RENTON, Wash. — Pete Carroll believes he got the deep threat wide receiver he needed in Sidney Rice and burly veteran presence needed on the offensive line with Robert Gallery.
Now he’s grabbed the top pass-catching tight end on the free agent market.
The Seahawks announced Tuesday afternoon they had reached agreement on a reported five-year deal with Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller. Terms of the deal were not announced by the team.
Earlier Tuesday, the Seahawks agreed to terms with defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who adds depth to Seattle’s defensive line as a potential rusher in passing situations.
The Miller signing reunites him with former Oakland coach Tom Cable, now Seattle’s offensive line coach, and with Miller coming off the two finest seasons of his pro career. Just 25 years old, Miller was a Pro Bowl selection last season after catching 60 passes and five touchdowns, but he was even better in 2009 when he caught 66 passes for 865 yards and three touchdowns.
“That’s what people have to realize about him is he’s a very complete player,” Cable said. “He’s going to be able to block off the line of scrimmage … you can move him around. He can do all the crack blocks. He can do the one-on-one matchups in the passing game.”
Miller’s arrival could spell the end for John Carlson, heading into his final year under contract. Carlson played 15 of 16 games last season but caught a career-low 31 passes and had just one touchdown reception in the regular season. Carlson did catch a pair of touchdown passes in Seattle’s first-round playoff upset of New Orleans.
Carroll immediately tried to dispel the notion that Miller’s signing equaled Carlson’s end, saying the versatility and different types of looks the two tight ends could provide were a huge benefit.
“Absolutely. It’s exactly what is in our minds,” Carroll said. “Anyone that thinks otherwise doesn’t get it. We think those guys will play in tandem, on opposite sides, we’ll be moving them around to matchups and stuff. I think it’s a great asset for us now and we’ve always liked to play with two tight ends in a number of different packages and this just gives us tremendous flexibility at a really high level.”
For his part, Carlson seemed to understand the competitive nature of the situation he was being placed in with Miller’s arrival.
“We have to perform on the field. I have to prove I deserve to be out there as are the other guys at our position. We’re all trying to fight for a spot, for a role. It’s like that every year. It’s always competitive; you always have to earn your spot.”
Wilkerson spent last season with New Orleans, but his best seasons came in 2008 and 2009 with Tampa Bay when he worked with new Seattle defensive line coach Todd Wash. Wilkerson started a career-high 15 games in 2009 and had career bests in tackles (46) and sacks (6).
Wash said Wilkerson would be used as an inside pass-rusher on third downs, but could also play at defensive end on first and second downs.
The Seahawks also brought back cornerback Kelly Jennings on Monday and reached agreement with free agent defensive lineman Ryan Sims.