Seahawks 2023 free agency tracker: Bobby Wagner returns to Seattle

Schefter: Seahawks, Geno Smith are 'a marriage made for each other' (0:54)

Adam Schefter details why Geno Smith was always expected to return to Seattle and what his signing means for the rest of the quarterback market. (0:54)

NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began at 4 p.m. ET on March 15, which means free agent signings can now be made official. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.

The Seattle Seahawks decided not to let Geno Smith hit free agency. The Seahawks reached a three-year, $105 million contract agreement with their Pro Bowl quarterback, sources confirmed to ESPN on March 6. Smith's backup, Drew Lock, officially re-signed with the Seahawks on Thursday.

The Seahawks wasted no time in addressing their inconsistent defense via free agency. They're also loaded with draft capital -- including the No. 5 overall pick -- thanks to the Russell Wilson trade.

Here's a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free agent signing by the Seahawks and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Bobby Wagner, linebacker

The Seahawks signed linebacker Bobby Wagner to a one-year deal on Saturday. Sources told ESPN his contract is worth $7 million. Wagner was drafted by the Seahawks in 2012 and played for the franchise until his release last offseason. Wagner earned second-team All-Pro honors with the Los Angeles Rams last season.

What it means: Reuniting with Wagner is another big step in bolstering the front seven of the Seahawks’ defense, even if it’s merely a short-term fix. They still needed another starter at inside linebacker after adding Devin Bush, since Jordyn Brooks may not be ready by Week 1 coming off his torn ACL. Wagner was by far the best option on the market, not to mention a player whose return to Seattle will be a massive hit among fans and inside the locker room. Wagner is an upgrade from Cody Barton, even if he’s a step slower and six years older. His return makes it clear that his relationship with the organization has been repaired after the hard feelings he harbored over the way he was released last offseason.

What's the risk: Wagner will be 33 by the start of the season. And while it’s not known if part of his $7 million contract is tied to performance incentives, it’s always a risk to rely on and pay significant money to older players. That said, Wagner showed last season he can still play, making the kinds of impact plays -- six sacks, two interceptions and 10 tackles for loss -- that the Seahawks felt they didn’t see enough of over his final few seasons in Seattle. Bringing back Wagner shouldn’t preclude the Seahawks from drafting an inside linebacker over the first three rounds. They should do so, given that Wagner, Bush and potentially Brooks -- assuming Seattle declines his fifth-year option -- will all be free agents next offseason.

Dre'Mont Jones, defensive end

The Seahawks have agreed to a three-year deal with former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones.

What it means: The Seahawks are addressing their most pressing need with their biggest free-agent addition under John Schneider and Pete Carroll. They've usually opted for second- and third-wave signings but are making a huge splash to add Jones, who ranked 10th in Matt Bowen's list of this year's top 100 free agents. The 6-foot-3, 281-pound Jones has been one of the NFL’s most disruptive interior defenders over the last three seasons, with 18.5 sacks, 25 tackles for loss and 32 quarterback hits in that span. He’ has the versatility to line up outside, as well. Seattle’s front seven was woeful last season, lacking consistent playmakers outside of Uchenna Nwosu. They need more than just Jones and could still use their fifth overall pick to further beef up that group, but this is a heck of a start.

What's the risk: Jones' deal is reportedly worth roughly $51 million, though it's not clear if that includes incentives and how much is guaranteed. Even if the base value is a little lower than $17 million per season, this is a massive deal by any team's standards but especially for the Seahawks, who haven't signed another team's free agent for more than $10 million APY under Schneider and Carroll. Jones has missed 10 games over four NFL seasons, including the final four last year with a hip injury that did not require surgery. They’re making a big bet that he can stay healthy and continue to ascend, but the combination of his youth, skillset and production make that a worthwhile gamble -- especially considering the state of their front seven.

Julian Love, safety

The Seahawks have agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with former New York Giants safety Julian Love, a source told ESPN on March 17.

What it means: Love was a starter for the Giants and it appears he’s getting paid like one in Seattle after a breakout season in which he made 124 tackles and showed the versatility to line up at several spots. Even if his two-year, $12 million deal includes incentives that actually lower his base value a bit from $6 million per year, that’s more than backup money. Such an addition at that price raises the obvious question about Jamal Adams, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon. Pete Carroll said at the end of the season that his recovery would go into the summer, suggesting there’s some uncertainty about his readiness for Week 1. Cutting Adams with a post-June 1 designation would create $8.44 million in cap space after that date, while incurring $9.67 million in 2023 dead money and pushing the remaining $14.22 million of dead money into the future. In other words, it would be quite punitive cap-wise, so Love appears to be more of an insurance policy for Adams than a replacement.

