NFL teams have until Thursday, March 4 to tender qualifying offers to their restricted free agents. The Seattle Seahawks have six restricted free agents this off-season, and below is a look at how the Seahawks' front office might approach their offers.
Players With Three (3) Accrued Seasons
Ben Obomanu, WR: A seventh-round pick by the Seahawks in 2006, Obomanu has appeared in 27 games for the Seahawks, catching 16 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. Obomanu spent the 2008 season on injured reserve, and was primarily used on special teams in 2009, where he made 12 tackles, the second-highest total on the team.
Best bet: With Nate Burleson expected to be in high demand once free agency opens up on Friday, and Deion Branch facing an uncertain future with the franchise, the Seahawks may be compelled to keep Obomanu around in 2010 at the "Original Round" tender, which is worth $1.101M in base salary and would compensate the Seahawks with a seventh-round draft choice if he signed an offer sheet with another club.
Brandon Frye, OT: A former fifth-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2007, Frye started for three games at left tackle for the Seahawks in 2009, after they claimed him off waivers from the Miami Dolphins before the start of the regular season.
Best bet: Provided the stinger that landed him on injured reserve last season isn't an issue, his connection to Alex Gibbs, and Seattle's lack of depth at tackle, could be enough to warrant an "Original Round "tender of $1.101 million dollars in 2010. That sum isn't guaranteed and even in an uncapped year, the Seahawks wouldn't want to be on the hook for that amount should Frye sign the tender and be injured again in the off-season. Therefore, expect the Seahawks to allow Frye to become an unrestricted free agent, though they may bring Frye back to Seattle at a substantially lower salary (min. salary is $545,000), but with some guaranteed money coming in the form of a signing bonus.
Players With Four (4) Accrued Seasons
Lance Laury, LB: Signed as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina in 2006, Laury (6-2, 237) has 63 special teams tackles during his 56-game Seahawks career. Laury has been voted captain of the Seahawks' special teams units in each of the last two seasons, and led the ‘Hawks with 21 special teams tackles last season.
Best bet: Like last off-season, Laury will not receive a restricted free agent this off-season, and will become an unrestricted free agent on Friday. The Seahawks are open to bringing Laury back in 2010, provided the price is right.
Darryl Tapp, DE: Seattle's second-round pick in 2006, Tapp (6-1, 270) has started 32 of his 64 career games, totaling 186 tackles, 18 quarterback sacks, 8 forced fumbles, and a pair of interceptions. Tapp has flashed the ability to get to the quarterback during his time in Seattle, and should be brought back for 2010. The only question is at what level?
Best bet: An "Original Round" tender has a base salary of $1.176 million dollars, while a "Second-Round" tender comes with a $1.759 million dollar base salary for 2010. To assure second-round draft pick compensation, Tapp would need to be tendered at the "Second-Round" level, and it's possible that the Seahawks could tender him at the "First-Round" level, which carries a $2.521M base salary.
Rob Sims, G: A fourth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2006, Sims has started 34 of his 45 career games. Sims (6-3, 312) returned from a torn pectoral that sidelined him for nearly all of the 2008 season to start 14 games at left guard for the Seahawks, and was arguably the team's most consistent offensive lineman in 2009. Sims has expressed a desire to remain with the Seahawks, and if tendered, would enter the 2010 off-season as the starting left guard.
Best bet: An "Original Round" tender would keep Sims in the fold with a $1.176 million dollar base salary. Should another team sign him to an offer sheet, the Seahawks would be compensated with a fourth-round draft pick. Given Sims' value as a starter, though, Seattle may be inclined to offer Sims an "Upgraded Tender", most likely at the "Second-Round" level, which carries a $1.759M base salary and second-round draft pick compensation should another team sign the former Ohio State Buckeye to an offer sheet that the Seahawks decline to match.
Making ~$600,000 decisions involving the mobility of free agent left guards weren't a strong suit of the former general manager, so it will be interesting to see how John Schneider handles this one.
Gut feeling is Sims receives the second-round, "Upgraded Tender".
Players With Five (5) Accrued Seasons
Chris Spencer, C/G: The team's first-round pick in 2005, Spencer has started 54 games during his five-year career. Max Unger has replaced Spencer as the team's starting center of the future, but Spencer moved over to right guard late last season and enters the 2010 off-season as the starter on that side.
Best bet: Spencer will be tendered, at a level likely to be determined by the RFA tenders that are offered to Rob Sims and Darryl Tapp.
If neither Sims nor Tapp receives an "Upgraded Tender", the Seahawks can use the "Original Round" tender on Spencer, which would be worth 110% of his 2009 base salary, or $2.42 million dollars. The Seahawks would receive first-round draft pick compensation in the unlikely scenario where another team signs him to an offer sheet.
If Sims does receive an "Upgraded Tender", however, to assure first-round draft pick compensation for Spencer, the Seahawks would be required to use the "First-Round" tender on him, which has a price tag of $2.621M in base salary in 2010 for a player with five accrued seasons.
Even if an "Upgraded Tender" is used on Sims, the Seahawks could place the "Original Round" tender on Spencer, which would require only second-round compensation from another club, should he sign an offer sheet that the Seahawks decline to match.
Voluntarily reducing draft choice compensation for Spencer may prompt a team that views him as a starting center to sign him to an offer sheet. It may also signal to other teams that Spencer is available via trade, perhaps for a 2010 third-round pick, which Seattle presently does not have.In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.