As of today, there are more than 18 Seahawks players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents (UFA) this offseason. There are many key players within this group that should be retained. The challenge will be deciding which of these players to keep; the salary cap will make it difficult to retain all of them. The following, in my opinion, are the free agents grouped into "priority" categories.
Type “A” Free Agents
Marshawn Lynch, RB: This season, Marshawn Lynch became the identity of the offense with his relentless, borderline violent, running style. The offense revolves around Lynch, so without him our offensive identity would be lost once again. I think he is the most important free agent to resign, and I would love to see “Mr. Skittles” in a Seattle uniform for a few more years.
Red Bryant, DE: Bryant is the biggest starting defensive end in the NFL; losing him in free agency would be the biggest loss this offseason for the defense. Without him taking on double-team blockers and stuffing the run on the edge, our linebackers will not be able to make plays around the field as freely as they have this past season. The role of the “LEO” position, held by Chris Clemons, would also be diminished.
David Hawthorne, MLB: Hawthorne is a tremendous middle linebacker. He is essentially the “quarterback of the defense”, calling defensive formations and being a veteran leader. K.J. Wright would step into the role as MLB if Hawthorne is lost, which is not a downgrade at all. However, the resulting effect would leave two gaping holes at outside linebacker, since Leroy Hill is also a free agent.
Type “B” Free Agents
Leroy Hill, OLB: Depth at linebacker is already thin, so losing Hill would really sting. At the right price, I would love to see his playmaking skills back in Seattle. We had a trio of talented starters at linebacker last season, and I think it would be wise to keep the group intact for next season.
John Carlson, TE: Keeping Carlson is a luxury move. Imagine pairing him with Zach Miller next year; that tandem would surely keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. The market for a talented tight end like Carlson will be demanding, so it will be difficult to bring him back on a reasonable contract.
Michael Robinson, FB: Robinson is a valuable member on offense, blocking for Lynch and catching passes out of the backfield when necessary. He might not have appeared to make a huge impact, but was good enough to be selected as a pro-bowl alternate this season.
Type “C” Free Agents
Breno Giacomini, OL: The offensive line was ravished by injuries once again, only this time the back-ups stepped up and filled in nicely. Giacomini was perhaps the most impressive, filling in for rookie James Carpenter; some experts think he actually outplayed Carpenter. He is good enough to actually challenge for a starting spot on the line next year, if we bring him back.
Anthony Hargrove, DT: Hargrove had a noticeable impact when he was asked to rush the passer. Heck, he even had a safety this season against the potential NFC champ New York Giants. He proved as good DT depth behind Mebane and Branch.
Atari Bigby, SS: Bigby served his role this season as a back-up, providing veteran leadership on a young, talented defense. If he is willing to accept back-up money once again, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Seattle uniform next year.
Matt McCoy, LB: Depth is desperately needed at linebacker. McCoy is a great special teams contributor, and knows our defensive system already. It doesn’t hurt that we could probably bring him back on the cheap too.
Type “D” Free Agents
I am indifferent to Type D free agents. If I see them back, great; if not, good luck elsewhere!
Marcus Trufant: We have three young starting-caliber cornerbacks in Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond III, and Richard Sherman. All three are younger, bigger, and less injury-prone than Trufant currently is. Trufant will only be back if he signs a relatively small contract, but I don’t see that happening.
Justin Forsett: A great guy, teammate, and runningback. It’d be great to see him back, but I think he is a replaceable player on the field
Others: OL Paul McQuistan, OL Mike Gibson, DL Jimmy Wilkerson, LB Heath Farwell, LB David Vobora.
Type “F” Free Agents – Please don’t come back
Charlie Whitehurst, QB: “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie”, “Clipboard Jesus”, “We want Charlie!” Enough said.
Raheem Brock, DE: Brock is 34, no longer productive as a pass-rusher, and repeatedly gets in trouble with the law. Enough said.