As expected, the deadline for franchise tags came and went Monday without the Seahawks using it on any of their pending free agents.
This is the third straight year the Hawks have eschewed the tag -- after using it in almost every year from 2000 to 2010. But odds seem pretty good that Seattle will end up using it again soon as a number of key players come up for contract renewals.
Unlike 2010, when John Schneider and Pete Carroll franchised kicker Olindo Mare after his record-setting 2009 season in Seattle, they had no reason to use it on distance-challenged kicker Steven Hauschka this time.
And they certainly weren't going to hand defensive linemen Alan Branch or Jason Jones $10.6 million, let alone pay any of their lesser free agents silly sums.
But they might use the tag in 2014, if they cannot re-sign safety Kam Chancellor before the deadline. And in 2015, safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman could be options. In 2016, it could be one of the star Russells: left tackle Okung or quarterback Wilson.
The franchise number (the average of the top five salary cap counts at the position) for safeties this year is $6.2 million. Cornerbacks are No. 2 to D-linemen at $10.3 million. Franchise O-linemen get $9.4 million. Quarterbacks get $14.4 million.
Those numbers will vacillate a bit each year, depending on how cap numbers change for the top five players at various positions. But the current figures are indicators of what those players might be worth when their rookie deals are up.
Next year, Chancellor is the only potential free agent who might merit the tag. And if the Hawks sign him to an extension at some point this year -- perhaps in July or August -- they would be unlikely to use it at all. Their other top free agents in 2014 are right tackle Breno Giacomini, fullback Michael Robinson and wide receiver Golden Tate (cornerback Brandon Browner is restricted).
However, the Hawks seem likely to need the tag in 2015, when Thomas, Sherman and Browner will all be free (absent extensions for Thomas or Sherman in 2014).
Thomas would be the cheap one to tag, but he also might be easier to get signed to a long-term deal than Sherman, who almost certainly will be looking for at least $10 million a year. Browner figures to be looking for a nice pay day as well, and it is not crazy to consider that he might end up leaving -- especially because the Hawks also will want to try to get extensions for Okung and Wilson. That's five contracts to nail down in 2015.
Whichever Russell is not signed long term by the franchise deadline in 2016 will get the tag. If they both have new deals in time, the Hawks might have other options for the tag. Their other scheduled key free agents in 2016 are pass rusher Bruce Irvin, running back Marshawn Lynch, tight end Zach Miller, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, wide receiver Sidney Rice, punter Jon Ryan, running back Robert Turbin and linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The only guys among that group who might merit a look would be Irvin and Wagner -- both key young players coming off their rookie deals. Other than Miller and Turbin, the others will be aging vets or off the team by 2016.
Back to 2013 … A number of defensive linemen who might have been options for the Seahawks were tagged: Cincinnati end Michael Johnson, Dallas pass rusher Anthony Spencer, Chicago defensive tackle Henry Melton and Miami tackle Randy Starks.
Any of those players would require two first-round picks if the Hawks were to sign one to an offer sheet and his original team chose not to match the contract and keep him.
Word is the cap-strapped Cowboys are willing to trade Spencer. They probably want a first-rounder. And Spencer probably wants at least $9 million a year. Hard to see any team making both deals for him. If he does not sign his tender, Dallas can rescind the tag.
Untagged Monday were Baltimore rusher Paul Kruger, Tampa Bay end Michael Bennett (the one-time Seahawk) and Detroit end Cliff Avril, but they figure to come with franchise-esque price tags.
The Hawks appear unlikely to pursue them with the $8 million to $10 million a year it might take. In the unlikely event that one of them is still sitting there a week or two into free agency, perhaps Seattle will call.
But it is more likely the Hawks will bargain shop for D-line help and pass on the game of (franchise and price) tag.
Seahawks’ tag history
This is the third straight year the Seahawks have not tagged a player. Here is the history since 2000, all but Steve Hutchinson being franchise players.
2010: K Olindo Mare, $2,814,000
2009: *LB Leroy Hill, $8,304,000
2008: **CB Marcus Trufant $9,465,000
2007: K Josh Brown $2,078,000
2006: ***LG Steve Hutchinson $6,390,000
2005: RB Shaun Alexander $8,080,000
2004: LT Walter Jones $7,080,000
2003: LT Walter Jones $5,734,000
2002: LT Walter Jones $4,920,000
2000: ****WR Joey Galloway $4,100,000
*Later rescinded, and Hill signed a long-term deal
**Trufant signed an extension shortly after
***Hutchinson was given the less-restrictive transition tag and signed in Minnesota
****Galloway was traded to Dallas for two first-round picks