By Brandan Schulze
With the NFL lockout in the distant past, we can look forward to a real offseason this year. The Seahawks are kicking things off with some bold statements and rumored connections to some of the biggest names in free agency.
If thatís not enough excitement, weíre only about six weeks from seeing who the Seahawks will take with the 12th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In the meantime, free agency is beginning and, of course, all of the talk around Seattle is where will Peyton Manning end up and why he hasnít visited Seattle yet. As soon as the announcement that Manning would get cut from the Colts, the rumor was Seattle would come out with their ďcheckbook blazingĒ (as many news organizations quoted a source from the Seahawks saying). Yet, weíve only officially heard of his visits to Denver, Arizona, and Miami. Heís also reportedly scheduled a trip to Tennessee.
Manning certainly isnít making it a priority to visit Seattle. Some reports say he may have already decided not to visit. If thatís the case, then itís fine. I think what makes waiting to see where he ends up so exciting is the potential for him to come back healthy and make a team an instant contender. If itís not in the cards for Seattle to pick him up, then there are
In a press conference at the NFL Combine, coach Pete Carroll made it very clear that theyíre looking to upgrade at quarterback, but also said that itís always been a priority going into the past drafts. If free agency options donít work out, maybe we see the team reach a bit to get a particular guy.
With the draft a few weeks away, free agency is the main focus right now.
ďOur first concern is to take care of our team and take care of the guys that are unrestricted (free agents) on our team and fit that back together,Ē Carroll said in an article on Seahawks.com. ďWe have some room (under the salary cap) and weíre going to be able to do some stuff.Ē
The guy that was probably the top concern for Seattle to sign is now under contract. Although the Seahawks would have used the franchise tag to keep him in town, Marshawn Lynch signed a four-year, $31 million contract right before the deadline. But that still leaves Red Bryant, David Hawthorne, Michael Robinson, Steven Hauschka, John Carlson, and Justin Forsett among those who will test free agency.
Apart from Manning, the biggest free agent on the board has to be Texans linebacker/defensive end Mario Williams. With Seattle specifically targeting an upgrade to their pass rush this offseason, Williams would be an obvious choice. The Seahawks are reported to be around $30 million under the salary cap this season, which gives them plenty of flexibility to make some big name signings.
One guy who wonít be returning to Seattle next year is 9-year Seahawks veteran Marcus Trufant. With Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner having great years, it surely made the decision a lot easier to cut ties with Trufant, especially with his health issues the last couple seasons. Itís sad to see him go, and if Leroy Hill doesnít re-sign with the team, then that will leave the Seahawks without a single player from their Super Bowl run in 2005.
Lofa Tatupu finally found a spot after sitting out all of last year, signing with the Falcons this last week. Randy Moss also sat out this past season and has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the 49ers. Reports say that Alex Smith is close to re-signing with the team. I canít say that either move is particularly scary for Seattle fans.
One of my favorite news items Iíve seen recently is that Marshawn Lynch and Earl Thomas are finalists for the Madden 2013 cover. Although it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, Iím not a big believer in curses, so Iím probably not going to vote. But apparently two players were selected from each NFL team and the Raiders have to be the front-runners for the most hilarious duo nominated. No, it isnít running back Darren McFadden and safety Tyvon Branch. Itís not even T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Aaron Curry.
The two Raiders vying for the Madden cover are Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler. Iím not sure why long-snapper Jon Condo was snubbed; maybe he was third on the list.
So hang on Seahawks fans and expect a much more interesting off season than we had last year. If nothing else, it will help football season arrive that much sooner.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the military chapter of the Sea Hawkers, the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.