Seahawks schedule visit with TE Jermichael Finley, sign Anthony McCoy
Seahawks focus on tight ends, but lose defenders Clinton McDonald and O’Brien Schofield as free agency signing period begins.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks had more departures than arrivals on the first day of the NFL free-agency signing period.
That, though, didn’t catch anyone by surprise. The Seahawks weren’t expected to be huge spenders in free agency, instead focusing on keeping the core of their team together while spending selectively.
Seattle’s only signing on the first day was one of its own — the official announcement that the team had retained tight end Anthony McCoy, who agreed to a one-year deal.
McCoy missed all of the 2013 season with an Achilles tendon injury, but started a combined 14 games in 2011 and 2012. He told reporters during a conference call that he’s healthy now, and expects to compete for playing time in 2014.
Tight end, though, could get even more competitive if Seattle signs free agent Jermichael Finley, who a source confirmed will visit the Seahawks’ practice facility in Renton on Wednesday.
Finley suffered a season-ending neck injury in October and underwent surgery to fuse vertebra. But if the Seahawks deem him healthy, they could come to a quick deal with Finley.
Seattle also brought in defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, most recently of the Dallas Cowboys, for a visit. Hatcher, who will turn 32 in July, had a career-high 11 sacks in 2013.
ESPN also reported that the Seahawks are among the teams showing interest in defensive end Jared Allen, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings.
When the free-agency signing period officially began at 1 p.m. PDT, 13 members of Seattle’s Super Bowl winning team officially became eligible to sign with other teams.
Two quickly did — defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who signed a four-year, $12 million contract with Tampa Bay; and linebacker/defensive end O’Brien Schofield, who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Giants.
A few others, meanwhile, were reported visiting other teams, including perhaps the marquee name on Seattle’s list of unrestricted free agents — receiver Golden Tate.
Tate was reported to have scheduled a visit with the Detroit Lions, who are seeking a receiver to complement standout Calvin Johnson.
Tate was Seattle’s leading receiver in 2013, with 64 receptions for 898 yards, and also was the team’s primary punt returner.
Tate has said on several occasions he’d like to return to Seattle. But after making $880,000 last season on the final season of his initial four-year rookie contract, he’s looking for a significant pay raise, potentially in the $5 million to $6 million range annually. The Seahawks seem content to let Tate test the market and let him walk if he gets an offer higher than they’re willing to pay.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond also confirmed via Twitter that he has scheduled a visit with Jacksonville. He wrote that he has not agreed to a contract with the Jaguars, but added, “Anything could happen.’’
The Seahawks, though, were said to be making a concerted effort to keep defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who the team believes could also fill some of the void created by the release of end Red Bryant (a spot where McDonald is not as well suited).
Seattle also still hopes to re-sign free agents such as kicker Steven Hauschka and right tackle Breno Giacomini. But the Seahawks appeared to be letting each test the market.
With one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and coming off a Super Bowl win, Seattle’s main focus at the moment is keeping its core intact, and navigating free agency well enough to have the room to extend the contracts of Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson over the next year.
Seattle is also bringing in free-agent receiver Taylor Price, a third-round pick of the Patriots in 2010 who missed the last two seasons due to injuries.
Other names will likely surface as the week progresses as Seattle sits back and sees how the market develops at certain positions.
As for McCoy, he said he was looking forward to getting back on the field after sitting out the 2013 season with an injury and being forced to watch from the sideline as the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. McCoy was ticketed to be the team’s No. 2 tight end, after making 31 catches for 437 yards in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
“It was fun, and it was kind of sad for me at the same time,’’ he said of the team’s Super Bowl run. “But I’m past it. We won the Super Bowl, and now I’m on to 2014.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699