With the Seattle Seahawks announcing tenders for restrictive free agents this morning, one player who deserves a bump in pay is linebacker David Hawthorne, according to his agent, Russel Hicks.
“I would like to see him have more of a commitment,” Hicks said. “I think he’s earned it.”
With the Seahawks placing the exclusive rights tender on him, Hawthorne is not eligible to sign with another NFL team, and can only sign the tender or try and negotiate a different deal.
As it stands, Hawthorne would make the league minimum based on his two accrued years in the league if he were to sign the exclusive rights tender the Seahawks designated him with at the beginning of free agency this evening, which amounts to a $460,000 salary for one season.
Hawthorne earned $385,000 in 2009, while fellow starting linebacker Leroy Hill had a base salary of $5 million, and rookie Aaron Curry had a base salary of $2 million.
Hawthorne, who will be 25 in May, likely would again become a restricted free agent at season’s end, although his status for 2011 would remain uncertain as the league and the NFL Players Association continue to negotiate an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.
In his second season in Seattle, the undrafted free agent out of Texas Christian played in all 16 games and started 11 at middle linebacker in place of Lofa Tatupu, who went on the injured reserve after having surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle in October.
Hawthorne more than held his own, leading the team in tackles with 117, finishing second on the team in sacks with four and along with safety Deon Grant, leading the team in interceptions with three. Hawthorne also forced two fumbles.
With his ability to play outside linebacker as well, Seattle’s gets much-needed depth at the linebacker position by keeping Hawthorne in the fold. Seattle’s linebackers missed a total of 18 games as a group. And if the Seahawks decided to change to a 3-4 scheme Hawthorne likely would be a starter.
Although rare, players who receive the exclusive rights tender designation have received more compensation than required from their respective teams under the designation.
An undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, Green Bay running back Ryan Grant held out of training camp for seven days after rushing for 956 yards and eight touchdowns in 2007, his first full season in the league. He added 201 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers’ playoff win over Seattle.
Green Bay tagged Grant with the exclusive rights tender that carried with it a salary of $250,000 for one accrued season, but he ended up signing a four–year, $18 million deal in August 2008.
Grant’s teammate, cornerback Tramon Williams, used the Green Bay running back’s situation to his advantage. After receiving the exclusive rights tender from the Packers that carried with it a $460,000 salary a year later, Williams wound up negotiating a one-year, $906,000 deal with the Packers in September 2009
Probably the most well-known scenario of an undrafted free agent playing beyond the expectations of his contract is San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. A Kent State product who played basketball in college, the Chargers were only required to offer Gates a one-year tender contract worth a third-year player minimum of $380,000 in 2005.
However, Gates set the receiving record for touchdowns for a tight end a year earlier with 13 and made the Pro Bowl. He held out of training camp and eventually agreed to a six-year, 24-million deal with San Diego.