A powerful rushing game and the best defense in the NFL catapulted the Seattle Seahawks to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history. But in the wake of their championship parade the team has serious free agent issues to address next month.
The Seahawks potentially have several key players hitting the open market, including defensive end Michael Bennett, and offensive tackles Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan. All three combined to earn nearly $13 million, with Bennett working on a one-year deal.
Perhaps rallying Seattle fans to his side after the parade, Bennett actually told a local radio station he hopes to stay in the Northwest, according to National Football Post.
The Seahawks free agency dilemmas encapsulate what many teams will go through next month. Complicated salary cap issues will have to be resolved, and many players will either walk to the chagrin of former teams or the luck of new teams.
There are some dates and key points to remember ahead of free agency. Teams will have a three day window from March 8-11 to work out a deal before players under contract officially hit the open market as unrestricted free agents. Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on March 11 to negotiate or exercise options on players.
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However once that window closes several teams could see top players scurry off for a bigger pay day.
Below are some key players at running back, receiver, defensive back, and tight end who could be in-line for big deals with their current team or with a new squad next season. A full list of every free agent at each position can be found here at NFL.com
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Blount prove instrumental in the Pats offense in the playoffs, and he might try to leverage that into a long-term deal. But New England might let him walk in order to address the contracts of restricted free agent defensive tackle Christian Cox and cornerback Aqib Talib.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
He reportedly wanted a trade two seasons ago, but bounced back from injury in 2012 with 803 rushing yards and five touchdowns last season. However it’s unlikely Jacksonville, or any other team, pays him the $6.8 million Jones-Drew was paid last season.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Moreno wants to remain in Denver after posting the best year of his career with 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns. But lots of Broncos, especially defensive players, are seeking extensions and Moreno could be left out.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
McFadden represented the biggest cap hit by far on Oakland’s roster last season, and if it wasn’t for his injury history and inconsistent production, he’d probably be a Raider for another few years. Unless he agrees to a much cheaper deal, McFadden probably bolts.
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Decker has a better shot of getting a long-term deal than Moreno, as he’s one of quarterback Peyton Manning’s favorite targets. But Denver also has to save some money for 2015 when receiver Demaryius Thomas hits free agency.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Boldin had a stellar year, and San Francisco could reportedly offer a two-year, $6 million extension according to CSN Bay Area. However the 49ers also need to consider receiver Michael Crabtree and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who are entering the final years of their contracts.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Nicks is far removed from the receiver who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and though he appeared in 15 games this season he didn’t score a single touchdown. Nicks was a $3.7 million cap hit for the Giants in 2013, but if he wants to make more he’ll likely have to find another suitor.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
There’s Graham and then there’s every other tight end, or receiver. New Orleans could save serious money by designating him a tight end with the franchise tag as early as Feb. 17, or pay him the salary of a top wide receiver.
Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
At 27, Byrd has become one of the top safeties in the league and likely expects to be paid like one. Right now the Bills have very little cap space to work with, roughly $1.7 million, and they should clear up more for Byrd.
T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns
The Browns would be wise to keep their young and highly productive secondary together, starting with Ward. They have lots of cap space and are likely to use it on Ward, and offensive linemen Alex Mack and Shawn Lauvao.
Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans
The Titans are presently over the cap, and will have to spend wisely in order to keep top interception man Verner, along with safety Bernard Pollard.