Why the Seattle Seahawks Are the Biggest Winners of NFL Free Agency

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 22, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 04: Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings returns a kick during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 4, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

They may not have added the most players or spent the most money.

In fact, the biggest splash they made wasn't with a free-agent signing at all.

However, as the second week of the 2013 edition of NFL free agency winds down, there's one clear winner.

The Seattle Seahawks.

You see, it's not the teams like the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns that win free agency. They can't.

For starters, teams that go bananas in free agency usually have a number of needs to fill. They're mediocre to bad teams to begin with. Making big splashes is not only a way to plug some of those gaps but also a way to pump some energy into a beleaguered fan base.

The problem is, often these teams overpay to acquire these "big name" players early in free agency, and it's been shown several times that more often than not rebuilding a roster through free agency just doesn't work.

It's the good teams, with only a hole or two that truly need addressing, that can really do damage in free agency.

And that's what the Seattle Seahawks did.

The Seahawks fired the first big shot in this year's player movement, trading a package of draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

It was a bold move, with a fairly high price tag that carries with it a fair amount of risk. If it pays off, though, the 24-year-old Harvin, whom the Seahawks then inked to a six-year, $67 million extension, will offer an entirely new dimension to an already potent Seattle offense.

The team then went out and addressed both the Chris Clemons injury, and the Seahawks' mediocre pass rush by committing highway robbery on the open market.


On successive days the Seahawks signed defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to free-agent contracts.

Avril's two-year, $15 million contract was considered a bargain. Bennett's one-year, $5 million deal left jaws on floors.

Getting a pair of pass-rushers at below market value who combined for 18.5 sacks in 2012 doesn't just give the Seahawks a measure of insurance against 2012 sack leader Clemons' torn ACL. It also provides the team with a dizzyingly deep and talented pool of talent on the defensive front.

Imagine, if you will, Seattle's Top 10 scoring offense and the read-option offense that quarterback Russell Wilson seemed to grow more comfortable running with precision as the season wore on.

Now, imagine it with a true number-one wide receiver who just so happens to be quite possibly the most dangerous player in the NFL with a football in his hands.

Imagine Percy Harvin constantly in motion, forcing defenses to adjust. Imagine him as part of a three-headed read-option attack where Wilson can keep it himself, hand off to running back Marshawn Lynch or give it to Harvin around the edge.

Believe me, the rest of the NFC West already is.

Now imagine a Seattle defense that was fourth in total defense and first in points allowed in 2012. It boasts arguably the best secondary in the NFL. And now the Seahawks can rotate linemen in and out of the lineup and up and down the line, constantly harassing your offense and disrupting your rhythm.

That's what the Seattle Seahawks could easily be in 2013.

Other teams may crow about all the needs they filled or point to their willingness to spend money to make their franchises better.

However, the Seattle Seahawks' moves, while not big on quantity, were huge in quality.

And that's going to have the biggest impact of all.