That was George Fant’s reaction Wednesday to the Seahawks keeping him for 2019.
And why not?
The backup offensive tackle who excelled last season as an extra tight end blocking for the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense got a second-round tender from Seattle as one of its restricted free agents. That level of a tender offer is worth $3,095,000.
That’s almost twice as much as the $1.6 million Fant earned in his first three NFL years combined, all with Seattle. He earned $630,000 last season.
Yes, that’s a cool deal for the 26-year-old former undrafted free agent and college basketball power forward at Western Kentucky. He is a husband and father to two young boys. His younger one turned 2 years old on Wednesday.
The Seahawks also kept restricted free agent Quinton Jefferson, the defensive end they drafted in the fifth round out of Maryland, by tendering him at his original-round level. That is worth $2,025,000 for 2019.
The Seahawks kept the following exclusive-rights free agents for 2019 with qualifying offers: defensive end Branden Jackson, running back J.D. McKissic, wide receiver David Moore, safety Shalom Luani, linebacker Austin Calitro, guard Jordan Simmons, long snapper Tyler Ott, linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee, cornerback Kalan Reed and center Joey Hunt.
They did not make qualifying offers to defensive end Ricky Ali’ilfua, safety T.J. Mutcherson, running back Tre Madden or defensive back T.J. Green. They are now unrestricted free agents.
Tendering a former undrafted rookie at the highest, second-round level suggests how the Seahawks value the athletic Fant on their offensive line.
They converted him from that college hoops player to a starting NFL tackle in 2016. It was the first time he had played football for a full season since eighth grade. When he broke into Seattle’s starting lineup in November 2016, he said he hadn’t started a game on an offensive line since he was playing for the Lincoln Heights Tigers when he was growing up in Cincinnati.
This coming season is the final one on the original contract for 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi, currently Seattle’s starting right tackle. The team has a fifth-year option it could use on Ifedi for 2020, but Fant remains an option for that job in the future, too.
Committing more than $3 million to keep Fant from free agency this year shows that.