A breakdown of the Seattle Seahawks' 2019 free-agent signings.
K.J. Wright, linebacker
The Seahawks are re-signing Wright. Here’s a closer look at the linebacker who’s spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Seattle.
What it means: For all the big-name departures from the Seahawks’ defense over the last year -- Earl Thomas being the latest -- one of their mainstays on that side of the ball is sticking around for at least a bit longer. He told ESPN’s Josina Anderson he’s signing a two-year deal worth up to $15 million. When healthy, Wright has been part of arguably the league’s best linebacker duo along with Bobby Wagner. Keeping that tandem intact is a significant move for a defense that lacked stability at linebacker in 2018, though it’s uncertain what the configuration at that position will look like with Seattle also re-signing Mychal Kendricks, who plays primarily on the weak side as does Wright. The move is also instructive in terms of the approach the Seahawks might be taking with their own veteran free agents. They’re not opposed to doing third contracts even though the ones they gave Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett came back to bite them. But they were disciplined with Wright, letting him test the market first and then re-signing him at a reasonable price.
What’s the risk: Wright will be 30 in July and dealt with a knee injury last year that sidelined him for 11 games. Is that issue completely behind Wright or is it something he’ll have to continue to manage? The way he played when he returned for the second time late last season was encouraging. He was “phenomenal,” as general manager John Schneider put it, especially in Seattle’s wild-card loss at Dallas when he made a spectacular interception to give the Seahawks late life. Wright had been a model of consistency before 2018, only missing one game over the previous four seasons while topping 100 tackles every year in that span. He’s also one of the more positive locker-room influences the Seahawks have had under Pete Carroll. That all makes this a risk worth taking.
Mike Iupati, guard
The Seahawks are signing Mike Iupati to a one-year deal, according to an NFL Network report. Here's a closer look at the guard who spent the past four seasons with Arizona.
What it means: Iupati's deal is pending a physical, which is worth stating given his recent injury history. Assuming he passes that physical, the Seahawks and Cardinals will have effectively swapped their left guards, with Seattle signing Iupati after losing J.R. Sweezy to Arizona. All but two of Iupati's career snaps have been at left guard, per ESPN Stats & Information. So he'll be playing a familiar position for a familiar coach. Iupati's tenure with the 49ers (2010-2014) coincided with that of offensive line coach Mike Solari, who is now with the Seahawks. Iupati signing is similar to last year's signing of Fluker, who also had played under Solari and was familiar with his power-blocking scheme.
What's the risk: The Seahawks are hoping that Iupati can recapture the form that earned him four consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2012-2015, but his durability is a question mark after he missed all but one game in 2017 and six games last year. He'll be 32 by the time the season begins. So the Seahawks got older at the position (Sweezy is about to turn 30). It's a safe bet that the Seahawks are getting Iupati at a significant discount from the $8 million he was making on average in Arizona, and the risk is mitigated by the deal's one-year length.
D.J. Fluker, right guard
The Seahawks are re-signing D.J. Fluker to a two-year deal, according to reports from the NFL Network and Associated Press. Here's a closer look at the right guard who spent last season in Seattle.
What it means: The Seahawks hang onto a player whose physical and emotional presence made a significant impact on their offensive line and their top-ranked run game last season. That unit now appears set with Mike Iupati replacing J.R. Sweezy at left guard, according to an NFL Network report, and every other starter from last season returning. The Seahawks avoid the type of significant turnover that has plagued their offensive line in recent years. You can never rule out anything with Seattle when it comes to the draft, but signing Fluker and Iupati -- plus giving a second-round RFA tender to backup tackle George Fant -- means the Seahawks shouldn't feel obligated to spend one of their top picks on an offensive lineman.
What's the risk: Fluker missed six games last season because of injuries and played in only nine games the year before. His injury history meant the Seahawks had to be careful to not overextend themselves in order to keep him. That's especially true given how well their running game functioned last season while Fluker was injured and Jordan Simmons was replacing him.
Mychal Kendricks, linebacker
The Seahawks have agreed to terms with Mychal Kendricks on a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Here's a closer look at the linebacker who spent last season with Seattle.
