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Originally published Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6:01 PM

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Seattle Seahawks bring in free-agent DL Tony McDaniel

Thursday's scheduled visit may show Seahawks are exploring options in case they have to replace Alan Branch.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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After adding free-agent pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, the Seahawks shifted their focus to retention.

But a free-agent visit from defensive lineman Tony McDaniel of Miami underscores that Seattle is not necessarily done shopping.

Alan Branch, a player who has started at defensive tackle since the Seahawks signed him two years ago, is an unrestricted free agent. He hasn't signed, or even visited, another team. Not even Jacksonville, where his former defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, is now the head coach and his former position coach, Todd Wash, is on the Jags staff.

John Schneider, Seattle's general manager, was asked specifically about Branch last week during a conference call with reporters that followed Avril's signing.

"He did a great job here," Schneider said of Branch on March 13. "We've been in contact with his people. Our coaching staff has been talking to him, and we'll see where that negotiation goes."

The visit of McDaniel, scheduled for Thursday, could be an indication of the direction of those discussions. Seattle may be exploring its options.

The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder is an undrafted free agent who played three seasons in Jacksonville before he was traded to Miami in 2009. At 28, McDaniel is the same age as Branch. Branch was a second-round pick by Arizona in 2007, but never found himself in a prominent role with the Cardinals. Seattle signed him as an unrestricted free agent after the lockout, and Branch has been a key run-stuffer in the middle of Seattle's defensive line.

Branch and linebacker Leroy Hill were the two starters from last year's Seahawks team who were unrestricted free agents, along with kicker Stephen Hauschka, who has been on the team the past two years.

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

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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