Weaver leaves Seahawks to take Eagles' offer
After weeks of watching other players sign free-agent deals, Seattle Seahawks free agent fullback Leonard Weaver moved on to a new team, taking his considerable skills to Philadelphia.
Weaver signed a one-year deal with the Eagles worth $1.75 million. The deal includes incentives that could drive it as high as $2.5 million.
The 6-foot, 242-pound fullback had been looking for a multiyear deal, and ultimately wanted to return to Seattle. However, Weaver said the offer he received from the Seahawks was not what he expected. The rest of the league also apparently balked at paying Weaver what he believed he deserved, so Weaver chose the Eagles because he believes he’ll get the best opportunity to showcase his talents and earn a more lucrative contract in 2010 during what potentially could be an uncapped year in free agency.
“In this situation, it’s a fact that he took less money to become an Eagle than he did for two or three other teams, because long term it’s the right decision,” said Harold Lewis, Weaver’s agent.
During the offseason in 2008, the Seahawks signed Weaver to a one-year tender of $1.417 million as a restricted free agent. Weaver, 26, looked at the contract as an opportunity to earn a long-term deal this offseason. However, with another one-year deal, Weaver will be in the same situation again next season.
Lewis said the hope is Weaver will play so well that the Eagles will want to extend his contract midseason in 2009. And Lewis went on to say there were some concerns about how many touches Weaver would receive with Seattle’s backfield rotation of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. Lewis sees Weaver as more of a hybrid back who could be used as part of a running back rotation, similar to Baltimore’s Le’Ron McClain, who rushed for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Ravens while spending time at running back and fullback.
The Seahawks signed Weaver as an undrafted free agent tight end out of Carson-Newman College in 2005. Seattle converted Weaver to a fullback, and he has thrived in that role. Weaver ran for 276 yards and one touchdown in the past two seasons, catching 59 passes for 535 yards and two touchdowns during that time.
Weaver also showed his explosiveness at San Francisco last season, catching two short passes and turning them into touchdown catches for 62 and 43 yards in a 34-13 win over the 49ers.
“I think we’ve only seen the beginning of Leonard Weaver,” Lewis said. “He’s nowhere near his potential.”
Weaver’s departure opens the door for Owen Schmitt, a more traditional fullback, to earn a starting spot in his second season. Schmitt was a key contributor on special teams for Seattle in his rookie season and started one game for Weaver when he sat out with bruised ribs, playing solid against Philadelphia.
The Seahawks could also look to bring in a veteran to fill the position. Oakland Raiders free agent fullback Justin Griffith recently visited Seattle, and is familiar with Seattle offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s offensive system from their time together in Oakland.
Former Seahawks receiver Joey Galloway
, 37, signed a free-agent deal with the New England Patriots. … The Baltimore Ravens signed free agent tight end L.J. Smith
to a one-year contract. Smith, a 6-foot-3, 258 pound six-year NFL veteran, has caught 231 passes for 2,525 yards and 18 touchdowns in 86 regular season games for the Eagles. … The Minnesota Vikings have signed cornerback Cedric Griffin
to a contract extension that includes $1.62 million in guaranteed money.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.