RENTON, Wash. – The Seahawks are prepared to move on without starting outside linebacker Leroy Hill.
Seattle brought back veteran cornerback Ken Lucas and signed free-agent fullback Justin Griffith with one-year contracts Monday, about two hours after team president Tim Ruskell said the Seahawks are having “just conversations” with Hill’s agent on a possible long-term deal.
“We continue to go forward,” Ruskell said.
Seattle rescinded its 2009 franchise tag on Hill hours after it selected outside linebacker Aaron Curry fourth overall in the NFL draft Saturday. That made Hill a free agent instead of guaranteeing him $8.3 million in Seattle. It also freed $8.3 million from the Seahawks’ payroll, money the team used to sign Lucas and Griffith.
Lucas was released last month by Carolina in a salary-cap move. The 30-year-old played his first four NFL seasons with Seattle (2001-04), and the Seahawks have been trying to find a productive cornerback with his 6-foot, 205-pound size since.
As for Hill, agent Todd France told the Associated Press on Sunday night: “We’re in communication with the team. Negotiations are ongoing,” for a possible long-term contract with Seattle.
Hill chose not to sign the team’s tender of $8.3 million that Seattle was required to offer once it put the franchise tag on him. Then he chose to stay away from a voluntary minicamp a few weeks ago.
Ruskell said the Seahawks would not have rescinded Hill’s franchise tag if they weren’t prepared to lose the four-year veteran from Clemson to free agency.
Hill is shopping in a tough market. By placing the tag on him in February, the Seahawks essentially took him out of the prime free-agent period.
Now that they have yanked the tag, the Seahawks have left Hill seeking a multimillion dollar, multiyear deal with teams that have already signed veteran free agents and are trying to sign rookies while staying under the salary cap.