The deal comes across as quite cheap next to the large contracts being paid to other champion returners:
|Josh Cribbs||3 yrs, $20M||$6.7M/yr|
|Devin Hester||4 yrs, $41M||$10M/yr|
|Leon Washington 2011||4 yrs, $12.5M||$3.1M/yr|
|Leon Washington 2010*||$5M/yr|
*The cost to the Seahawks also pales in comparison to what the New York Jets offered Leon before the trade to Seattle. Leon's contract with the Seahawks is fair to Leon and appropriate for what Leon is - a special-teams stud with huge potential to outplay 2nd-string status, but a 2nd-stringer nonetheless.
I've spent most of the last three months trying not to get too attached to Leon. Seattle never did put him to use as a regular offensive option, and the offense was rarely able to cash in on the extra return yardage he provided. I could easily see him skipping town for a team that would offer more of both.
You could definitely interpret Leon's re-signing as another testimony to the Seahawks' desire for a strong running game next season, like Tom Cable's hiring. Regardless, Pete Carroll has retained one of the league's strongest and most consistent return men, sealing further the team's special-teams prowess.
In other news, the Seahawks have slapped DT Brandon Mebane with an original-round restricted free-agent tender.
Seattle has offered Mebane the contract of a typical third-round pick with four accrued years of play. Should another team offer Mebane a bigger contract, Seattle can either choose to match it or receive a third-round pick from that team in exchange for losing Mebane. (Under the old CBA, that is. Who knows what a hill of beans means under a new one?)
This move reveals Seattle pursuing Mebane from a safe position - covering their rear in the event that a team is willing to pay Mebane extra (a likely possibility) while at the same time showing sincere interest in retaining Mebane's services (a good sign). Mebane's agent has confirmed the mutual interest, saying:
“They made it clear that they would like Brandon to stay...And Brandon has made it clear that he’d like to be there. So we’re really working hard to keep Brandon there.”
Like Rob Sims, I feel that Mebane has shown enough to exceed his original round, perhaps deserving a second-round tender instead. This is especially true because Mebane was projected by many as a second-rounder in the 2007 draft to begin with, with his fall into the third coming as a mild surprise (and thus one of Tim Ruskell's draft success stories). But the original-round tender isn't a final statement on the Seahawks' opinion of Mebane - just a way for them to keep the tackle while minimizing the price tag. It ensures compensation, shows good faith, and anchors the situation a bit in the face of the CBA uncertainty.
When Carroll and GM John Schneider spoke this week of several contracts being "in the works", I was thinking smaller signings like Roy Lewis and Kennard Cox. It's a pleasant surprise to see them working on the big names and not being too intimidated by the looming expiration of the CBA. Along with re-signing WR's Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu, a pattern is emerging in Seattle of fairly yet economically rewarding good performance. This is great.