What's the risk: This is hard to assess without knowing the full details of Love's contract or Seattle's big-picture plan at safety. In addition to the Adams situation, there's another layer of uncertainty with Ryan Neal. He was excellent last season while filling in for Adams again. Seattle tendered him as a restricted free agent for $2.627 million, a bargain price that could invite offers from other teams. Additionally, Pro Bowl free safety Quandre Diggs is entering his age-30 season and has two years left on a hefty contract, so Seattle may also be thinking beyond 2023 with the Love signing.

Drew Lock, quarterback

General manager John Schneider confirmed on March 16 that Seattle is re-signing Lock, though he declined to state the terms of the deal.

What it means: The chances of the Seahawks using the fifth overall pick on a quarterback seemed to take a big hit when they re-signed starter Geno Smith to a three-year, $75 million deal. And while you still can’t rule it out entirely, it seems even less likely now that they’re bringing back Lock, as well. The Seahawks have wanted to sign Lock to remain Smith’s backup for many of the same reasons they targeted him in the Russell Wilson trade a year ago. They love his arm strength and mobility, think his struggles in Denver were partly a product of the circumstances and believe he has loads of untapped potential at only 26. And while Lock didn’t win the starting job last offseason like many in the organization expected, he still made a strong impression and was gaining ground on Smith in the preseason before a bout with COVID-19 sealed his fate.

What's the risk: The NFL Network reported that Lock's deal is for one season with a base value of $4 million and a max value of $7.5 million with incentives. General manager John Schneider said on his radio show that those reported terms are "fairly close" to accurate. A $4 million deal is reasonable for a backup quarterback with starting experience, especially if the team believes he's got starter talent. There is some risk in sticking with Lock if it means the Seahawks are doing so at the expense of drafting a quarterback whom they’d have under contract for at least four seasons. But $4 million is roughly half the average annual value of the rookie contract that the fifth overall pick will sign. And while drafting a QB that early doesn’t seem likely anymore, the Seahawks could conceivably do so with a later pick. They also have No. 20 overall, as well as two second-rounders.

Jarran Reed, defensive tackle

The Seahawks signed former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Reed's deal is for two-years, a source told ESPN. The move came hours after the team announced that defensive linemen Quinton Jefferson and Shelby Harris had been released.

What it means: The overhaul of Seattle's D-line continues. In less than 24 hours, they've added Dre'Mont Jones on a massive deal, released Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson, and brought back Reed, who gives them a proven run-stuffer and interior pass-rusher. It wouldn’t be realisic to expect Reed to replicate the career-high 10.5 sacks he had with Seattle in 2018, but he’s remained a productive player in his two seasons away from the team, combining for five sacks and 26 quarterback hits. Seattle didn’t release Reed two years ago because of his performance; it was because he refused to restructure his contract. His return means the fences have been mended. And it might mean that the Seahawks aren’t targeting Jalen Carter with the No. 5 overall pick now that the first two players they’ve added in free agency are defensive tackles.

What's the risk: Reed’s two-year deal is worth up to $10.8 million, according to the NFL Network. That’s a reasonable price for a productive veteran who should at least be a regular in their D-line rotation, if not a starter – especially if some of that money is tied to incentives and/or per-game roster bonuses. Reed is 30, but he’s been remarkably healthy over his career. He’s only missed two games because of injury in seven NFL seasons, and none since 2017. The six games he missed in 2019 were for a suspension.

Devin Bush, linebacker

The Seahawks are signing former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush to a one-year deal, sources told ESPN.

What it means: Signing Bush means the Seahawks have started filling out one of the barest spots on their roster, but it’s only that -- a start. Bush, who was drafted 10th overall in 2019 and spent four up-and-down seasons with the Steelers, gives the Seahawks a young but experienced option to take over at one of their two inside linebacker spots. One of last year’s starters is gone with Cody Barton joining the Washington Commanders in free agency and the other, Jordyn Brooks, is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in December. The timing of that injury means he may miss the start of the season, which means Seattle still has work to do at this position whether it’s in free agency or the draft. Bobby Wagner is still available, but it sounds like the Seahawks are willing to wait for the linebacker market to come to them.

What's the risk: The amount of money in Bush’s one-year deal wasn’t immediately known, but it’s a safe bet that this is not a big financial commitment. The timing of the deal and Bush’s last three seasons suggest as much. He looked plenty worthy of a top-10 pick as a rookie in 2019, recording 109 tackles, nine tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions. But he hasn’t been the same since tearing his ACL in the fifth game of 2020. Bush returned from that injury to make 28 starts over the past two seasons, but he didn’t produce at the same level and was replaced in the starting lineup late in 2022. Bush will be 25 at the start of the season, so he’s young enough that his best football may still be ahead of him.

Evan Brown, center

The Seahawks are signing center Evan Brown to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with $1 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN. Brown started 12 games for the Detroit Lions last season.

