About an hour after Jimmy Graham typed his goodbye to Seattle, Ed Dickson became his replacement as the Seahawks’ main tight end.
If that underwhelms you, welcome to the new, changed Seahawks.
Multiple league sources said Friday morning Seattle had an agreement on a three-year contract with Dickson, a free agent from Carolina who is eight months younger and far less the receiver than the 31-year-old Graham--but is a more accomplished blocker.
Dickson’s deal is worth up to $14 million, with a $2.6 million signing bonus, according to Panthers beat reporter Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. Dickson’s 2018 pay is guaranteed.
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That means the Seahawks will be paying Dickson per year about 40 percent of what it paid Graham the last couple years to be their lead tight end.
Dickson had 30 catches and one touchdown for the Panthers last season, nine fewer scores than Graham had for the Seahawks before he signed for $10 million per year with Green Bay this week. The Panthers often used Dickson as a blocking tight end in pass protection and sometimes as a fullback. Before the 2017 season Dickson was primarily a blocker for Carolina. Then receiving tight end Greg Olsen broke his foot in September, and Dickson became more of a pass catcher.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has vowed his top priority for 2018 is getting his offense back to the run. Seattle hasn’t had an adequate run-blocking tight end for years. Last season, the Seahawks didn’t have a fullback, either. The result of that was not only the NFL’s lowest rushing production by running backs last season but in many seasons.
No, Seattle no longer is or wants to be the same offense it wanted to be when the team traded to get Graham in 2015.
Dickson’s scheduled visit to Seahawks headquarters Thursday is why the team passed on offering former University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Fox Island a hometown contract on Wednesday night. Seferian-Jenkins left Wednesday night for Jacksonville, where he signed a two-year deal worth up to $11 million with the Jaguars.
So Dickson ultimately became about $900,000 per year cheaper, though he’s five year’s older than Seferian-Jenkins. Dickson comes about $5.5 million per year more cheaply than Seattle paid Graham the last two seasons.
The Seahawks have waived, traded or let leave into free agency 10 former starters in the last nine days: Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, Graham, Paul Richardson, DeShawn Shead, Mike Davis, Thomas Rawls, Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi.
Could the 11th former starter be exiting soon? On Friday, Tom Pelissaro of NFL Network reported Seahawks free-agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson remained in Minnesota on a visit for a second day, “picked up by GM in jet, had lunch with Kirk Cousins and others in owners’ suite yesterday ... Vikings would like to close him, if the price is right.”
The Seahawks have been talking to Richardson about an extension instead since at least December. He’s been perhaps their top signing priority this turbulent offseason.
Seattle so far has gained two imports since the end of last season: Dickson and outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
The net of minus-eight starters underlines how changed this team will be this year.
Earlier Friday, Graham made his arrival in Green Bay official by saying goodbye to Seattle online: