The Seattle Seahawks locked up their big-play threat to a long-term deal Tuesday, and made another move to protect a key contributor on defense.
The Seahawks announced they had reached agreement on a multiyear deal with kick returner/running back Leon Washington, and Brandon Mebane’s agent says the team placed an original-round tender on the defensive tackle. The Seahawks, however, have not confirmed that.
Terms of Washington’s contract were not disclosed, but it is believed the agreement is a four-year deal worth $12.5 million – $3.5 million guaranteed – with the possibility of reaching $16 million if incentives are attained.
The Seahawks received Washington in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets last April after he signed his restricted free-agent tender with the Jets. He earned $1.76 million in base salary last season.
And the 28-year-old had a triumphant return to the NFL after a 2009 season that was cut short because of a gruesome leg injury.
Washington, returned three kickoffs for touchdowns for Seattle last year – becoming the first player in league history to return three kickoffs for scores in two different seasons – and nearly returned a punt for a touchdown.
He also became the first player in team history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game, during a 27-20 win over San Diego on Sept. 26.
Washington’s seven career kickoff returns for scores ranks him second all-time in NFL history behind Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs.
The five-year pro finished with a mere 100 yards rushing for the season, but Seattle’s financial commitment to Washington seems to indicate the Seahawks will use him more on offense in the upcoming season.
Washington and fellow running backs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are all signed through the 2011 season.
With less than two days left before the current collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight EST Thursday, Washington is the biggest Seahawks free agent to sign. Others without a deal include quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, kicker Olindo Mare, defensive end Raheem Brock, and offensive linemen Chris Spencer and Sean Locklear.
Mebane, a third-round selection out of California, originally signed a four-year deal worth nearly $3 million. He has been a four-year starter, missing five games in four seasons, and averaging 40 tackles and 2.5 sacks a year.
Under the current labor agreement, an original-round tender for a player with four accrued seasons like Mebane carries a $1.275 million, non-guaranteed base salary in 2011.
So if another team signs Mebane to an offer sheet and Seattle does not match the offer, the Seahawks would receive a third-round pick as compensation.
However, there’s still some uncertainty that Mebane would be a restricted free agent under the new CBA, once the players and owners reach a new agreement. There’s a chance he could become an unrestricted free agent and allowed to go out and fully test the market.
Mebane has received a lot of interest from other teams, so under the current scenario interested teams would likely be willing to give up a third-round pick in return for his services.
Mebane’s agent, Chuck Price, said talks between his client and the Seahawks have been constructive. And although they would like to get a long-term deal worked out before the current CBA ends, Price understands the uncertainty of what the rules will be under the new CBA makes it tough to get something done now.
However, Price said he’s hopeful the two sides will continue to work toward a long-term agreement getting done this week.
“They made it clear that they would like Brandon to stay,” Price said. “And Brandon has made it clear that he’d like to be (in Seattle). So we’re really working hard to keep Brandon there.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org