The depth and youth of the Seahawks’ roster were big reasons why the team won the Super Bowl, and the club retained two key backup players Friday by signing Jeron Johnson and Lemuel Jeanpierre to contract extensions.
Among the keys in the Seahawks’ run to their first Super Bowl championship was the depth of the roster. Another was that the youth on that roster during the 2013 season.
Fourth-year safety Jeron Johnson and fifth-year offensive lineman Lemuel Jeanpierre fit into both categories, and the club announced Friday that each has been signed to a one-year contract extension. Both players were scheduled to become restricted free agents next week.
Jeanpierre, 26, started three games last season when Pro Bowl center Max Unger was injured. He also started five games in 2011, one at center for Unger and the final four at right guard after John Moffitt was injured.
“He’s a strong kid. He’s real quick at the line of scrimmage,” coach Pete Carroll has said of the 6-foot-3, 301-pound Jeanpierre, who joined the Seahawks in 2010 as a member of the practice squad and was signed to the active roster for that playoffs that season. “He’s one of our guys that we’ve raised in the system, so he knows what’s going on and he communicates well.”
Knows the system and communicates well? That’s an understatement, according to right tackle Breno Giacomini.
“We call him Lem-opedia, because he’s so smart,” Giacomini once said. “When we say smart, we’re talking about football-wise. Another thing, just like all the guys on the O-line, we like to go to work every day. So Lem is obviously a hard worker. And the good thing is, as you’ve seen, he can adjust to any position.”
Johnson, 25, was limited to seven games last season because of a hamstring issue that eventually forced him to be placed on injured reserve in December. But the 5-10, 212-pound Johnson had eight special-teams tackles in 2012, which tied for fourth on the club, and also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
On defense, Johnson is the backup to All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor, so his opportunities have been limited.
“You just make sure you stay ready,” Johnson has said of being the backup to a player who never backs down. “Those are big shoes to fill. If your number is called, you can’t have a drop off. You’ve got to try to play at a Pro Bowl level, because he does.”
But then Johnson, who made the team in 2011 as a rookie free agent, is used to waiting his turn.
“Jeron knows he’s good enough to play,” is the way defensive backs coach Kris Richard puts it. “And he’s still hungry.”