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Lynch, Bryant at top of Seattle's free agent list

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Just as Marshawn Lynch became the Skittles-loving face of the Seattle Seahawks, he could just as quickly be leaving town.

Or he could remain part of the foundation that led to the Seahawks' turnaround in the second half of the season.

Lynch tops the list of 18 unrestricted free agents that the Seahawks must make decisions on this offseason. The list features seven starters from Seattle's season finale last Sunday in Arizona, plus a few former starters who missed all or parts of the season with injuries.

"Our first concern is to take care of our team and take care of the guys that are unrestricted on our football team and fit that back together," coach Pete Carroll said this week.

It starts with Lynch.

Coming off the finest season of his career, Lynch is at the peak of his NFL financial prospects. He's 25, has just rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns and embodies the attitude Carroll wants the rest of his roster to emulate. Lynch also showed a maturity this season that might have been absent in the past.

When Seattle was struggling at midseason and Lynch had rushed for more than 80 yards just once, Lynch sat down with assistant head coach Tom Cable to ask how he could become more productive.

The result was six 100-yard games over the final nine weeks. In the three games during which Lynch failed to top 100 yards, he rushed for more than 80 twice and had two touchdowns rushing the other time.

"He was more than willing to say, `Teach me, I'll do it the way you need it and don't let me off the hook if I don't do it right,"' Cable said. "So big, big props, if you will, to him to have that kind of integrity and discipline and desire to be great at it."

Not far behind on Seattle's priority list is locking up Bryant. Before Carroll took over in 2009, Bryant appeared to be on his way out of the NFL, unable to find his way as a defensive tackle. But Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley shifted Bryant to defensive end and he's become the anchor of a Seattle defensive line that's been successful each of the past two seasons at stopping the run with Bryant starting.

Bryant said earlier this week that he doesn't have the desire to see what he could get in free agency. His loyalty to the Seahawks goes beyond finding a role where he could thrive; he's the son-in-law of former Seahawks defensive end great Jacob Green.

"I'd be lying to say that the Seahawks haven't been extremely good to me. They gave me the opportunity to play a position that at first I thought they were trying to cut me when they first talked about moving me to defensive end," Bryant said. "So for them to give me the opportunity, and to think that much of me when I really didn't think that much of myself in terms of playing defensive end, speaks volumes."

There are other players on the next tier who are just as important for the Seahawks.

Fullback Michael Robinson was a first alternate to the Pro Bowl and the one Lynch gave plenty of credit to for his breakout season. Robinson added 15 pounds last offseason knowing he would be a true fullback for the first time in his career.

Along the offensive line, Seattle learned the value of backups Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan this season as each filled in admirably after starters James Carpenter, John Moffitt and Russell Okung were lost for the season because of injuries. Giacomini made $600,000 in base salary this season, while McQuistan made $685,000.

Defensively, Seattle's biggest issue aside from Bryant is at linebacker, where starters David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill are both free agents. Neither has played for another franchise, but Carroll perhaps gave a signal about the direction the Seahawks might go in on Tuesday when he discussed his desire to be faster at linebacker.

Hawthorne has led Seattle in tackles each of the past three seasons, while Hill is coming off his first full season after a combination of injuries and off-the-field problems cut others short.

"I'm coming off a pretty good year. I'm happy where I'm at, a full 16 games, so we'll see what happens," Hill said. "It's still too early but I would love to be here. This is the only organization I know."

Other key unrestricted free agents for Seattle include: backup running back Justin Forsett; tight end John Carlson - who missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury; defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Jimmy Wilkerson; and special teams standouts Heath Farwell and Atari Bigby.

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