The draft’s end marked the start of the Seahawks’ haymaking time.
The signing of undrafted rookie free agents that began Saturday evening has been a key pipeline to Seattle’s success under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
Even before the draft was finished Saturday, Seattle was unleashing its ace recruiter on the phones connecting across the country. Carroll, the former USC coach, and his staff were selling his Seahawks’ program hard to those departing collegians still looking for a job after the draft.
“It’s like being on the floor of the stock market,” Schneider said.
Never miss a local story.
It worked on Trevone Boykin, Vernon Adams, Tyvis Powell, Steve Longa, Tre Madden and the University of Washington’s Taniela Tupou.
Those were the first among about 20 players reported or rumored to have signed rookie free-agent contracts or have tryouts with the Seahawks. They will be at the team’s rookie minicamp Friday through Sunday.
The Seahawks won’t confirm or announce undrafted free-agent signings until later this week.
How important is this time for Seattle’s championship quest?
The team had 24 originally undrafted free agents on its 53-man roster by last regular season’s end in December. That included Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett and Thomas Rawls, the rookie breakout star who became the first undrafted free agent in league history to rush for at least 160 yards in two games. The Seahawks had the most undrafted free agents in the NFL last season.
The most intriguing of the new crop of rookie free agents are Boykin, from Texas Christian, and Adams, from Oregon — both dynamic quarterbacks.
The Seahawks had only one quarterback on their roster through the end of the draft — Russell Wilson. They didn’t draft one. Carroll has said throughout this offseason that he prefers having a veteran backup QB, as Seattle has had in recent years with Tavaris Jackson.
Jackson is an unrestricted free agent. Schneider said Saturday that the Seahawks have been talking to Jackson’s agent, exploring a possible return for the 2016 season.
Boykin confirmed that he had signed with the Seahawks following the completion of the NFL draft.
He is 6 feet and 212 pounds. In 2014, he was the offensive player of the year in the Big 12 Conference. Last season, Boykin played through an ankle injury, then allegedly punched a police officer during a fight in a bar in January. That — an incident that shocked those around TCU who knew him as a model campus citizen — got him suspended by the Horned Frogs for their Alamo Bowl game against Oregon.
Asked what he told NFL teams that interviewed him in February at the league’s scouting combine, Boykin said that month in Indianapolis: “I told them the truth. I told them exactly what happened from every detail. Either they accept it or they don’t.
“I mean I’m truly remorseful for what happened. I devastated not only myself, but the city of Fort Worth and the last name Boykin. I mean, I wear it with pride. I wear TCU with pride, so having that happen to me, I just try to move forward and be positive about it and show that I am remorseful for it, show that I have learned from it and it’s something that won’t ever happen again.”
Boykin’s reported signing bonus from the Seahawks of $15,000 would be on the high end in the league for undrafted free-agent contracts.
Adams transferred to Oregon for last season after starring at lower-division Eastern Washington — starring as in producing more than 10,000 passing yards and 110 TD throws in three seasons there.
Folks around Seattle still talk about what Adams did for Eastern in September 2014 at Husky Stadium against Washington: 31 for 46 passing for 475 yards and seven touchdown passes in EWU’s 59-52 loss.
Last year, in his only season at Oregon, Adams threw 26 touchdown passes against six interceptions, with a completion percentage of 64.9 percent. But his hype dwindled after he broke an index finger. He played with that injury in the Ducks’ ensuing loss at Michigan State and beyond.
The 23-year-old Adams is 5 feet 11, knocked as too small for the NFL. He’s one inch taller than Wilson, who got the same criticism before Seattle drafted him in the third round in 2012.
At the combine, Adams was asked if he was getting tired of hearing people compare him with Wilson.
“No, I think that’s a blessing,” Adams said. “I’m blessed to be compared to Russell Wilson, a great quarterback like that.”
Now he will get a chance to possibly back up Wilson, starting Friday when the Seahawks open rookie minicamp.
“I’ve always rooted for him,” Adams said. “I did a quarterback camp with him (in college). …
“I don’t really think there’s too much about being the short quarterback. It’s about your football IQ. I really think, if you’re prepared well, I think you’re going to do well. It’s nothing against Tom Brady or Brock Osweiler. I see those guys getting their balls batted down a lot, you know what I’m saying?”
On Saturday night, Madden’s representatives tweeted that the USC running back signed with the Seahawks. Powell, a safety from Ohio State, and Oregon linebacker Christian French also reportedly signed as undrafted free agents.
So did Wisconsin Stevens-Point defensive lineman Aaron Karlan, Florida Atlantic defensive tackle Brandin Bryant, North Alabama cornerback Darvell Harris and Illinois State defensive end David Perkins.
The Asbury Park Press reported Sunday that Longa, a weakside linebacker who left Rutgers a year early, had wished his way through the final two rounds of the draft, wanting Seattle to sign him as a free agent instead. The Seahawks did.
“I sent a text to my agent and said, ‘Listen, I want to go to Seattle,’ ” Longa, who started 37 of a possible 38 games for Rutgers, told The Press/Gannett New Jersey. “ ‘If this fifth round is over and my name doesn’t get called, I don’t want to get drafted. I want to pick and I want to pick Seattle. That’s where I’m going to excel.’
“They play a style of defense I like. They use my style of linebacker. That’s one team that showed a lot of interest. I was talking to the linebackers coach constantly, and he made sure he told me how bad he wanted to coach me.
“At the same time, he’s not the one making decisions. We built a relationship and I had other opportunities — a lot, actually — and I just thought Seattle was the right place for me.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle