The early waves of NFL free agency are done. The Seahawks have signed their players— like Ahkello Witherspoon, Gerald Everett, and Kerry Hyder Jr. —along with re-signings and letting other players such as Shaquill Griffin walk. However, in terms of roster management, the front office will be looking to improve the final 53-man roster right up until Week 1 and even throughout the season. While intriguing, and inevitable, cuts from other teams are yet to happen, there are several free agents available right now that could still upgrade the Seahawks. This includes three players with past ties to the franchise.
Once the Seahawks’ 2010 second round pick, Tate has become an NFL journeyman and spent time with the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. The wide receiver, who turns 33 years old in August, experienced an injury-impacted 2020 season. In fact, the last time he suited up for all 16 regular season games was in 2016.
That said, Tate would bring a valuable jump-ball style to the offense and, at 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, he resembles another yards after the catch threat. Weird rumors be damned, his time in Seattle showed a chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson.
In his 11 2019 games, Tate caught 49 passes for 676 yards and six touchdowns. Behind DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and D’Wayne Eskridge, as well as Gerald Everett, Tate would only be expected to be a trusted veteran role player. It’s an unavoidable fact that the Seahawks require better receiver competition behind their established Metcalf-Lockett duo. The current list of Freddie Swain, Penny Hart, Darvin Kidsy, John Ursua, Aaron Fuller and Cody Thompson is drab. Seattle did add Cade Johnson and Tamorrion Terry in 2020 undrafted free agency, but an established veteran presence would be sensible—even if this said vet fails to make the roster.
Seattle could also take another look at Josh Gordon given they lack a big X-type receiver other than Metcalf, although the Gordon-Seattle relationship does appear to be completely over. Or the Seahawks may go and trade for Julio Jones like absolute maniacs. The discussion over receiver depth after the No. 3 spot would then become totally redundant.
Seattle cutting Jarran Reed for nothing remains a weird move, even with the 3-technique refusing to restructure his contract to help the cap situation. The Seahawks do not have an established every-down defensive tackle on the roster, plus Reed was entrusted with coordinating the defensive line’s pass rush games.
Enter in the soon-to-be 31-year old Richardson, a 2013 first-round pick of the New York Jets. The Seahawks have, of course, tried Richardson before, when they traded Jermaine Kearse and a 2018 second-rounder for him prior to the 2017 season. The move didn’t work out, with Richardson putting up just a single sack and leaving in free agency for the Vikings on a one-year deal.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 294-pounds by NFL.com, Richardson registered 4.5 sacks in his lone season in Minnesota and then signed a three-year, $36 million contract - with $21million guaranteed - with the Cleveland Browns. He had 3 sacks in 2019 and 4.5 in 2020. The Browns released him on April 16 for cap reasons.
Per the Sports Info Solutions data hub, Richardson led all defensive tackles and defensive ends in tackles with 63 in 2020. Although Richardson’s average tackle depth of 2.6 is less impressive, his high tackle total reflects his hustle. Furthermore, Richardson’s 26 total points saved in 2020 was a career-high for him.
Richardson has the arm length (34 1/2 inches) that the Seahawks covet from their defensive linemen. His pressure percentage has dipped slightly each year: 8.2 percent in 2018, 7.5 percent in 2019 and 7.2 percent in 2020. However, given Seattle’s 3-technique hole, the Seahawks should strongly consider a reunion. Or they could look at bringing 33-year old Geno Atkins back together with Carlos Dunlap.
The Seahawks did already sign a former cornerback in free agency, adding Pierre Desir. They also replaced Griffin with the long, athletic Ahkello Witherspoon, a player already well-versed in Seattle’s cornerback style after playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
Yet Sherman remains the absolute prototype for what Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are looking for at perimeter corner. The 2011 fifth-round pick is a legend. Whether Sherman is the right move at this point, at 33 years old and with Seattle’s position, is a different topic.
The 2020 edition of Sherman was a real dip in his production, where injury limited him to just 1 interception, 0 pass break-ups and 3 touchdowns-allowed per SIS. His 2019 year was outstanding, though, where his total points saved was 49 (similar to his peak Seattle days).
With Sherman visibly slowing down, perhaps he could be sold on a tight end-destroyer role similar to the one Seattle envisioned for Brandon Browner in 2017. This would require a realignment of Sherman’s expectations, but could prolong the career of an all-time great. His deep football understanding and intelligence would serve him well. That said, it’s likely that a different team will offer the legendary defensive back a better opportunity to play a bigger defensive role.
In the COVID-impacted, reduced-cap year of the 2020 offseason, where the total figure for each team abnormally dipped from the 2020 figure of a league-record $198.2 million to a 2021 number of $182.5 million, the remaining unsigned players still need their value to be established. What team will blink first? Who needs to roll money over for next year? And which players will get cut and complicated the picture?
The first waves of free agency are well and truly over. The Seahawks front office, like the rest of the NFL, will wait until seeing everyone on the practice field and in the preseason. How good are the rookies in year No. 1? Have the free agents settled well? Is the competition strong? Injuries will be the other influencing factor, where bigger holes may be created. From there, they may revisit options to sign a veteran or two and the three aforementioned players could still be available.