Seattle Seahawks

NFL teams are spending big on free agents. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are making small moves behind the scenes

A league source tells The News Tribune backup center Joey Hunt is returning to the Seahawks for 2019 after the team tendered him a contract offer as an exclusive-rights free agent. Seattle is expected to bring back all its exclusive-rights free agents by Wednesday’s deadline.
A league source tells The News Tribune backup center Joey Hunt is returning to the Seahawks for 2019 after the team tendered him a contract offer as an exclusive-rights free agent. Seattle is expected to bring back all its exclusive-rights free agents by Wednesday’s deadline. jbessex@gateline.com

They aren’t the big-splash free-agent moves that are rocking the rest of the NFL.

What else is new?

While the rest of the league reached agreements to sign backup quarterbacks for $22 million per year (Jacksonville, Nick Foles), while safety Landon Collins gets $16 million per year from Washington, the Seahawks are biding their time—by house-cleaning.

That’s how Seattle lets the first, frenzied, sometimes logic-testing wave of free agency pass without getting soaked.

While the Seahawks try to re-sign two starters on their offensive line, they are taking incremental, behind-the-circus-scene steps to ensure depth behind them.

A league source told The News Tribune Monday night the team extended a tender offer to exclusive-rights free agent Joey Hunt to keep him on the Seahawks for a fourth season in 2019.

Hunt has been Justin Britt’s backup at center and has also played at guard since Seattle signed him as a rookie free agent out of Texas Christian in 2016. He was reclassified from a restricted free agent, as most undrafted rookies become after three seasons, to an exclusive-rights free agent because he wasn’t on the active roster for enough of the 2017 season. He spent most of that year on the Seahawks’ practice squad.

Seattle is trying to re-sign veteran unrestricted free agents D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy, their starting guards from last season. The free-agent market officially opens Wednesday at 1 p.m. Monday was the first of day of the league’s negotiating window teams have with pending unrestricted free agents.

The Seahawks also have tendered offers for 2019 to ERFAs Jordan Simmons, who is coming off a season-ending injury after impressing last fall as the fill-in starter for the injured Fluker at right guard, plus wide receiver David Moore, defensive end Branden Jackson, long snapper Tyler Ott, and safety Shalom Luani. That is according to ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson.

Seattle is expected to tender offers to all of its ERFAs by Wednesday’s deadline to do so. The others are: running back J.D. McKissic, reserve middle linebacker Austin Calitro, who started five games last season, wide receiver Malik Turner, offensive tackle Elijah Nkansah and free safety T.J. Mutcherson.

The Seahawks have a decision to make on their restricted free agents; if they aren’t tendered offers for 2019 by 1 p.m. Wednesday they will become unrestricted free agents. Those are offensive tackle George Fant, fullback Tre Madden, cornerback Kalan Reed, defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson and defensive end Ricky Ali’ifua.

Fant was valuable as an extra tight end and sixth run-blocking lineman last season on the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense. The former Western Kentucky University basketball power forward Seattle signed as an undrafted rookie project in 2016 seems likely to return. The Seahawks need offensive line depth they feel they can count on.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider talks contracts, prospects, Russell Wilson, Frank Clark and more at the NFL combine in indianapolis.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.


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