley most likely would have to take a one-year deal and prove he can make it through a season and be productive. Before getting injured last season, he had two solid years for Green Bay – 55 catches and eight touchdowns in 2011, 61 catches and two scores in 2012.
He would be a great complement to Zach Miller and give the Hawks perhaps the deepest tight end corps in the league.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Visits and chats are not contracts. The Hawks tend to bring in a number of players every year.
In 2013, the first two visitors, defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and John Abraham, did not end up as Seahawks. In 2012, nine players visited, and just three signed (Matt Flynn, Jason Jones, Deuce Lutui).
There are a number of other defensive linemen the Hawks can check out: Henry Melton, Randy Starks, B.J. Raji, Julius Peppers, Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, Robert Ayers, Alex Carrington, et al.
The Hawks probably will lose a few more of their free agents this week, but they are prepared for it and are working on filling the gaps in their D-line and elsewhere.
MORE HAWK TALK
Steven Hauschka seems likely to return to the Seahawks, although price could be a sticking point. With most teams re-signing their kickers, Hauschka doesn't have many options beyond Seattle. Detroit and Tampa Bay seem to be the only teams in need of kickers, so if they don't chase Hauschka, he probably will have to take what the Hawks offer. The market is $3 million per year, but the Hawks probably will re-sign him for more like $2.5 million.
Bennett's cap hit was what we expected: $4 million. According to OverTheCap.com, he got an $8 million signing bonus and $2 million salary in 2014. The Hawks have about $10 million in cap space, which is enough to sign two or three players. Releasing Clemons would add $7.5 million more; even if he stays on the team, it almost surely will not be at that price.
Scratch the Jonathan Martin idea. We thought the Seahawks might look into trading for the troubled Miami right tackle, but San Francisco did it instead -- reuniting Martin with Jim Harbaugh, who coached him at Stanford. The 49ers reportedly will owe a seventh-round pick in 2015 if Martin makes the team in 2014. A pretty good deal the Hawks might have been smart to get in on.
The way things are going, the Hawks could net the maximum four compensatory draft picks in 2015 for their free agency losses this year. They sit at minus-2 right now, and the values of McDonald and Schofield's deals would probably net two sixth-round picks. Of course, the Hawks have to end up with a net loss of free agents -- any they sign will offset those they lose on a one-for-one basis. At this point, it looks like they could lose at least six and perhaps add just two or three.