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Jermaine Kearse's new deal stabilizes Seahawks' passing game

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Seahawks keep offensive continuity with Kearse (2:19)

ESPN Seahawks reporter Sheil Kapadia discusses Jermaine Kearse's deal to return to the Seahawks and the other moves Seattle is expecting to make in free agency. (2:19)

As recently as last week, wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was not expecting to be back with the Seattle Seahawks.

He tested free agency, apparently didn't find a situation he liked better and decided to return to Seattle on a three-year deal. With Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett also under contract, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson get their top three pass-catchers back from a year ago.

Wilson led the NFL in passer rating (110.1) in 2015, and the Seahawks ranked second overall in passing efficiency. When targeting Kearse, Wilson completed 72.1 percent of his passes, averaged 10.07 yards per attempt and threw five touchdowns against one interception. That equated to a passer rating of 122.5, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Had Kearse walked in free agency, the Seahawks would have tried to replace his production with someone on the roster such as Paul Richardson or a wide receiver from the draft. But instead, they opted for continuity -- someone who has played in big games and been a reliable, unselfish teammate.

Pete Carroll said after the season that one of the organization's offseason goals was to keep the roster in tact as much as possible. He believes they've built a special culture and have a chance to win another Super Bowl. With turnover happening around the league, the Seahawks return their quarterback, top three receivers and offensive coordinator from a year ago.

It's reasonable to wonder whether the money spent on Kearse (reportedly $13.5 million) might have been better spent elsewhere, and there still are areas to address (most notably, left tackle).

But the passing game will maintain a sense of continuity and has a chance to once again be special in 2016.