SEATTLE – The Seahawks have made their first big addition of the offseason, reaching an agreement with veteran free-agent tight end Greg Olsen on a one-year deal. A source confirmed the agreement to the Seattle Times Tuesday afternoon.
The contract is worth up to $7 million with $5.5 million guaranteed at signing, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who was the first to report the news.
The 34-year-old Olsen was released by Carolina last month and visited the Seahawks, Washington and Buffalo as he searched for a new NFL home. Buffalo and Washington have coaches with whom he worked at Carolina, leading some to consider one of those two as the favorite as well as the fact Olsen’s career has also been in Chicago or Carolina.
But the chance to play for a contending team apparently helped tip the scales.
Because Olsen was released, he can sign with teams immediately. Players whose 2019 contracts run out and become unrestricted free agents can sign with new teams beginning March 18.
Olsen, who turns 35 next month, spent the last nine years with the Panthers before being released in a cost-cutting move by a Carolina team starting over under new coach Matt Rhule. Olsen had one year remaining on a deal that would have paid him $11.6 million in 2020.
Olsen also told The Athletic he is exploring the idea of retiring from football and immediately pursing TV commentating (he has done some work with FOX), saying “those opportunities are definitely still on the table.” And Olsen has been working on XFL games this offseason.
He has, however, decided to play at least one more season.
Olsen, 34, played 14 games last season but missed two late-season contests due to a concussion, including Seattle’s win over the Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 15.
He also played just a combined 16 games in the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to a foot injury.
The signing of Olsen helps beef up a tight end position that is a big question heading into 2020.
Seattle had just two tight ends under contract for 2020, both of whom ended the 2019 season on injured reserve – Will Dissly and Ed Dickson. Dissly is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in a game at Cleveland on Oct. 13 while Dickson did not play at all last year due to a knee injury and has been widely presumed to be a cap casualty. (Seattle could save $3 million against the cap if he is released, money it could maybe earmark for Olsen, instead.)
Jacob Hollister ended last season as the team’s starter and is a restricted free agent, meaning Seattle can retain him with a qualifying offer that would give the team the right to match any other offers, while Luke Willson is an unrestricted free agent. Tyrone Swoopes, the other healthy tight end on the roster when the season ended, is an exclusive-rights free agent.
Olsen was still effective when healthy last season with 52 receptions for 597 yards and two touchdowns, including six for 110 yards against Tampa Bay and eight for 98 against Green Bay. Olsen made the Pro Bowl three years straight from 2014-16.
The signing also helps give quarterback Russell Wilson another playmaker after a season when the Seahawks often lacked for a third option other than Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, especially after the loss of Dissley in Week 6.
Wilson had hinted at wanting Olsen to come join him in a tweet earlier this month.
Seattle entered the day with just over $50 million in effective cap space for 2020, according to OvertheCap.com. But the expected release of Dickson will help account for much of Olsen’s salary.
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