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Originally published Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 8:01 PM

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Why Seahawks haven't made a splash in free agency so far

The Seahawks' attention this year has been spent re-signing players like Marshawn Lynch and Red Bryant.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Seahawks spent millions upgrading their offense in free agency last year.

In 2012, they're playing defense. Seattle has spent more time, not to mention money, keeping its team intact, as opposed to raiding other NFL rosters. The Seahawks have re-signed five players from last year's team, and have yet to add an unrestricted free agent from another team. That may not do much in terms of earning national attention, but it is an important landmark in the rebuilding of a franchise.

The Seahawks have players they want to keep, and while that idea may not sound all that revolutionary, it's departure from the years before coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over.

Think about all the players Seattle let leave the past two years — from Nate Burleson, Rob Sims and Darryl Tapp to Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Spencer and Sean Locklear.

Yes, the Seahawks have re-signed some players, like running back Leon Washington and receivers Ben Obomanu and Mike Williams, but those have been the exception.

In the past two years, only one Seahawk free agent entered the marketplace and was re-signed to a multiyear deal — Brandon Mebane.

This year, there have already been three — defensive end Red Bryant, linebacker Heath Farwell and offensive lineman Paul McQuistan. And late Thursday, free agent fullback Michael Robinson said on Twitter that he will be returning to the team. Throw in the re-signings of offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and running back Marshawn Lynch before they hit the market, and that's a telling commentary of how the shot-callers feel about this team.

Of course, Pete Carroll told us that back in August.

"We like our roster," Pete Carroll said. "We like our roster, really."

This was in training camp after the dust had settled from the Seahawks' Extreme Makeover: Lockout Edition. Carroll was looking forward to the season in typical Carroll fashion, which is to say he had both barrels loaded with optimism and he was firing from the hip.

"There won't be a lot of changes on this team this year," Carroll said. "You won't see it. There's too many guys in there that we really like and that we're really counting on and we can see the future."

Typical Carroll, right? Well, it turns out it was really true, and it just may have foreshadowed the Seahawks' reluctance to dive headfirst into pursuing other team's free agents. Seattle never made a run at Texans defensive end Mario Williams, who signed with Buffalo. Even the interest Seattle has shown in Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, who visited this week, has been more tepid than some expected.

The Seahawks' attention this year, not to mention many millions of dollars, has been spent re-signing players.

No one thinks Seattle has arrived. There is a need at quarterback and a desire to improve the pass rush. But the Seahawks aren't just trying to amass talent, they're also trying to preserve it.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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