Free agency is upon the National Football League, and a multitude of teams have already swarmed to capture players whose contracts have expired. A legion of these players have signed lucrative contracts with teams and are looking to commence the next chapter of their football careers. Other players were traded to other teams before free agency started, and some of these trades are particularly startling for the Seattle Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West. This division is shaping up to be the most competitive in the NFL, and the Seahawks have their work cut out for them if they wish to remain in playoff contention when the 2018 season comes around.

The reigning NFC West division champion Los Angeles Rams have made a few major moves, including trading draft picks for star cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. This spells trouble for the rest of the NFC West and their quarterbacks. Along with one of the best running backs in the NFL in Todd Gurley, the Rams possess a solid young quarterback in Jared Goff and a slew of young talent at the wide receiver position. The San Francisco 49ers have signed cornerback Richard Sherman, whom Seattle recently released to free up cap space. San Francisco has acquired much hype since their ascending quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led them on a five-game winning streak to end their 2017 season. They are gradually looking like Super Bowl contenders as the offseason progresses. The Arizona Cardinals are getting several key players back from injury, such as game-changing running back David Johnson. While these teams are also trading away or releasing players as well as losing others to free agency, they are looking increasingly dangerous and may give Seattle a rough time in the season that follows.

Along with the release of Sherman, defensive end Michael Bennett was traded to the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Marcus Johnson, a wide receiver that few fans have heard of, and Sherman’s fellow cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Deshawn Shead were also released. It says something about the severity of the Seahawks’ salary cap situation when they are making so many unexpected moves and releasing players who are known to be stars. It will be even more difficult for the Seahawks to replace these players.

Of course, it is too soon to say with the utmost certainty that Seattle will be the bottom-feeders of the division next year. For the time being, they are still retaining key players like Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Doug Baldwin, and of course, quarterback Russell Wilson. We have seen over the past few years that these players have a substantial impact on the outcomes of games, and they will undoubtedly continue to do so as long as they remain united in the Emerald City.

Things may seem precarious for the Seattle Seahawks, but fans must remember that anything can happen on any given Sunday. These changes could end up being blessings in disguise. The only certainty of this upcoming NFL season is that the NFC West will be the most competitive it has been in recent memory.