Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is sacked by defensive end Cliff Avril #56 and defensive end Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks in the third quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field on January 11, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
Coming off their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, the Seattle Seahawks will face some difficult decisions regarding the future of their roster when free agency begins next month.
Eighteen players will become either restricted or unrestricted free agents at the conclusion of the league year on March 11. Many of those players will be looking for raises coming off strong seasons. Others will be looking to capitalize on their first chance on the free agent market.
The list of free agents for Seattle consists of:
WR Doug Baldwin, restricted
DE Michael Bennett
CB Brandon Browner
TE Kellen Davis
T Breno Giacomini
K Steven Hauschka
QB Tarvaris Jackson
C Lemuel Jeanpierre, restricted
S Jeron Johnson, restricted
S Chris Maragos
TE Anthony McCoy
DT Tony McDaniel
DT Clinton McDonald
G Paul McQuistan
FB Michael Robinson
LB O'Brien Schofield
WR Golden Tate
CB Walter Thurmond
Bennett and Tate are the biggest names on the list. Bennett is coming off an outstanding season on a 1-year contract where he posted 8.5 sacks. He's made it very clear that he wants to get a long-term deal this time around.
In addition, S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman are both eligible for extensions and will become free agents after next season, and QB Russell Wilson will be up for an extension after next year as well. That's three key pieces that will be in line for large contracts in the coming years.
With the constrictions of a salary cap, it will make the ability to keep all their key pieces a challenging endeavor. WR Sidney Rice, DE Chris Clemons, TE Zach Miller and DE Red Bryant are among higher-priced veterans who could be released or forced to restructure their contracts in order to stay with the team.
LB Mike Morgan also doesn't have a contract for next season. However, since he has only two accrued seasons he is considered an exclusive rights free agent. What that means basically is that Seattle owns his rights and he cannot negotiate with any other team. If the Seahawks tender him an offer, he is obligated to accept it.