Players to watch
Players to watchDE Mario Williams
Age: 27. Height: 6-6. Weight: 283.
Vitals: The No. 1 overall pick in 2006 out of North Carolina State, he is the top defensive free agent on the market. He had 48 sacks in his first five seasons, the third-highest total by any player by the age of 26. Williams had five sacks in five games last season with Houston before suffering a season-ending biceps injury.
Why he fits: The Seahawks have stated a desire to improve their pass rush, and Williams would do just that. This isn't a great pass rusher in his 30s. This is a great pass rusher in his prime. He played some outside linebacker for the Texans last season, demonstrating versatility that could give Seattle's defensive coaches a license to scheme with a roster that includes both Williams and Chris Clemons.
Why he doesn't: He's going to be expensive. Perhaps highest-paid-defensive-player-in-history expensive. It might take $40 million in guaranteed money to add Williams. That's a ton of cash, and in Seattle, free-agent buys at defensive end have been costly. Grant Wistrom's body began to break down after Seattle signed him from St. Louis in 2004, and while Patrick Kerney had a monster season the first year after Seattle signed him in 2007, he, too, struggled with injuries his final two seasons in Seattle.
QB Matt Flynn
Age: 26. Height: 6-2. Weight: 225.
Vitals: If he's not the best backup quarterback in the league, he is certainly the most intriguing for his longterm prospects. A former seventh-round pick, he progressed through the Packers' depth chart to become Aaron Rodgers' backup. He has two starts, and in those games he completed two-thirds of his passes for 731 yards and nine touchdowns while being intercepted twice.
Why he fits: Quarterback is the biggest longterm question mark for this team, and while Seattle has made plenty of changes at the position, it hasn't committed to a longterm deal. Flynn comes from a franchise that not only runs the West Coast offense, but has a reputation for producing backups who can become stars. Also, Seattle's general manager John Schneider knows Flynn well. Schneider was in the Packers' front office when Green Bay chose Flynn.
Why he doesn't: Inexperience. While Flynn has been good in his two starts, that also creates the possibility of buying at a high point of the market. Seattle was interested in Kevin Kolb last year, but the Seahawks ultimately saw him as too inexperienced to commit the money it would take to acquire him, first in terms of a trade with Philadelphia let alone Kolb's contract. The Seahawks won't have to trade anything away to acquire Flynn, but they would be spending big bucks on a quarterback even more inexperienced than Kolb.