The Seahawks on Monday signed linebacker Khairi Fortt, a former fourth-round draft choice (by New Orleans, in 2014), and they waived-injured undrafted rookie free-agent linebacker Christian French from Oregon.
Which leads to these questions:
1.) How did Seattle get a fourth-round draft choice just three years ago for next to nothing?
2.) Why is Fortt now on his fourth team?
3.) How did French get so hurt he was waived injured after just three days of a no-pads rookie minicamp?
Fortt, 6 feet 2 and 240 pounds, started his college playing at Penn State. He transferred to Cal, where he was a national semifinalist in 2013 for the Butkus Award given annually to college football’s best linebacker as a junior. He left college a year early to turn pro. The Saints selected him in the middle of the ‘14 draft. But he never played a game for them.
He got hurt in his rookie preseason. New Orleans thought enough of him to use its one injured-reserve/designated-to-return classification for that season on him. He traveled with other inactive players to Saints away games. Then, before Fortt would have become eligible to be activated onto a game roster, the Saints abruptly put him on waivers instead.
The Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported in early October 2014 Fortt missed multiple team meetings before he got released.
“Fortt's release didn't follow an arrest, an outrageous statement on social media, a failed drug test or some other violation of NFL rules,” the newspaper reported. “However, internally, all was not well. Fortt ... had missed some team meetings, according a source. Whether that was the reason for his release, or just a contributing factor, is unclear.
“Additionally, the Saints never seemed quite clear about what to do with Fortt. A 4-3 weakside linebacker at Cal, he was drafted with the intent to start on special teams and fill a depth need at middle linebacker. Most pundits didn't have him pegged as an outside linebacker, but that's where the Saints moved him shortly after training camp began.
Fortt was quoted in that story saying he was rushing the passer from a three-point stance off the edge at times in practices with the Saints, something that was “very new for me. I’ve never put my hand down on the ground.”
The Seahawks need an outside pass rusher from a strongside linebacker spot after Bruce Irvin signed in March with Oakland. They also could use more depth behind All-Pro Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Brock Coyle, undrafted out of Montana in 2014, has had that role the last two seasons for Seattle.
Cincinnati claimed Fortt off waivers on Oct. 7, 2014. But on Oct. 14, the Bengals cut him, too, then put him on their practice squad two days later. Jacksonville then signed him off that in early November 2014. Fortt played three games for the Jaguars, coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. In mid-December 2014 Jacksonville put him on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. The Jaguars released him last August.
French is 6-5, 249. Seattle signed him less than two weeks ago. After just three Seahawks rookie minicamp practices that ended last week, French is gone, waived with an injury designation. He could go onto Seattle’s injured-reserve list if he clears league waivers.