Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 38° Cloudy

Hill, Curry, Tatupu look good together

Tim Booth Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. – Leroy Hill pounced immediately from his linebacker spot, slamming his two paws on Justin Forsett. A few plays later, newly drafted Aaron Curry chased down a receiver in the open field, followed closely by Lofa Tatupu.

It was just the image Seattle Seahawks fans worried they might not see after last weekend, when Hill’s franchise tag was lifted and he became a free agent, risking the dreams fans had of Tatupu, Hill and Curry playing on the same defense.

“It’s good to see those guys working together. It was great to see Leroy back out here,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said after the first day of the postdraft minicamp.

Removing Hill’s franchise designation was a calculated move by general manager Tim Ruskell. By lifting the one-year tender that would have paid Hill $8.3 million, Seattle was able to add an experienced, bigger cornerback in former Seahawk Ken Lucas, and signed veteran fullback Justin Griffith.

The risk was that Hill would be offended by the Seahawks’ move of making him a free agent at a time when other teams wouldn’t have as much money available to spend and would spurn any of Ruskell’s offers.

Hill said plenty of interest came from others, but Seattle constantly badgered his agent, Todd France. The result was a six-year deal with a guaranteed $15.5 million.

“I still felt like I was going to come back. Even when they dropped it, they said, in good faith, we can still try to work out a contract,” Hill said. “But they knew they sort of had to speed it up because other teams could come in. It was an interesting process.”

Hill skipped Seattle’s first minicamp last month and balked at signing the one-year tender, hoping instead for a long-term deal. But talks were stalled and Ruskell took a chance.

While some might have been put off by the move, Hill understood the motives. He enjoyed being a free agent for a few days, but was relieved to have the security of an extended deal.

“I sort of smiled. I was a free agent. I couldn’t really complain. And I chose not to sign (the tender), so it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m crushed, my career is over,’ or anything like that,” Hill said. “It was a business decision for them. Like I said, they called and were like, ‘We’re still going to try to work out a contract. Don’t worry about anything.’ That’s what happened.”

Because Hill skipped the previous minicamp, he was in the same position as Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in last week’s draft, learning the new terms and schemes of defensive coordinator Casey Bradley.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.