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Seahawks Likely Bargain Shopping After Signing Leonard Williams, Noah Fant

By design to avoid overpaying for players, the Seattle Seahawks have stuck to their guns by not being active at the start of free agency, but the idleness has left the franchise with a litany of roster holes.

Leading up to the start of free agency, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider went to work cleaning up the franchise's financials, releasing five veterans to open up nearly $40 million in salary cap room.

Among those who received a pink slip, Schneider made the difficult decision to move on from three-time All-Pro safety Quandre Diggs and beloved starting tight end Will Dissly. In the aftermath of those moves and the decision to restructure receiver Tyler Lockett's contract, fans expected the organization to be more active than usual when the legal tampering period for free agency kicked off on Monday.

But a little over 24 hours after teams could begin negotiating with outside free agents, Schneider has stuck to status quo in hibernation mode by design, as the Seahawks are one of only two teams yet to sign an outside free agent. Several former starters, including linebacker Jordyn Brooks and guard Damien Lewis, have agreed to multi-year contracts with other teams.

Aside from re-signing Noah Fant and Leonard Williams, the Seattle Seahawks haven't been active during the free agency period and have yet to bring in an outside free agent.

Aside from re-signing Noah Fant and Leonard Williams, the Seattle Seahawks haven't been active during the free agency period and have yet to bring in an outside free agent.

In Schneider's defense, he did check off the first goal on his offseason agenda by re-signing defensive tackle Leonard Williams to a massive three-year, $64.5 million contract, keeping him in the Pacific Northwest after trading a second and fifth-round pick to the Giants in October. He also handed veteran tight end Noah Fant a two-year, $21 million deal, suggesting Seattle expects him to be a bigger focal point in the passing game moving forward.

However, for those who view the glass as half empty, Seattle has lost five unrestricted free agents already, leaving far more holes on the roster right now than it did at this stage a year ago, particularly on the defensive side of the football.

To the dismay of most 12s, Seattle chose not to bring back Brooks at a reasonable price tag of $10 million per year and didn't up the ante to reunite new coach Mike Macdonald with Baltimore linebacker Patrick Queen, who signed a three-year deal with Pittsburgh. As things stand, undrafted linebackers Patrick O'Connell and Drake Thomas are the only players under contract at the position, which couldn't further away from an ideal situation.

At safety, aside from Julian Love, following the release of Diggs and Jamal Adams, Seattle doesn't have another player with starting experience at free safety or strong safety currently on the roster. While Coby Bryant saw some work in practice at free safety last year and second-year defender Jerrick Reed II may have the talent to eventually start, the former has primarily played cornerback and the latter is recovering from a torn ACL, further magnifying the need for reinforcements.

On offense, with Lewis exiting, the Seahawks have only one guard - second-year player Anthony Bradford - under contract at the moment. They also lost quarterback Drew Lock, who signed a one-year deal with the Giants, leaving a massive hole behind Geno Smith on the depth chart with no other signal callers under contract. Even with Fant back in the fold, losing Colby Parkinson and Dissly has left the depth chart behind him as a barren wasteland.

Based on Schneider's lack of activity in the first two days, even with a decent amount of cap space left to work with after signing Williams and Fant, Seattle doesn't look to be interested in throwing a hat in the ring to sign a top free agent to fill one of those many roster voids. Instead, he will be aiming to shop at TJ Maxx instead of Chanel.

Can this strategy work in the Seahawks favor? It could, but Schneider will have to start making some moves sooner rather than later as options on the market rapidly dwindle for the plan to pay off.

After bypassing on Brooks and Queen, Seattle could take a look at former All-Pro linebacker Devin White, who is only 26 years old and offers splashy playmaking ability as a blitzer. Assuming bringing back Bobby Wagner is out of the question, they could take a shot on a player such as Kansas City's Willie Gay or Denver's Josey Jewell to address their massive need at the second level of the defense, though neither may be a long-term answer in Macdonald's scheme.

As for the safety position, the Seahawks didn't make an aggressive offer for Geno Stone, who like Queen also played for Macdonald with the Ravens. After paying top dollar for Diggs and Adams, the front office doesn't appear interested in investing big money at the position, but affordable replacements remain available, including Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn and Colts safety Julian Blackmon, who each are 26 years old or younger and offer untapped upside.

If Seattle doesn't want to lose compensatory picks gained from the exodus of its own free agents, former Denver star Justin Simmons or Buffalo star Jordan Poyer could be options at the right price. But both players are now on the wrong side of the 30 and in the case of Simmons, his financial demands may be more than Schneider wants to fork over.

While Schneider does still have options at linebacker and safety, however, the guard market has been red hot early in free agency, including Lewis signing a $53 million deal with the Panthers. With young talents such as Robert Hunt and Mike Onwenu reeling in massive contracts worth more than $19 million per year on the first day of legal tampering, there's slim pickings to replace Lewis and/or upgrade at right guard.

As far as stop gaps go, the Seahawks could sign Ravens guard Kevin Zeitler to a one or two-year deal. Though he's 33 years old, he made his first Pro Bowl last season and continues to play at a high level, so he could bolster the line for a couple seasons while the organization pursues a long-term starter through the draft. But if he isn't signed, there are few difference making guards left on the market.

Considering free agency won't officially start until Wednesday, it's too early to push the panic button, and teams that overspend early in the process often regret those signings down the road. With the exception of signing defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones last offseason, Schneider typically has sat out the first couple of days and let other teams engage in bidding wars for that reason. It will take a couple years to build the team as Macdonald envisions too, which must be kept in mind.

If Schneider finds quality starters with mid-level deals later this week to address several glaring holes on the roster, the lack of early activity won't be viewed as problematic and patience will be rewarded. But if the Seahawks sit idle until every position group has been picked down to retreads or career backups, the decision to skip on matching deals for Brooks, Queen, or Lewis after opening up significant cap space could come back to bite them.