The Seahawks beat the franchise tag deadline and got a four-year deal done with RB Marshawn Lynch.
That was a big goal for Seattle and accomplishing it does more than just assure them of having a Skittles-loving running back toting the ball for them over the next few years. It also leaves the franchise tag available for use, giving the team a chance to hold onto another one of their own impending free agents. The likeliest suspect for the tag would be defensive end Red Bryant.
Bryant started all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2011 and was a leader of their run defense by using his big body to occupy space and open up room for his teammates to make tackles. They missed that presence terribly when Bryant went down with an injury in 2010. He also picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and displayed a real knack for blocking field goals. The Seahawks coaches raved about him often and Bryant seems like a perfect fit for their defense going forward, which makes you wonder if they might use the tag to keep Bryant in town.
Neither Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times nor Eric Williams of the Tacoma News-Tribune think that they will slap the tag on Bryant. Since the tag comes with a salary in the neighborhood of $10.4 million for a player whose charms don’t include rushing the passer, it isn’t hard to understand why the team might balk at the prospect. That said, losing Bryant would be a big blow to a Seahawks defense that feels like it is pretty close to taking a big step up. Bryant would be very tough to replace, something that changes the valuation a bit.
Probably not to the point where $10.4 million makes sense, but getting a deal done before free agency opens should be a priority for Seattle and for Bryant, who is a perfect fit in the Seahawks defense. With Lynch out of the way, they’ve got a week to get it done.