The Seahawks are restocking their roster on a Friday night when no one is noticing.
Their characteristic activity in the secondary waves of free agency was in full swing late Friday with two evening signings, doubling what they had for the week. After adding wide receiver Jaron Brown from Arizona, the Seahawks signed 2017 Los Angeles Rams starting strong safety Maurice Alexander.
Here’s proof, from Alexander himself.
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It was Seattle’s third free-agent signing since Friday afternoon. Tight end Ed Dickson’s was earlier in the day.
The 27-year-old Alexander is 6 feet 1, 220 pounds--and another possible insurance plan if Kam Chancellor’s neck injury keeps him from returning to Seattle’s defense, as looks possible. Alexander began last season as Rams' starting strong safety. He 14 of 16 games in 2016 and the first four games of last season. Then Los Angeles left him inactive though healthy for the Seahawks’ win over the Rams in L.A., and waived him days later last October. Rookie John Johnson took his place, in the final season of Alexander’s rookie contract, while Alexander played for no one the final three months of last season.
The Seahawks this week signed back Bradley McDougald, one of their own unrestricted free agents who started the last month and half of the 2017 at strong safety after Chancellor’s injury. McDougald can also play free safety. While the Seahawks wait on 2017 draft choice Delano Hill to prove he can play, or not, Alexander could be the strong safety paired with McDougald--if the Seahawks ever get the moon they are asking for in trade talks about three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. Or, after Thomas’ contract ends after the 2018 season, should Seattle choose not to re-sign him at his asking price of the highest-paid safety in the game.
Reports from Texas and elsewhere this week said the Dallas Cowboys are among multiple teams asking about Thomas. The Seahawks are asking, too--for at least a first-round plus a third-round draft choice, if not another player or asset on top of that.
And why not? Thomas, who turns 29 this spring, is Seattle’s lone, prime trade chip worthy of shooting for the moon in any discussions about moving him.
Thomas has hinted he will hold out to start the 2018 season if he doesn’t get the new contract he wants from the Seahawks. He’s mentioned the six-year, $78 million deal 2010 draft classmate Eric Berry got last summer in an extension with Kansas City. Berry’s bonanza included $40 million in guarantees with a $20 million signing bonus.
"There ain’t never enough of that," Thomas said last summer when Berry got that windfall.
Seattle will either: a.) eventually meet or get near Thomas’ demand; b.) have him play out 2018 upset about not getting it, then watch him leave next year at this time in free agency for a third-round compensatory draft choice, or c.) trade him.
But, again, the only NFL team he’s known is in every position in right to exact a steep cost in any trade. That keeps a deal less than likely.
So for now, Alexander’s signing provides depth at strong safety behind McDougald, as Chancellor’s status remains in doubt.
Alexander was a fourth-round draft choice by the Rams out of Utah State in 2014. In 2011 he and Seahawks All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner were on the same Utah State defense. It was Wagner’s senior season before Seattle drafted him, and Alexander’s junior season after he transferred from a junior college.
The Seahawks’ other free-agent signing this week was outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.