After what can only be the longest, most boring five months in NFL history, the lockout is totally, finally, officially over. About time, because I was about ready to strap on some pads and provoke James Harrison just to put myself out of my own misery. Now that it's over we can finally start speculating on what our team will look like, though we only get 24 hours before all the free agency craziness goes down.
I can almost guarantee that at some point between now and when the season starts there will be allegations that Pete Carroll broke the lockout rules by talking to free agents, and perhaps other teams. Because once the clock starts on these player signings, you know he'll have about 50 players he'll be making calls about, from undraftees to Galleries and (crossing fingers) the savior, Carson Palmer.
Another call he'll hopefully be making will be to the Bills or Panthers, in talks for their 2012 first-round draft pick. Don't really care what the Hawks have to give up, but one of these teams will be in the running to pick Andrew Luck next year, the Bills still believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Panthers will be desperate to trade out of that spot after drafting Clausen and Newton each of the last two years. They don't even necessarily have to be bad enough to earn that first pick, but they'll be in the running enough that it wouldn't take much more to trade into Luck. This will allow the Seahawks to compete without having to worry about their draft positioning.
When it comes to resigning our boys, Olindo Mare has to be back. While Leon Washington has received most of the credit for the play of the special teams, Mare has become a special surprise since he came to Seattle a few years ago. He's getting up there in age, but the new kickoff rules will extend his career by five years.
Will Herring, Brandon Mebane, Junior Siavii, and Chris Spencer should be back. Herring has shown that he knows what he's doing, and provides wonderful depth. If Curry continues to struggle, or gets put on the line, Herring could come in and strengthen our LB corps. Mebane is too talented to just let go like it looks like they will, and Siavii, while not as good as Bryant last year, would be great line depth to have. And call me crazy, but Spencer should continue to be our starting center. I don't believe in Unger, and Spencer had a pretty darn good year in 2010 considering his broken wrist. Centers take a notoriously long time to live up to people's expectations (see: Robbie Tobeck) and his physicality and experience will only help him. Putting Gallery next to Spencer would be a great situation.
Lawyer Milloy, Brandon Stokley, Jordan Babineaux and Ray Willis should be back at the right price. There are quite a few rookie defensive backs coming in this year, and nothing could be better for their development than practicing at the VMAC every day with Milloy. He might not be the best option to start anymore, but if he's willing to take a back seat his presence would be invaluable. A similar situation with Babineaux. If he's gone, his playmaking will be missed, but I imagine it won't be long before our rookies outdo him on most downs. I'd just as soon sign up Stokley as our WR coach, but in lieu of that, signing him to work with Golden Tate and catch the odd third-down pass would be well worth Seattle's while. Willis fits Cable's profile, and could compete for a spot on the line with Carpenter this year, though I wouldn't recommend starting him. The rookies need as many snaps together as they can get.
The rest are unimportant. If Carroll doesn't want them back, then so be it. I like Ruvell Martin and Raheem Brock, but I would be more surprised if Schneider DIDNT find some amazing UDFA to take their spots and outperform them.