The next big event on the NFL calendar is the free agency period, which begins March 11 (in terms of teams being able to sign players).
NFL.com today published one of the more exhaustive ratings I’ve seen of the free agent pool, listing what it rated as the top 101 available, along with a comment.
Here are the Seahawks who were rated and the comment provided:
12, Michael Bennett: He’s been one of the most underrated and underpaid pass rushers in the NFL for the last two years. That should end in March.
39, Walter Thurmond: Nickel back is a starting job in today’s NFL. And there aren’t many better at it than Thurmond, who could be an intriguing choice for current Jaguars coach — and former Seahawks defensive coordinator — Gus Bradley.
45, Golden Tate: A destitute man’s Hines Ward, Tate is a demon as a blocker and with the ball in his hands after the catch. His numbers have been artificially deflated in the NFL’s run-heaviest offense.
84, Clinton McDonald: A key cog in Seattle’s defensive line rotation, McDonald is an effective — if undersized — pass rusher.
Here are a few of my own thoughts:
— A little eye-catching to see Thurmond ranked ahead of Tate. But I think it speaks to the difference in value of the two positions and the fact that there are a lot of receivers available, and also maybe that Thurmond could be more of a bargain than Tate.
— That seems like a little bit of a harsh initial assessment of Tate, though it is then pointed out that Tate — as with all of Seattle’s WRs — almost certainly would have much bigger stats playing in any other system. Tate was part of a Seattle WR corps that drew a lot of varying assessments during the season. The kind of offers Tate gets in free agency may be the truest gauge of how he is perceived by the rest of the NFL (assuming we ever find out what those are).
— No one anywhere is overlooking Bennett anymore, and he isn’t going to be easy to keep. But the moves Seattle has apparently already made or is close to making (Sidney Rice, Red Bryant) should give the Seahawks the ability to compete and keep Bennett.
— McDonald’s had a pretty meteoric rise the last few months, going from being cut by the Seahawks and out of a job the first week of the season — remember that he had a tryout with the Patriots during that time but wasn’t signed by them — before being re-signed by Seattle right before the first game with the 49ers. McDonald was one of the more underrated keys to Seattle’s success this season, but figures to get rewarded for that in free agency.