Analysis: Forecasting Future for Seahawks 4 Restricted Free Agents
Following a 28-23 road defeat to the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round, the Seahawks’ 2019 campaign has officially reached its conclusion.
General manager John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll, and the rest of Seattle’s front office will now turn the page to start preparations for the 2020 season. Though the Seahawks are projected to have close to $60 million in cap space to work with, they’ll face several difficult looming decisions in free agency.
Seattle currently has 19 players set to become unrestricted free agents, including defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and tackle Germain Ifedi. Barring an extension signed before March 18, those players will be free to test the market and sign with any team.
The Seahawks also have four restricted free agents, including tight end Jacob Hollister, who can sign offer sheets with other teams. However, the big difference between unrestricted and restricted free agency is that the Seahawks have the ability to match any deal once they’ve placed a tender on a restricted free agent.
There are three types of tenders teams can use: first-round tenders, second-round tenders, and original round tenders. Using a first-tender on a player would force any signing team to surrender a first-round pick to the Seahawks, while a second-round tender would net a second-round pick and an original round tender would net a compensatory pick for the round the player was originally drafted.
According to estimates from OverTheCap.com, first-round tenders are expected to cost $4.667 million, second-round tenders will cost $3.278 million, and original-round tenders will cost $2.144 million in 2020.
Undrafted players designated the original round tag wouldn’t net any draft compensation, but the Seahawks would still have the right to match any offer. If a player doesn’t receive a tender, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with any team.
Here’s a look at each of Seattle’s four restricted free agents and an early prediction on what the organization will do with each player. Predictions for offensive and defensive unrestricted free agents can be found here.
Analysis: Hollister didn’t even make Seattle’s initial 53-man roster in September and spent the first five weeks on the practice squad before being promoted in Week 6. In that same game, starting tight end Will Dissly ruptured his Achilles tendon, immediately forcing the third-year player into extended action. Though he remains a liability at times as a blocker due to his lack of size, Hollister proved himself a capable receiving threat in 11 games with the Seahawks, catching 41 passes for 349 yards and catching three touchdown tosses from Russell Wilson. Even if Dissly returns 100 percent healthy, keeping Hollister should be a priority because he offers a different skill set as a move tight end and would be a complementary weapon at a position lacking overall depth. Since the Seahawks have a healthy cap situation going into the offseason, paying an extra million with a second-round tender as they did with George Fant last year should prevent any other team from trying to steal him.
Chance of Returning: 99%
Prediction: Seahawks use second-round tender on Hollister.
Analysis: Entering his third season battling to become Seattle’s No. 3 receiver behind Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, Moore wasn’t able to build off a promising 2018 campaign as the team anticipated. He opened the year with a broken humurus bone that cost him the first two regular season games and thanks to the emergence of DK Metcalf, his numbers across the board declined in 2019. He finished with nine less receptions, over 140 less receiving yards, and three less receiving touchdowns than the year prior. However, Moore is still just 25 years old and the Seahawks have a noticeable void behind Lockett and Metcalf. Simply letting him walk doesn’t seem ideal, which makes it likely an original round tender will be placed on him. It’s not out of the question another team will be willing to give up a seventh-round pick for his services and sign him to an offer sheet, but most likely, a tender would mean he’s coming back to Seattle for a fourth season.
Chance of Returning: 75%
Prediction: Seahawks use original round tender on Moore.
Analysis: Despite being undersized at the position, Hunt is a technician who brings toughness and excellent effort to the field every snap. Quality defensive tackles exposed him at times during his nine starts in place of Justin Britt, but it’s also worth noting that he played the last month with a stress fracture in his ankle. Many players would have packed it in under such circumstances, but Hunt wasn’t going to let his team down and battled through the injury all the way until Seattle’s season ended earlier this month.
Evaluating his first extensive action at the NFL level, he’s not likely to be a long-term starting option, but the Seahawks can’t afford to lose him with Britt coming back from a torn ACL and Ethan Pocic struggling to stay healthy. He’s a strong candidate for the original round tender, as a sixth-round pick should be enough to deter another team from signing him to an offer sheet.
Chance of Returning: 90%
Prediction: Seahawks use original round tender on Hunt.
Analysis: After being a fringe player on Seattle’s roster during the previous two seasons, Jackson played in a career-high 15 games as a rotational reserve in 2019. With rookie L.J. Collier struggling to earn playing time and Ziggy Ansah in and out of the lineup, the fourth-year veteran filled the void, producing 20 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and two passes defensed. Those aren’t gaudy numbers by any means, but the former Texas Tech standout has developed into a reliable backup who can play multiple spots along the defensive line. With that being said, the Seahawks are banking on Collier making a major leap forward in 2020 and unlike the other three players on this list, it’s tough to make an argument for using a tender on Jackson. If Seattle wants him back, they should be able to re-sign him to a new deal as an unrestricted free agent at a lower price than the original tender.
Chance of Returning: 50%
Prediction: Jackson isn’t tendered and becomes unrestricted free agent.