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News » Seahawks unlikely to make big move in free agency

Seahawks unlikely to make big move in free agency

Seahawks unlikely to make big move in free agency
The Seahawks don't need a huge shopping cart in the free agent market. A hand basket is more like it.

And big-bodied, big-bucks free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth won't fit in that.

The Seahawks have room under the salary cap. They need help on both the defensive and offensive lines, plus at wide receiver and in the defensive secondary. Yet Seahawks president and general manager Tim Ruskell says he will make only "strategic" use of free agency, rather than go on a buying spree that is so, well, 2006 in today's tough economy.

So a couple of second-tier free agents are more likely than headliners.

"Everybody around the league is going through the economic crisis that we all are, so we're looking at that hard," Ruskell said as the offseason began. "We can do what we need to do. But everybody - you'll see moves being made around the league because it's tight for everybody. It puts pressure on all your revenue streams. We're all going to be cognizant of that."

Seattle has already satisfied its top offseason priority by designating Leroy Hill its franchise player for 2009. The Seahawks are working to give their play-making linebacker a long-term deal, though agent Todd France said last week the two sides are currently far apart.

And Ruskell wants to keep fullback Leonard Weaver and wide receiver Bobby Engram, among 14 other Seahawks free agents, but only at the right price.

The team also has the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft, its highest in a dozen years and the "reward" for a 4-12 season.

Though 2008 exposed many holes that free agency would presumably help fill - Haynesworth is the most coveted defensive tackle available and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is the top wide receiver on the market - Ruskell says that will not be the primary way Seattle tries to get back on top of the NFC West.

"I'm also counting that we have a pretty high draft pick, and we're going to get an influx of some really young energy, and guys that we think can play for us," Ruskell said, looking ahead to the next two months. "We'll have strategic use of free agency as well, and re-signing our own players.

"You're not going to see a major overhaul."

Three years ago, the Seahawks were coming off their only Super Bowl appearance and were awash in the money of team owner Paul Allen. They signed Julian Peterson to a $54 million, seven-year contract that included $18.5 million guaranteed.

Last year, Seattle gave Lofa Tatupu $42 million for six years, with $18 million guaranteed. Then Hill got $8.3 million guaranteed for this year with his princely franchise tag.

That's more than $20 million against this year's cap just for the linebackers. Sure, they are the strength of the team, but that may leave other gaps to be filled.

"It's unusual, but if that is one of the strengths of your team or your defense, then that is your identity. Maybe that means you can't go with as many guys getting paid on the defensive line or in the secondary," Ruskell said.

"It's something we have to think about because it's not like we don't have a salary cap, and every move affects every other move. We have those conversations every day."

They are also having conversations with the agents for Weaver and Engram.

Weaver became a valued lead blocker and third-down back the last two seasons. He wants to stay but said at the end of the season of possibly leaving: "You understand it is part of the business."

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck says Engram, with whom he has played since 2001, "just brings an experience and a calmness to our offense."

Yet after he set a team record with 94 receptions in 2007, Engram was upset last year that the Seahawks didn't re-negotiate his contract before it ended, and that he made just $1.7 million last season while catching 47 passes in 13 games. His salary was third among Seattle wide receivers, behind Deion Branch ($3.5 million) and Nate Burleson ($3.25 million).

Engram told The Associated Press on Thursday night that he's received plenty of interest from other teams and that being a free agent "is a good place."

He said the Seahawks are aware of his desire to finish his career in Seattle, but added, "I wouldn't say optimistic," when asked about his chances of returning.

Engram turned 36 last month. When asked if the team was open to the multiyear contract Engram wants, Ruskell said earlier: "I don't want to get into any of that. We had our disagreements last year about how to do that.

"The same arguments will come up. But the bottom line is, he would like to be a Seahawk and finish his career a Seahawk, and we would like that as well."

Engram said he hopes to have a deal done soon - whether it's with Seattle or not.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 27, 2009

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