The Week That Was: Seahawks Go Shopping

The first week of free agency can seem like a year, so drastic are the dramas and mood swings of a fanbase pulled in a hundred different directions. For the 2007 Seahawks, it's been a full order of emotion and movement - releasing a defensive team leader, acquiring his replacement, being jilted at the altar by the best guard available (again!), and doing the Safety Dance with two new entrants.

The Seahawks had enough cap room to carry Grant Wistrom's $3.5 million salary in 2007. Team president Tim Ruskell decided Wistrom wasn't worth that figure, however, and the team released him when Wistrom refused to take a pay cut.

Wistrom started 16 games for the Seahawks last season. He played his best in the playoffs, but he never had more than four sacks in a season with Seattle.
Injuries caught up with Wistrom during his three-year tenure with Seattle. He wasn't able to produce consistently enough to justify that $14 million signing bonus Seattle paid to him as a free agent in 2004.

Wistrom otherwise seemed to be exactly what Ruskell has been looking for: a high-character player with a non-stop motor and good leadership skills. The addition of Patrick Kerney led Ruskell to release Wistrom anyway.

Bryce Fisher and 2006 second-round choice Darryl Tapp are expected to compete for the starting job on the right side. Fisher has started on the left side for three seasons. Kerney will now start there. Tapp shared time with Wistrom last season, but he was never a starter.

Releasing Wistrom cleared cap room in the short term because Seattle took advantage of the June 1 designation available to clubs in March. His $3.5 million salary is off the books. The team takes a $2.33 million cap hit in 2007, a savings of $3.5 million. Seattle then absorbs a $4.66 million cap hit in 2008.

--The Seahawks signed free-agent FS Deon Grant to a six-year deal worth more than $30 million. Grant was a longtime starter in Jacksonville. Seattle rolled out the red carpet for him and it made a difference.

"It's a great organization and they seemed like really honest people," Grant told the Florida Times-Union. "The guys they had there, I went to dinner with the guys and they showed a lot of interest in me.

"I already knew Patrick Kerney and he was waiting for me at the airport where they picked me up in the owner's jet. It was something different that I had never seen. They treated me with A-1 status as far as showing how much they wanted me here."

--The day after signing Grant, Seattle agreed to terms with former Browns and Vikings safety Brian Russell. Terms of the deal are undisclosed at this time. Russell is a four-year NFL starter who picked off nine passes for the Vikings in 2003. Both Grant and Russell are known as smart, savvy leaders. Seattle's young secondary struggled with consistency in 2006.

--Chargers guard Kris Dielman left the Seahawks at the altar after it appeared as though Seattle would land the coveted free agent. Dielman left about $10 million on the table in Seattle, re-signing with the Chargers.

"Money's nice, but if you're not happy, if you're miserable, it ain't really worth it, in my opinion," Dielman said. "I'm happy. San Diego's happy. Money ain't a factor. It never really was, either."

Consider Dielman a fair-weather free agent. "My agent called me with some good news," he said of the Chargers' offer. "I told him, 'Get me out of here, man. Get me home, back to sunny San Diego.' "

--Seattle signed Patrick Kerney in an effort to shore up its pass rush from the end position.

"Our first priority when we went into free agency was to help our front, to help our pass rush, when we lined it up with the coaches," coach Mike Holmgren said. "We have been able to address that and we are excited what he brings as a pass rusher and a force on the defense, but also, and this is a broken record for me, of what he brings in terms of his passion for the game, his commitment, his energy. He's a guy that will raise the level of play of those around him."

--Denver outbid Seattle for free-agent tight end Daniel Graham. The Seahawks were willing to pay, but the Broncos gave Graham a five-year deal for $30 million, with roughly half of that in guarantees. The price was too steep for the Seahawks.

"Rhyme and reason goes right out the window this first week of free agency, replaced by a lack of reason sometimes," Ruskell said. "But you have to just stay the course and stay focused. The moneys are bigger, as they have gotten every year as the cap has gone up. Coach and I talked about it. It's almost like college recruiting. Some of the tactics used in college recruiting, somebody has dusted off that old book they used back in the day."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It came down to here and Denver, and both were winning organizations. Certainly Seattle has been to the playoffs the past four years, the Super Bowl two years ago and has a lot of very talented players still in the prime of their career. That was the deciding factor along with the character of the guys that I've met around here. I've spent time with Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu. That really sold me on the place, along with Tim and Coach Holmgren." -- Patrick Kerney on signing with Seattle.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER

--PK Josh Brown: Tendered at $2.078M.

TRANSITION PLAYER:
None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--WR Bobby Engram still has something left, but age and health issues are a concern.

--OG Chris Gray could return in a backup role and he has the potential to start if needed.

--S Ken Hamlin is a big hitter with very good range. He could flourish with the right system and coaching.

--LB D.D. Lewis has a hard time staying healthy and that will hurt him in free agency.

--DE Kemp Rasmussen spent last season on injured reserve. He's a good special-teamer when healthy.

--RB Josh Scobey is a top-flight special-teams coverage player who can return kicks, but he is not a factor as a runner.

--TE Jerramy Stevens will have to overcome a history of injuries and inconsistent play wrapped around long-ago off-field troubles. He does have lots of talent, however.

--DE Joe Tafoya can be a very good special-teams player, but injuries have taken a toll.

--CB Jimmy Williams is coming off ACL surgery, putting his future in doubt.

--OG Floyd Womack has the ability to play all four positions except center, but he can't stay healthy. After visiting the Falcons and Steelers, Womack will reportedly sign a one-year contract with the Seahawks.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--S Oliver Celestin (not tendered as RFA) served as a backup all last season. He has some experience.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--DB Jordan Babineaux (tendered at $1.35M with 2nd-round pick as compensation) can play corner or safety, and he has a history of making plays. At some point he needs to focus on one position, and Seattle's recent safety signings could put Babineaux at backup cornerback behind Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings.

--WR D.J. Hackett (tendered at $1.35M with 2nd-round pick as compensation) has starting potential.

--LB Niko Koutouvides (tendered at $850,000 with 4th-round pick as compensation) is a core special-teams player but not a starting-caliber linebacker.

--OT Sean Locklear (tendered at $1.85M with 1st-round pick as compensation) got a higher tender even though he's coming off an injury-diminished season.

--DT Craig Terrill (tendered at $850,000 with 6th-round pick as compensation) is a good pass rusher with lots of energy and a great motor. He should be recovered from the knee injury that ended his 2006 season

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--TE Will Heller: UFA; $1.8M --DB Pete Hunter: Potential UFA; terms unknown.

--FB Josh Parry: Not tendered as RFA; $1.52M/ 2 yrs, $120,000 SB.

--LS Derek Rackley: Potential UFA; $720,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--S Brian Russell: UFA Browns; terms unknown.

--S Deon Grant: UFA Jaguars; 6 yrs, terms unknown.

--DE Patrick Kerney: UFA Falcons; $39.5M/6 yrs, $19.5M guaranteed.

PLAYERS LOST

--LS J.P. Darche: UFA Chiefs; 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--C Robbie Tobeck: UFA; retired.

--DE Grant Wistrom (released; post-June 1 designation).


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