What it means: Kendricks gives the Seahawks an option to take over at weak-side linebacker for K.J. Wright, a free agent. That's assuming Kendricks is available, which doesn't seem certain at the moment with his sentencing for insider trading charges scheduled for April 4. Despite that, bringing him back was an expected move and Pete Carroll made several mentions of how Kendricks, who played only four total games with the Seahawks, remained in Seattle's plans. Last season Kendricks served an eight-game league suspension because of the insider trading charges and went on IR in December with a leg injury. According to Schefter, his deal can be worth up to $5.5 million. That does not bode well for the chances of Seattle bringing back Wright, but the possibility can't be ruled out entirely without knowing how much money the Seahawks are guaranteeing Kendricks.
What's the risk: That's hard to assess without knowing how Kendricks' legal situation will play out or how much he's being guaranteed. However, we can safely assume that the Seahawks structured Kendricks' contract in a way that protects them in the event that he's unavailable. There's plenty of upside with Kendricks, as he showed in limited action last season. He may even be an upgrade athletically over Wright, and his two sacks in four games were evidence of his blitzing ability.
Akeem King, defensive back
The Seahawks re-signed Akeem King to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million. Here’s a closer look at the defensive back who spent the past two seasons with Seattle.
What it means: Bringing back King is the first move by the Seahawks and it’s a notable one even though he’s an under-the-radar player. In addition to playing left and right cornerback, King has worked in the slot and at safety -- a la DeShawn Shead. That versatility could come in handy given the state of Seattle’s secondary, which lost Earl Thomas and nickelback Justin Coleman in free agency. King, a seventh-round pick by the Falcons in 2015, appeared in all 16 games last season while making one start and playing 145 defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. King, who will be 27 by the start of next season, was one of Seattle’s four restricted free agents along with tackle/tight end George Fant, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson and fullback Tre Madden.
What’s the risk: There’s not much risk here. King’s one-year deal includes a $400,000 signing bonus, according to a source. He can make up to $2.05 million in all with incentives tied to playing time and interceptions. The max value of $2.05 million is slightly more than what King would have stood to make had the Seahawks given him the low RFA tender, which is worth a non-guaranteed $2.025 million. But if he makes the full amount, it means he became a significant contributor. And if not, the Seahawks will have paid him less than what they would have with the low tender. King is guaranteed more money on his deal than he would have been guaranteed on the tender. There’s more reward than risk for both sides.
Jason Myers, kicker
The Seahawks signed Myers to a four-year deal. Here’s a closer look at the kicker who spent last season with the Jets:
What it means: The Seahawks hope it means that they’ve found the long-term answer at kicker they’ve been seeking since they let Stephen Hauschka leave two years ago. They’re apparently betting big on that, with Russini reporting that Myers’ deal is worth between $15 million and $16 million. The Seahawks might have made the playoffs in 2017 had Blair Walsh’s strong start not given way to a disastrous finish to the season. And while Sebastian Janikowski was an upgrade last year, he was still up-and-down and, at 41, wasn’t going to offer the long-term upside that a younger kicker like Myers would. Signing Myers also means the Seahawks are doubling back on their decision to waive him last offseason in favor of keeping Janikowski. It’s fair to criticize the Seahawks for making this move a year too late, but their decision last year seemed like a foregone conclusion once they guaranteed $600,000 of Janikowski’s $2.015 million contract whereas Myers’ futures deal included no guaranteed money.
What’s the risk: Kickers are prone to volatility. Just look at Hauschka, who was so automatic for Seattle from 2011 to 2015 that he became known locally as Hausch-money. But issues with his trajectory led to a down season in 2016, which is why Seattle let him walk in favor of signing Walsh for cheaper. Walsh was a Pro Bowl selection and a First-Team All-Pro before his career went south in Minnesota, and it looked like he was turning it around with Seattle in 2017 before things fell apart again. Myers was on the streets for the second half of the 2017 season after being cut by Jacksonville. Then he went on to make the Pro Bowl. This is how if often goes with kickers. The good news for the Seahawks is that even though Myers’ deal could put him in the top 10 in terms of annual average at his position, making a mistake on a player in that price range is much less punitive than making a mistake with someone who’s getting paid the big bucks.