The Seahawks just set the cost of keeping restricted free agent Jermaine Kearse for 2015 at more than $2 million.
They also set the chances of another team signing him instead at near zero -- which is close to what it was always going to be anyway.
Per Field Yates of ESPN, the Seahawks have chosen a second-round tender for their formerly undrafted wide receiver from Lakewood. That means unless another team is willing to give Seattle a second-round draft choice for Kearse -- highly unlikely -- plus sign him to an offer sheet the Seahawks refuse to match, Seattle will pay the former Lakes High School and University of Washington standout $2,356,000 for next season.
While expected, this is more than decent news for Kearse; it would be a raise of more than 400 percent from his $570,000 base salary last season.
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The Seahawks could still reach a multiyear agreement with Kearse before the restricted free agency signing period starts on Tuesday, the first day of the 2015 league year. This tender is a qualifying, baseline offer to Kearse to keep him in Seattle.
By the NFL's a restricted-free agency rules Kearse could negotiate with other teams that could sign him to an offer sheet -- one that now would include the prohibitive potential compensation to Seattle of that second-round pick. The Seahawks would get seven days to match the offer. Even Kearse didn't expect that to happen when he spoke positively last month about likely remaining a Seahawk.
He has 77 catches in his three regular seasons and postseasons with the Seattle, 45 of those this past season when after the October trade of Percy Harvin he became the team's No. 2 receiver behind Doug Baldwin. Kearse has had seven catches in each of the last two playoff runs to the Super Bowl. His catch in overtime Jan. 18 beat Green Bay for the NFC championship. It was his fourth consecutive playoff game with a touchdown reception.
This procedural move likely won't keep the Seahawks from shopping for a bigger wide receiver to upgrade that unit this spring -- in free agency that begins tomorrow with a three-day negotiation period before signings can begin on Tuesday, plus in the draft that begins April 30. It's safe to assume the Seahawks have someone (or three) at Arizona State's pro day today to watch big, fast Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong, for instance.
In other NFL wide-receiver news: Chicago has reportedly agreed to trade Brandon Marshall to the Jets. That increases the likelihood New York will not have Percy Harvin on its roster by March 19, the day by which if Harvin is still a Jet New York owes Seattle a fourth-round draft choice from that October trade. If Harvin is not on New York's roster by March 19 the Jets owe the Seahawks a sixth-round choice.
The Jets could still renegotiate Harvin's contract by the 19th to keep him, too, though that prospect has dimmed now that they have a new No. 1 receiver. Harvin currently has four years and $41.5 million left on the deal he signed with Seattle before the 2013 season, which right now calls for him to make $10.5 million next season. It's a near certainty he won't see that base salary in 2015.