The NFL's new league year doesn't begin until Thursday, but starting Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT, teams can negotiate with the representatives of unrestricted free agents from other teams. Prior to Monday, teams were only permitted to negotiate with free agents from their own teams.
While teams and agents can start talking about deals Tuesday, contracts cannot be signed or become official until the new league year begins Thursday at 1 p.m. PT.
In past offseasons under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have been a team that tends to avoid the frenzy of the first couple days of free agency when the biggest contracts are signed, but that doesn't mean they aren't actively looking for ways to improve their team through free agency this week.
"Actually, we are aggressive in free agency; we just don't do a lot of deals lately," Schneider said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We try to pride ourselves on being involved in a lot of deals, and then deciding what our threshold is for those deals. Whether that's our own players, and then what free agency looks like in terms of acquisition."
The Seahawks head into the league year with most of their core players locked up through 2017, and in many cases beyond that, meaning there are fewer starters who could leave in free agency than in years past. The Seahawks do have some important players set to become unrestricted free agents on Thursday, including tight end Luke Willson, linebacker Mike Morgan and kicker Steven Hauschka, but having so much of their nucleus under contract does change things a bit this offseason.
"It really helps… but it never stops," Schneider said. "It's just like this constant jigsaw puzzle. You really try to get better every single day. So once we do get a deal done with somebody, we are just moving on to the next thing… So it's not as much as a checklist, if you will. Like I said, you have your Plan A, but there are always things that pop up. All of a sudden you are on Plan E. So it definitely helps. But it's always about what's next. That's my job, and our job as a personnel staff, is to be strategizing about what's coming, what's down the road for us?"
There are no restrictions on free agents who were unsigned at the end of last season or who were released by their teams during the offseason, which is why the Seahawks were able to sign kicker Blair Walsh prior to the start of the new league year.
The Seahawks also have between now and Thursday to make decisions on a group of restricted free agents that includes a pair of starters, right tackle Garry Gilliam and DeShawn Shead. If the Seahawks don't tender restricted free agent contracts to those players before the new league year begins, they then become unrestricted free agents.
Photos of Seahawks general manager John Schneider meeting with the media on Wednesday, March 1 at the 2017 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana.