Originally published Monday, January 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Seahawks free agents face uncertain offseason

Seahawks have 18 unrestricted free agents, many of whom would like to return to the team.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch responded to the question about his future, but he didn't really answer it.

Not definitively, anyway.

"Everything will fall into place how it's going to fall into place," he said. "There's not much I can do but wait."

Lynch is one of more than 20 Seahawks whose contract is expiring, and his answer perfectly summarized the final day of this team's 2011 season. It acknowledged the uncertainty of the future, and stated there will be a resolution without predicting what that resolution will be.

"Hopefully I can get taken care of where I'm at," Lynch said.

Welcome to the limbo that follows every NFL season as players who spend four months trying not to look beyond the next game look up into the great unknown with the best of intentions, but not much in the way of answers.

There is uncertainty for Seattle, as there is for every team. For the Seahawks this year, the main question isn't just who will be added to the roster, but who they will be able to keep.

Lynch is atop that list, but he's hardly the only one. Defensive end Red Bryant is up there. So are linebackers David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill, and fullback Michael Robinson, a Pro Bowl alternate this season.

There are 18 Seahawks currently scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. Seven of those players started in the regular-season finale Sunday at Arizona.

That uncertainty was the elephant in Seattle's locker room Monday. Players cleaned out lockers, exchanged jerseys and signed autographs for each other. The optimism this team created over the second half of the season was mixed with the finality that the season is over and the future uncertain.

"It's a lot of emotion," Bryant said. "This is the last day in terms of my contract. I'd be lying to say I'm not thinking about it.

"I know this football team is headed in the right direction, and you would love to continue to be a part of what I feel like is going to be a championship team in the future."

Bryant was a fourth-round choice in 2008 who blossomed into a cornerstone of Seattle's defense when he was moved from tackle to end under coach Pete Carroll. Does he expect to be back?

"I would hope so," Bryant said. "But you know this is a business, and tough decisions have to be made. I hope the decision to keep me is high, but I also understand that's just the nature of the business."

That was just one voice in a chorus of free agents who hope to return.

"I'd love to," Hawthorne said. "Me and my agent are doing everything I can to get back."

Good intentions, though, don't change the reality.

"This is the only organization I know," Hill said. "I'd love to be here, but we'll see what happens."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or On Twitter @dannyoneil.

Seahawks free agents
The Seahawks have more than 20 players whose contracts are expiring and could sign elsewhere, including players who finished the season on injured reserve. Eighteen are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, who would be free to sign with any team:
Offense Defense
QB Charlie Whitehurst DL Anthony Hargrove
RB Justin Forsett DE Raheem Brock
RB Marshawn Lynch DE Red Bryant
FB Michael Robinson DE Jimmy Wilkerson
TE John Carlson LB Heath Farwell
OL Paul McQuistan LB David Hawthorne
OL Breno Giacomini LB Leroy Hill
OL Mike Gibson LB Matt McCoy
LB David Vobora
S Atari Bigby
Potential restricted free agents: CB Roy Lewis, K Steven Hauschka

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