Seahawks avoiding first wave of free agency again … thankfully

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Nate Solder has been living the good life already. Solder, the 17th overall pick in 2011, has helped the New England Patriots reach four Super Bowls and won two of them. He was also never “poor” throughout his Patriots days, but on Wednesday he’ll become even richer. Richer than most offensive linemen who’ve come before him or who currently exist out there, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is signing a $62 million deal to leave New England for the team that beat him in his rookie Super Bowl: The New York Giants.

The Giants had the least amount of money allocated to their offensive line in the NFL, so it makes some sense to put some money into that unit. The Seattle Seahawks may have never been in the market for Solder because they have Duane Brown, but I will say this: I’m glad it’s not them doing this deal. Or many of the others that have been announced this week. The first wave of free agency has brought on some insane contracts, in my opinion, almost none of which will result in a Super Bowl win or deep playoff run for these teams.

This is simply not the week that dictates championships, it’s mostly just the week that gets the headlines.

The Seahawks lost receiver Paul Richardson to Washington, but given his deal and some of the others handed out to players at his position, it makes sense that Seattle has bowed out. What percentage of folks actually want to start paying number two and three receivers like what we’ve seen so far?

  • Richardson: 5 years, $40 million with Washington(44 catches, 703 yards in 2017)
  • Allen Robinson: 3 years, $42 million with Bears (did not play in 2017, save a few snaps)
  • Sammy Watkins: 3 years, $48 million with Chiefs (39 catches, 593 yards in 2017 in a high-volume offense)
  • Marqise Lee: 4 years, $38 million with Jags (56 catches, 702 yards in 2017)
  • Albert Wilson: 3 years, $24 million with Dolphins (42 catches, 554 yards in 2017)
  • Donte Moncrief: 1 year, $9.6 million with Jags (26 catches, 391 yards in 2017)
  • Ryan Grant: 4 years, $29 million with Ravens (45 catches, 573 yards in 2017)
  • Danny Amendola: 2 years, $12 million with Dolphins (61 catches, 659 yards in 2017)

Even on the “low end” can you imagine Seattle doing what Miami is doing and spending an average salary of $14 million so they can have the rights to a 33-year-old Danny Amendola and the never-even-discussed-as-a-regular-starter Albert Wilson? That’s the same cost as what the Seahawks spend on Bobby Wagner, a top-five defensive player. It’s actually a little bit more.

So what was Seattle to do? Pay Richardson $8.5 million per year to keep him even though he produced just 51 catches and 599 yards over his first three seasons? Make him their seventh-highest paid player on the roster? Instead, they turn a 2014 second round pick into a 2019 third round comp pick (possibly) and they did get a good season out of him in the process. Believe it or not, that rarely happens with any second round pick.

Many have fought for the Seahawks to keep spending on their offensive line because of the perception that it’s the worst unit in the NFL (it’s not) but this is an even scarier pool to dip your toes into, even before you consider that Solder just became the highest paid lineman in NFL history.

  • Solder: 4 years, $62 million with the Giants
  • Chris Hubbard: 5 years, $37.5 million with Browns (former undrafted free agent who made 14 starts in four years with Steelers and is a “potential add” rather than a “proven vet add”.)
  • Seantrel Henderson: 1 year, $4 million with Texans (Missed virtually all of the last two seasons.)
  • Garry Gilliam: 2 years, $8 million with 49ers (Seriously, what?)
  • Bradley Sowell: 2 year deal with Bears (He didn’t improve from what you remember, making two starts for Chicago and being signed as future depth, not to start)
  • Andrew Norwell: 5 years, $66.5 million with Jaguars (Biggest APY in NFL history to an OL…prior to Solder signing. Was not considered a star lineman until last season, playing between Matt and Ryan Kalil and opposite of star guard Trae Turner.)
  • Weston Richburg: 5 year deal with 49ers (Played in four games last season. Likely a significant upgrade over center Dan Kilgore, but will not be surprised to see it as an expensive one given John Lynch’s spending history. and Richburg is not Alex Mack. Oh and they signed Kilgore to a three-year, $11.5 million extension last month, so which of these guys is being paid to not play center?)
  • James Hurst: 4 years, $17.5 million with Ravens (First time starting guard in 2017)

The Seahawks do need to sign some guards, likely, but doing so for $12-13 million per season is not good business and not how Seattle operated during their most successful seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. When they did (Robert Gallery, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller in 2011) the results were less than satisfactory. Spending $8 million on Luke Joeckel last season didn’t have nearly the same impact as, say, signing Bradley McDougald to a one-year, $1.8 million after people stopped paying attention to signings in 2017. The Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett deals were not really much different when they happened in 2013, with Avril getting two years and Bennett only getting one. But they had an impact and rewarded after the fact, not before.

All of these “before the impact” deals make no sense to me other than desperation.

How does $16 million to Allen Robinson or $8 million to Albert Wilson not scream “desperation”? It’s not a reward, and if it is, that’s just a terrible business model. Instead, holding onto whatever money you have (and let’s stop being under the impression that Seattle has loads of space because that $30 million or whatever it is will dry up quickly) to keep your own, to add that one player who actually is being paid what he’s worth and you can maybe trade for him (Sheldon Richardson, as an example) when others can’t, or to strike after a “shocking” cap casualty, can have just as much value.

The best Eagles signing of 2017 was not Alshon Jeffery. It was Chris Long.

The best Patriots signing of 2017 was not Dont’a Hightower or Stephon Gilmore. It was arguably trading for Brandin Cooks or the 2015 signing and quick extension of Dion Lewis.

I get that a lot of exciting stuff is happening and you want to be a part of it, but I’d rather be excited in January than in March, and that’s just a good rule to live by in general. (Because of New Years Day. What a fun holiday.) I do not get excited by the idea of signing Trey Burton to a four-year, $32 million contract (Bears). I only get excited by Jerick McKinnon signing a four-year, $30 million deal because it’s the 49ers who are the ones doing it, and that seems dumb to me. Devon Kennard is now making north of $6 million per year, do you know what position he plays and what impact he’s had in his career? I’m asking you. Because I don’t know that much about him. Is that a move that makes you jealous? Is Nigel Bradham a $40 million player? Is Cassius Marsh even a $3.8 million/year (again, SF), player?

Did you want to replace Richard Sherman with Trumaine Johnson … for $72.5 million(!!!) from the Jets? At what point in his life has Trumaine Johnson been playing like a $14.5 million a year cornerback?

For the most part, the deals going around right now are not good. They will rarely result in championships. They will often not even result in additional wins, and won’t bring more fans into the stadium. They’re $5-$15 million/year “chances” and those chances aren’t often better than the $2-4 million “chances” that a team can take next week. Seattle missed out on T.J. Lang last year, but the Lions didn’t make the playoffs. The Seahawks weren’t missing the playoffs because they signed Joeckel instead of Lang. The fact that they did means they aren’t paying Lang $10.8 million 2018, as the Lions are.

There are plenty of free agents remaining. Don’t you worry about that. and as the market settles down and they realize the league didn’t see them in that first wave, they’ll take less, but they often aren’t “lesser players.” This is the strategy that the Seahawks employ …

And it’s a much better strategy than some are giving it credit for.

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