What it means: After signing Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed to bolster the interior of their defensive line, the Seahawks are addressing one of their other top needs by adding Brown. Austin Blythe retired after starting every game last season, and even if he were still an option, Seattle may have been looking to upgrade with a younger and bigger player. Brown is both. He’s 26 years old and listed at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds. General manager John Schneider confirmed the Seahawks consider Brown’s best position to be center, where he made 12 starts in 2021 and two last season, though he can also play right guard. Brown’s modest deal suggests the Seahawks aren’t done at center, and that he’s a veteran hedge with some positional flexibility in case the right center doesn’t fall to Seattle in the draft.

What's the risk: Brown’s deal is for one year and $2.25 million with $1 million guaranteed, so this is not a big risk. It would have been risky to rely on finding a center in the draft without a veteran Plan B. But Brown looks like a solid option. He ranked ninth in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate as a center in 2021. He was 47th among right and left guards in 2022.

Geno Smith, quarterback

The Seahawks re-signed Smith to a three-year deal on March 6. The deal is worth up to $105 million, sources confirmed to ESPN.

What it means: Smith’s remarkable comeback story continues with a massive deal from the Seahawks. The timing suggests there was motivation to get it done before Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline. By getting it done now, the Seahawks avoid what would have been two undesirable alternatives -- having to tag Smith or letting him hit free agency, which would have made it difficult to sign other free agents without knowing how Smith’s situation would be resolved. The full details have yet to emerge, but it’s a safe bet that Seattle is committing to Smith for at least the next two seasons. Even so, that won’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from spending a first-round pick on a quarterback next month. A front-seven defender, however, seems more likely at No. 5 overall -- especially if Seattle re-signs Drew Lock to remain Smith’s backup.

What's the risk: It's not yet clear how much the Seahawks are guaranteeing Smith or whether incentives are included in the $105 million, in which case his actual average per year would be lower than $35 million. Either way, the risk is committing big money to Smith based on his excellent 2022 season alone and not a larger body of work as a starter. But as impossible as it was to see it coming, there was nothing about Smith’s play last season that looked unsustainable. He was the NFL’s most accurate quarterback, leading the NFL in completion percentage. Some of his late-season mistakes could be partly attributed to trying to do too much to account for a struggling defense. It’s fair to wonder if Smith can replicate his 2022 play, but it’s also reasonable to think he’ll be better with a full offseason of No. 1 reps (he shared them with Lock in 2022) and a year as a starter in Shane Waldron’s offense under his belt.

Phil Haynes, guard

Haynes signed a one-year deal worth up to $4 million on Feb. 21.

What it means: Paying Haynes $4 million for 2023 means he’s most likely going to become a full-time starter and that veteran Gabe Jackson is almost certainly going to be released. Jackson has been the starter at right guard, but he and Haynes shared time last year as part of a planned rotation. Sticking with the 27-year-old Haynes over Jackson is the sensible move considering he’s younger, healthier and had the better season in terms of ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate. Re-signing him to a one-year deal doesn’t necessarily preclude Seattle from spending a Day 2 pick on a guard, since both he and left guard Damien Lewis are unsigned beyond 2023.

What's the risk: Haynes hasn’t been a full-time starter in any of his four NFL seasons and has made only five career starts, so the Seahawks are betting that he can take a step forward in an increased role. It’s a worthwhile gamble, since they’re only guaranteeing him $3.49 million for one season (he has to stay healthy in order to make the remaining $510,000 in per-game roster bonuses). Releasing Jackson would save $6.5 million in cash and cap space while incurring nearly $4.8 million in dead money, so there’s a net savings in going from Jackson to Haynes.

Jason Myers, kicker

Myers signed a four-year deal on Jan. 18. The deal is worth up to $22.6 million with incentives, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What it means: Myers is staying put after the second Pro Bowl season of his career, and he’s doing so with a nice raise. His four-year, $21.1 million deal makes him the NFL’s second-highest-paid kicker behind Justin Tucker based on its $5.275 million average (up from $3.8625 APY on his last deal). The fact that this was the first order of offseason business for the Seahawks, coming together less than a week after their playoff loss, shows how much of a priority it was. They weren’t going to let Myers sniff free agency after he made 34 of 37 field goals in 2022, including 6-of-6 from 50-plus yards.

What's the risk: If the trend of Myers' career doesn't change, he's due for a down season. Kickers' performances are often volatile year over year, and Myers is a striking example. He's alternated between strong and relatively poor seasons every year since he made the Pro Bowl in 2018. The Seahawks are making a big bet that he'll end that odd trend. They could get out of his contract after one season if he struggles in 2023, but the cap penalties they’d incur by doing so suggest they’re committing to Myers for at least the next two years.