By Brock Huard
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.
March 1 for the Sacramento Kings. March 8 for the Colts and Peyton Manning's $28 million bonus. March 13 for the beginning of NFL free agency. The next two-plus weeks will be busy with activity, but for Seattle sports fans let's hope that activity won't be confused for achievement.
The time has come for deals to be completed and there are three no-brainers when it comes to the Seahawks, as long as the eye is never taken off of the prize.
Quarterback is the top priority and the prize, but nothing can be accomplished on this front -- at least technically speaking -- until Manning is officially released in Indianapolis or the March 13 sweepstakes begins for Matt Flynn. I have made my intentions very clear on the Manning front, and though my letter got returned to sender, Dan Pompei of The National Football Post had the following update on Manning over the weekend:
"Based on the buzz around the league, the Seahawks could be the early frontrunner for Peyton Manning, assuming he is released. Pete Carroll needs a quarterback and is believed to have a strong interest in at least exploring Manning. The Seahawks could offer Manning an attractive scenario. They have a young team with some fine skill players to put around him. They play in one of the league's loudest stadiums. Manning wouldn't be subject to the same kind of scrutiny in Seattle that he would in a lot of other markets. The Seahawks also could have a better feel for Manning's medical situation than some teams. One of their team physicians [is] Stan Herring, who also is one of the country's preeminent specialists for spine injuries. Herring is a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee."
I have a feeling that Manning's agent, Tom Condon, will be a busy man in Indianapolis at the scouting combine this week and like Dan Pompei, I believe Carroll and John Schneider will at the least be exploring the Manning possibility.
Red Byrant could be in line for a deal similar to the one Brandon Mebane singed a year ago. (AP)
Speaking of Lynch, momentum clearly looks like the franchise tag may come into play for the hard-charging running back. The Seahawks would prefer a deal that is structured with three years of security (roughly $20 million in salary/bonuses) whereas Lynch and his agency want the payoff that comes with a breakthrough year -- he rushed for over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns -- a deal within earshot of Chris Johnson's or that of Adrian Peterson. If no compromise is reached, expect Lynch to be tagged with the $7.7 million franchise tag before the March 5 deadline.
Robinson and Lynch are no-brainers and the the leverage, dollars and "sense" in many ways favors the Seahawks. The wildcard becomes move No. 3: Big Red Bryant. Though the Seahawks have made a very strong offer to Bryant, he is yet to accept the deal and may want to see what the free-agent market will bring.
Bryant has a very intriguing story to spin, one with 22 games of evidence and footage showcasing his run-stuffing capabilities while anchoring a top 10 rush defense. Conversely, the big man from Galveston, Texas has two more sacks than I do in his NFL career. I can't help but remember an old defensive line coach in Indy, John Teerlinck, who had a very large sign displayed prominently in his meeting room that read "$acks= $$$."
Bryant will be 28 in 2012 and recovered from a torn ACL in 2010, yet fits perfectly into the five technique role in Carroll's defensive scheme. Beyond the Xs and Os, Bryant in many ways became the intimidating and over-powering face of an immovable front seven in 2011. A deal like Brandon Mebane signed a season ago (five years/$25 million with $9 million guaranteed) makes sense. Like Mebane, this will more than likely be Bryant's biggest shot at a major payday and his body of work calls for a multi-million-dollar guarantee.
Though the Hawks would hate to lose him, I don't see them drastically over-paying. In fact, like Mebane last offseason, if the Hawks can't finalize a deal before March 13 other suitors will come calling. And when they do, Bryant will have to make a decision between the marriage of fit and scheme he has in Seattle or the opportunity for a little bigger payday and uncertainty elsewhere.
Bottom line, quarterback is priority No. 1, and whether it's Manning, Flynn or a draft pick, the position has to be addressed first and foremost. Lynch and Robinson are no-brainers; in many ways they epitomize the identity of the offensive and special teams units. Lastly, I "want" Big Red, but I don't know if the Seahawks "need" him at any cost.