It didn’t register as a splashy signing on the opening day of free agency, like coming to terms with a big-name free agent such as defensive end Mario Williams or quarterback Matt Flynn.
But the Seattle Seahawks made an important move to shore up the team’s run defense, finally coming to terms with run-stuffing defensive end Red Bryant.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s believed Bryant agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal, with $14.5 million guaranteed.
The Seahawks also brought back special-teams standout Heath Farwell, signing him to a three-year deal. Farwell, 30, led Seattle in special-teams tackles with 21 in 11 games in 2011.
Seattle was expected to be in the running for Williams’ services, but the ex-Houston Texans defensive end instead visited Buffalo, and he’s expected to sign with the Bills.
The same thing can be said for Green Bay backup Flynn. Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers when they drafted Flynn in 2008 in the seventh round, and some league observers believed Seattle would be at the top of Flynn’s list.
But according to reports, Miami and Cleveland were the only teams in the running for Flynn’s services.
Instead, the Seahawks appear interested in another quarterback to come in and compete for the starting quarterback job with Tarvaris Jackson – Chad Henne.
The former Miami Dolphins starting quarterback reportedly is scheduled to visit Seattle later this week after a trip to Jacksonville.
Henne is 13-18 as a starter, has thrown 31 touchdowns against 37 interceptions, and has a pedestrian 79.0 career passer rating – numbers that won’t exactly make Seahawks fans forget about Matt Hasselbeck.
But he’s only 26 years old. And at 6-foot-3, 222 pounds, Henne possesses a strong arm and a good pedigree as a second-round draft pick out of Michigan who was projected as a starter in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones also is scheduled to visit Seattle later this week after a stop in St. Louis.
But the big signing for Seattle was Bryant. The two sides had been working hard in negotiations up until the start of free agency.
While he does not have impressive sack numbers, Bryant was considered one of the top defensive ends available, with such teams as New England and Kansas City showing interest.
Returning from major knee surgery that cut short his 2010 season, Bryant, 27, made it through a full 16-game season healthy for the first time in his four-year career. He finished with 32 tackles and one sack, and blocked three field goals and an extra point.
Bryant also displayed his athleticism by intercepting two passes, including one for a 20-yard touchdown against Chicago.
But one stat showed Bryant’s importance to Seattle’s run defense: In the past two years, when the Texas A&M product has played a full game at defensive end, the Seahawks have given up 103 yards rushing a game. In the 10 games that Bryant missed due to injury in 2010, Seattle gave up 139 yards a contest.
“He’s a monster playing on the tight-end side,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said during the NFL scouting combine a few weeks ago in Indianapolis. “He has been a big factor in the way we played and to other teams – they’re going to see that, too.