The NFL's new league year will begin as scheduled despite fears over the COVID-19 pandemic. Wednesday March 18 at 1:00 p.m. PT will mark the official start of free agency.
However, most of the news will take place over the next 48 hours. Starting on Monday at 9:00 a.m. PT, teams can begin negotiating with agents in what's referred to as the legal tampering period. It's all a bit of a mirage as tampering happens year-round. You'll hear of deals being announced immediately once the window opens.
Everyone in Seattle is anxiously awaiting to see whether or not the Seahawks take an aggressive approach to this week. Here are five questions that we may get answers to over the next few days.
1. Who will win the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes?
Everyone has been speculating on Clowney's future for months now. It is my belief that his time in the Pacific Northwest is over, but I'll be very curious to see who is willing to pony up and give Clowney the market-setting contract he's looking for. Don't be fooled by his meager 3.5 sacks in 2019. Clowney is a legit three-down defensive end, and his run defense is superior than most of his peers.
2. Will the Seahawks bring back any of their own free agents?
Beyond Clowney, Seattle has several players hitting the open market who should also draw interest around the league. Jarran Reed, George Fant and Germain Ifedi are the three players likely to get the biggest contracts. Keep an eye on Quinton Jefferson as well. Jefferson posted 3.5 sacks in 2019 in what was a mini-breakout season for him. He was quietly Seattle's second-best defensive lineman behind Clowney. The Seahawks would be wise to keep him moving forward.
3. How will Seattle address their need at pass rush?
In the event that Clowney, Reed and Jefferson all sign elsewhere, the Seahawks would essentially be building their pass rush from scratch. Poona Ford, while a quality run defender, hasn't shown much of an ability to get to the quarterback. Shaquem Griffin and Rasheem Green may be serviceable rotational players, but it would be risky to bank on them taking a big step forward in 2020.
The best-case scenario would be to sign Mario Addison, Robert Quinn or Dante Fowler Jr. Jason Pierre-Paul and Markus Golden are solid options as well. Adding one of those five and then bringing in another rotational player would be huge for Seattle. A reunion with Bruce Irvin or Michael Bennett is conceivable given the Seahawks familiarity with both players and their relatively low price tags.
4. Will they invest in an offensive lineman?
Most of the attention is on the Seahawks pass rush and understandably so given that Seattle generated just 28 sacks in 2019. However there is a need to improve along the offensive line as well. Mike Iupati and Ifedi are free agents and both are likely to be playing elsewhere in 2020. That leaves two openings for starting jobs.
Jamarco Jones and Phil Haynes are likely to compete at left guard next season, but Seattle will need to sign a right tackle in the event of Ifedi leaving. Fant said that he wants the chance to be a starting left tackle. The Seahawks can't offer that opportunity for as long as Duane Brown is on the roster. However, maybe they could convince Fant to come back and compete for the right tackle job.
I doubt Seattle splurges on an elite option like Jack Conklin, but I expect a move to be made along the offensive line in some capacity.
5. What will Seattle do that surprises us?
Trying to surmise what the Seahawks will do in free agency or the draft can often feel like a fool's errand. John Schneider and Pete Carroll can be unpredictable. They often zig when everyone else expects them to zag, and so it just kind of feels like they're going to do something unexpected this week.
5 Seahawks-related questions that could be answered this week originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest