By Brady Henderson
Neither Golden Tate nor Doug Baldwin are under contract for next season, but the Seahawks receivers are in completely different positions as free agency approaches. Tate is unrestricted while Baldwin is restricted, a distinction that Danny O'Neil noted and explained during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk". The entire transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
Paco-POA asked whether it would be cheaper to re-sign Baldwin over Tate and wondered if that should be the bigger priority.
O'Neil: I don't disagree with that sentiment. I think that there are logistical difficulties there. Here's what I mean by that: Golden Tate is an unrestricted free agent, which means he's going to get an open-market offer. It means that he'll be able to see whether Seattle values him as much as other teams in the league and measure the difference. There's a greater chance that Tate would leave. There's also a chance that he will see that Seattle's offer is equal to what other teams are offering. For Baldwin, there's less chance he leaves. But if he and the Seahawks can't agree on contract terms, the open market won't necessarily be able to bridge that gap. Baldwin won't be unrestricted, and any offer he receives from another team will be tempered because there's additional compensation that will go to Seattle. Baldwin would feel (rightly) that the other team's offer isn't a true reflection of what his open-market value would be.
odel asked if the Seahawks would consider drafting Odell Beckham Jr., a receiver from LSU, if they don't retain Tate.
O'Neil: Odell Beckham Jr. getting some love. Here are a couple of things I know: Seattle was very interested in Jahvid Best when he came out. Ditto for Tavon Austin before he blew up the combine last year. What that says to me is that Seattle's preference for size at wide receiver/running back can be trumped when it perceives exceptional speed.
Nate asked whether the Seahawks might cut or restructure the contracts of defensive ends Chris Clemons or Red Bryant for salary-cap relief.
O'Neil: Two different players, two different questions. If I had to project – and that's certainly what it would be at this point, projecting – I would guess that there's a much higher likelihood that Clemons' contract would be changed this offseason. And don't use "restructured" as a term there. Restructuring is what someone like Larry Fitzgerald does, and it refers to a situation where the players' monetary compensation doesn't change so much as the timeline for how it's paid out. Clemons' deal wouldn't be restructured if Seattle revisits it. It would be changed.
shmitty asked if it would be cheaper to sign kicker Steven Hauschka to a multi-year deal rather than use the franchise tag on him.
O'Neil: Depends on what Hauschka wants long-term. If it was cheaper to sign him to a deal than franchise him, they would do that. Challenge is the longer-term commitment to a kicker when every bit of statistical evidence shows that the performance of kickers is so variable as to make multi-year commitments at higher dollar figures problematic. See: Mare, Olindo.
Greg asked when the Seahawks and free safety Earl Thomas will reach a new deal.
O'Neil: Well, I wouldn't expect any contract extensions to come before June. There's no timetable for them to get done earlier. No urgency. For the player, he wants to eliminate the risk of injury during the season. For the team, it wants to get the salaries in line.