It was a day to pack up the belongings around the VMAC practice facility — and also store away any leftover Super Bowl hopes.
The hangover from Seattle’s 36-20 loss Saturday to Atlanta in the NFC divisional round was already in full effect. Guys mulled around the locker room quietly, prepared for a longer-than-expected offseason.
“After we get through this period of mourning, and look at ourselves in the mirror, we’ve got to get back to work,” Seahawks veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
After arriving at Sea-Tac Airport shortly after midnight Saturday, players returned to the VMAC around 1:30 a.m.
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They were back at the facility for a 7 a.m. team breakfast, followed by hours of exit physicals with the Seahawks’ medical staff.
At noon, the players met with the coaching staff, including Pete Carroll, for a team meeting that lasted a half-hour.
“It sucks that our season ended, but you can’t control it now,” Seattle center Justin Britt said. “You can’t go back and appeal for a win. You have to suck it up and look at the positives, and keep your head up.”
With free agency looming in March, it should be an interesting start to the offseason for 13 unrestricted free agents, including some key contributors.
A year ago, offensive lineman Bradley Sowell was in this position with Arizona entering free agency. He understands what looms ahead.
“It is good in the sense that the ball is in your court, and you kind of control your own situation,” Sowell said. “But at the same time, you never know what will happen.”
Here are a few situations to monitor over the next few months:
▪ Tight end Luke Willson, who celebrated his 27th birthday Sunday, came on the scene in 2013 and graded out as one of the most efficient rookies at his position in the NFL out of Rice University. He also won a Super Bowl that year.
Now four years later, his four-year, $2.34 million deal is about to expire in March.
And with the uncertainty involving other Seattle tight ends — there is a chance Jimmy Graham could be released to open up cap space, and reserve Brandon Williams is also a free agent — re-signing Willson could end up being a high priority.
At least the affable Willson hopes so.
“It seems like there is a shot I’ll be back, which is kind of what I am hoping for. But you never know,” said Willson, who admitted both sides have had informal chatter about his future.
“This is all I know. It would be very weird for me to leave, or go somewhere else.”
The longer Willson talked about it, too, the more emotional he became.
“I am kind of going into an unknown period; I wouldn’t like say that I am afraid — I am sure I will have a lot of opportunities,” said Willson, who began tearing up. “But again, I hope it’s here because this is my family. I am not just saying that. I love these guys. It would be tough, tough to leave.”
▪ Versatile fullback Marcel Reece, 31, was a player Carroll coveted while the former University of Washington standout played in Oakland.
Three months after being released by the Raiders in September, Reece signed a one-year, $885,000 deal with Seattle for the stretch run. And he became a valuable contributor as a blocker and pass catcher.
“This is brand new territory for me. I’ve never been an unrestricted free agent before,” said Reece.”I have always believed when you are in a place that you like and care about — one that cares about you — you try and stay there.”
In the meantime, Reece said he will take a few weeks off to hang out with his wife and children, then start thinking about his future.
“There is so much football left in me, so much more than I need to give to the game,” Reece said. “I don’t know, I will just pray about it and make the best decision for my family. My family loves it here. My family loves this organization.”
▪ A former USC star, Mike Morgan, who turns 29 Monday, has been on a Carroll-coached squad for nearly a decade, including the past six seasons with the Seahawks.
After signing a one-year, $1 million deal last offseason to be one of the team’s starting outside linebackers, Morgan’s 2016 season was derailed by a hernia injury.
He returned in December to play the final seven games, including both playoff games. He was in the starting lineup Saturday.
“(Free agency) won’t be that weird — I dealt with it last year. It is part of the game,” Morgan said. “Obviously I’d like to be back. It’s a great place. But I am willing to go wherever.”
▪ Kicker Steven Hauschka, 31, has made 194 career field goals in six seasons with Seattle, and ranks No. 2 all-time in playoff-conversion percentage (.950, 19 of 20).
But Hauschka is coming off a rough season, missing seven PAT kicks, most in the NFL. And he is coming off a season in which he made $2.7 million in the final year of a three-year extension.
With Hauschka a free agent, the Seahawks could opt to go younger — and cheaper — either in the upcoming NFL draft or in free agency.
Hauschka was briefly seen in the locker room Sunday but did not stick around to talk to reporters.
▪ Then there is perhaps the biggest offseason issue — Graham’s future.
The 30-year-old tight end’s current four-year, $40 million deal does not run out until after next season. But if the Seahawks decided to cut him in March, they could save the non-guaranteed $10 million for 2017 against the salary cap.
Graham also made a brief appearance at his locker Sunday, but mainly stayed in an area off limits to reporters.
The Seahawks currently have 41 players under contract for next season — and roughly $35 million in cap space.