Now that Peyton Manning has apparently snubbed the Seahawks — they lifted their skirt and he didn’t even peek — the question is: Which free agent should emerge first on Seattle’s radar? The Seahawks, with the luxury of $30 million in cap space, need a quarterback and a pass rusher, and another offensive lineman wouldn’t hurt, either. Here are five they may target other than their own unrestricted free agents:
MATT FLYNN, QB, Green Bay: Backing up MVP Aaron Rodgers last year, Flynn made just two starts and dazzled in both (his only career starts), throwing nine touchdowns. In his second start, Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns. While he doesn’t have a lot of experience, he’s only 26 with tremendous upside. Flynn came out of Louisiana State. Seahawks GM John Schneider worked for Green Bay when the Packers drafted Flynn.
- Why the Seahawks would sign him: They need an upgrade at QB and this could provide a long-term solution to the most important position.
- Why the Seahawks wouldn’t sign him: Inexperience, cost.
MARIO WILLIAMS, DT, Houston Texans: After Manning, Williams will be the most sought-after player during the free-agent signing period. A North Carolina State alum, Williams, 27, is a two-time Pro Bowler who has 53 sacks in six seasons (Seattle ranked 19th in sacks in 2011 with 33). He missed 11 games last year with a torn pectoral muscle. Williams could command as much as $90 million over six years.
- Why the Seahawks would sign him: They need an elite pass rusher and he’s it (in the five games he played last year, Williams had five sacks).
- Why the Seahawks wouldn’t sign him: Way too expensive (which was why the Texans had to release him).
NA’IL DIGGS, LB, San Diego: Diggs, a 33-year-old 12-year veteran out of Ohio State, spent his first six NFL seasons with Green Bay, the next four with Carolina and the last two with St. Louis (2010) and San Diego (2011). He is not an elite linebacker, but the Seahawks are facing the loss of Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne in free agency.
- Why the Seahawks would sign him: Veteran leadership, depth, durability (has played in 170 of a possible 192 games during his career with 138 starts).
- Why the Seahawks wouldn’t sign him: He played in only 13 games last year, couldn’t crack San Diego’s starting lineup and is 33.
FRANK OMIYALE, OL, Chicago Bears: Omiyale left Chicago in a Bears’ cost-cutting move and has visited Seahawks headquarters. He’s 29 and has played in at least 15 games in each of the past three seasons. Omiyale worked under Seahawks’ assistant Tom Cable when Cable worked for the Falcons.
- Why the Seahawks would sign him: He could help shore up an offensive line that seems susceptible to injury, and the Seahawks might lose Paul McQuistan in free agency.
- Why the Seahawks wouldn’t sign him: He’s on the decline and made only three starts for the Bears in 2011.
MIKE TOLBERT, RB, San Diego: Tolbert, 5-foot-9, 243 pounds, is not the kind of back who piles up big numbers — he rushed for just 490 yards in 15 games last season — but he might be the perfect counterpart to Marshawn Lynch. A 26-year-old out of Coastal Carolina, Tolbert has scored 19 short-yardage touchdowns in the past two seasons.
- Why the Seahawks would sign him: Versatility: he can play running back, fullback and special teams; Michael Robinson and Justin Forsett are both free agents.
- Why the Seahawks wouldn’t sign him: Their priority is to re-sign Michael Robinson.