Apparently, the wait is almost over.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider should get another chance to continue the second year of this team’s rebuilding effort this week.
With players reportedly nearing a vote in favor of accepting a proposal for a new collective-bargaining agreement approved by owners last week, the Seahawks could begin talking to their own free agents about contracts and sign undrafted rookie free agents as early as Wednesday, and then go after other players around the league once free agency officially opens, tentatively scheduled for Saturday.
Seahawks players currently under contract can report to the team’s facility for voluntary workouts Wednesday, with training camp scheduled to begin at week’s end, giving Seattle a little less than two weeks to prepare for its first exhibition game, a nationally televised contest at San Diego on Aug. 11.
“We’ve had a good amount of time to spend on early opponents in our schedule,” Carroll said about the compressed time schedule. “And we’ve had a great opportunity to orchestrate a camp that’s going to meet up to the criteria based on the time we haven’t had. And hopefully we do a masterful job once we get a chance to start coaching our guys up.”
After making nearly 300 roster moves last season, don’t expect as much turnover this time around as Carroll and Schneider begin to settle on a solid nucleus of young players they hope will eventually lead them to consistently compete for NFC West Division titles and Super Bowls.
Seattle has some money to spend in free agency, with ESPN reporting the Seahawks are $39 million under the proposed salary cap of $120.4 million for the 2011 season.
The Seahawks also could create more cap space by restructuring the contracts of veterans who have not performed up to the level of salary they are scheduled to make this season, including linebacker Lofa Tatupu, cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Aaron Curry.
Positions Seattle will look to address in free agency include quarterback, defensive tackle, offensive line, fullback and tight end.
Of course, what happens with veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will be the most prominent storyline this week.
The Seahawks offered the veteran quarterback a contract before the lockout began in March, but Hasselbeck chose not accept the deal in order to see what better offers he can get on the open market.
Once free agency begins, Seattle’s offer might not still be on the table. Hasselbeck, 35, reportedly has interest from Tennessee and Minnesota.
Seattle would like to bring back soon-to-be free agent defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Other potential players the Seahawks could target once free agency begins include Minnesota receiver Sidney Rice and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, Oakland guard Robert Gallery and Denver tight end Daniel Graham.
“It’s just a unique year, but where we are as a team, we still think that we’re in the infancy of our development,” Schneider said. “And so, no disrespect to the players that are here, but we feel like we have a long way to go to be a consistent, championship-caliber football team.”
A closer look at some of those free agent targets (in alphabetical order):
SEAHAWKS’ SHOPPING LIST
• Justin Bannan, DL, Denver Broncos
The skinny: Denver released Bannan, 32, in March after he declined to take a pay cut. He likely would serve as depth behind Red Bryant at defensive end for Seattle, but also could slide inside and play defensive tackle if Brandon Mebane does not return. Bannan reportedly was on Seattle’s radar last year.
• Barry Cofield, DT, New York Giants
The skinny: If Mebane leaves in free agency, then the Seahawks could target Cofield. At 6-4, 306 pounds, the 27-year-old had four sacks in 16 starts last year and could provide more pass rush inside for Seattle.
• Robert Gallery, G, Oakland Raiders
The skinny: The 31-year-old is widely considered headed to Seattle because of his relationship with former Oakland coach and current Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable. Gallery could provide some veteran leadership for a young offensive line, filling a vacant spot at left guard next to Russell Okung.
• Daniel Graham, TE, Denver Broncos
The skinny: Graham, 32, gives Seattle a blocking tight end to replace Chris Baker, who was released in March. Graham has ties to Cable. Graham played under Cable when he served as offensive line coach at the University of Colorado.
• Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Minnesota Vikings
The skinny: After backing up Brett Favre for two seasons, Jackson is looking for another chance to start, and could get that opportunity in Seattle. The 28-year-old already knows Seattle’s offense because of his time with Seattle’s offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota, and could come in and compete for the starting job with Charlie Whitehurst if Hasselbeck does not return.
• Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
The skinny: Widely considered the top quarterback option on the market, the Seahawks would have to give up at least a first round pick as compensation through a trade with Philadelphia for Kolb’s services, along with paying him a lucrative contract. Arizona is the likely destination for the 26-year-old.
• Vonta Leach, FB, Houston Texans
The skinny: At 6-foot, 255 pounds, Leach served as the lead blocker for 2010 NFL rushing champion Arian Foster. Considered one of the best fullbacks in the league, Leach, 29, said the Seahawks are a possible landing spot if he does not return to Houston.
• Matt Leinart, QB, Houston Texans
The skinny: Leinart, 28, is looking for another opportunity to earn a starting job. After a year spent in Houston as the team’s third-string quarterback licking his wounds from a disastrous stint in Arizona, Carroll could give him a second chance in Seattle.
• Deuce Lutui, G, Arizona Cardinals
The skinny: Carroll is familiar with Lutui from his days playing for the Trojans, and could be a decent fallback option if Seattle does not sign Gallery. Lutui, 28, has battled weight issues, but is a good run blocker with a nasty streak.
• Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The skinny: The 24-year-old would give Seattle the home-run threat they covet, pairing with Mike Williams to create one of the biggest receiver tandems in the league. At 6-4, 202 pounds, Rice’s recent hip injury could be a concern, but the Seahawks are targeting him in free agency, and having former Minnesota offensive coordinator Bevell on the Seahawks’ staff should help.
Eric D. Williams