We're just a little over two weeks away from the start of the 2021 NFL free agency period with the Seahawks facing a mountain of needs to address. But before they can do anything this spring, they'll first need to create salary cap space because they virtually have next to nothing to work with at the moment.
Currently projected to have just $1.75 million in effective cap space by OverTheCap.com, Seattle has several avenues it can take to maximize its financial flexibility without having to part ways with too many key names. Base salary conversions, trades, cuts, extensions, and restructures can all give them the space needed to fill out most of their roster while making an impact move or two along the way.
There are plenty of holes almost everywhere on the roster, some more important than others. Which ones should the Seahawks prioritize over the coming weeks? Let's take a look.
1. Interior Offensive Line
Whether Russell Wilson publicized his frustrations about his protection or not, interior offensive line was going to be Seattle's biggest need this offseason. The Cardinals just added future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt to an already daunting NFC West group of pass-rushers, further proving the Seahawks have to get better up front at all costs. With several good-to-elite guards and centers hitting the open market, they can't afford to settle for mere capability at the position like they have in the past.
2. Pass-Catching Tight End
Whether it's been Zach Miller, Jimmy Graham, or a healthy Will Dissly, Seahawks fans have seen what a dependable pass-catching tight end can do for Russell Wilson. Greg Olsen has retired, Jacob Hollister is an unrestricted free agent, Dissly's coming off two serious lower leg injuries, and Colby Parkinson saw just two targets in his rookie campaign. They have very few answers at the spot right now and could really use someone who can win in the middle of the field, especially in new coordinator Shane Waldron's offense. Seattle has already checked in on the availability of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and are expected to pursue free agents Jonnu Smith and Gerald Everett.
The Seahawks have depth at corner but only one starter and nothing for the long-term. They're unlikely to bring back impending free agent Shaquill Griffin, so establishing a second starter opposite 2020 breakout D.J. Reed should be a key area of focus for them. This is a fairly deep class with plenty of names who could come at a bargain for a team looking to - no pun intended - cut corners at a few positions of need. Don't be surprised if they bring back free agent Quinton Dunbar despite his disappointing 2020 campaign.
4. Slot Receiver
If they don't land one of their desired tight end targets, the Seahawks could use a sound route runner with good hands and an ability to create after the catch out of the slot. There are a few free agents who fit that mold and plenty to comb through in the draft as well. Even if they do go big at tight end this offseason, they still need to deepen their receiving corps; second-year man Freddie Swain is currently the only player who's seemingly locked into a roster spot behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
5. Strong-Side Linebacker
Filling in at strong-side linebacker in place of the injured Bruce Irvin, longtime starter K.J. Wright was stellar in his 10th year in the NFL. Wright, however, is heading to free agency and the Seahawks don't appear to be willing to spend what it'll take to retain him. That said, they'll need to do something here at some point and find someone who can play solid run defense and win in occasional pass-rushing situations.